Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall of 2015 XVtBkPkRte ride!!

There's been some talk of riding the route this fall...maybe as a group, and then maybe some in the group might think they are faster than others...  let's try to schedule something onthe facebook page.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Vermont rider profile #6


Well, March is behind us. I ran a small series profiling some of our local riders that enjoy bikepacking. We are now in to April but I have one more profile to share here.

I give to you, Jay Thomas. I have ridden with Jay a couple of times. I find that he is very personable and has great little stories to share. If you get a chance to ride with him, I'd recommend you taking the opportunity.

What bikepacking have you done? 
I've done a lot of local overnighters both solo and with friends, a handful of multi-day trips and a couple of races.

What were some of your biggest trips?
Well I haven't gone as big as some of the studs that have been featured here previously! My longest route was 250 miles but that was spread over four days. Other than that, I've done a couple one-nighters that included two 100-mile days.

What routes have you ridden? 
Mostly Vermont based stuff, most of which has been exploring and linking up various trail networks and class 4 roads. I've also had the opportunity to ride in Arizona and Alaska; both of which were amazing.

What races have you been a part of? 
Technically I've done 1 & 1/3 races. I completed the Coconino 250 in Arizona and did 85 miles of the Kenai 250 in Alaska in a 40 degree downpour before deciding that was all the fun I could handle.

What (future) plans do you have? 
Right now I don't have anything imminent on the horizon. I'll likely do the XVT route if a group decides to get together this summer and the Colorado Trail is still high on my bucket list. Whether that be the CTR or a tour, I'm not sure. This summer my son is now old enough and has progressed in his riding enough that I'm looking forward to some short trips with him. We both love to ride and camp so that'll be a great way to spend some time together.

Whom with? 
Anyone who's up for an adventure.

What/how do you pack? 
I've invested in some quality gear because it makes life so much easier but really when it comes down to it, I'm not a weight weenie. Comfort is the most important to me and I'd rather add a pound to my kit if it means a good night's sleep. I use Revelate seat and frame bags and have been happy with both. Usually it's clothing in the seat bag, food/tools/spare parts/water in the frame bag and my sleeping kit gets strapped to the bars. On longer trips I may add a backpack for additional water capacity but I really hate wearing one.

How do you eat? 
On most trips you're at the mercy of whatever is along the route but I'm lucky that my stomach can handle pretty much anything found in your average gas station. The higher the calorie content the better. I've also found that I'm largely carnivorous on long rides so I eat a lot of pepperoni and dinner is usually a big hunk of summer sausage and a block of cheese. I don't carry a stove.

Special gear/style of packing? 
Nothing out of the ordinary but again, comfort is king. I'd rather carry something and not need it than be stranded/cold/miserable because I was trying to go minimalist.

Do you have a race strategy?
Yes, finish. So far that strategy has a 50% success rate.

How do you train? 
I was originally going to do the CTR in 2012 but that fell through at the last minute. In preparing for that though, I used LW Coaching's CTR Training Plan. Lynda is a great coach and honestly, the program kicked my ass. Basically it was like another full time job for 12 weeks. Without a carrot on a stick like the CTR though, my "training" is pretty informal. I try to ride whenever I can and mix in a fair share of intervals and hill repeats.

Any off season considerations? 
Just stay active and try not to get fat. Like everyone, I have a love/hate relationship with my trainer and The Sufferfest series but I love to get out on my fatbike and bc skis whenever possible.

How much riding/how much work/family time, etc.? 
How much riding - not enough. How much work - too much. Family time - hanging out with my cool kid whenever possible. If anyone's found a way to strike the perfect balance of the three, PLEASE let me know!

What do you like about it (bikepacking) ..... Why do you do it? 
Oh man, it includes pretty much all of my favorite things! Riding, camping, exploring, nature, pushing your limits and spending time with friends and family.

