Blog - Manual Pedal

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: – 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


Altra Lone Peak 3.0 & Kokopelli Trail

The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 is a trail specific shoe that boast many attributes as a light hiking shoe. When I decided to go for comfort on my trail hikes I was in the market for something with a nice wide toe box and comfort that can sustain itself for hours on end. I was already running and walking in the Altra Instinct 3.5 which is a very light weight shoe with a wide toe box. If you know Altra, you know that they produce a natural foot designed shoe that gives your feet a good splay in the toe box. This is pretty much how I discovered Altra. I needed a shoe that would aid my toes to splay better over time in the shoe. This will eventually help with posture, your stride when walking, and over all comfort and healthy feet. Talk about embrace the space, they provide comfort, zero drop which in respect is a barefoot styled shoe with cushioning.

My first Altra shoe was the Instinct 3.5. I used this shoe for everything from runs to bike rides along with long day hikes. I wanted something for mountain bike trail rides, bicycle touring and hikes. It had to be something that can meld to me feet and active lifestyle, rather then having melding to it. The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 was the answer. When I first got these shoes I put them on a trail run. Now I’m not a trail runner at heart, but I was stunned at how comfortable they were. Over roots and rocks they over delivered. My next test was to take them on an upcoming trip on the Kokopelli Trail for a 5 day bikepacking trip. They did everything they needed to.

I used platform pedals for the ride which makes it easier to get on and off the bike. The ridged sole gripped the pedals effortlessly. I was surprised to see how well they gripped when we had to cross over wet rocks and other rough terrain. With 6 to 9 hour days of riding, these shoes were so comfortable that I would forget they were even on.

To Sum It Up:

If you’re looking for a shoe that’s extremely versatile, light weight, stylish and sporty, and easy to get on and off. Go for the Altra Lone Peak 3.0. They’re a many color options available for men and women to meld to your lifestyle. Check out the link below to view the shoes we have in stock.

Kokopelli Trail Report: Day Two – Three

Day Two:
Woke up with a sweaty puff jacket sucking up all the oxygen in my tent. The sun was warm. Stepping outside Mickey was already breaking down and packing up. After a short breakfast and game plan we hit the trail. Lots of hiking over big rocks and steep climbs exhausted us. We were looking forward to getting off this single track and on to some gravel. We were both low on water and Mickey was getting frustrated, I can understand. We met Fernando from Spain who was R/V camping with his family. After chopping it up he let us fill up our bottles so we would stay hydrated for the rest of the ride.

We mad it to camp on time at 5pm. We setup our tents, rest, eat and talk before settling in for the evening. We watched the vast landscape and sun hide behind the mountains. Night fall, rain pounded our tents with strong wind. Sunrise, at it again.

Day Three:
Crazy climbing over mountains. Bike push up, ride down, repeat. Dave the Australian – legend.

Route Reference: – Kokopelli Trail

Kokopelli Trail Report – Day One

A short train ride into NYC, to meet Mickey, then pack up our bikes and board a 3:30pm to Chicago. The journey begins.

It crossed my mind that I forgot my tent poles at home half way to Grand Junction. Convinced by Mickey and a bit of hope that my tent poles were in my frame bag, my tent poles weren’t in my frame bag. We built our bikes at the Grand Junction Union Station anxious to get to Fruita and hit the trail. Time wasn’t particularly on our side so the plan was to find a place to crash for the evening since it was already 6pm and didn’t want to hit the trail and ride at night. We got into Fruita at 6:30pm and made a stop at Over The Edge Bikes to get info on the trail and ask where I can find tent poles. Greg helped us out leading us to a couple stores that didn’t have what we needed. REI was back in Grand Junction so we ended up riding back there and parking at a hotel for the night. I pulled Mickey back to Grand Junction as if we were on TT bikes. We had to push, the sun was dropping out the sky, and the chill crisp air was upon us. We made it to our room, pizza, Discovery channel and route planning was the rest of the evening.

Day One:
Met up with Greg who loaned me his tent poles for my Akto. Shortly afterwards it was breakfast then off to Fruita. Quick stop at Over The Edge Sports for a tube, chop it up with the locals, and on the trail by noon. Bike pushing through technical sections, Mickey went down on some rocks pretty bad. I fell on a cactus scrapping my hand but nothing to complain about. The only way is forward. Exhausted from the biggest star in the sky, doubt started to take hold. GU was offered by Mickey, two bottles of H20 down and 15 miles to camp. What a day.

Route Reference: – Kokopelli Trail

Kokopelli Trail & Surly Long Haul Trucker

My Surly Long Haul Trucker reminds me a lot like my old BMX bikes. Swap parts, shave dropouts, smaller chainring sizes & cogs, completely mod the bike. However, still retaining its timeless old school touring/MTB style. So far on the resume this bike hauled me across the U.S. back in (2014), and Virginia Blue Ridge PKWY tour in (2015) where I swapped out the drop bars for a MTB crossbar and XT shifters.

I wanted to push this bike to the limit and see how I can modify it for 5 days riding the popular Kokopelli Trail from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT. The 158mi route consist of of mainly 90% unpaved road, single/ double track, sand, dirt, and tech climbing. One thing I knew I would need right out the gate was bigger tires. My 35c Schwalbe’s soon upgraded to 2.1’s, along with my 44,34,24 triple that went down to a 32,24 double.

