Blog - Manual Pedal

Surly Long Haul Trucker: Custom Disc Brake Bikepacking Setup – Manual Pedal


Latest image taken – 11/7/2017

After booking Colombia, it didn’t take much thought to decide whether or not I was going to build a new rig for this trip or bring my trucker. After shortly deciding on the trucker being the bike I’d be taking. I had to take a look to see what needed to be changed and swapped with updated parts. My Kokopelli rig was a 10spd drivetrain 32/24, with a 10/36 in the rear that sat on 2.1 tires. It was a solid rig that was capable of handling Kokopelli’s rocks, dirt and sand with no problem. I expected this bike to perform the same in Colombia. You can read more about Kokopelli’s Rig on this link. This bike was fully modified for that trip and retains most of the modifications today.

With my latest concoction, I changed a few things around. I adapted a front disc brake setup. This happened after my original forks brake mount snapped off during a crash in Colombia, that left me with no front brake on descents. Shortly after returning home here in the states, I bought and mounted a disc trucker fork to the long haul trucker frame. After my front brake failed after that crash, I knew instantly disc brakes would have been a far better choice due to the terrain and the load being carried.


Brakes:

I went with the TRP Spyre SLC road disc brake for my bike. TRP crafted a fine piece of aluminum and carbon for this brake. It’s light weight, designed for road and cx but can take on mud and mixed conditions. I think this is a great match for the rider looking for a bit more quality, functionality, ease of use and longevity. I see no issues with this brake on the long haul trucker going forward.

What I like most about it is that it actuates both pads simultaneously. This is different than other systems I’ve seen for mechanical systems. What I mean is, when touring you want your bike to have a solid setup this way you can focus on the riding and being there. Also you want to be able to fix your bike in a barn in any event you have a brake down. A straight cable to the the disc brake and a few turns to mount and adjust the disc brake and set.

Adjustment is a fly with this brake. It will require a hex tool and allen wrench to mount. I have mine mounted up easily to my existing Avid brake lever. The pull is very nice on this brake. I have a Shimano 180mm disc center lock rotor which will provide better stopping power and extended pad life. The Spyre SLC disc brake makes for a nice addition to my setup. It should suit most disc touring frames and comes with additional mounting hardware.

Wheels:

I’ve been wanting to get new wheels built for a while. I had my eyes set on the Mavic A719 rims laced to Shimano XT Disc Hubs with DT spokes. I was also stoked that this was my first official set of wheels I built myself.

Drivetrain:

For me drivetrain was a battle of trail and error. From the stock triple, to a double to now a 1×11 setup. I think after riding in different locations and getting a feel for the terrain you can get a better feel for a setup that works best for me. I now run a 1×11/42. This new setup is a keeper. It’s clean, light, shifts smooth and low maintenance will be required.

 

Frame:
Surly Long Haul Trucker
Fork/Headset:
Surly Long Haul Trucker, 4130 CroMo
Crankset/Bottom Bracket:
Shimano Deore
Pedals:
Shimano XTR M-980 Pedals/ MTB Bear Trap Platform
Drivetrain/Cog/Chainring/Chain:
Shimano XT, Shimano 32t 1x 11/42 Cassette 11spd
RearShifter:
Shimano XT SGS (Long Cage) 11spd
Handlebars/Stem:
Shimano Koyak MTB Crossbar
Saddle/Seatpost:
Thomson Masterpiece, Specialized Toupe
Brakes:
Front – TRP Spyre SLC Disc
Rear – Shimano V-Brake/
Leavers – Avid
Wheels /Hub/Tire:
Mavic A719 32h, Shimano XT Disc Hubs, DT Champion Spokes, WTB Riddler Tire 700×45 front/rear
Accessories:
Ergon GP2 Bar end grips, Outfitted with Revelate Designs bags

End Route: Colombia Bikepacking Trip Report Day 4-5

We got into Cajamarca after our jeep broke down for the 3rd time shortly after leaving Touché. The breakdown kept us roadside for about an hour before we decided to leave on two wheels. We covered too much ground on the jeep that day. The plan was to initially get to Cajamarca to catch up on the route since we missed a full day. It was nice to finally be on the bike and riding the trail. It was a short ride in and longer when I stopped to snap a photo. This segment of the ride was mainly downhill so I took it slow on my V-brake setup, while George had disc breaks and went down ahead fast. Battling the terrain on my bike was a bit tough but still manageable. I ride a rigid setup that some would raise an eyebrow at since it’s not the ideal choice for a trip like this. Others, such as purist may appreciate the character.

