I always say Newfoundland is a beautiful place when the sun shines, and here is proof. Video by Justin Broderick.
The highlight of my trip to Yukon (in a trip filled with many spectacular experiences) was a bikepacking trip on the Cottonwood Trail in Kluane National Park. The trail itself is 83 km long and all but approximately 7 km of it (from km 74 to 81) is rideable. The unrideable part is one heck of a hike-a-bike; not impossible, but hard.
The Dempster Highway is a 735 km gravel road that begins near Dawson, Yukon and ends in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. I rode it, up and back, in early June on my Surly Pugsley. It took me six days up and six days back = an average of 120 km per day. The weather was cool for the most part; I was in short sleeves for only 3 days, but this made for good riding. There was no trouble with bugs, the winds were light and the road was in good condition. I experienced periodic showers on a few days and only one day of drizzle/rain. I’d like to believe this was all due to good planning but good luck played a part.
- If a person was going to ride the Dempster one way, I would suggest riding it north to south. This would end the trip on a “high note” of the Tombstone Mountains. Going south to north the ride ends on a rather boring 150 km stretch of road from Fort McPherson to Inuvik that is flat and unchanging.
- If a person wanted to ride in-and-out I would suggest only going as far as Fort McPherson and then turn around, for the reason noted above. Fort McPherson has a decent sized grocery store that would allow a cyclist to resupply.
- Cars and trucks were very considerate for the most part, slowing down when they passed and stopping to check if everything was OK if I was stopped.
4th Update (Feb 12, 2016)
I’ve used the Les Fat in a lot of different winter conditions and remain very happy with the bike. Again, I see the benefits of shorter chainstays (and a small downside). The benefit: great traction when standing on the peddles. The downside: the bike handles so quickly I find it a little squirrelly when the snow is fresh and loose. One thing I have yet to do is play around with the adjustable dropouts. The next time we get some fresh snow I’m going to lengthen the wheelbase and see what difference that will make to stabilizing the bike’s handling.
3rd Update (Nov 17,2015)
I’ve now had several months on this bike on a variety of trails and everything I’ve written below still holds true. I’m now looking forward to winter and seeing what this bike will do on the snow. I can’t wait.
I have found one shortcoming with using the Les Fat as a trail bike – pedal strike. It would seem to be a function of the large q-factor (the width between the pedals) that is needed so that this bike can run 5 inch tires. Because of this and my plan to keep this bike as a winter bike only I’m now shopping around for a bike I will use on the trails next year. My mind right now is set on either a 29+ or 27.5+ hard tail, probably the former because their aren’t too many of the latter. Stay tuned.
2nd Update (May 27, 2015)
I rode Subnet yesterday. For those of you who do not know this trail it offers no rest for the wicked – you are either going up or you are going down. Observations:
* the Pivot Les Fat is an excellent trail bike
* the short chainstays make for a very quick handling bike and easy to loft the front tire
* this bike climbs great – great traction in the rear AND easy to get rider weight forward
* this bike descends well – I was much more confident descending on this than the Pugsley (and a carbon Beargrease I borrowed last year).
* once again I was super happy with the trail chatter this bike absorbed
Update – first ride review (May 22, 2015)
I took the Les Fat out today for it’s maiden voyage in Pippy Park. The terrain there is rooty, rocky cross-country trails. I pumped the tires up hard to see what the frame would do with these bumpy conditions. My impressions:
* there was lots of compliance in the frame. It did a great job of soaking up the bumps and reducing trail chatter.
* I felt in the bike rather than on the bike. In fact, it kind of reminded me of a downhill bike but without the super slack head angle.
* it was great to have one finger braking again. The SRAM Guide hydraulics work just fine.
* I love having a 1 X 11 drivetrain. Super quiet.
* this bike accelerates very well. This is due to the DT Swiss wheel set.
* I have no complaints about the Maxxis Mammoth tires. They rolled quick with no self-steer.
* the short chainstays make this bike quick and nimble. The front tire lofts easily.
* the only thing I will change on this bike is the saddle. It is a very good stock saddle but my Fizik Pave will be going on soon.
I GOT A NEW BIKE!!!!!!
…up in the woods or going out the bay.
I chose to go out the bay, Conception Bay North (CBN), to be exact – as tempting as the gravels pits were. 🙂 I’d done this route two years ago and wanted to ride it again and the long weekend in May seemed as good a time as any. The weather cooperated (for the most part) and Dan T joined me for two days – his first bikepacking trip.
I often get requests for what I pack and how I pack it. Here is an attempt to answer the first question; I think the second will have to be demonstrated in a video. Where possible I have linked to the actual equipment I use.
Needle and thread
Water purification drops
1 L water bladder
Wet wipes / toilet paper
Toothbrush and paste
Fire starter (dryer lint mixed with vaseline)
Options: Down jacket, Crocs
What I wear: Shoes, socks, shorts, liner shorts, S/S wool shirt, helmet, sunglasses
- we stayed at Old Lincoln Cabins. 4 nights cost us $225 each, taxes in.
- we would stay there again – the owners, Luann and Carter, went out of their way to be helpful. There is a barn with a woodstove to store bikes in and an outdoor hot tub. Coyle’s general store is one minute away. The only minor complaints were no cell service there and a weak Wi-Fi signal.
- we ate a great meal at The Jackladder, just 10 minutes from where we stayed.
- having some local knowledge from Darroch was invaluable. Thanks again from all of us.
- we barely scratched the surface of what is possible in Gros Morne. Given that it is the only national park in Canada that allows snowmobiles it stands to reason that it will have the greatest potential for fatbiking of any national park.
As I write this it is March 1st and I’m reflecting back on the winter riding season to date. Certainly a few things stand out: the snow came late, the ice has been plentiful, the number of fatbikers is soaring, we’ve had a couple of social events, trail grooming is about to start happening, and lots of people have upgraded their fatbikes after only buying their first one a year ago (and some people have upgraded even quicker than that).
There have been a number of riders who have put together beautiful builds around the new 9:ZERO:7 Whiteout frame this year, including:
The best rides are the ones you never planned.
I headed out solo Saturday morning as my usual partner in crime, Tim C, decided to join the group ride in Pippy Park to test out his new Carbon Beargrease. We have had a lot of freeze/thaw cycles this month and the day before this ride saw a lot of freezing rain fall, so I wasn’t expecting much from the conditions. I figured I’d just do my usual loop but it wasn’t long before I discovered things were nice and solid everywhere and I was able to ride a couple of routes I hadn’t been able to travel on yet this year. That’s when the idea of the ride out to Witless Bay Line came into my head.
The 50 km return trip took me 4.5 hours.