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Messages - mathieu

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Routes / Re: Great Divide Mtn Bike Route suggestions
« on: October 28, 2019, 09:40:01 am »
I cycled the Great Divide route twice, SN and NS. The section you identified, from Steamboat to Platoro, is in my view the best choice, both in scenery and in road quality. New Mexico's roads are definitely worse. We cycled from Platoro to Steamboat from June 11 to June 16, 2010, with a shortcut between Del Norte and Salida that saved us probably 1-2 days.  All snow was cleared at that time. We might have been a bit lucky, but the history of the Tour Divide race, that starts about June 8 in Banff and roughly extends to July 1, over almost a decade shows that this section is snow-free in late June.

Routes / Re: Lordsburg NM to Animas NM - Animas St, A009, A006
« on: October 28, 2019, 09:18:11 am »
Yes, I cycled from Animas to Lordsburg in 2010, following NM-338 until about 2 miles before the junction with I-40 and then turning on A009 and C113. I remember A009 as a decent dirt road. You can easily inspect the surface of C113 with Google Maps in satellite view and in street view. The satellite view is dated 2019 and street view is dated 2014. 

I just stumbled on this question today. In 2016 and 2017 I designed and cycled my own cross-country route from Tarifa, the most southern tip of Spain, near Gibraltar, to San Sebastian, near Biarritz. My ambition was to follow the geographic divide line between the Atlantic and Meditterranean watersheds as close as possible. I also did my best to include dirt roads.
Maybe you have less ambition on these two aspects, but you could take my route as a good start. Probably 70% is on quiet paved roads.  See .
I am sure that it doesn't take much time, using tools as Ride-with-GPS, to modify my route to run entirely on paved roads. I am glad to offer you assistance if you are not familiar with such tools.

Routes / Re: Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route
« on: April 10, 2019, 01:05:40 pm »
I am definitely not a local, but I have cycled most of the IHS route in autumn and some of it mid-June.
In mid-June I found snow patches at 8800 ft elevation and extended snow coverage above 9000 ft, of course depending on sun exposure. Most of the main IHS route stays below 7300 ft, except Dollarhide summit (8700 ft) and Galena summit (8900 ft). My guess is that the route below 7500 ft is doable in late May. The Galena trail has a paved road in parallel, which offers an easy bypass in case of messy conditions. The Dollarhide section between Featherville and Ketchum (68 mi) is on dirt and you may have to bypass it on pavement over Pine, Hill City and Hailey (105 mi).
This is a guess. Every year is different and Snotel will give you more accurate information.

Routes / Re: Great Divide Question
« on: January 17, 2017, 02:54:41 pm »
If the road over Mnt Taylor, NE of Grants, is still blocked by snow (it tips just over 9000 ft ; check at Ranger Station in Grants), I urge you follow the Chaco alternate only as far as the turnoff to San Mateo where you can pick up the original dirt route towards Cabezon Peak. I found this one of the Great Divide highlights, whereas the Chaco alternate is a bland ride on pavement.

Routes / Re: Great Divide Question
« on: January 16, 2017, 09:47:57 am »
Read the discussion on
My guess is that you could ride the route from Antelope Wells to Cuba, but the Polvedera Mesa and Brazos Ridge will probably be covered in snow. Check on the 'Snow Cover' link.

Routes / Re: Road 395 south in USA?
« on: September 28, 2016, 12:57:11 pm »
I guess much depends on the timeline : when - where?

If you get to Banff early October, you can probably finish US-395 by mid-November. From the Canadian border to Hesperia is about 1300 mi/2000 km:  should be possible in 20-25 days.
US-395 runs through Carson City (4800 ft), which is close to Lake Tahoe (6200 ft) but at significantly lower elevation, which probably makes a lot of difference. US-395 gets to a maximum elevation of 8000 ft south of Carson City, near Yosemite. If that part would be snowed in, or threatened, you could switch over to US-95 near Reno. US-95 gets to a maximum elevation of 6000 ft between Reno and Las Vegas.
You could also follow US-95 from the Canadian border to the Mexican border (1500 mi/2450 km). Most of it in Idaho/Oregon/Nevada is between 4000-5000 ft. See

Just my two cents of advice to a fellow Dutch cyclist.

General Discussion / Re: Largest tire to put on a 17mm rim?
« on: July 20, 2016, 02:03:41 pm »
The Schwalbe table indicates that on a 17C rim you can go to 52 mm tire width: .

Hi Sal. You asked comments about Viking Valkyrie bike, but you didn't mention the price. This is all important! If price doesn't matter, there are surely hundreds of nicer bikes for the purpose you stated. Probably price is important. So why the restraint of mentioning an affordable price range or a qualitative indication, like: budget, standard, high-end.  All commerical goods have a value-for-money aspect.

It looks very much like this : . If so, it is a super-budget bike. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't expect  the quality or features of a standard bike.

