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RWGPS Ride Reports

Titanium Pinion/Gates Drive bicycle in a field of wildflowers in the Upper Elk Valley.

This post is a “home” for links to my Ride Reports.

High Rockies Trail & Elk Lakes Local Overnighter – a solo August 2023 S24O.

Mount Costigan Local Overnighter – a July 2023 ride with friends on the Lake Minnewanka Shoreline Trail.

Nordegg Alberta Local Overnighter – a June 2023 area scouting trip with Kevin.

Stoney Creek Local Overnighter – a May 2023 ride to test the lightest luggage system I’ve ever created.

Galiano Island Overnighter – a May 2023 trip with the Vancouver Island Bikepacking Collective.

Yet another Lake Minnewanka Ride Report – an April 2023 overnighter on the Slowest Known Time Machine.

Cascade Valley easy spin – a March 2023 local overnighter to test at recently dislocated shoulder – test successful.

Redearth Creek and Shadow Lake fatbiking – March 2023 perhaps the stickiest snow I’ve ever biked in. Fun was had!

Elbow Valley Winter Overnighter – a February 2023 ride that was primarily the most tiring bike-pushing I’ve ever done.

Lake Minnewanka Winter Overnighter – a January 2023 trip to test some new gear systems on the SKT Machine.

N+0 on the GDMBR. The prototype Bikepackers Foundry Ultra 200 CompressionPanniers (~20 litres & 180 grams each) are performing very well after about 1,000 km. Likewise with the matching custom Ultra 200 StraddleBags. Only having five bags makes packing a breeze. The total weight of all luggage and 610mm composite integrated rear fender/rack is less than 1,500 grams. The 700mm carbon corner bars make for a fun and comfortable ride. While the bike may appear to be back-heavy, in fact the the centre of gravity is low and 50-75mm forward of the cranks.
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DIY Ice Probe for fat biking

Cycling on ice can be hazardous or fatal! These ideas are presented entirely at your own risk and expense.

Fat bike sitting on thick older ice, with new thin ice and open water in the background.
DIY Ice Probe strapped to left side of top tube. Fat bike sitting on thick older ice, with new thin ice and open water in the background.

The Nordic ice skating community has developed specific tools for assessing ice thickness. Luc Mehl’s Wild Ice course (highly recommended) was the catalyst for this little project. This blog post is a DIY adaptation of an ice probe sized for carrying on and deployment from a fat bike; without interfering with other gear typically carried for winter camping. While this probe has so-far only had a few trips I’m very impressed with the timeliness and accuracy of the information it can provide.

Ice Probe with 20mm webbing strap attached to yield an effective length of about 160 cm, 60 inches.  The probe has been lightly tossed like a harpoon.  With the new 6 cm ice failing on the first toss.
Ice Probe with 20mm webbing strap attached to yield an effective length of about 160 cm, 60 inches. The probe has been lightly tossed like a harpoon. With the new 6 cm ice failing on the first toss.

The primary components of the ice probe are a shortened segment of aluminum Nordic ski pole, and a length of steel rod. Combined the weight is around 500 grams. Given the anticipated harsh service I opted for creating a single pole that does not extend or retract. The potential for unwanted corrosion of dissimilar metals is minimized (perhaps eliminated) by the separation of aluminum and steel with self-fusing heat shrink tubing around the steel rod. The steel rod is then driven inside the segment of ski pole.

Wouldn't be a Bikepackers Foundry item if there weren't at least two uses.  Ice probe, and bike stand, etc. :)
Wouldn’t be a Bikepackers Foundry item if there weren’t at least two uses. Ice probe, and bike stand, etc. 🙂
A brief video of how I’m using and carrying the ice probe.
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Reform “Seymour” saddle review

After more than half a year and several thousand kilometres of backcountry riding (sans chamois) it’s time to report an initial impression. The Seymour is by-far the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever ridden!!! 

This picture was taken south of Cranbrook BC during the Iohan Gueorguiev Memorial Ride in August 2022. At this point the saddle has more than 3,000 km of usage and is carrying a prototype Bikepackers Foundry high-volume (17-20 litre) SeatBag that allows full use of the dropper-post. Despite this difficult usage case, the rails and saddle show no indications of premature wear, and continue to perform superbly.