Anything strange ..... Seen, done, or happened while out there's? 
During the Coconino I was 12 hours into the day and three hours into the most ridiculous hike a bike you could imagine. Really hating life at that particular moment. My headlamp focused on a glowing set of eyes and while I dug my camera out to get a picture, it let out a very un-friendly growl. Normally I would have been terrified, but knowing that if it ate me at that particular moment the miserable H-A-B would be over, I snapped my picture, yelled at it to STFU and continued on my way while it crashed off through the bushes.






Sunday, March 29, 2015

Vermont rider profile #5


After I sent questions for George to fill out, he thought that it would be a good idea to turn the interview on to me. For good or bad, I did it and here it is:

At the Massachusetts border on xVT 


How did you get into bikepacking?
The first bikepacking trip I ever did was at the end of October in 2011. My friend Mike had been doing overnights and I wanted to check it out. I didn't have any gear to speak of but I did all right.

What bikepacking have you done?
Mostly all of my bikepacking have been overnighters, commonly known as S24O's. They have mostly been trips that have left directly from my house. There have been a few that have originated from another start location.

What were some of your biggest trips?
In the big picture, I don't have too many trips under my belt. I would say that my longest trips have been on the xVT route.

What routes have you ridden?
xVT is the only route that I have been involved with. I have attempted it three times now. I thought "third time was a charm" but "things" got in the way "again".

What races have you been a part of?
I have not done any bikepacking races. I have done the VT50 every year since 2009 which I really enjoy. I was hoping to be a part of the Adirondack Trail Race that is coming in Sept. '15 but I can't see that I will be ready for something like that. I would like to add that to my list of races I'd like to do. And, without a doubt, the Tour Divide is on my bucket list.

What goals do you have for this summer? Long term?
I have plans to do at least one bikepacking trip each month through the rest of the year. I am looking forward to a group ride (if I can possibly even keep up) this year on xVT. I feel that it is something awesome to be celebrated.

Whom with?
I will ride with anyone. I have enjoyed riding with a diverse group of people. I have hopes that my wife and I will do a bikepacking trip this fall. It will be her first.

special gear/style of packing?
I found Scott Felter who makes Porcelain Rocket bags and jumped in with both feet. I have a full kit from him. Frame bag, handlebar bag w/ tent sleeve, saddle bag and two bags for Anything Cages. I also had another sleeve made for my handlebar bag that is larger for my winter weight sleeping bag.

What/how do you pack?
Depending on the situation, I go between a tent and a bivy. The tent goes on the handlebars and the bivy goes on the fork. The fork also gets my sleeping pad. Sleeping bag on the handlebars. Clothes in the saddle bag. Tools, water, and food in the framebag.

Do you prefer water on your back, or on your bike?
I prefer it on the bike. Matter of fact, I don't like a backpack at all. I do carry a small musette bag that I use for carrying food and water just as I am going into camp.

How do you eat?
This is my biggest nemesis. I have the hardest time staying on the calories which is usually my undoing. On smaller trips and/or overnights, it's not that big a deal. On the hopes of bikepacking the length of Vermont, a huge deal. I have to get this right. I do typically eat pretty normal food, if not junk food.

What is one thing you MUST have when bikepacking?
I don't know that I have anything that I must have but I feel that my sleeping pad is pretty important. It feels nice to get comfortable for a good night's rest.

Do you have a race strategy?
Keep moving. I feel that if you have a mileage goal or whatever, you must keep moving, no matter what the speed.

How do you train?
I commute to my shop for work, I race at Catamount, ride as much as possible with friends. I do the Vermont50 which is one of my favorite things to do. A group of us also make two trips a year up to the Kingdom Trails.  I've also recently discovered CircumBurke, which I think will be on my yearly calendar.

Any off season considerations?
I try to commute year round. The past two winters have been a bit brutal so that didn't work out so well. I also do a fair amount of fatbiking to keep the legs turning.

