Things don’t always go as planned. That’s what I have to tell myself all the time. Last winter, Clayton from WTB and I planned on doing the Tahoe Rim Trail, the week of Interbike, not with any political agenda in mind, just that it worked for both of our schedules. It was the only week where neither of us had anything penned in our calendars.
While you can do the TRT on a rigid bike, you’ll probably have more fun on at least a hardtail. Clayton’s route includes a lot of singletrack on the eastern side of the lake and like everything up there, it can be rowdy at times. I planned on bringing my Stinner Frameworks, with a few component upgrades, which would make the long days and high elevation gain a bit easier. All I needed were some bags.
I’ve been using Porcelain Rocket bags for quite a while now and while my trusty frame bag fits my road or cross bikes, even my 44 UTE quite well, it wouldn’t cram into my hardtail. Around the time I was planning for this, Scott from Porcelain Rocket launched his sealed waterproof bags, with the first special color offering being “Prolly Gold,” or Coyote as the rest of the world calls it. I was honored and slightly amused at the playful nod to my obsession with various shades of tan, so I reached out to Scott, with the emphasis on the byline: nothing special, just want to buy a bag.
You can read allll about this truck over at Race Dezert.
A week later and Scott sends me a note: “Woodman’s gonna be bummed!”… with a snippet of a yellow, orange and red framebag. It took a second, but I realized he was talking about Monkey Wrench’s Nate Woodman, an avid Toyota fan, and obvious bikepacking aficionado. When I first saw the bag, all I could think of was Ivan Stewart’s Toyota trophy trucks, an iconic livery in desert racing. While my Stinner was based off a 1970’s FJ40 color, this was an all-time Toyota reference and honestly, one I wasn’t sure I could pull off.
Then the whole project came together just as our ride began to fall apart, as they sometimes do.
Our friend James backed out from the trip, and our friend Brooke wasn’t sure if she could go the whole route, then, Clayton fucked his knee up real good in Downieville, where if you’re gonna fuck your knee up, is the worst place in California to do so. We pushed the trip back, week by week, day by day, waiting for a speedy recovery from Clayton, but to no avail. I couldn’t push the trip back anymore, without spilling in too close to the approaching winter weather at elevation or my trip to South Africa.
I know what you’re thinking: do the damn ride by yourself, sissy!
It’s not that simple, really. TRT is a convoluted route, one that skirts Wilderness areas and parallels the PCT. While there are water and refill spots along the way, some of them can be cryptic. Also, I’m a photographer and a storyteller, so trips like this need a cast of characters. I could do it by myself, but I prefer to do trips with at least one other human, especially if they know the route like the back of their hand.
So, here’s this pretty bike, with pretty gear and all loaded up with everything but water, comes in well under 40lbs. I felt horrible for asking Scott for bags, and for the guys at Golden Saddle for installing a new group and tuning the bike up, but, ya know what? That’s how things go sometimes and as you’ll see next week, we still had a great time riding over the past few days. Our plans were just postponed, if you will, until the spring or early summer snowmelt makes the route ridable. Until then, I’ll keep shredding this beautiful bike and hopefully, using these bags throughout the desert this winter.