As I was living in America, on the very tip of the edge of cutting off a piece of the newest in new, I checked my feed (images and you-buy-now!s are trickled into my consciousness as often as I want via my pocket computer) and some guy was lamenting the trend of vintage mountain bikes and how they are the new black/fixed gear/fat bike/ bikepacking, and how the new “that crowd” will come into his shop and act entitled, same as the old “that crowd”.
Aside from realizing there was a “new” trend afoot, I was a little surprised bikepacking is the old new black. Already? Dang. I have only just gotten over the smug mash-up label. Call it what you want, call it what you will, it’s just riding bikes. And THAT is a trend that will continue.
One of the finer points of riding bikes as bikepacking is: you can do it. Just, like, right from your door. You can load up some camping-out stuff (whatever you got, it will work) and put it (however you do, it will work) on your bike (whatever you got, it will work) and ride it to someplace neat. Beating the dead horse drum: you don’t NEED special equipment. The most basic of gear will serve. If you want to refine your set-up it will (to a point) improve the handling and shredding, but it’s not critical. And, we most of us don’t get flown in to the drop-zone adventure spot like it’s our job. Or even live close enough to the super sweet goods. But we can eke out some satisfaction with 2 consecutive days off and the will to fight to survive to reach the top. There is some liminal space near you (yes, YOU) that is enough to hold a sleeping bag, a 6pack, and your dreams. Find it and live in it sometimes.
That’s a real world adventure. THE real. The REAL WORLD. And then, when you’re all experienced and kick-ass, and there comes your opportunity to go to Iceland on a space helicopter and ride somebody else’s laser fresh new gear (so fly, it ain’t even touch the ground) like it’s a rental, you will be so ready. You will have stayed ready, so you won’t have to get ready. You feel me? ADVENTURE. You can have it!
Don’t just eat that hamburger, eat the hell out of it.
And but so I had a couple days off in a row of my own. I thought of one plan, but it wouldn’t work. Then I thought of another, but it wouldn’t work. So I thought of another other plan, and it seemed like it would work. That plan was to get on my bike with some camping stuff and ride off into the sunset.
This type of adventure allows for a beer stop once out past the traffic…
..and another when it seems relevant. Riding the road has it’s advantages: getting a ice cold beer, for example.
I mostly want to talk about cooking options here. I’ve been on a few tours with the jet-powered boiler set-ups and I don’t love them. They are quick, but loud as hell and you gotta carry bulky (if not heavy) fuel containers. I’ve used various pocket stoves of the Esbit type, but I don’t love them. They are closer to the ideal, real small and using a starter (fuel tab or such) plus wood…but require a lot of managing, with a constant supply of twigs at hand. I really don’t want to hear about your homemade alcohol stove. You know you never use everclear for fuel, which is the only upside to the damn things- that you might could get loaded on the fuel so it’s a 2fer. But you never do, so knock it off.
I typically (unless I’m really bare bonesing it) use the Kelly Kettle, because it’s so efficient at using twigs, but I’ve noticed 3 downsides to it. 1) it’s fecking BULKY, 2) it’s only great for boiling water, and 3) all a my buddies know I’ll pack it, so they just count on my having it and never tote their own stoves they just “help” me use the boiled water.
And what? With all this stuff it’s kind of sticking you with space food. Heating up some foil packet of something you don’t really like. That’s great if you are grinding out some fortitudinous event-type miles and weight is a real issue, or doing a multi-day thing where space is at a premium. Truly.
I hauled a grill top out so I can stash it, since this is a place I go somewhat regularly. I picked up some firewood on the way, since there isn’t much near camp…
I packed some hobo-type real world ingredients. I don’t give a fuck.And for desert, because I’m an asshole, I grilled a nectarine. It’s LEGIT.
Sleeping out with the stars for a blanket is satisfying. Full belly, sipping whisky, watching the meteors burn…
In the morning, the Kelly Kettle works fast to bring the coffee. But and of course I gotta blow it somehow, so it’s an empty beer can for a bowl. Again.
So much market. #sellyouradventure #etc
In the ever-now, I am feeling good about what’s next because I still have my “vintage” mountain bike, which is the next big thing, and it’s the same as it ever was: rides like a bike.by
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All good with me. Sometimes I get fancy and open two cans so they can call me a chef. The out there part is the part I like. The rest doesn’t matter so much. Unless it rains. Good on you for writing this.
Fucking awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Goddamn, YES! What is the new new? The more I poke around cycling sites, it seems like everyone who was in a band 5 years ago quit and now rides “gravel bikes.” Fucking pathetic. The same dudes who used to mock roadies…are now fucking roadies! Except they have beards and tattoos. I have always hated goddamn trends. Wear/do/read/watch what you want to and don’t let someone else dictate it to you. I outgrew this as a kid. Marketing worked when I was 11 and played tons of sports and wanted the new gear. I’m astounded how many “adults” are completely fucking duped by marketing. Just look at all the asshole joggers. Jogging used to require 1 fucking thing: some decent sneakers. Now you need a small bank loan to gear up…to jog a mile. Fuck off.
