Follow the field of the 2014 Tour Divide through rider call-ins and updates, available here: http://mtbcast.com/site2/tour-divide-2014/
One thing I had never really tried was a set of hydraulic disk brakes, so when my 2013 Salsa El Mariachi came with a set of Avid Elixir 5 brakes I thought I would keep them on the bike and test them out. At first I really liked them and they seemed to work well, providing a good solid braking power and easy to use. But the real test for them came on a long windy decent on a recent on day trip into the mountains. On a long decent I was controlling my speed at about 45km per hour when suddenly a huge banging noise developed from my rear brake which caused me to stop, upon inspection the rotor seemed straight and not bent , the only reason for that to happen was the rotor was vibrating and hitting the leading edge of the disk pad. So for peace of mind and future ease of use , no disk brake bleeds. I have up graded to a brand new set of Avid BB7 MTN S mechanical disk brakes with some Avid speed dial levers. The BB7 system gives you far more adjustment in how close the pads contact the rotor , you do not even need tools to do this operation so if for some reason your disk rotor gets bent which will happen some time you can adjust the pads and continue riding unlike my previous set of brakes where you cannot adjust the pads at all. Pictured below is the Avid Elixir 5 brakes that came on my 2013 El Mariachi , it is interesting to see that Salsa has changed to Shimano hydraulic brakes for 2014 instead of Avid
So after taking the set of Avid Elixir 5 brakes off the bike and cleaning them up, some lucky person will be able to buy this set of brakes for half price as I no longer need them. I set about fitting the new model Avid BB7 MTN S mechanical disk brakes to my bike. They are super easy to set up and if you are into bikepacking its a good idea to fit your front handle bar bag to the bike so you can get the perfect length of cable and set them up so the cables have plenty of room even with your bag attached. One trick to setting the pads against the rotor is to slip a business card in between the rotor and the pad and turn the rotor dials so that the wheel cannot move, once you have the stainless steel mounting bolts tightened you can then slacken off the pad dials and remove the business card , if your rotor was perfectly straight they should now be perfect. If your rotor is not perfectly straight which many new rotors are , you will need to speed a little more time adjusting the pads . Once set up the BB7 system offers you peace of mind, no oil changes are needed in the future , you can adjust the rotor to disk contact point without tools out on the trail & new pads are cheap and easily to replace when needed.
The singlespeed record for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race is 19 days and some change, held by one Chris Plesko. For an interview with Chris about the GDMBR as well as other matters, see here: Tour Divide Race: Q & A With Singlespeeder Chris Plesko
We've already mentioned in these pages Tom DeVries, a Divide rookie attempting to complete the route on a single speed. But Tom is by no means the only single speedster entered this year; there are 5 others riding 1x1 setups. As a group they comprise less than 5% of the total field, but that percentage will no doubt rise as mechanical problems force geared riders to withdraw. You can follow all of the riders here: http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide14 And the special attention given to Tom? Well, like us, he's a Mariachi Man.
In June the hub of the bikepacking world is the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race. The progress of the riders can be followed at trackleaders, and in 2014 one of the more exciting stories is the effort by current leader Jefe Branham to complete the route in 14 days. If successful, Branham would shatter Jay Petervary's mark of over 15 days, set in 2012. For singlespeed enthusiasts, of equally compelling interest this year is the performance of the 6 riders on 1x1 setups, among them 54-year-old rookie Tom DeVries who, so far, appears to be surprising both himself and his fans with his strong showing. Two years ago the eyes of the 1X1 crowd were on the feats of rider Justin Simoni, attempting to go the distance a year after crashing and withdrawing practically in sight of the US-Mexico border. A superb account of Simoni's 2012 singlespeed-winning race is here: http://www.westword.com/2012-08-02/news/worlds-toughest-bicycle-race-tour-divide/full/
Well as the Tour Divide is about to start in the USA , all the riders will be doing last minute checks of their bikepacking kit, its a long way from Banff to Antelope Wells and being a totally self supported race you need to carry everything that you need along the route. While the racers lined up in Banff today will be carrying a lot more than me , I thought I would give you an idea of the items I carry for bikepacking trips here in Japan. The only item not shown in this photo is my new Revelate Designs Gas Tank. If you are starting out , the list below will give you a good idea on what to carry. It took me about a year and a half to finally come up with everything I needed and did not need and now after several over night and multi day trips my system is perfect. In saying that, what I have put together works well for me and may not be suitable for everyone. If you are just starting out this will be a useful guide on the sort of items you need to carry for your bikepacking adventures.
Bikepacking gear list
Front bag - porcelain Rocket handle bar set up
Main bag compartment
OR 10ltr Dry bag containing the following - Montbell Spiral burrow no. 7 sleeping bag, Montbell UL comfort system air pad 150cm , UL comfort system pillow, tent pole & peg set , pack towel
, Spare clothes fitted into small stuff sacks at each side , containing rain pants, spare shorts , socks , underwear etc
Front pocket - Diary & pen, Black Diamond headlamp , porridge spoon, Toilet kit,
Revelate Gas Tank
Camera , wallet & phone, plus soy joy fruit bars
Revelate frame bag for El Mar 17 inch frame
Alloy fuel bottle ,2ltr Camelbak , small lightweight bicycle lock , small mesh pocket top - spare tube & chain oil
Side pocket Shimano bicycle pump, bicycle repair tools in small Montbell pouch, cleaning rag
Revelate viscacha Saddle bag
Serria designs stash 1 lightweight tent
Cooking set - 1 x Alloy rectangle set containing the following items Trangia burner & base
lighter & matches , pot scrub, KFS set, first aid kit
OR rain jacket
Uniclo down jacket
45 North merino cap
Note : Extra food supplies can either be stored in either side of the handle bar bag or the viscaha
The 2014 running of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race officially kicks off (perhaps that should be "pedals off") with the Grand Depart from Banff, Canada, on Friday, June 13th. However, not only does the race format not require that riders start their Individual Time Trial on that date, it also permits a northbound departure from the southern terminus of the route. There are already riders on the trail. You can follow them here: http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide14 . Good luck to all.