How much riding/how much work/family time, etc.?
I'm lucky enough to have a wife that is real understanding of how important time on the bike is to me. My balance with family is pretty good. This year my wife is going to get involved with mountain biking and I will be able to do a little bit of both at the same time, riding and family time.

What do you like about it (bikepacking) .....Why do you do it?
Everything! It's a pretty basic response, like most people. I like being outside, exploring, riding. Bikepacking is my favorite discipline of bike riding.

Anything strange..... Seen, done, or happened while out there's?
There are two instances that stand out when asked this question. Both happened on xVT.

First, I was riding a Class IV section of the route. I came along a mother bear and three cubs. I startled them and the mom and two of the cubs ran right and crossed the road. One cub ran the direction I was traveling and then realized he went the wrong way. It then crossed the road only about ten feet in front of me. Just after this happened, while I was in total disbelief, my bladder tube fell off of my bars and the bite valve went down between the rotor and hub. It wound up on the hub and pulled right out of my bladder which was in my framebag. I stopped suddenly to get the bladder out before it flooded the inside of the bag. Of course, I was looking back with one eye the whole time knowing that the bears were not too far away.

Second, was also involving a bear, although a bit more serious. I was in the Enchanted Forest and I was partaking in a little hike a bike when I heard a noise off to my right. When I looked over, I saw a bear running through some brush right towards me. I would honestly say this thing was possibly 300lbs. It got to about 6-8 feet from me and stomped down its front feet. Part of me stood there and didn't know what to do, the other part belted out some sort of baritone belches. I made noise and it turned around and ran off. At that point I was a little more uneasy. I was in a section that I wasn't going to be able to hop on the bike and ride (fast) away. I didn't see it anymore either. I started to walk briskly while continuously reciting my alphabet. I got out of there without further incident.


Notice the bladder tube

Here are some pictures that I took on xVT. 







And a few more that I liked and used a filter on them:










Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vermont rider profile #4



It's that time again boys and girls. This week we have David Tremblay. I am not sure how many of you know him but he was one of the driving forces behind the idea to connect as much dirt and trail to create a route that will cover the whole state of Vermont. Now, here we are with a solid plan to make it happen.

Dave didn't send me any pictures to use for this posting, so I took it upon myself to scrub the interwebs for some images. It wasn't hard to come up with some for me to use. Here we go:



How did you start bikepacking?
As a kid, my Dad would ride with us to the beach - it was 25 miles each way.  I had a 3spd, my little brother did it on a single speed.  My Dad called this a bike-hike.  He was a big fan of Tom Cuthbertson.  In college I started doing longer rides: home (100 miles) or to visit my girlfriend in (NYC 170 miles)  I did some pannier style touring and then in 2007 start training for PBP - riding through the night, riding 600km in one shot, from there I wanted to get off the road, away from cars and that led me to bikepacking.

What were some of your biggest trips?
It is going to be hard to beat Tour Divide as a big trip, but I have been mapping and exploring a ride from NYC to St John's Newfoundland  on dirt - it should be about 2,400 miles.

What races have you been a part of?
I have been mountain bike racing of some variation since 1989. I did Paris Brest Paris in 2007,  (not really bikepacking)  and the Canadian Ski Marathon ( also not bikepacking but pretty darn close!)  raced Tour Divide in 2010 and Trans North Georgia in 2011.

What (future) plans do you have?
I need to finish TNGa and the Colorado Trail is still on my list.   I have to ride my So to NO Vt border route in one shot still - it is only 300 miles but it takes me down every time.

Whom with?
You!  Anyone who wants to go!

What/how do you pack?
I've been trying to go lighter and more minimal.. I finally bought a scale and have started weighing all the junk I don't really need to bring with me.

How do you eat?
I have tried a bunch of different things from no-clue, to no food, to all Hammer products... now I am back to real food.

Special gear/style of packing?
I'll try anything.