After arriving in Cajamarca we found a hotel and put our bikes down for the night. Cajamarca is a truck through route city, small and punchy. For dinner we ordered whatever he was having. Looking back, it must have been a Sancocho de Pescado. A fish soup dish served with rice, yucca, potato and corn garnished with a lime. It was a hearty stew like dish. Fuel for tomorrows ride into Ibagué.

In the morning we were out the door around 8:30am. It was 32 miles of road riding into Ibagué where we would pick up our off-road route. Riding the road was sketchy. Trucks were nearly rubbing elbows as some viciously passed by and the local motorist think they’re in go carts. This is why I prefer being off-road. We got into Ibagué around 11:30am.


We decided since it was early to grab a fast lunch and continue pushing forward on the route. It was a bit tough finding the trail head. George was already frustrated and it was only getting hotter out. After finding the route we climbed for hours. This section was tough and one of the biggest climbs and bike a hikes I’ve ever done on my rig. After reaching the top the trail became very dangerous. The trail narrowed in and We suddenly appeared on a foot trail that led to homes of the locals that lived in the mountains. They were shocked to see us on bikes passing through their, and at the same time paid us no mind. The route became steeper and more technical as we continued to push on. I ended up taking a spill over the bars and broke my fork V-Brake boss. At this point I only have a rear brake.

After skidding everywhere, we approached a dead-end to the trail, seemingly by it’s appearance. We had to either continue on this path or head back to the trail head. This was the moment where I had to make the decision to hike back up to the main trail or take a risk on the rough foot trail. After conversing over a plan we decided it was best to abandon route and seek alternatives. We hiked back up to the main trail which was brutal. We ended up riding back into Ibague where we ended our ride.

Its easy to get comfortable in areas like these. The remoteness of it plays a big part. Part of me wanted to continue, while the other part just needed to take a step back to consider our safety. While going for it and taking the risk could have ended in reward, It’s all about knowing your limits.

Subscribe to the journal below for more.

Colombia Bikepacking Trip Report: Day 2-3

It was a slow ride from Armenia into Salento. Distancing away from the cars we go further and farther away from black top roads and onto the dirt track high into the mountains. You can hear the tires rustle as they transition. The distractions of cars sounding off horns and motorbikes revving up their engines as they pass by slowly quiet. We were then undisturbed. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. It was all new, the same but different. On the trail the Banana trees and large snowflake like plants replaced the usual shrubs from back home, and the palms took up most of the trail dramatically. We were in the wild.

It was a big climb into Salento that took us just under 3 hours. We took breaks in between; no rush it was the first day. The initial plan was to get close to The Cocora Valley so that we can see them first thing in the morning. That soon changed after we decided to stop for a beer after making it into Salento. We then met Zack, a Floridian who worked the bar at Luciérnaga Salento. After hanging in he convinced us we stay right here in town. We booked a night at La Serrana, an Eco Farm Hostel not far down the road. We parked our bikes for the evening and walked back to the bar for a second round of Club Roja

That evening the night was clear, and packed with entertainment close by. Several more rounds of Club Roja, and a late night walk back to the hostel. – (I read my own mind). Tomorrow, a new day, a new ray of sunrise with a new warmth.

The next day was the usual for me. I kept my routine and work up before 5:30am. I didn’t want to but it was automatic. 5:43-5:44 I felt the earth shake. No one believed me, I was the only one up. It rumbled and my heart started pounding after what I experienced. I stayed up for a while quiet with my eyes open, then grabbed my camera and went outside. After breakfast we packed our bikes and took a jeep ride from the center of town over to Salento with our bikes. The plan was to check out the Wax Palms in the Valley and then pickup our route near by afterwards.

The Route that we took was wrong. We were going in reverse for about 45minutes on a downhill course. After a few mountain bikers came down and told us we were going the wrong way we had to leave and head back into Salento. On the way we meet a few mountain bike riders who showed us an alternate route that will take us into Tochê. This was the actual route that was on our map. It was clean in the beginning, but later that evening things took a turn for the worse.