In early 2022 Ryan Draper founder of Cycling 101 contacted me about a new saddle that he felt might be suitable for my riding style of predominantly backcountry bikepacking, year-round in the Canadian Rockies.

Ryan and I found a time where he could do a saddle-fit on my RollingDale Ti 29’er hardtail in a Wahoo trainer. The molding took about 30 minutes, closely following the excellent directions included with the saddle.  On the trainer the Seymour is merely very comfortable … in the real world the exceptional design and construction start to manifest themselves.  The saddle shell is forgiving, firm, supportive, and appropriately “grippy”.  There is noticable compliance in the one-piece carbon fibre frame and rails.

After a few days of trail riding I knew that the fatbike also needed a new Seymour saddle.  I swapped the original saddle to the fatbike and got a second Seymour from Ryan for the 29’er.

At this point, March 2022, I decided to ride on the second saddle without molding it first…

During a bikepacking race in 2017 I developed severe saddle sores that required medical intervention after I completed the race.  Since that time I’ve had numbness and varying levels of discomfort with every saddle, until the Seymour.

… After riding about 300 km on the un-molded Seymour saddle all of my usual undercarriage symptoms were evident again.

I’d purchased one $50 molding power supply with the first saddle and used it to mold the second Seymour saddle on my trainer.  Within a couple of days of backcountry riding the 29’er with the freshly molded saddle my symptoms had disappeared again, and have not returned on any subsequent rides!  After molding, both saddles have subtle asymmetrical characteristics, which I believe helps provide the extraordinary comfort.  This comfort is particularly evident on longer rides (>100km) when I don’t have the sub-concisous need to lift myself off the saddle. Other riders report similar experiences during big rides. 

The saddle in front is unmolded, while the rear saddle (molded and fitted) exhibits subtle changes in shape on the left side.

During the 2022 Buckshot (a May-long bikepacking race) I had the privilege of riding briefly with George Bailey of Vancouver BC Landyachtz, which are the creators of Reform Saddles.  These folks are doing innovative work that’s worth following, and perhaps purchasing! Any products that we choose to review are purchased by us at retail prices.

Bikepackers Foundry creates original designs and produces durable field-tested ultralight bikepacking gear.  All products are hand-made in Western Canada. 

For reference I’ve been primarily riding on the excellent Specialized Power Pro Elaston (carbon fibre shell with titanium rails) for the past 20,000 km or so. 

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Bikepackers Foundry backstory

May 5, 2021 Episode 57 of the MyBack40Podcast. Sara and Guy chat with Steve O’Shaughnessy about Sara’s first year in the bag making business.

Here’s a link to a podcast about how products and DIY ideas emerge from the Bikepackers Foundry.  Grateful that Sarah Hornby of Bikepack Canada and Steve O’Shaughnessy of MyBack40podast found this topic of interest to the community.

As one of the most requested guests for the Podcast, many of you already know who this man is. For those of you who don’t, say hello to Guy Stuart. Guy has been in the Bikepacking scene for the last handful of years and has made his presence known by participating in any event he can get his wheels into. Guy is also a passionate DIY sempster (tailor, sewer) and has manufactured most of his own luggage. In this episode, Guy discusses his passion for cycling and his analytical approach to the design and fabrication of his pieces.


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Integrated tent vestibule footprint

This DIY concept is a simple cutting and sewing project to extend the functionality of a tent.  A vestibule footprint can block mud and debris from entering the tent and also provides a larger barrier for moisture migrating from the ground and condensing on the inside of the tent fly.  Any piece of coated fabric will work.  In this example a piece of coated ripstop nylon was used.  The total weight addition is 30 grams.

Completed vestibule footprint set up on a recent bikepacking trip. 

Design considerations: a. Size the vestibule footprint smaller than the fly to prevent water from pooling on the footprint. b. Fold and sew edges to minimize water and debris accumulations. c. Add a length of elastic cord to hold the footprint in tension.

8. Breaking camp after a stormy night. Everything stayed dry under the tent fly

7. Completed tent and vestibule footprint sewn together

4. Inside corner and edge folding detail prior to sewing onto tent footprint

2. Preparing to check the drip-line with the fly installed

3. Laying out the fabric

1. Original MSR universal footprint

6. Five mm webbing sewn into corner and a length of elastic cord attached to keep footprint in tension

5. Detail of the vestibule footprint sewn under the tent footprint to an edge to repel water and debris from migrating between tent footprint and body. The perimeter edge is folded under to provide a smooth top edge.

