Author Topic: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014  (Read 5895 times)

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Offline jmw4

complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« on: August 23, 2013, 04:21:28 pm »
Well, the poster below me was straight forward enough with his thread title lol.

Im going to ride the GDMBR in 2014, i've been constantly researching forums and talking to as many people as possible. Im a backpacking expert, but completely new to bikepacking, i have all the gear necessary, besides the bike.

I have a 2004 Specialized Hardrock with 26" wheels, it's in good condition... is it possible to use this for the GDMBR? Everybody keeps recommending me expensive bikes such as the Salsa Fargo, i like the bikes but dont have $2500 to spend on a brand new mountain bike.

Could i possibly throw some upgrades on my current bike and make that work?

Or are there any good bike's you guy's could recommend me that fall within the $1000 mark?

Thanks... seriously need some help.

Offline jmw4

Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2013, 04:23:39 pm »
I also want to add that im going to do the ride at a comfortable pace, 2 months to complete the entire route from canada to mexico... only having to ride less than 50 miles per day.

Offline jamawani

Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2013, 04:33:02 pm »
I would urge you to consider riding south to north.

Offline jmw4

Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2013, 12:20:12 pm »
why? what are the advantages you see in doing this?

we're not strict on which direction we're going to choose, but there are a few reasons i'd rather go southbound:

1. The maps are layed out north to south, not that this is a big deal, im sure reading the maps backwards isnt hard.

2. Im dieing to start in Canada, it's completely new territory to me and the only part on the route i've never seen.

3. At the time of year we're starting, i think it would be more enjoyable weather wise to start in Canada late June/early July, rather than in New mexico in peak summer.

4. My last adventure was south to north, going a different direction this time just feels right.


but im really just looking for a good mountain bike to use along the ride that isnt rediculously expensive, im not too concerned about the direction we're going, i just need the gear to take me along the way. Are there any good bikes that fall within the 1500 range?

Offline MrBent

Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2013, 03:00:57 pm »
Why do you think your Specialized isn't up to the task?  If anything seems worn or in need of replacing, I'd do that and go for it as long as the bike fits you well and you're generally happy with it.  It's a hard tail?  If so, a BOB trailer would be the way to go for carrying gear.  I'd probably want a front shock, however.  Don't use a BOB if you have rear suspension.  The torquing will destroy the bearings and such--not cool in the middle of nowhere.  If you can, consider shifting the ride to late summer into fall.  You're more likely to avoid t-storms in NM that cause the Super Mud on the roads/trails.  Looks like nasty stuff! 


Offline mathieu

Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2013, 07:56:29 pm »
Bike issues:
1. There is nothing wrong with using a 26" MTB on the GDMBR. Yes, 29" wheels run more smoothy over a rough and washboarded trails, but the difference is gradual, not decisive.
2. More important is how to carry the gear. As a backpacking expert you probably know how to limit your load to essentials. Still the gear volume is probably too big for mounting all on handlebar, frame and saddle, like the Tour Divide racers do.  Especially if you aim for 50 miles/day, you need more volume for food and liquids between the resupply points. This implies either panniers mounted on a rack or a trailer. I prefer panniers if the rack can be mounted with screw eyelets on the frame. I wouldn't trust clamping constructions for the rack, so if the frame has no screw eyelets I would go for a trailer.
3. I understand that the Specialized Hardrock is a hardtail with a basic suspension fork. This is OK, because the GD goes mostly over dirt roads and forest roads. There are no big jumps or intricate slaloms that require a high-end suspension fork. You will appreciate the suspension on the washboarded and rough roads of Wyoming and New Mexico. Half of the TD racers use a rigid fork, but this is because low weight and robustness is their prime objective. For you the prime objective should be to stay healthy on the bike, i.e. soften the impact on hands, joints and butt. However, a lockout on the front suspension is desirable to prevent it from absorbing pedalling power during climbing.
4. If your bike would be a full-suspension, you  need a trailer because it is almost impossible to mount the rack and gear on a frame where tubes are flexing relative to each other. So I do not agree with MrBent on this point. I have never heard of or read about torquing destroying the bearings. However, I have experienced myself that torquing does reduce control over the bike on loose or sidewards-sloping surfaces, resulting in spills.
5. Improvement suggestion: fit the widest tires that your frame allows. The wider the tire, the lower the required pressure, the lower the imprint on a soft surface. Hence the lower the rolling resistance. Lower pressure also means more suspension, hence lower impact of shocks and ripples on body and wheels.
6. Improvement suggestion: Ergon-like grips.

Direction and season.
I have done the GD route in both directions and there are pros and cons for either choice. Based on my own experience and reading many blogs, I have constructed a chart. This is not rocket science, but a statistic of weather and road conditions over several years. I know that the Tour Divide race starts early June, mocking my N-to-S window, but hardships from snowed-in passes are part and parcel of this race. If you like to start in Banff and have some time-flexibility, I recommend to start between mid-July and early-August.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 07:17:18 am by mathieu »

Offline MrBent

Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2013, 08:18:14 pm »
Actually, Matthieu:  I think even ACA guided tours have had just this problem with trailers on fully suspended bikes.  Maybe some are more robust than others, and this would not be a problem, but this HAS been an issue for some--as in order a new frame from a town and wait for it to come and reassemble the bike kind of issue, and I would be very careful about setting out with rear suspension and a single-wheeled trailer for nearly 3,000 miles of dirt.


Offline JayH

Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 07:19:12 am »
Agree with the others, no issue with the Specialized or a 26" wheeled bike in my opinion. take that $1000 and spend it on a new drivetrain, brake pads, tires, etc before the trip but enough to break them in and you'll be fine. 

As far as being a touring newbie. If you are skilled in bike mechanics and know your MTB in and out, don't see this as an issue but if you're somewhat a newbie to mountain bikes in general, you might want to learn about field repairs and things like tires and tubes and derailleurs and shifting and how to fix things, etc. 


Offline paddleboy17

Re: complete newb, GDMBR in 2014
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 01:28:27 pm »
I rode a section in New Mexico with my buddys, about 12 years ago.  I think my experience is applicable to you though.

We used hard tail mountain bikes, with 26" wheels (29" wheels did not exist back then), and we used trailers.  I remember water being a bit of an issue as it was harder to resupply than we thought it would be.  Several streams shown on our maps were dry, and there were feces laden mud pits that we refused to drink from (this being cattle country).  So make sure that you manage your potable water. 

In rough country, you may not make 50 miles a day.

I am a city boy and do not normally interact with cows.  Not making eye contact with them seemed to be the best strategy.  We had a lot of instances of the cattle bolting in response to seeing us.  The cattle would then run parallel to us.  At some point the fence would angle towards the road, and it was a race to see how would get to the gate first.  There is a grate across the road at each gate, and cattle cannot cross the grate.  If the race looks close, just let the cows win as they will settle down, go back to eating, and forget what the fuss about.

Am I the only with cattle stories?

One of my buddy's went back a few years later and rode Colorado.  It sounds like Colorado was not as difficult as New Mexico was.