Do you have a race strategy?
pick an efficient line, coast over 20 mph,  finish, and finish happy.

How do you train?
Start the year with a Fleche ride and end the year with the Circumburke ride as much as possible in between.

Any off season considerations?
snowboard and XFit with a little fatbiking - try to avoid rollers.

How much riding/how much work/family time, etc.?
this is tricky for me.  I trained for TD while my daughter was pitching on her little league team.  I may have not been in the top shape going into TD but I did not miss any games.

What do you like about it (bikepacking) ..... Why do you do it?
I like the amount of World you can cover in a day on a bike.  I like riding in the wee dark hours - it is quiet and serene and sprinkled with random insomniacs.

Anything strange ..... Seen, done, or happened while out there's?
I have yet to ride through the night without something strange happening or meeting some interesting character.   Riding through the night in New Mexico with little sleep, things like a dog with a shaved head look exactly like  a chupacabra!





Saturday, March 21, 2015

A glimpse of xVT

I thought I would post a few pictures that I have taken on route. There is so much out there to see. The senses go into overload as you pedal through the State taking it in. I feel that it's the best way to be a part of your surroundings. These are some sights you would see in the Northern section of the route.









This is where Dave will be with his watchful eye on you as you pass by


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vermont rider profile #3


This week we have a good friend of mine, Mike Beganyi. I have ridden quite a bit with him. If there is one thing I'm certain of, Mike is a pretty darn good navigator and route planner. Attention to detail seems to be second nature to him.

Here is the interview with him:


What bikepacking have you done?
 I started experimenting with bikepacking with my road / gravel setup back in 2008 or 2009, getting some custom bags from Epic Designs (now Revelate) for my Ti all road rig. What started as an experiment to lightening my gear and experimenting with overnight trips on gravel and dirt roads for quick get aways has turned into somewhat of an obsession, although I don't get out as much as I want. I didn't start mixing in single track, forest roads and more remote trails and roads until about 3 years ago. 

What were some of your biggest trips?
My longest trip was an overnight though the ADKs. I rode 2 back to back centuries from Burlington through the ADKs to the Utica, NY area to visit family. This was a mix of pavement, dirt road, forest road, and some single and double track. Temps and weather were all over the map, and the terrain followed - ups, downs, fast and slow sections. 

My hardest trip mentally and physically was shorter. It was a late fall fatbike trip from the Mad River valley, crossed the Greens from the VT100 side to high above into Silver Lake to overnight (and it snowed!). It was an unreal adventure, with a mix of pretty much everything from hike a bike, a fast paved descent on my Pugsley down Brandon Gap, single track night riding, beaver pond skirting, handing loaded fat bikes over a creek to my riding partners, and riding into an early season snow squall crossing back over the mountains on day 2, completely soaked and chilled to the bone. It was good fun and so much work!

What routes have you ridden?
I create my own routes, but have enjoyed adventuring in the Moosamaloo area, Groton State Forest, Cotton Brook and Little River, and the ADKs. I have sketches to combine some of these into longer trips, and I have eyes on a Maine route I got from another bikepacker online.

What races have you been a part of?
I look forward to a bikepacking event in my future - but I have not competed in any bikepacking events or races. I got my start in long distance riding when I lived in the Brattleboro area and started riding ever increasing (and insane) randonneuring events. These included 2-600k events as well as starting and organizing a brevet series that was run out of Burlington. I completed a 24 hour Fl├Ęche team event and  my longest day on a bike was a 400k lap around Vermont in 25 hours. Mentally riding brevets transfers nicely to bikepacking. And getting off the road is a bonus.

What (future) plans do you have?
Before kids and deciding to incorporate my business (being self employed has its advantages and its drawbacks!) I was eying the Tour Divide. I still dream of the big ride - but I am also keen to have shorter, local adventures as I improve my fitness and refine my gear and technique. 