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vvp for bikepacking 🤔 Mega to Mini panniers – development notes

Spring 2020 – The purpose of this post is to give folks ideas about an approach to develop DIY gear for bikepacking and possibly bikerafting. Looking critically at all possible storage areas of my bikes led me to seriously examine the role that panniers could play in extending distances and multi-sport travel,*aka bikerafting. What problems might be solved by panniers that can be adjusted during the journey? Thinking ahead to possible outcomes when Covid-19 controls are reduced results in evaluating the prospect of needing to carry all or most supplies over bikepacking trips of several weeks. Ideally this could be achieved without using a backpack. Can on-bike storage be reconfigured to meet changing needs of food and bikerafting realities? These were some of the disparate thoughts rattling around as I considered prototyping more storage options for extended completely unsupported bikepacking trips.

From these ideas emerged some usage criteria: no unnecessary weight, quickly flexible, integrated with existing gear and systems, durable and without dangles, hikeabikeable, complementary to packrafting, function over form.

I then moved on to considering what gear and food might fit into different storage locations on the bike and packraft. While thinking about how this might work on a trip, the idea of significant volume flexibility emerged.

The main integration items are drybags, compression drybags, and food packaged in ziplock bags, ultralight backpack. For bikerafting the items are PFD, cold water immersion gear, inflation and repair supplies, miscellaneous packraft components.  For a fairly minimalist bikepacker the list got long very quickly …

Typical 20 litre drybags* seemed like a good organizational size to start working from. This resulted in rough bag dimensions of 4 inches deep, 10 inches wide, and about 24 inches tall when open. Other integration checks included 5 and 8 litre compression drybags, ziplocks full of food, PFD, full packraft kit (raft and 4-piece paddle are carried on the handlebars). * The Sea to Summit Ultralight Drybag Backpack (a favorite of mine) is also approximately this size.

The combination of usage criteria and volume flexibility results in the Mega to Mini panniers prototype. A maximum closed volume, 4 folds, of about 18 litres with a minimum volume of <5 litres when fully compressed. When empty, each pannier is flat with no protrusions.

Left pannier at close to minimum size, right pannier fully expanded with heavier gear in the bottom section.
Fatbike with variable volume panniers still attached ready to launch. Even with the raft and safety gear no backpack is required.
Set up for hike-a-bike while bikerafting with the contents of the left pannier moved to the right. Alternately a ultra-light backpack can be removed from a pannier and gear transferred completely off the bike.

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Waterproof hip and handlebar pack

This is a very simple method of securing a hip pack to a Jones H Loop handlebar. The attachment method works with many styles of bags simply by attaching a loop near the bottom to hold the bag in place within the H-Loop. At 240 grams this 4 litre rolltop drybag is not ultra light, however it is extremely durable. Newer models are available that weigh 180 grams. The only modification required is to push a knotted loop of paracord through the drain hole of the zippered pocket, a bead or ring to prevent the cord from sliding out is optional. The mounted bag pictured below contains a down jacket and vest, cache battery and cables, and an InReach. The bag also works well as a deckbag when bikerafting.

Length of paracord knotted and ready to be inserted through the drain hole.

Valhalla Pure Outfitters carries these Seal-Line Hip Pack bags for less than $65 Cdn. The weight can be reduced by replacing the heavy 25mm (1 inch) waist belt with a lighter grade of webbing and buckle set. This change dropped the weight of the red bag to 180 grams.

Adding an accessory pocket

Left to right: DeLorme InReach, Handy Andy 5 with Loop Velcro patch and belt loops modifications, Handy Andy 6 open, 44.4 Whr cache battery with Hook Velcro patches on the back. These modifications were made with a simple light-duty sewing machine.

The red bag has a patch of industrial Hook Velcro attached to the outside of the pocket. It was placed and clamped overnight for the adhesive backing to fully adhere. This patch becomes the platform to attach other items such as an electronics case. The image above has a couple of examples of utilizing different Handy Andy cases for holding devices and securing a cache battery to the Loop Velcro inside the case.