Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Osprey Radial pack 34 Review

Osprey Radial 34 review/reflections
Overall, this gets 3 out of 4 stars

Elements I really like/love:

  • The zipper pull tabs are the best I have ever seen
  • Bright green color is very visible and seems to make an impact on drivers
  • Blinky clip strip is excellent and should be found on every pack everywhere
  • There is a sleeve under the blinky clip to clip back the waist strap when you aren't using it
  • The double pocket in the far back (when accessing the pack) has two compartments- great since I carry both a laptop and ipad
  • Second pocket has a diagonal topped slot in which I keep my glasses- they don’t fall out, but come easily when fetched
  • Hidden rain cover. Brilliant.

Elements which could use improvements:
  • Water bottle/side pockets- don’t hold tall bottle at all, secondary internal pocket in one of the side pockets interferes with the pocket’s usability, zippers require two hands to close, making it unlikely I will store my wallet or phone there. If there was a loop or something to hold onto while zipping, two handed closing would be easier. 
  • Small front pocket is too small- would like it to hold my phone and wallet, key clasp is not purposeful, since it doesn’t keep keys from falling to the bottom of this tiny pocket
  • Second pocket back- too deep, items fall to bottom, which takes up space in the next pocket back- suggest it is shallower
  • Not enough pen slots (which I use for other things, like a spoon, sharpie, mat knife)

  • Third pocket back-Document pouch- the reinforcing tape for the mesh pockets on the other side of the divider obstruct documents from sliding easily down. I solved this by inserting a piece of cardstock, so documents now slide in easily.  This really should not be necessary.
  • The handle on the top- should be black, because my hands are often dirty and this shows clearly on the bright green-
  • The helmet clasp- the idea is great, but the shock cord is too short and rather cumbersome. ***UPDATE- I have gotten used to this and can make it work well for me.
  • Make it lighter in weight

IHSMBR Bike Prep

I have decided to be a lemming and get frame bags for my mountain bike.  I did the GDMBR with panniers, and they worked fine, but there is little singletrack on the Great Divide Route.  Idaho Hot Springs Route, however, has a lot of single track, offered as options.  It is pretty significant, so hence the frame bags.
Revelate is the brand I am familiar with, so I bought a frame bag, the harness, a gas tank and the Terrapin seat bag with a detachable Terrapin dry bag. I got a second Terrapin dry bag to put my tent in on the handlebar harness (Revelate states that dry bag will serve very well there).  My bicycling partner bought the SweetRoll and the Viscacha seat bag, which has a dry bag as its main component. This is kind of cool, since we will be able to compare the two systems.
In addition, due to the high elevations, I bought a Big Agnes Q-core air mattress, which offers some insulation, unlike my old thermarest. We shall see how fast I get tired of blowing the thing up.
I have decided to buy a lighter, smaller raincoat, since I think we will see little rain.  Going with the Novara Stratos 2.0 Bike jacket. REI was unable to give me a weight on it, so I will have to weigh it when it arrives.
And I bought an Osprey Manta 25 backpack off of eBay. Fool of a seller took out the hydration pack's stabalizing stay, which I tried unsuccessfully to re-install. I am pretty sure the stay's purpose it to keep the bladder from sagging, keeping the weight of the water evenly distributed from to top to bottom. Calling Osprey resulted in an invitation to send them the pack.  I pay shipping there, they fix and return to me on their bill. Lifetime warrantee. The pack seems really nice, with enough room for stove, kitchen and food.  I plan on hanging the entire pack (from bears). The hydration bladder seems really well thought out.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Idaho Hot Springs Prep

Adventure Cycling announced a new mountain biking route, and this one is a doozy.  The climbs on the main route and the singletrack options are both tougher than the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Washington Peak by wsiegmund cc by
Washington Peak by Wsiegmund CC BY
The main route has 4 climbs of close to or over 3,000 feet in 10 miles, the highest point being at 8,719 ft altitude, when traveling in the direction AC suggests. Of the singletrack options, Secesh has one ascent of this caliber and Willow Creek and White Cloud each have one,  and in both those last cases you lose 500ft, which need to be regained.
In comparison, looking at the GDMBR, north of Breckenridge and including the Canada section, I could only find one section with that kind of gain/loss (Galton Pass) and if you take the route in the southerly direction AC recommends, it is a downhill.
My cycling partner looked at many blog posts of people who did it in its first year of available maps and came to the conclusion that you can probably only do 20 miles a day, at least on the singletrack, and not much more on the main route.
The main route is a 517.6 mile loop out from Idaho City and includes a singletrack option from Boise, allowing easy airline access.  There is a shortcut across the middle back east, in case you need to bail. The singletrack options, by their very nature, are long and remote.

Thank you DC for the Winter Cycling Challenge

It is difficult to motivate yourself to ride in the winter, when the temperatures dip into the single digits, remain in the teens and there is ice on the road and a kick butt wind chill.  A shout out to DC for starting and managing the Winter Cycling Challenge.  It was open to anyone, from anywhere, but mostly it was people from the Buffalo area.

Because of this challenge setup, which pits teams against each other, the inner competitor in me rode 450 miles starting from November 14th. The challenge used the GreenLightRide website. Although it was probably a good place to run a competition, it doesn't seem to be a very good general way to track your mileage, for there is no mobile app and it makes you log on too often.