Author Topic: Ultra Light TransAm Ride  (Read 3964 times)

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Offline christof

Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« on: April 30, 2013, 10:26:29 am »
Hi folks.  I'm planning my first TrasAm ride.  Hoping to go ultralight.  Will ride a modified Specialized Tricross with panniers.  I have no comfort/weather/sleeping issues.  Willing to sleep on rocks and eat peanut butter.  Looking for any and all suggestions.  Thank you!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2013, 10:42:45 am »
I wrote an article about my adventures in going from 45 pounds of gear to about 10 pounds of gear (in several stages).  Folks tell me they have found it useful so it might be worth checking out.  Also if you have more specific questions, please post them and you will likely get more feedback than with such a general post.

Offline e46rick

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2013, 12:27:56 pm »
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/index.html

This is a link to a backpacking website but much of the info is valuable for bike touring as well.
In general, lighter gear means more expensive gear.  But worth it IMO.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2013, 02:30:09 pm »
In general, lighter gear means more expensive gear.  But worth it IMO.

To some extent, but really you can lose the majority of the weight without going to a lot of expensive specialty items.  I could get to 6.5 pounds of base gear weight (everything including bags, gear, and clothing, but excluding bike, food water, and fuel).  That doesn't include 1 pound of tools and spares that always stays on the bike (I include that in bike weight not gear weight).

That would be if I left all of my luxury items home.  In reality something in about the 10 pound range is what I wind up with.

That is with no fancy Cuben fiber stuff, but some cottage industry items in more economical materials.  Total gear cost comes in at something in the $1000 neighborhood, but I once did a list that could be had for about $300, assuming the user already owned clothing, that managed to go pretty light.  The last few ounces that I could save by buying a buch of higher dollar stuff are not worth the cost to me.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2013, 10:35:23 pm »
I wrote an article about my adventures in going from 45 pounds of gear to about 10 pounds of gear (in several stages).  Folks tell me they have found it useful so it might be worth checking out.  Also if you have more specific questions, please post them and you will likely get more feedback than with such a general post.

Buddy, post the link!

I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline bogiesan

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2013, 10:44:45 pm »
The truly illuminating moment for me came when I set up my first ultralight camp: maybe five minutes. Then I had to deal with rampaging boredom; read, write, eat, sleep. I was ready to hit the trail the next morning in about ten minutes.

The cool partabout going ultralight is the movement is the goal, not the destination. Camp goes up in a few minutes so you can ride till the sun sets. Striking camp is easy and quick because you just don't have any stuff to organize or lose track of.

There are many online resources for ultralight backpacking theories and cottage industry gear. While the initial expense can be uncomfortable, you really don't need much and it will last many, many years. A tarp, maybe a bivvy, an alcohol stove (or no stove), titanium pot (just one), custom-made super-light frame bags or panniers, down sleeping bag (or one of the new synthetics) ... that's about it. You already have everything else; just take less of it.

If you get your gear all organized and have the time, drop by and post your gear list. Remember to come back and tell us how your trip went. Have fun, good luck!

I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline staehpj1


Offline e46rick

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2013, 10:53:57 pm »

Offline bogiesan

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2013, 08:38:16 am »
Excellent work, thorough documentation.
Thanks!
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline christof

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2013, 09:34:58 pm »
Awesome!  Very encouraging.  I seem to be on the right track.  I've been planning to ride a configuration much like e46rick. 

First let me share this site: www.ultralightcycling.blogspot.com . This rider offers great experience and suggestions. 

So here's where I am at:

2012 Specialized Tri-Cross w/Carbon fork w/auxiliary brake levers
Mavic Ksyrium Equips running Conti 4 Season 25s
Drive train Shimano Sora 52/42/30 (BIG QUESTION HERE.)
Specialized Toupe Pro Saddle (I'm used to riding this for 80 plus miles.BIG QUESTION HERE.)

Arkel Randonneur Rack (cantilevered 13 lbs max rating BIG QUESTION HERE)
Marmot Home Alone Bivy Tent
Marmot Kompressor Summit Backpack
Marmot down Hydrogen sleeping bag

No cooking utensils.  Cold food or a diner.
As little clothing as possible.  Layers of ultra-light fabric is my driving principle.  I don't mind getting wet.  Right fabrics dry quickly unless I go diving!
For accessory equipment, I'll take my cue from the minimalist lists I've found elsewhere--I am not trying to cross Mongolia, unless you consider Kansas Mongolian!

So, my BIG questions are the following.  All input would be much appreciated!
1) Should I upgrade the drive train and/or change the gearing ratio.  I read everywhere that you need 26 or 28 on the low end. 
2) Should I ditch the auxiliary brake levers.  They are handy in traffic, but seem to really restrict front bag options.
3) Should I change my saddle? 
4) Should I go for a full rear rack instead of the Arkel Randonneur?  Huge difference in weight carrying potential.
5) Are 25mm tires OK or should I move up to 28s?
6) What is the best front bag IF any at all.
7) Sleeping pad.  Do I really need one?  Done a lot of camping and have been OK in 9/10 situations.
8) Computer... Does it make any sense to bring a laptop?  Or should I just stick with my iPhone and coffee shops?
9) Is a Garmin GPS device even remotely necessary? ($$)
10) Adventure Cycling Maps of the TransAm route.  Are the necessary?

I do plan to bring an SLR camera with two lenses.

I plan to leave San Francisco in mid-June and arrive Sag Harbor, NY... well sometime in early August.

All thoughts, recommendations, and ridicule welcome!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2013, 10:02:06 pm by christof »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2013, 12:17:22 am »
I plan to leave San Francisco in mid-June and arrive Sag Harbor, NY... well sometime in early August.
That is a cross-country ride, but it's not the TransAm.