The sun began to fall so we needed to find camp. We setup stealth slightly hidden from the high grass off the route. It was dark by the time our tents were setup. George prepared the stove for dinner. Upon functioning the stove, it combusted and later burnt out. We were out of a stove, and later out of a sleeping back as his rolled down the edge of the ridge we were camped off of. After a combination of hike-a-bike and climbing for 3 hours prior to to this unfortunate event, we decided to descent back into Salento to try and find fuel and a new stove, and possibly a blanket of some sort for George. It was a long day.

 

Colombia Bikepacking Trip Report: Day 0-1

Colombia, one of the South American countries I’ve always wanted to visit. I dreamt of seeing the Wax Palms in the valley so much I almost tattooed one along my right rib cage in Bogotå. Bolivar Square, a magical place where birds fly wild in front of you waiting for you to push the shutter. The vivid colors of the colonial villages, the coffee, the food, the people, the sounds, and the mountains – I <sigh>.

I’ve been wanting to ride Colombia for a couple of years. I’ve had a few trips under my belt on the home turf, but an international trip was far fathomed before coming into fruition. My stomach was turning when George said he was down. Right there I said to my self “wow, this is it.” So now, how do you deal with the fear of the unknown? You do it by simply recognizing you don’t have much of a choice.

That was initially my thinking in bikepacking Colombia. You do everything you can to plan to the tee. Bike properly together and working, insurance to back your ass up if things go south (oh it did), and whether or not the route your riding is actually rideable. There’s so much you can do in terms of preparation, but the core of it all is just going for it and figuring things out on the go.

A short Uber ride to the LIRR to meet up with George at the AirTrain, then a 6 ½ hour flight into Bogotå, Colombia. We got in late evening, exhausted from time travel and pulling our cumbersome bike bags that kept tumbling over. We booked a hotel for a couple nights before heading West to Armenia where our route begins.

The first full day in Bogotå was amazing. Sort of a culture shock for me because it was my first time out of the United States, let alone on a pretty intense bikepacking adventure. We were on our bikes, the best way to travel here. Bogotå has an incredible system of bike lanes setup all over the city. The lanes are pretty safe, but riding in the street can be dangerous. However, I think everyone looks out for each other. Yyou can tell they have a method going to keep everyone safe on the road, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable riding with the cars and motorbikes. We kept it tourist style and explored just about everything during our first couple days there. We jumped from restaurant to café to historic landmarks and diving into different neighborhoods to check out the scene.

A couple of days later we booked a 9-hour bus ride from Bogotå to Armenia, Colombia which is point A of our route. George’s tire exploded after getting sliced by a sharp end on a water bottle cage makeshift he installed right before boarding the bus. We had to find a tire at a local bikeshop there which came by quite easy. The next day begins our first day of the trip where we ride into Salento, a 26 km ride with a massive climb. This was where the feeling began to be real for me. The next day the Wax Palms await.

 

-Stay tuned for Day two of this trip coming soon. Follow @manualpedlpix for images and updates.

Colombia Gear Packing List

The best part of bike touring and bikepacking trips is rounding up gear. For me, I take time doing this and usually start a couple weeks before departure. This setup derived from past experience with gear used, over and under packing. For my first international bikepacking trip I packed half the kitchen sink. If you look at my earlier setups dating back to my 2014 first tour, you would know what I’m talking about. We project rainy days riding in the Colombian mountains so rain gear is a must. Mixed with smart wool tech shirts for hot days and my trusted 4 season Akto. I’m happy to say I have everything I need.

All items will be compartmentalized and packed in my Revelate Designs framebag, handlebar bag, saddle bag & Osprey 18L backpack. Smaller items like food and electronics will be stored in waterproof bags and inside another bag which will be mounted to my handlebar system. I’ll do a follow up after our trip on how it performs. Chime in with a comment below if you have questions about this setup. Would love to know what some of you pack for extended international trips.