I'd love to complete the XVT route (or whatever it ends up being called), as well as add a packraft to my quiver for adventuring. I have some ideas for places in the ADKs that might be interesting to ride in and paddle out. 

The ADK Trail Race could be fun depending on the route, but it will be a couple of more years of focused riding to get back into what I consider reasonable long distance / brevet shape - at least in terms of being 'competitive' - or racing, whatever that might mean.

Whom with?
I think the usually suspects know who they are.... ;)

What/how do you pack?
I have a Revelate frame bag system. For fast and (relatively light) I can do without a backpack - but depending on the season and the weather and the goal of the trip I can add in fork cages and Anything Bags or a Wingnut pack on my back. 

How do you eat?
When I was riding brevets and working to qualify for BMB or PBP I was into gels and liquid food on the bike. My body got tired of that pretty quick - so after burnout I worked to understand what I can eat / forage from typical roadside stores. Lots of junk food unfortunately - but as I mainly do trips for fun / exploring I can tailor what I do carry from home to suit the mood of the trip - typically a backpacking meal for dinner, hot coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, and whatever I can get down during the day that I forage roadside or carry with me. 

If I make an attempt to go as fast (as I can personally go) and travel light on the XVT all bets would be off though and I would likely simplify my kit and eating strategy.

Special gear/style of packing?
I fell in love with the 29+ platform when I test rode a Surly Krampus, then I went out and put a Rohloff on it. Its been tested on some short day rides and an overnight, but I'm thrilled that I (theoretically) have 1 less thing to worry about while riding. 

I'm in a constant state of gear refinement. Slowly simplifying kit and what I carry. I'm a big fan of dyno lighting (from my brevet days) - so I'm working out charging and lighting schemes - including 3d printing some parts for a switch housing that will make life just a bit simpler on the trail. 

Do you have a race strategy?
I'd approach things the same way I did when I was riding brevets... go out slow, work harder in the second half. Never burn matches you don't have, and try to eat and sleep before you really need to. But I can't see myself lining up for a race anytime soon - unless it is a solo, self supported effort. No one needs to care but me, and I'm good with that. 

My wife has called me out though - I'm now known for my 'propensity for suffering'. I'm not fast, but persistent and stubborn.

How do you train?
I've run the gamut of self coaching, hiring an online service, having a local coach to completely burning out. Right now I'm trying to focus on getting a big endurance base back under me and then I'll likely have to revisit the pain cave of intervals and hill climbs to redlining and failure.

I can say that once we added 2 kids (3 and 7) to the mix, along with trying to focus on my work, all notions of 'training' sort of disappeared.  When things are clicking and the wife and I are both in town and balanced - I'm usually up at 4:30 am hitting up my local loop before the family gets up, and then logging longer miles on Sundays. Weekends are usually used as a recharge / explore time. There's been a lot less of focused 'training' in my life the last few years and far more 'get out and play' time.

I do look forward to a time when the kiddos are either out there with me making me feel really old, or are into their own stuff so I can focus a bit more on me time.

Any off season considerations?
Off season? Whats that?

I've been trying to get better at tele skiing. As well as getting out on the fatbike. The rollers are setup and when I can focus I might get on them once or twice a week. 

I'd love to be able to run a 10k again. But man my body hates running, unless theres a good reason to do it... like survival I guess.

I really want to get skilled at winter overland travel - be it on skis or fatbike or whatever. I've flirted with winter bike trips - still don't have the gear or knowledge to go really cold. So, thats going to be my focus for the next couple of cold seasons - getting used to being in the cold, and getting good at staying alive and somewhat comfortable. 

How much riding/how much work/family time, etc.?
Ha. The wife and I have a pretty good balance. Jen comes from a marathon / tri background and has been focusing on trail running at Catamount. So we understand what getting out and exercising means to each other... but beyond that its general triage any given day. I would guess that when things are clicking along and work is steady I get about 3-4 hours in during the week. Weekends can be anywhere from overnight trips to just sneaking in 3-4 hours on a Sunday. Saturday's are usually daddy days - so during the late spring through fall I can usually convince the girls to let me take them to town on the cargo bike. Those days are precious - not really a workout, but some quality time outside and active together.

