The Bike Shoppe

The Bike Shoppe
Your Ogden Utah bike expert since 1976!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bike Packing: Bob's Lake

My latest bike packing adventure took me to Bob's Lake in the Uintas.  Here's how we got there:
  • Follow I-80 east past Evanston
  • Before reaching Bridger, take Exit 30 (Bigelow Road at the TA gas station)
  • Turn right onto 202 (202 turns into a dirt road) 
  • Follow 202 past some windmills on your left and a small energy plant 
  • Turn left onto 207 (shortly after energy plant) 
  • Follow 207 south for several miles until you intersect 204 (2014 creates a 'T' in the road)
  • Turn left onto 204 and follow several miles until you hit pavement 
  • Turn right onto 271 (immediately after dirt road converts to pavement)
  • Continue on  271 past Meek's Cabin Reservoir
  • 271 changes to FR065 past Meek's Cabin Reserviour
  • Cross the bridge over Blacks Fork River
  • Turn right onto FR064 (shortly after crossing bridge)
  • Follow FR064 to the trailhead
We drove on FR064 all the way to the trail head.  After entering the pines, the road starts to get pretty rough.  It's definitely drive-able, but you should have an off-road capable vehicle with some clearance to get there.  A Subaru outback wouldn't cut it.  You could definitely park at the pines and hike or ride in the last few miles to the trailhead.

We planned on a three-day, two-night stay.  I was able to comfortably pack all my food and gear into six dry bags holding a total of 70L.  I had two 5L Salsa Anything Cage Bags and Anything Cages on my fork legs, one 20L bag on my front rack, one 20L bag on the rear rack (top), and two 10L bags on the sides of the rear rack.  I carried a Camelbak Skyline on my back with my water and bike tools.  I've included some images of how it all packed down:


The Trek 1120 was amazing!  What a fun ride!  I'm 5'9" tall with goofy long legs and arms.  I usually ride an 18.5" Fuel EX.  This model isn't offered in an 18.5", so instead of going smaller I decided to go a bit bigger.  Bigger makes sense: more comfort with a higher front end and a bit more stability with the longer wheelbase.  I test rode the 17.5" before making my decision, and I felt like my weight was too far extended over the handlebar.  The 1120 comes stock with a front and rear rack installed.  The front rack securely cradles my 20L drybag.  With only two nylon straps, I was able to firmly secure the bag to where there was no shifting or readjusting.  The rear rack secured my other 20L bag just as easily.  The rear rack further includes two harnesses that will secure 10L bags to either side of the rear wheel.  the drybags slide in nicely, and with only a little effort, everything can be adjusted so there is no unwanted movement.  Everything stayed snug and secure for the duration of the trip with exception of one bolt that worked itself loose on the rear rack (nothing a little Loctite won't fix). 

I only made a few minor modifications to the stock bike:  I ended up swapping out the Chupacabra tires for some Maxxis Chronicles.  They offer a little more volume for the size (29X2.8), and they look really good.  I also installed a wider Bontrager Line Pro handlebar and a shorter Bontrager Line Pro stem.  I made this switch because I like the feel of a mountain bike cockpit for comfort and handling.  I was really happy with the results on the ride. 

The ride in was slow, but really pretty and actually quite fun.  I'm used to hiking these same trails, so I've gotten used to the amount of time it takes to span certain distances.  The bike definitely makes light work of the straightaways and meadows.  There were plenty of challenging areas too.  Of course, I like technical riding, so this was right up my alley; however, if you're not into the techy rough stuff, you may want to avoid this adventure.  Because we're single-track climbing over 10,000 feet, the challenges were plentiful, and the dead fall crossings were frequent.  There were only a few hike-a-bike sections though, and everything was ride-able on the descent which made getting out a breeze.  

We ran out of light and set up camp at 3.5 miles in.  There are plenty of nice areas to find a soft spot to pitch a tent and to make a small fire pit.  We set up about 100 yards off the trail nearest the river for easy access to water. 

The next morning we left our camp set up and took the bikes (now much lighter) up toward our goal of Bob's Lake (Tokewanna Peak was under a bit too much snow).  We had fun exploring the several cabin remains from 1920 loggers that line the trail.  We were able to ride the bikes another four miles and finally ditched them to hike the rest.  There was too much snow for the bikes, and the trail was getting tough to follow.  The hike was easy enough so long as we kept the river within ear-shot.  The toughest section of trail with the most elevation gain was the last 1.5 miles to the lake.  Bob's lake sits in a bowl just northwest of Tokewanna Peak near 11,500'.  Other than the wind, the temperature was really nice.  We were able to comfortably cook up a lunch of Raman Noodles and hot cocoa.  Scrumdidliumpcious. 

This area promises to be a perfect location for September camping.  Had we planned this just one month earlier, we could've summited Tokewanna (13,165').  If you like to get away from groups of people, and if you don't shy away from technical climbs, this trail is definitley worthy of your time.  Have a happy adventure!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The BEST bike ever!