Riding Gear:
Endura bike shorts
1 smart wool short sleeve
1 smart wool long sleeve
2 smart wool socks
2 underwear
MTB shoes
Sandals
Gloves
Rain gear
Helmet/ Cycling cap
Sunglasses

Off Bike/ Casual Gear:
Pants x5
Shorts x4
Socks x6
Under x a lot
Sneakers & Shoes

Gear:
Tent/ Sleeping Bag/ Air Mattress/ Camp Pillow
Water Bottles/ 3L Reservoir
Tools/ 3x Tubes/ Tire/ Lock
Pump/ Patch Kit/ Chain Links & Master Link
Portable Battery Pack x2/ Lithium Batteries
Headlamp/ Bike Lights
Bike Lock (Not Pictured)

Necessities:
Passport/ Driver License/ Travel Insurance
iPhone & Charger/ Headphones (Not Pictured)
Cash/ Credit Card
Travel Docs & Other Paperwork
Camera Gear/ Storage Cards & Extra batteries (Not Pictured)
First Aid

Colombia Route & Planning

Route Planning is fun, tedious and daunting in more ways than one. First, I come up with this idea of a ride in a particular place that pokes my interest. In this case Colombia, a country I’ve never visited before. I then go on google maps to check out the region, a few clicks here and there at images, and then comes the need of using more advance software to build my route.

On road touring can give you the ability of plugging in a point A & B address to have a line automatically drawn out for you, where as bikepacking is a little more involved because you are using off road trails, fire roads, rail trail, and often times unridden or unmarked paths that don’t always show up on google maps. This was the case when planning the route for Colombia.

Part of my process involves paper maps, online topo maps, and advance mobile apps for mapping. In this write up I will walk you through some of the programs and processes I use for navigation and resources to support my overall bike adventures.

Software:
Garmin Basecamp | Ride With GPS | Gaia GPS | MotionXGPS | Google Earth/ Maps (Streetview)

The software always varies depending on the ride. For local adventures I use basic point A to Point B software like Ride With GPS. I usually build my route referencing it with Google to zero in on my location. This helps if you want to see what the area of your route actually looks like You can go as far as using street view and Google Earth for a closer look.

A fast search online to see if other riders have traversed the area via bicycle is another option. That can help you build your route as well.

Garmin Basecamp software is another great platform with so many tools for building a solid route. You can setup waypoints, notes, gather elevation plots, install dedicated maps and easily export the completed route into different formats like gpx and tcx files to use for navigation devices.

For mobile navigation I am currently using Gaia GPS along with MotionXGPS as backup. Gaia GPS is great because you can plan out a route in the native software or upload your route that was previously built in other software programs like Basecamp or Ride with GPS, and have it sync up directly to your mobile phone. The desktop software works hand in hand with the mobile app with the syncing feature. It’s such an intuitive process for workflow because it shows up almost instantly.

MotionXGPS is a little different and getting your route loaded on to the app requires you to send it via their file sharing software via iTunes. It’s fairly simple to do but a bit of a learning curve. You can also email them your finished route and they will send you instruction on installing the route to the app. It’s fairly simple.

Determining Your Route:
The first step is to determine if your route is going to be a loop or a thru route. A loop begins at point A, circles around your desired region and ends back at point A. Thru route begins at point A and end at point B. Loops are easier to take on. You can get to your location, ride and end up back there however many days later. A thru route is a bit more difficult because you begin at point A, then ride to point B. You then have to figure out how to get back to point A.

While both will be exciting adventures, just keep in mind that you will need to figure out how to get back. Options like, renting a car, hitchhiking, Uber (possibly) or doing your route in reverse are options. For our upcoming Colombia trip we are taking a bus 8 hours from Bogota to Armenia, our starting point. Then ride back to Bogota. This would be considered a thru route.

Starting A Route:
The first route I officially planned was cycling from Poughkeepsie, NY to Woodstock, NY. This was a thru route that we also road in reverse. It’s a total of 70 miles round trip, and was built using Ride With GPS online software. My starting point was at the Metro North Station. The route then leads you through rail trail systems and ends in the main town of Woodstock, NY.

While it’s simple to plug in an address, you definitely need to zero into your route and use other resources to support your route planning. This is when Google Earth and street view come in. These tools give you the ability to view roads to get a closer look at what you’re getting into before setting off on your adventure. As mentioned earlier, it doesn’t work everywhere.

