Catching up

posted in: Bikepacking | 13

Hola! It’s been a while! I’ve been slacking on the blogging, but doing a last minute post here as I prepare for the start of a big ride tomorrow. Unfortunately I won’t be able to blog on this one… anyways, let’s do a little catchup shall we?

 

Brad do you even bike anymore?

Yes!  I’ve even done a few fun smaller bikepacking (mountain bike touring) trips that I failed to put up on the blog. I did an epic trip around Lake Tahoe on dirt trails with my good friend Dom Trom last September.  I have a pending post for that trip I promise to finish some day.  Krista (sister) and I did the White Rim and camped one night in Utah around Thanksgiving last year.  And besides that I’ve been doing a bunch of mountain biking.

This winter was a tough winter for biking in Tahoe this year. With record precipitation, the snow was DEEP this year.  Great for the draught, bad for riding.  So, of course, a fat bike purchase was in order ;).  Despite the conditions, I’ve managed to put in nearly 2000 miles this year already.

 

Brad where do you live now?  Are you still doing bus stuff?  What do you even do?

No longer in San Francisco or bay area.  I mostly reside in South Lake Tahoe, but I scored a killer deal on a cargo van acquired from my friend and co-founder Andrew (and previously a work van for his friend Pat).  It now serves as the resting place for most of my things and makes an excellent weekend adventure vehicle.  I’m hoping to take advantage and do more trips with the van this summer.

Work. Yes!  I’m still doing some bus stuff (AllAboard), but that has moved far from the SF to Tahoe route we were doing.  Now I build and maintain an application for managing bus fleets and their customers.  You can read more at tryallaboard.com.  I also did some contract development for a Minnesota company last summer/fall and actually worked on a team with my Dad.  It was really great!

This year I got to dabble in some mobile app development doing some contract work with a friend in South Lake Tahoe.  My developer experience has been a fun progression… I think that’s why I like it so much – constant learning.  Oh and being able to work from anywhere of course.

 

Will there be another big trip?

Yes!  Departing tomorrow, June 9th, to race the Tour Divide!  The Tour Divide is a mountain bike race that follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.  It is a self supported race, totaling approximately 2700 miles and has 200k vertical feet of climbing.  It is indeed a race, so as such, I won’t be taking time to sit down in cafe’s and McDonalds across the county to write about my travels unfortunately.  You can, however, follow along if you wish by checking out the track leaders page here.  If you are looking at this today, June 8th, and don’t see me, don’t worry… I haven’t activated it yet.  I should be there tomorrow.

I’ll also try to throw up an occasional post on Instagram, so feel free to follow me there.  Brad’s Instagram page.

 

Why the Tour Divide?  How do you prepare for that?  How long is it going to take?  No biscuits and coffee in the mornings?!  Why???

I think I got the bug when I watched a documentary about it a couple years ago… I was thinking about touring the route instead of racing it.  I was trying to get Krista and Dennis to join in on the fun, but they had to “work” or something, so I decided “Why not race it?”.  So here I am, at a coffee shop in Banff, anxious about the endeavor that starts at 8AM tomorrow.

I tried to prepare by just riding as much as possible, my training was pretty informal, but luckily my awesome girlfriend Carissa put together a sweet spreadsheet to help me set some riding goals that made sense.  We also made an effort to get in the gym and yoga a couple times a week.  I found myself riding the roads on my fat bike most of the winter. I really didn’t have another option unless I got out of town.  On the weekends, I would head to lower elevation and explore random routes and camp overnight, get lost, and try to work my way back to Tahoe.  I had to get picked up a few times (thanks Kyle and Carissa) after routes ended up being way harder than expected.

The riding and route planning was fun, but the bike build and gear planning on top of work and riding had me a bit overwhelmed at times.  Still, everything came together and I’m really happy with my setup.  It’s pretty minimalist, but still not nearly as much as some people.  Basically, just enough to sleep out of the rain, repair my bike, charge my gps/phone, power a light, and store water and food.

I built the bike up with help from my friend Sam at Over The Edge bike shop in Tahoe.  It’s waaaaay lighter than my old touring bike.  The main features include the frame (Trek Procaliber), a carbon front fork (no suspension… lighter and more efficient pedaling), dynamo front hub to power electronics, and an assortment of frame bags for holding gear.

Here is the bike fully loaded.  I grabbed the photo out on a training ride in Banff the other day.

 

Here’s the gear pile neatly spread out.  I’ll post a spreadsheet of the gear below.

 

The exhaustive gear list:

 

That’s about it for preparation… lots of riding, a little strength training and flexibility work.  Of course, I wish I had done more, but it is what it is.  I’ll end the post with some photos of riding this year.  Sure most of it was “training rides”, but it was all a ton of fun!

I’d say training officially started the day I acquired a fat bike. It was an exciting day!

 

From there, the snow adventures began.  Mostly exploring around Tahoe.