Ride your goddamn bike because it’s fun. Rapha seems to have spawned a whole network of art school dropouts who are now roadies. It blows. As if the number crunching roadies weren’t bad enough, we now have reformed fixsters clogging the works.
I need to do more bike touring/camping. What I have done has been great.
You sir, are the Grant Peterson of bike packing, and yes, that’s intended as a compliment.
Ron, agree, 100%
30 some odd years in the industry, and I am sooooo done with the “next” thing. 2.3% this, 4.2% that, who gives a flying fuck?
Reason I love fat bikes, (sorta, but not now really the next big thing) is they actually fill a niche, and do something no other bike one might have, does.
Gravel grinders? If you have a bike old enough to actually fit something bigger than a 23 (kills me when I mention trying 25’s and folks blanch “god now, those are huge”….) toss some 28’s or 32’s on and ride dirt roads to your hearts content.
What’s this vintage MTB bitch? Am I missing out on being new cool now? Got a mess on the ceiling, they seem to propagate over night. Love the old stuff, and cycling history in general……
Out to ride in a bit, kinda cranky, mid summer in the shop gets to wearing you down after a while. Just remembered, got refill the flask before I head out, life just got little brighter!
You just have to laugh at what cycling has become. It is a fashionable workout , which is fucking GREAT for the industry. If you feel that $5k is an appropriate amount to have fun on a bike, then… I support you, I encourage you and I will regurgitate all the reasons and details you need in order to be persuaded you that this $5k IS the best cycling choice you could possibly make.
Promote the hell out of anything people are into. The majority wants to be/look like the cover of bicycling magazine, so let that crowd roll down that trail and we watch and cheer them on. Once they are out of sight, we stomp on our empty cans, make plans and head off kinda quietly up steep, dumb and “totally not worth it” directions. Both parties thinking the others are idiots and I’m fine with that.
Great article RD!
Esbits are fucking awesome.
Used them for many years in the military & when I was climbing.
I now see that they have a coffee maker so I should investigate that, (or not, I’m perfectly happy with instant coffee out in the woods, don’t have to impress anyone).
But my cool creds are up for renewal, so maybe I should give a shit, or not.
Not giving a shit is the new cool?
If it ain’t, I guess it might as well be.
But I don’t know how that could be turned into a profit center.
Which is totally not my problem .
That looks like a very nice couple days outing. Well done. Also, it was worth reading the whole post, if for no other reason than to learn that grilled nectarines are a thing.
While I definitely am frustrated with the consumerism and self-advertising so many folks are addicted to these days, what bugs me more are folks who feign indifference, soul, and spirit…but are similarly deluded.
I can think of a few dudes pushing gear/biking/lifestyles on their sites and blogs who fit the bill. “Man, roadies are so lame. I’m only gonna ride my fixie.” And now the fixster has moved to a new city, gotten a few new tattoos, and rides a “gravel grinder” because ya know, it ain’t a road bike.
I don’t really care. I’m going to ride my bike today. And tomorrow. I just don’t like phonies. And, I’m seeing quite a few of them living online…
Road riding is fun as shit. Fixed gears are (hard) fun as shit. Fat bikes are fun as shit, but the mid-fat is where it’s at most of the time. Mountain biking, vintage or not, is fun as shit. Fuck “gravel grinding” as a category, but riding your dropped-bar bike off pavement is fun as shit. Cyclocross is FUN AS SHIT.
To me, it’s not one category over another. And it certainly isn’t buy nothing ever (support your local bike shop!), it’s just not getting hung up on equipment. As the fair weather cyclist pointed out…it’s the being out there that matters.
You’ll pay to know what you really think.
reminds me of an old ‘ask the pro’ Q “what’s the best saddle bag” A. “trick question! no saddle bag, just a credit card for an espresso and a cell to summon the au pair if you flat’ i mean who would carry stuff jeeez my moonlander weighs about 55lbs before it’s even loaded and it sure loves crushing scree up above tree line with full panniers and a case of beer. more than once i’ve toured with my hammock, set it up and someone else passes out in it. . a frisbee also works as a plate and you can play at rest stops . . hay at least the bike industry still has bikes in it. . somewhere
Come on out to bumcamp some time. I have a feeling you will feel right at home.
Looks interesting! :D
“One of the finer points of riding bikes as bikepacking is: you can do it. Just, like, right from your door.”
Nails it on the head. That was my first “bikepacking” trip around 1972. My friend’s dad drove us up to a jobsite he was working at in southern Sonoma county. We had average ten-speeds with racks, and we had backpacks. With frames. We carried really basic stuff: sleeping bags, tarps, I forget what kind or if we even brought a stove, and probably a lot of trail mix or whatever for food. The details have long since faded, and we didn’t bring a camera. We rode out to the coast and down Highway One in Marin County, where I grew up. We camped out in the Olema campground, left our camping gear there and “mountain biked” all the way out to the coast on the Bear Valley “trail,” a dirt road that leads to a manufactured-from-dairy-ranches “Wilderness,” where you can’t ride anymore. I fondly remember that, a combination of my love for backpacking and bike riding. I’ve done it a few times since, and hope to continue.