After making a short list of items that I needed to convert my bike to a bikepacking machine, I still had to make some serious modifications to fit the tires. Purist Surly owners may cringe after sharing that I shaved my chainstays and fork just to fit the tires. But I was confident enough that this frame would withhold the stress factor I put it through. In and out the shop leading up to our departure, the bike was finally where I wanted it to be.

Mickey grinding down my fork to fit a 2.1 in the front.

Surly Long Haul Trucker
Surly Long Haul Trucker, 4130 CroMo
Crankset/Bottom Bracket:
Shimano Deore
Old School MTB Bear Traps
Shimano Deore, Shimano 32/24X10-36 Cassette 10spd
Shimano XT (front) Shimano XT Long Cage (rear) 10spd
Shimano Koyak MTV Crossbar
Thomson Masterpiece, Specialized Toupe
Front Wheel/Hub/Tire:
Alex Adventurer, 36h rims, Shimano LX T660 36h hubs, WTB 2.1 front
Rear Wheel/Hub/Tire:
Velocity rims on Shimano hub, Specialized Fast Trak 2.0
Outfitted with Revelate Designs bags

Five Days on Kokopelli Trail

Five Days on Kokopelli Trail is a short film about two cyclist bikepacking from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT on the iconic Kokopelli Trail. We had a month of planning which included checking our route, gear, food and other paraphernalia we man need to bring. We projected 4 to 5 days to complete the trail. Kokopelli proved to be one of the toughest trails I’ve ever ridden. It was challenging in every way from the climbs, to the mix terrain. We boarded a 3:30 train from New York, to Chicago, and ending in Grand Junction, CO. The next day we were on the trail.

NYC POV Street Photography by Bicycle

In this post I share a day of New York City street photography by bicycle. There are many different styles to shooting photography or “Street Photography.” Some run and gun, more aggressive style while others try to remain as anonymous as possible. Over the years of shooting street photography I’ve adapted to the enjoyment of riding my bike around to capture fleeting moments of people. It provided a means of traveling from place to place faster and slowing down when I want and walk with my bike to capture an image. It also helps me become more discrete as I blend in with the surroundings. My Ricoh GR I’m sure helps with this too as it’s the perfect tool for street photography. Enjoy!















NYC to Woodstock, New York


I’ve been wanting to ride in the Catskill Mountains, bike-a-hike and camp in this region for quite some time. The Catskills out of Woodstock, NY is a special place. Spring, summer and fall are the prime seasons to visit here but winter will test your abilities with temps that can get to sub zero at the summit.



This route is 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 as you transition from concrete jungle to mountainous vistas. Once in Poughkeepsie you’ll take the “Walk Over The Hudson” which will put you directly on Hudson Valley Rail Trail. This 4mile asphalt 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.

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail stretches 20 miles and will be the majority of your ride. Most of the areas on this trail are gravel and dirt road. I rode my road bike with 23mm tires as I was in pursuit of a high-speed ultra light setup. On the way there I didn’t get any flats but upon returning home I got two unfortunate punctures. I recommend a cross, 29er or proper touring bike for this particular route. You should be able to suffice with 28mm tires on a road bike with good puncture resistant protection.


The end of the trail will put you near Kingston, NY where you will then pickup the Onteora Trail for 5 miles. This trail is also gravel and passes through the Bluestone Wild Forest. You will see a beaver creek on trail and if you wait a while you can catch them at work depending on the season.

The end of this trail will put you on NY-375 in Woodstock, NY and from here you’ll be making just a few more turns down quaint country roads before ending in the center of town.


I recommend stopping at Overlook Mountain Bikeshop. The guys there are really cool and can shed some light on the area if you’re new in town. You have options to stay in hotel in town or camp in the mountains. If you decide to camp, Rock City Rd will lead you into a climb with a big grade leading to the base of a trail head. Depending on your weapon of choice you can ride up the mountain to camp at either Echo Lake or Overlook. I had to hike-a-bike up. The views are well worth it.





Surly Orge Bike Check with Mickey Cheng

If there’s anyone who is down to take off for an adventure it’s this guy right here Mickey Cheng. Mickey’s one of the most versatile riders I know. He has a big background in MTB racing and can crush it on a road bike as well. Last summer we went on a 5-day bikepacking trip together in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where he rode the Surly Pacer camping, climbing and catching picturesque views. You can read more on that story following this link here.

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Mickey recently built up a Surly Orge and swapped some of the stock parts with his preferred custom components. The Surly Orge is one of those 29er’s that will do it all from commuting, bikepacking, expedition touring, and singletrack. When I took it for a ride I couldn’t help but notice how comfortable and well it handled. It’s siting on 2.1” tires, which in turn make up for it not having suspension. The fork has a very wide clearance and fitting up to a 2.5” tire shouldn’t be a problem. The bike is well made for adventure.

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I’ve learned a thing or two from Mickey on choosing bike components. So I trust his recommendations for parts I use for my rigs. One of the parts he recommends is Paul levers, and when you first ride them you will understand why. They’re lightweight and can be adjusted easily for a 3-2-1-finger pull deal. They also spring back very nicely compared to my avid levers on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. He also talked about the Spyke Mechanical Disc Brake which have dual pistons and stop on the dime. They have a really clean design with a very easy setup compared to single sided mechanical discs.

Enough with the chatter, now, Let’s get to the bike!

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