Just a few months ago, I sold the bike of my dreams.  It was a 2016 Trek Boone.  I had a really hard time buying one because it was such a popular bike, and quantities were waaaay limited.  With no small effort I ended up getting my hands on a coveted frameset.  I went to work pimping it out from axle to axle:
  • I chose the Ultegra Di2 road kit with a 50-34 crank and an 11-27 cassette.  I decided against Dura Ace because I planned to really test the Boone's limits.  I wanted to see how it handled all the rugged Northern Utah terrain at our fingertips -- on road, off-road, gravel, single-track, etc.  Anyway, I figured it'd be less painful to scratch up an Ultegra crank as opposed to DA.  I ran standard road gearing because it was also going to be my road steed, and I needed to be able to keep up.  
  • Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes (before they were a big deal)...never again will I use rim brakes!  They offer more stopping power, better modulation, and awesome performance in any weather conditions you dare to ride in.
  • Bontrager RXL FlatTop carbon road bar in a 44cm - two cm wider than I usually ride for off-road stability and a little more flex.  The FlatTop feature offered just a bit more width on the top of the bar too. 
  • Zipp 303 Firecrest clincher wheelset.  I converted them to tubeless...the only way to go!  I don't recall ever flatting on that bike.  I mounted two Bontrager CX-O 700X33 tires:  tubeless ready, light weight, and they roll really great while still offering enough tread for some off-road bite.  Today's trend would call for a bigger tire, and I'd jump on that bandwagon for sure, but where I used the bike for full-blown road rides the 33mm width was adequate on dirt while still fast on pavement.
  • Crank Brothers Egg Beater Ti pedals:  very light and small.  I needed a pedal that was really easy in and out in mud or snow that could hold up to pedal strikes.  There were times when some more platform support would've been nice, but all-in-all, I'd use the Egg Beaters again.  With a carbon sole and a Shoe Shield installed under the cleat, the platform was solid enough (unless you're a sprinter or a crazy hill-climber in which case you wouldn't be riding this bike). 
So now you have an idea of my dream bike, here's what I used it for:  EVERYTHING!  Really.  I rode my Boone everywhere you can imagine:  Stan's trails, Rattlesnake, Coldwater, Cougar-kill and the entire East Bench including Beus, just about everywhere at SnowBasin including Ice Box and Wheelers, and then thousands of miles on the road.  One cool memory comes from a road ride with Matt.  He and I planned on meeting at the base of the North Ogden Divide early one morning, ride around Pineview, up Old SnowBasin Road, down Trappers, then out Weber Canyon.  I slept through my alarm, so I texted Matt to go on ahead claiming I'd try to catch up.  I was about 30 minutes behind when he started up Old SnowBasin Road.  I decided to try short-cutting up a dirt trail (Wheelers).  I pointed my bike off-road, climbed Wheelers, passed several impressed mountain bikers, and popped out at East Fork just as Matt was passing on the road.  Perfect timing!  It turned out to be an awesome ride, and I became more enamored with the Boone than ever before.

 My main use for the Boone was commuting.  I live in Plain City and commute to work to South Ogden.  My fastest route was 16 miles that cut through the city using the Ogden River Parkway.  A funner (but more technical) route led me up above Weber High to a Pleasant View trailhead, along the trail system through North Ogden and the East Bench, and finally down Beus.  Definitely a full-body workout!  This is where the versatility of the Boone truly blew me away.  Wherever I had the notion to ride, I didn't have to hesitate...the Boone would handle whatever I threw at it.

Some of my craziest rides were in the Spring when the Ogden and Weber rivers flood over their banks and submerge the Parkway trails.  I got soaked and dang near had to swim a time or two, but I always made it across.  I learned something awesome about Di2:  if you plug all the junction ports, it's 100% waterproof.  I tested its waterproof capabilities over and over and it never let me down.  Perfect shifting all the time, dry or submerged, with ZERO adjustments!

Owning this bike has made me crave adventures on bikes.  I loved every minute of our rides together.  I've bought and sold countless bikes, but this one actually hurt when I watched her roll out the door with someone else.  Hopefully it leads to just as many adventures for him.  On the bright side, Trek has rolled out an all-new Boone.  It rides smoother with front and rear IsoSpeed; the handling is more predictable with front and rear thru axles; there's more frame clearance for bigger tires; and it's stunningly sleek and beautiful with 100% internal electronic and cable routing.  Sign me up!
Trek Boone 7

I love the design on the top tube.
Trek 2018 Boone 7 in all her glory.

Front IsoSpeed creates an incredibly smooth front end  by allowing the steerer tube to flex without any lateral movement.  This keeps the handling predictable and precise.
Front and rear through axles are noticeably stiffer and handle great off-road.
Rear IsoSpeed adds vertical compliance to smooth the rough gravel roads.
Trek's Control Freak internal cable routing is the cleanest out there. 
A section of the downtube is removable for clean, easy access to the battery on Di2 systems.