I promise not to tell you about my home-made beer-can alcohol stove, but I can tell you that in extreme fire danger times like now, a local USFS head ranger has told me that the Kelly Kettle and its variants are illegal to use. I have one of those. Convenient, but bulky and messy.
It’s just riding bikes. I did it as a kid because it is fun. Now I do it because it makes me feel like that kid. Remember-it’s just riding bikes.
yo son…looks like you got some non organic, gmo hyped food….throw some real meat on dat grill!!!! solo from home, up to the spring? ouch!
check this out: http://bikealicious-romania.com/one-day-trip-to-trascau-fortress-and-secuiului-stone/
Okay, I dig the notion of fabricating drop-bar frame sets with fork and stay clearances to allow say 32C or 34C tars.
But you know what’s rad-tarded? Hydro disc brakes.
My ‘cross bike runs cable-actuated discs and they stop just fine on a gravel road, thank you. Hydro discs are LITERALLY adding cost and complexity for no reason other than marketing.
Cantis have always worked a treat on my Crosscheck. Just saying.
@Joe— we shall have to agree to disagree about canti brakes (which suck), but here in rainy old Seattle, any sort of rim brakes will in fact eat your rims in gritty conditions, not to mention the variable lag time of drying the rims before the pads can bite. But in dry conditions, yeah, rim brakes work fine.
My Trophy Bike runs good, old-fashioned, double-pivot rim brakes; she stops like hitting a wall. I also notices whilst rifling through a photo gallery of “2015 Tour Tech” that every pro race bike I saw still runs rim brakes.
Hydro discs on road-going bikes is rad-tarded.
Meh. “Horses for courses”, I always say.
mikey – UCI still hasn’t legalized disc brakes in the pro (road) peloton. You won’t see them at the Tour this year.
I ride hydros on my vinti mtb build. The opposing paradigms generated by the juxtaposition of Cindy Lauper era steel and contemporary early century hydro technology really connects me to place and time.
Many years ago, in the pre-disc-brake era, I wore out a set of rear shoes on a dirt-road descent in the rain. This was “bikepacking” several days out. Fortunately I tend to carry spares, and we decided to get a hotel that night so we could dry out and fix things. A few weeks later, that rim wore clean through the first layer of aluminum, basically destroying the wheel. Fortunately this was close to home. I now use mechanical disc brakes on my mountain bikes, and worn-through rims are no longer a problem.
Although I work on them in a regular basis, in my opinion there is something “impure” about hydraulic disc brakes. Bicycles are basically simple mechanical devices, and as soon as you add motor vehicle technology to them – toxic fluids that might leak – you are sort of “defiling” the bike. And I like to be able to fix anything on the road. A bleed kit and a bottle of brake fluid in my tool kit would be a joke. I always carry a spare brake cable, but have never had to use it. I have an 11 year old bike with mechanical discs, and all I have ever had to replace are the shoes.
Hydraulics might “feel” better than mechanical, but I can stop just as quickly with the mechanical version (It would be interesting to conduct a blind test). On a long descent, especially on the dirt, the difference between rim brakes and disc brakes becomes apparent. With disc brakes my hands and forearms aren’t as beat up by the bottom of the hill, compared to rim brakes. But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.
I’d agree. My only anecdotal argument for hydros is from a buddy that always used them till he moved to an area with significantly longer descents.
He found the return spring on mechs to be stronger, and thus, created more arm pump on long descents, and when he switched to hydros, noted that this phenomenon dropped away.
Well set up ,with good cables and full length housing, good quality mechs are bomber. Cheap ones still suck donkey cock comparatively.
So I guess it’s fair to say you’d agree with my general thoughts on DI2 an the like? =:D
As for toxic, hate DOT fluid, the mineral oil, while still not mechanically “pure” is at least, fairly innocuous…..
@mendoncyclesmith, yeah, and the most common brand of mineral-oil brake is also the best, minimal maintenance and so forth. The two I know of that use some sort of DOT fluid need more attention, so more likely to drip that stuff all over the floor.
Right now I run BB7 mechanicals on both my bikes. One has 180 rotors front and back, so those are one-or-two-finger brakes. I guess that after so many years of pumping cantilever brakes, I hadn’t noticed the return springs on the discs.
Electronic shifting is one of those “impurities” but is advantageous because of no cable stretch adjustments, and more precision for people who don’t have a “feel” for proper shifting. One of my old bikes is still friction shift, because the “indexing” is built into my hand/brain/whatever. There’s a whole generation of bikers now without that muscle memory.
Bottom line is that the more technology we add to a bike, the more that can go wrong, which is especially important when considering equipping ourselves for long-distance multi-day trips far from the home / shop.