Colombia:
Colombia is a country I’ve always wanted to visit. While the media still reports talk of coca fields, rebels, violent crime, and kidnappings. Most travelers would opt for a location far from here. It’s true the country does have challenges with poverty and other unironed creases, but apart from the media reports, tabloid headlines and negative news bites from blog post, Colombia is a thriving country. It’s grown to be a major tourist destination with improved security. Cost are also low so now is a good time to go.

Colombia is an epicenter for bikes. It’s known for breading some of the top class road & mountain bikers and has an array of overlanding terrain. The rich culture and biodiversity, along with its coffee history drives my interest in visiting here. One of the more popular locations I want to visit is the Wax Palms that seat in the central region of the Andean Mountains in Quindío. The Wax Palms are incredible palm trees native to this region and Peru. They sit in the Cocora Valley spanning as high as 200 feet. So southwards we go.

I plotted this route using Garmin Basecamp software. I then moved it to Ride With GPS for a secondary map overview and finally to Gaia GPS for the mobile app navigation and routing. My dedicated GPS for navigation will be my Garmin Edge 500 which draws a track for you to ride on.

Garmin Basecamp View of Route:

Ride With GPS View of Route:

Gaia GPS View of Route:

Motion X GPS View of Route:

Garmin Edge 500 View of Route:

We’ll be riding from Armenia and heading northeast passing through Salento, with a stop at the Wax Palms, then back to our route heading southeast to Ibague, Giradot, Tocaima, Viota, and finally ending in Bogota. A total of 233 miles of cycling. Below is a route plot for the ride we’ll be taking on trough these destinations. I’ll be posting after the trip is completed with a full report along with the traditional gear breakdown hopefully before departure. If you have question leave them in the comments below.

Vermont Weekender

Vermont may very well be a bikepackers haven. It’s similar in that it shares some characteristics of Colorado’s terrain, endless miles of dirt roads, beautiful foliage, maple syrup, epic views & beer (breweries). This was a fast getaway, a weekender or training that will lead us into a bigger trip to come. George dropped the pin on Vermont about a month ago for a brewery tour. We put a route in place that led us through on/ off road corridors before ending up at Long Trail Brewery, our destination that had two cold bitter Summer Ale’s waiting upon our arrival.

Mixed up with steep climbs, long descents and hike-a-bikes through primitive woodsy areas, it was a rewarding ride. I’ll be posting more images on the Manual Pedal Instagram feed which you can find here. Each image will have detail from from beginning to end. Enjoy! And follow the Instagram Feed at ManualPedalPix for more stories and bike adventures.

Special thanks to Peter & Jimmy for hosting us for the evening along with an amazing breakfast the next morning. They are truly kind folks. If in the area reach out to them via Warm Showers.










Photo Credit: George Regus












New England Weekender: Gear List

Planning for bikepacking trips are the best. It can be very strategic or effortless. Over the years I’ve developed a someone what decent, and streamline way to my packing list. Some things to consider are duration, location/ terrain and weather. By designing your packing list around these four essential variables you will begin to see things fall into place. I tend to layout all my gear on my floor a day or two before departure. This can change based on the length of the trip. For extended touring/ bikepacking more than two weeks, always plan ahead.

A little about the trip. This is a New England weekender. A short Vermont brewery bike tour Beginning in Londondale, VT, looping through country roads for on & off road dirt touring. The route passes through Hawks Mountain, and up to Bridgewater for Brewery stops before making it to camp at Coolidge State Forest. The total loop is a short 81miles and can be done in a day or two.

The Hilleberg Akto tent I’ve used for 3 years now, and it’s held up excellent through multiple conditions. I’ve used it in the winter, spring and summer. It’s a bit on the warmer side in summer so I usually pack less clothing to compensate for the warmth. Often times I find myself sleeping on top of my sleeping bag.

My sleeping bag I picked up last minute before I rode the Kokopelli Trail. I needed something lightweight and packable that would fit inside my saddle bag. The EcoPro 50 fit the bill. It’s a great little bag that can be opened up all the way and used as a blanket. I like to do this on hotter days.

I used to ride with my Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest sleeping pad for years. However, I’ve since retired the RidgeRest and included the NeoAir XLite to my arsenal. It’s a game changer. Not only is It lightweight, but it’s extremely comfortable. After long hours on the saddle, you’ll thank yourself for the investment as you gaze at the stars in awe that you switched.