Just some general indications that may help you decide:
1. If I google 'Viking Valkyrie' the first page is dominated by 'lady MTB'. Are you a lady (sorry, I am dutch and don't recognize instantly the gender of given names). It so, the bike has at least some frame size features that serve you well, if you have the 'average' female' characteristics.
2.  Generally, the geometry looks more for relaxed touring than sporting MTB rides. Is this what you want?
3.  The Suntour front shox is more suited for touring on bad pavement or off-road on gravel roads and smooth double tracks than for MTB trails. It certainly isn't bad or soon-to-fail. Rather it is more robust than finesse:  more Lada than BMW!
4.  From the pictures it looks like the bike has eyelets for screwing a rear rack to the seat stay. I am not sure about eyelets for screwing the rack near the rear axis. This is important if you want to carry gear for a multi-day  ride.
5.  The 36-spoke wheels are probably robust for carrying big loads and won't fail easily. I didn't see the bike's weight, but it won't be lightweight. That fits in the profile of a touring bike rather than a sporting bike.
6.  The 21-speed (3x7) transmission is more in the starter range than in the standard range (3x9 or 3x10).
5.  I favor disc brakes over rim brakes, so I won't criticise this, except that it is a miracle that they feature in a super-budget priced bike.

I won't say that this bike doesn't last, but it probably doesn't satisfy in the long term. In my opinion, as long as you are not clear about the long-term purpose of the bike (say: one-day rides vs multi-day rides ; easy trails vs demanding trails ; budget, standard or high-end) this is a nice and inexpensive way to learn about your preferences. It will probably satisfy you for 1-2 years. After that you will be much better informed about what to look for.

General Discussion / Re: Colorado: bike maps?
« on: July 12, 2016, 06:19:26 pm »
You are probably well served by
Read also raving reactions to this awesome piece of work and its creator in

General Discussion / Re: Is this considered bikepacking?
« on: July 09, 2016, 04:14:29 pm »
If you look through the answers, the defining elements appear :
1. Carrying camping gear or not (i.e. credit card touring or warmshowers)
2. Trails, dirt roads or pavement
3. Panniers or a more downsized gear carrying bags.

Remember that bikepacking is a word play on backpacking, which is definitely about lightweight and certainly not in the vein of credit card touring or the social luxury of warmshowers:  on the contrary! It also engages on going more on trails, rather than roads or pavement.

So in my opinion the best definition of bikepacking is riding lightweight with limited gear stored in frame bags, saddle bags, handlebar bags and a small backpack in remote backcountry, often wild camping.
Or more shortly: bikepacking is bike touring in the backcountry with camping gear but without panniers.

Have a look at these rigs .  Even if you wouldn't believe it, all of them carry a small tent or bivy and sleeping bag and none of them will use warmshowers. Yes, all of them carry a credit card to pay for the high calorie fuel intake needed to cover the 2750 miles Great Divide route as fast as possible. That's ultra bikepacking!

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades - total elevation gain?
« on: February 29, 2016, 06:31:05 pm »
I have to correct my previous comment that the crude mapping in the linked reference would likely overestimate the elevation gain. I remapped Map-5 as best as I could using the 'follow roads' tool, but without access to the ACA maps.  See
The estimated distance for Map-5 is 487 miles, which agrees very well with Adventure Cycling's 486 miles. The elevation gain amounts to 45493 ft, which is a lot more than the 33303 ft in the other link.
It's a significant upward correction. However, in no way will you get near to your initial estimate for the total route.

As I said before, you will learn a lot about the grades you will face, by mapping the complete route yourself on RideWithGPS. Map-5 took me about 20 minutes.

Routes / Re: Utah Cliffs Route
« on: February 24, 2016, 01:52:50 pm »
If you mean the Utah Cliffs Loop, you can find several journals and lots of pics in

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades - total elevation gain?
« on: February 17, 2016, 09:33:20 am »
Looks like someone mapped the route in RideWithGPS. See
His total elevation gain for maps 1-5 is 40509 meter/133,000 ft.

PS. Looking to the maps, the route is drawn rather sketchy with a lot of straight-line interpolations. This may accumulate to rather large errors. However, those errors do probably lead to an overestimation of the elevation gain, since road makers try to level the grades whereas the interpolations will strike many bumps and shallows.
It would probably take you only 1-2 hours for the whole route to improve the road drawing (using 'follow roads'). You will find the tool very convenient and informative about the main climbs and their gradients.

Gear Talk / Re: Water Filtration
« on: October 14, 2015, 12:23:09 pm »
I had a Katadyn Mini, but since I use the Platypus GravityWorks filter I find all pumping systems totally obsolete. Pumping filters typically require more active hands than one human has. The gravity filter is utter simplicity and a nice example of divide-and-rule. You fill a 'dirty' bag with the surface water and hang the bag at a high point, e.g. in a tree. Connect the filter and a collecting 'pure' bag at a lower point. Under gravity the water flows via the filter into the lower bag. Usually I have a liter of filtered water in about one minute. There are other brands than Platypus using the same principle, e.g. Miniwell.

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