My Geekhouse Woodville Touring Bike = The Right Equipment Aug 5, 2013

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Photo by Kevin Edward Brown of Yonder Journal

I know I’ve already talked a lot about this bike, but I still can’t get over how much fun the State of Jefferson Brovet was last month. One of the reasons it was enjoyable was because of the equipment I used. There’s a lot to be said about the traditional randonneur events, all of which will not be discussed here. This is more a reflection on a ride that could have been hell for me, had I not planned accordingly.

After bonking and consequently pulling out of the second Brovet, due to a lack of adequate planning, I wasn’t going to let that happen on the latest ride. The stats were heavy. 250 ish miles and around 20,000′ in a day and a half was a big undertaking, especially with the weather fluctuations that you experience in California altitudes.

Check out more below.

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Hydration

The mountains were boiling hot, the nights dropped 20 degrees and to top it off, there was little potable water. Sure, there were rivers and streams but my apprehension is still very much present to consume that water without filtration. Once again, I packed a Sawyer filter and three “tallboy” Purist bottles.

Just about every touring bike is spec’d with three bottle cages. Why? Because when you’re touring in remote regions, you are going to need a lot of fucking water and on this ride in particular, that third bottle not only saved me, but other riders too, who had run out. If you cramp, you’re fucked. Sure, the third bottle gets dirty without fenders, but I used it as a backup reservoir, pouring its contents into one of the other bottles to drink it, or the bottle of a companion.

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Equipment

My Woodville was spec’d to fit up to a 45c tire with fenders, specifically the Bruce Gordon Rock N Roads. For this ride, I rolled on the Jack Brown Blues. While they might not be the lightest tire, they are bombproof. We ended up running out of tubes and I didn’t flat once, save for a bad patch job on a tube that I was using early on. Some say the weight saved on a comparable “randonneur racing” tire sheds hours of the final time, but this was a Brovet, speed is not a concern. All I know is, I didn’t flat.

Rutted, fast, steep descents proved to be an easy task for this mid-trail bike, even with weight on the front. The riding position I prefer on my touring rigs (shown above, top photo) made handling these roads a cinch. Again, touring cantis are the shit. Modulation and setup is a piece of cake. Don’t tell me I need disc brakes!

Having the right bike is one thing but topping it off with a good handlebar bag or randonneur bag is essential. The Swift Ozette bag ruled so hard. I’m glad I went with the size large because it fit food for 100 miles, tools, a jacket and anything else I could cram into it. Since it opens out from the rider, I could access everything I needed while riding. There’s nothing more annoying than stopping a group of 10 people so you can put your jacket away.

Conclusion

I don’t know what sparked this post. Maybe it was because this photo has been on my desktop since the ride or maybe it’s because I get so many people asking me why I chose what for the Brovet. Much like having the right fitness, the right equipment is essential to completing a hefty ride. A cross or a road bike would have been suitable alternatives, but both would not have performed as well overall. Mostly because of the front-end geometry and the lack of accessible, on the bike portage options.

For whatever reason, I wholeheartedly believe that this bike made this ride in particular a lot more enjoyable for me. Could I have done it on one of my other bikes? Probably but this machine came alive on those roads…

  • quesofrito

    My pants came alive reading this.

  • btdubs

    A proper touring bike is worlds away from a race-oriented cross or road bike.

  • Joshua Robot

    Huh. You taught me something about my home state of Oregon. . . State of Jefferson and all. Nice riding!

    Care to post your route?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson
      • Goog Smells

        That two-hour/HC/Pacific Crest Trail Climb looks brutal and awesome.

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          We did a lotta swimming on that road. It was damn hot and the road kept going up for another few miles. Gnarly.

  • Germanflea

    I am looking at getting a Touring bike could you send me in the right direction for a good bike???

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson
      • Arekey

        How is the Space Horse compared to the Cross Check, in terms of versatility? I’m looking for a bike who can do everything from crossing in the woods to take me on a lightweight touring trip.

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          If you’re planning on riding trails, go cross.

  • chris campbell

    John it looks like you put a decaleur on the bike for the Swift, is that right? That solved the zip tie issue??

    If so what decaleur did you go with (rack mount, stem/bar mount, etc)? Thanks!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Steerer mount VO for now. I’ll probably end up going with the two-bolt Berthoud in the end though.

  • Kurt

    How much weight do you usually carry in your Swift and how does it affect the handling of the bike? I’m planning on a Pass & stow with this bag to carry my Nikon D700 and a couple larger lenses and am concerned about how the weight might affect the ride.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      The more weight you’ll have up front, the more you’ll have to be mindful of the bike’s control. If you’re carrying weight like that, use a decaleur for sure.

  • Tyler Johnson

    I seriously love this bike. It is absolutely amazing. Makes me really want to build something similar. By me, I mean have Taylor build me something.

  • Jack

    I have a lot of experience loading road and touring bikes to go long distance. Do you mind if I share the links to my blog? Some of my opinions differ to yours, and some are the same, but I reckon they might be of use to people.

  • blasdelf

    “Some say the weight saved on a comparable “randonneur racing” tire sheds hours of the final time”

    they’re talking entirely about the rolling resistance, not the weight