These bags will all be packed in my Revelate Designs Viscacha seat bag, Sweetroll handle bar bag, Tangle frame bag, and Gas Tank. In terms of distribution of items, I put my sleeping system in the handlebar bag, clothing food and sleeping bag in saddle bag, bladder in frame bag, and camera and snacks in the gas tank. With this setup I have plenty of more room for food, clothing and other paraphernalia if needed.

Pack List:

Sleeping System
Hilleberg Akto
EcoPro 50 Degree Synthetic Sleeping Bag
Thermarest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

Clothing on bike
Endura MTB Shorts
Merrell Wicking Tech Shirt

Clothing in tent/ sleeping
Thermal bottom
Thermal Top
Patagonia Nano Puff
1 Pair Merino Wool Socks
1 Pair Tech Boxer Short

Cooking
Snowpeak 3-piece Titanium Cookset
Titanium Spork
Lighter
Camp Stove
Fuel

Tools
Spare Tube
Patch kit
CO2 Cartridge
Handpump
Multi-tool
Knife

Electronics
Point & Shoot
Mobile Phone (Maps)
GoPro

Misc
First Aid
Toiletries

Sign Up Below For More Post Updates!

Ode to Kokopelli Trail: Day Four – Five

Awakened 3AM in the morning by the sounds of truck tires and chains dragging on the hardened dirt where we were camped. While traveling out of my REM sleep I forgot we were sleeping at a popular boating campground named West Water. Due to overnight distractions and not so good of a sleep, we both woke up pissed off and cold from the chill Colorado river. It was early, we broke down on time, ate breakfast and refilled our water supply before loading our bikes and heading off. The ranger on duty was kind to give us food after a short chat about our trip. I think he knew what we were up against. We we’re on the road a little before 10am. About a mile of pavement then directly on dirt double track shortly thereafter.

The day seemed comfortable. The fast track through the Utah fields was like a dream. The wind lightly brushed the grass, the tires crushing over the red clay and subtle breeze against my arms was pure bliss. We logged our 25 miles 2 1/2 hours later. The climbs came and the hot desert terrain didn’t add up to our expectations. It was tough, one of the most physically demanding trails I’ve ever ridden. Bike, push repeat. After all that, we were rewarded with epic views. We camped at dewy bridge and met bob who offered us to have dinner with his family at their R/V. We chatted the evening collectively, laughed, drank beer and ate. This was our last camp on Kokopelli Trail before taking the road into Moab, UT the next day.


Photo by Mickey Cheng


Photo by Mickey Cheng


Photo by Mickey Cheng

Route Reference: Bikepacking.com – Kokopelli Trail

Dirt Touring Poughkeepsie to Wookstock, NY

A little over 80 miles North of New York City is Poughkeepsie, NY. A connection to the Hudson and Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, and finally the Onteora Trail which will lead you in route to Woodstock, NY. For us, this was an overnight dirt touring trip. A quick weekend getaway that’s mixed with 80% dirt and gravel. I’ve ridden this route solo last July of 2016 on 23mm tires on my full carbon road bike setup for a fast light tour. You can read that write up here.

This trip was a duo with my friend George. A skilled mountain biker at heart with the desire to travel by bike. This is the first trip I’ve went on with George, and certainly not my last. You can sense the companionship through banter, views of the world, and bike stuff. I knew it was going to be a great trip.

The route is mainly intended for travel by rail via Metro North from Grand Central Station in New York City. Once aboard the train to Poughkeepsie you’ll be relaxed for two hours. George and I conversed back and fourth and before we knew it, we were on our bikes and off to the “Walk Over The Hudson”. This will put you directly on Hudson Valley Rail Trail. This 4-mile gravel trail passes through wood forest and creeks before leading you through New Paltz, NY where you will then pick up the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

One of the more difficult sections is the hike a bike up to camp at Overlook.

Walkway to the abandoned hotel that burned down several times and left for ruins.

Manual Pedal


Photo: George Regus

Some sections can be ridden while others can’t.

Beautiful vistas at the summit where we setup camp for the evening.


GPX Source: George Regus