Sometimes you need a little training weight. Usually I would throw random tools or a couple beers in a frame bag. Sometimes I’d throw a human on the handlebars 😉

 

Then, earlier this year there were a few trips out of Tahoe to take a break from the snow. I found the fat bike works great everywhere. Carissa and I went down to Baja, Mexico for a week… the bike came along with the surfboards.

We ended up staying at this beach most of the trip. Working, surfing, tacos, cervezas… an occasional bike trips for me.
The scenery and roads in Baja were fantastic. There’s an established route that travels the entire length of Baja… I’ll probably have to try it sometime.

See… I do actually work.
The van has led us to some amazing camp spots.  Hopefully many more.

 

There were some other trips around the southwest… A road trip to Vegas to hang with my family for the week.

Exploring Beatty NV area returning from Vegas.

 

Eventually, the deep snow around Tahoe became a more manageable beast.  I started connecting bigger rides in the Tahoe area.  When the temps are low enough, you can ride on top of the snow.  Sometimes, I would head out on roads to a destination where Carissa could meet me in the van and we would camp out.  Other times, I’d plan overnighters in the Carson Valley where I had a better chance of avoiding snow.  Still, plans frequently changed.

The Carson Valley became my riding refuge. The only place you had a chance of riding dirt.

Most rides required some pavement riding.
But the stretch to get to the dirt and gravel was alway worth it.

I had some really fun rides up north of Lake Tahoe. Trying to find snow free riding was an adventure of its own. It forced me to checkout riding outside of the Tahoe basin. I enjoyed it in the end!

 

Eventually, Tahoe started to melt.  I was able to connect a few more rides.

Options in Tahoe were still limited though.

 

 

In early may, I finally got my new bike built!  I planned some big rides to Mono Lake.  Carissa was nice enough to come meet me both attempts.

*light shines through opening in clouds, doves fly off into horizon, harp music plays. The new bike is finished!
Putting it to the test after a snow storm the night before a big ride.  Mono Lake attempt 1.
Sometimes you just have to turn around.
But it all works out.

Carissa meeting me in Mono Lake
Mono Lake attempt 2… passable at least

Getting some good stargazing in this year.
Nothing like a freezing cold creek crossing at 6AM. 5 more to follow. Was not happy this morning.

Finally made the connection to Mono Lake via dirt (mostly). This was a hard day!
Eric and I finally did a ride around the lake on the pavement. ✅

 

Carissa has been getting into it too.  Soon we will get her a bike of a her own to join in on more rides.

We recently did a weekend bikepacking trip up by Susanville CA.  Her first bikepacking trip!

Any good bikepacking trip should have some route problems!

 

That’s all folks!  That’s what I’ve been up too.  Now I’m off to check my gear one more time and ship my laptop home.  I’m hoping to finish the Tour Divide in about 20 days, but it’s really hard to say how that will come together.  Thanks to everyone who has helped out!

By the way… Banff is beautiful!  It’s been nice to hang out here for a week! I flew into Calgary last Friday and rode to Banff.

I didn’t sleep in the airport this time 🙂
Banff bound!

Once in Banff, I met my roommate for the week, Maayan, from Israel. We have actually been in contact for months. I reached out to him to ask him how he likes his bike. We have the same one!
It’s going to be hard to not stop and take pictures all the time.

 

Look for a recap post in July!  Happy trails!

 

13 Responses

  1. Good read Brad! Good luck on The Divide! Can’t wait to hear and see the pics from that adventure!

  2. Paul Phillips

    Brad,
    Looks like you’ve been living the dream! Best of luck to you on the race. You rock!
    Cheers,
    Paul

  3. GO BRADLEY!! I’ll be thinking of you while I’m doing that stupid “work” thing. I’ll definitely join you on a cool-down bikepacking trip when your done! 🙂 Will of course follow you every day! So excited for you!

    • Bradley

      Yes please!!! Looking forward to a leisure bikepack trip 🙂

  4. Keith Short

    Way to go! Be safe! We still miss you in Illinois.

  5. Looking forward to hear about the adventure Brad! Good luck!

  6. Jeff Makulec

    My daughter bought me a shirt when she visited New Zealand that says “Confidence — The feeling you have before you fully understand the situation”. Here’s to you having all manageable situations along your epic journey. And hoping the curved needle and floss is needed only for bike and gear parts, not body parts. Have a great race!!

  7. Jeff Iverson

    It was great to see your post this morning! Looks like your having a blast. What a race…. it’s going to kill you not taking some pics with all that awesome scenery.
    Good luck!

  8. Dean Norem

    Brad- very nice! Impressive undertakings on these bikepacking trips, impressively lean & self-sustaining. Good of you to dust off the blog, thanks for sharing, and safe travels.

  9. Jean Ryan

    Go Brad! You’re always in my heart. Be careful.
    Love you.

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