My work is pretty steady - but it can get crazy. I'm self employed, and run my own LLC, but I still have deadlines, taxes to pay, and client expectations to meet. I can sometimes massage that to conform with trips or rides... but often times its just a crazy mess of juggling the phone and email - sometimes while in the woods if I have a signal. There are days I wish I punched a clock and accrued vacation time!

What do you like about it (bikepacking) ..... Why do you do it?
I love getting off the beaten path and exploring under my own power. And I'm sort of a map / terrain / connect the dots geek, as well as someone who likes exploring personal and mental limits. Turning that next bend, coming over that next ridge, finding that hidden pond, riding further than before - all that stuff makes me go.

Anything strange ..... Seen, done, or happened while out there's?
I surprised some sledders way out in the ADKs on my fatbike. They were wondering what the guy wearing the bike helmet was doing 8 or more miles from the nearest road in the middle of winter. They did like the big tires - but I think they liked their throttles more. 

The first time I did what I would call a real backpacking trip I was surprised at how well my body did after the first day, after I got some rest and then real food in the morning. Its unreal what we can do when we want to or need to. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Vermont rider profile #2


This week we bring to you, George Lapierre. I know him from the local seen at Catamount Outdoor Center in Williston, VT and I have been on an overnight (S24O) with him just this passing winter. I can tell you some more but I will let the interview speak for itself. Thank you George for sharing your thoughts.



What bikepacking have you done?
I have done a lot of bikepacking in New England, starting with riding home (to VT) from a school I worked at in central NH, and then a bunch of overnights in VT and Colorado. 

What were some of your biggest trips?
My biggest trip was the CTR in Colorado, the biggest trip in the East was riding from my house to a campground in ME to hang out with my family.  

What routes have you ridden?
The Colorado trail is the only route I have completed, and part of the xVT trail.  I can't wait to finish that one!

What races have you been a part of?
The CTR was a "race"  I would call it more communal suffering.  

What (future) plans do you have?
I want to ride the xVT and the Adirondack Trail Race this year, and I have to go back to Colorado again.  It is incredible. 

Whom with?
Anyone who doesn't mind my snoring and steady diet of sardines.  

What/how do you pack?
I try to go as light as I can, focusing on staying dry and warm.  I usually ride with a camelbak, so that leaves plenty of room in the frame/seat bags for food and beverages.  

How do you eat?
I eat whatever is available and seems appetizing.  I got burned by some microwave burritos last time I attempted the CTR and now I shy away from those.  I find actually (restaurant/prepared) food works best.  

Special gear/style of packing?
I guess I choose gear that is going to last but is also light. 

Do you have a race strategy?
Nope.  Finishing is hard enough!

How do you train?
Lots of skiing in the winter, and when the skiing isn't good, I have a fatbike.  Hiking with a fatbike is very similiar to HAB with a loaded cross-country bike. 

Any off season considerations?
I just love to ski, so I call it training when I am out hunting for powder.  

How much riding/how much work/family time, etc.?
My wife runs a lot, so I get plenty of time to get out a bike.  I have no set plan for riding, I just go and do it because it is fun.  

What do you like about it (bikepacking) ..... Why do you do it?
It is awesome to see how far a bike can take you.  My first CTR was mind-blowing.  Pushing for hours, cursing the bike only to crest the ridge and be blown away by mountain ridges to horizon.  And the 30 minute downhills got my heart going as well.  

Anything strange ..... Seen, done, or happened while out there?
Nothing too crazy, thankfully.  There was the one time I interrupted a couple having a romantic moment in a National Forest parking lot, but I try to forget that as much as I can.  

A typical bikepacking spread