1) Should I upgrade the drive train and/or change the gearing ratio.  I read everywhere that you need 26 or 28 on the low end. If you're young, strong, have good knees, well-trained and don't mind walking some of the hills, then keep what you've got. You only gave half the equation (chainring specs), however, so we really don't know what your gears are. What cassette do you have?
2) Should I ditch the auxiliary brake levers.  They are handy in traffic, but seem to really restrict front bag options. There are extenders for handlebar bag mounts if you want to keep them. I, however, find the levers unnecessary.
3) Should I change my saddle?  Saddles are very personal. If you have a lot of comfortable miles on it, keep the one you have.
4) Should I go for a full rear rack instead of the Arkel Randonneur?  Huge difference in weight carrying potential. If you're going ultralight, you don't need weight-carrying potential.
5) Are 25mm tires OK or should I move up to 28s? I would move up, if they will fit. Wider is more comfortable for the long term, and is easier on the wheels. But if you are going ultralight, the 25s will work.
6) What is the best front bag IF any at all. There's no such thing as "best". Do you mean front panniers or handlebar bag? If you're going ultralight, you don't need front panniers.
7) Sleeping pad.  Do I really need one?  Done a lot of camping and have been OK in 9/10 situations. If you can sleep comfortably and warm directly on the ground, then no, you don't need one. But remember that pads are as important for insulation as for warmth. Have you camped in the mountains before? When are you starting?
8) Computer... Does it make any sense to bring a laptop?  Or should I just stick with my iPhone and coffee shops? Entirely a personal choice. A laptop is not entirely consistent with "ultralight."
9) Is a Garmin GPS device even remotely necessary? ($$) I don't think so, especially if you have good maps. Life goes by slowly enough on a bicycle that you usually have plenty of time to figure out where you're going.
10) Adventure Cycling Maps of the TransAm route.  Are the necessary? If you're on the route, they'll pay for themselves by finding you free places to sleep, and they will keep you off of dangerous roads (for the most part). If you're not on the route, they're useless.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 12:18:55 am by John Nelson »

Offline christof

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2013, 12:27:51 am »
I plan to leave San Francisco in mid-June and arrive Sag Harbor, NY... well sometime in early August.
That is a cross-country ride, but it's not the TransAm.

1) Should I upgrade the drive train and/or change the gearing ratio.  I read everywhere that you need 26 or 28 on the low end. If you're young, strong, have good knees, well-trained and don't mind walking some of the hills, then keep what you've got. You only gave half the equation (chainring specs), however, so we really don't know what your gears are. What cassette do you have? 9 speed.
2) Should I ditch the auxiliary brake levers.  They are handy in traffic, but seem to really restrict front bag options. There are extenders for handlebar bag mounts if you want to keep them. I, however, find the levers unnecessary.
3) Should I change my saddle?  Saddles are very personal. If you have a lot of comfortable miles on it, keep the one you have.
4) Should I go for a full rear rack instead of the Arkel Randonneur?  Huge difference in weight carrying potential. If you're going ultralight, you don't need weight-carrying potential.
5) Are 25mm tires OK or should I move up to 28s? I would move up, if they will fit. Wider is more comfortable for the long term, and is easier on the wheels. But if you are going ultralight, the 25s will work. Perhaps I will go 28s and keep the 25s as spares.
6) What is the best front bag IF any at all. There's no such thing as "best". Do you mean front panniers or handlebar bag? If you're going ultralight, you don't need front panniers.  Handlebar bag.
7) Sleeping pad.  Do I really need one?  Done a lot of camping and have been OK in 9/10 situations. If you can sleep comfortably and warm directly on the ground, then no, you don't need one. But remember that pads are as important for insulation as for warmth. Have you camped in the mountains before? When are you starting?  Yes I have mountain camped before.  Leaving mid June.
8) Computer... Does it make any sense to bring a laptop?  Or should I just stick with my iPhone and coffee shops? Entirely a personal choice. A laptop is not entirely consistent with "ultralight."
9) Is a Garmin GPS device even remotely necessary? ($$) I don't think so, especially if you have good maps. Life goes by slowly enough on a bicycle that you usually have plenty of time to figure out where you're going.
10) Adventure Cycling Maps of the TransAm route.  Are the necessary? If you're on the route, they'll pay for themselves by finding you free places to sleep, and they will keep you off of dangerous roads (for the most part). If you're not on the route, they're useless.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2013, 09:57:26 am »
"9 speed" is still incomplete information. What is the number of teeth on the largest and smallest cogs?

There are a number of good handlebar bags. I use and like the Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Classic medium.

If your experience tells you that you don't need a sleeping pad, then save the weight. Most people, however, need one or at least think they need one.

Offline DaveB

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2013, 10:06:24 am »
Even if you are young, strong and with ultralight gear I would recommend a 12x27 9-speed cassette at a minimum and consider changing the 30T granny chainring for a 26T chainring.   The lowest gears may not be used much but when and if you need them, you will REALLY need them.  The Western mountain climbs can be long but the grades are typically pretty moderate so very low gears aren't essential.  That's not true in the East where the climbs are shorter but can be much steeper.  At some point you will be grateful for a really low low gear. 

Offline christof

Re: Ultra Light TransAm Ride
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2013, 12:33:40 pm »
The cassette is a 9 speed 11/30.  So I gather I should change it for a larger one.  Yes?  The Sora front derailleur has never worked.  In general the SORA drivetrain has been a pain.  I'm willing to upgrade to the best touring drivetrain if it can be done affordably.