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Chumba Bicycles and Wanderlust bikepacking gear (their house brand?) sponsored a talk last night at the Patagonia store on Congress Ave.  They showed some Chumba videos and then Alexandera Houchin, the first woman finisher for the 2018 Tour Divide and a sponsored Chumba rider, gave a talk.  I had a lot of assumptions about what she'd be like and how the talk would go and all that got turned upside down. 

She's a member of the Ojibwa tribe and that identity is strongly part of who she is.  Her talk was a story teller simply telling the story of her life in the third person, and how she came to discover bikes and riding everywhere, slowly discovering her city, her county and expanding out from that.  

She weighed almost 300 pounds in high school, lost half her body weight at some point, was 20 years old the first time she rode a bike; she's 28 now. She's not a hard body. She doesn't do lycra shorts.  She goes to college full time for nine months out of the year (double major in chemistry and Indian Studies) and is focused on getting into dental school.  She does train in the winter,  going to the gym, riding fat bikes and doing fat bike events. Some running.   She was raised mostly by her grandmother.  She lived out of her Honda Element for awhile relatively recently when the living situation with her grandmother was no longer viable.  While going to school.  In the winter.  In Minnesota.  She said that was kind of like bike packing.  

And her bike set up for the race is....minimal.  This year she's taking an 18 degree sleeping bag and a tarp. Not a high tech Dyneema tarp. This is a brown 6' by 8' tarp that you can buy at Home Depot for about $8.  I didn't see a sleeping pad on her set up.  She said if it's raining she'll find a sheltered place to sleep...like under a bridge... and noted that when you've been riding for 150 miles, you just lie down and you're out.  She carries a little speaker attached to the shoulder strap of her backpack and listens to music, podcasts and audio books as she pedals along. 

Her bike for this year's Tour Divide  is a Chumba titanium hardtail Stella with a dropper seat post (!), with Industry 9 wheels, Crossmark 2.1 tires, flat handlebars.  The front wheel has a generator hub to keep electronics charged up.  She talked about how you resist the siren call of towns by stopping before you hit a town and eating up the last of your food and drinking lots of water.  While you're wolfing down the potato salad you bought at the deli of the grocery store, you start making sandwiches out of the cheese, salami and bagels that you just bought, knock back a Mountain Dew and then just get the hell out of there STAT, because it's so easy to lose time in a town.  

I hope the ride goes well for her.  Snowpack in the west is simply epic this year.  It was still snowing in Telluride and other areas as recently as a week or two ago.  I don't know how many streams riders will have to ford, but like the snowpack, the runoff will also be epic, so that might be a daunting challenge. 

During the question and answer session, someone asked her how one could train if they don't have mountains or time to do long distances.  She suggested riding to the event -- that you'd be in pretty good shape after riding all day for four or five days. 

Anyway, I'm still pretty blown away by this woman and will be following her progress on the Tour Divide. 

A bit more about her: 

Local Duluth paper: Cloquet woman wins Tour Divide

From the Chumba website, she's the first rider: chumbausa.com/riders

Outside OnlineShe Learned to Bike at 20. Now She's a Champion  

Her blog: alexandherrastro.wordpress.com/   (She has a post up about her drive to Austin this week.)

Edited to add: Her bike is rigid single speed for this year's Tour Divide -- no suspension, no gears. 

 

Edited by June Bug
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Fascinating! I wanted to go to that and know I'd regret missing it. Might be a good thing, because it sounds like the kind of thing that would get in my head and distract me from doing anything else for months.

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Holy Crap!  We're three days into this, Alexandera is already just south of Helena averaging 186 miles a day on a single speed with 652.7 miles total and 15th overall. 

And then we get to Lael Wilcox, the lead woman,  6th overall, who is averaging 200 miles a day.  She's at mile 720.  

The leader, Sophiane Sahili, is almost at 790 miles. 

It'll be interesting to see who can maintain this insane pace. 

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I've been watching the dots. Wilcox subtly there down the gaunlet a few days ago by suggesting she wants to be the first female to win TD. 

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I really need to dig into some interviews to see how people pull off stuff like this. I am lucky if I can leave my immediate neighborhood for more than a few hours to ride, let alone take a month + off to ride the whole country top to bottom. I'll have to start with a weekend excursion to a state park to start because this kind of thing appeals to me more than brappin berms.

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15 minutes ago, mack_turtle said:

I really need to dig into some interviews to see how people pull off stuff like this. I am lucky if I can leave my immediate neighborhood for more than a few hours to ride, let alone take a month + off to ride the whole country top to bottom. I'll have to start with a weekend excursion to a state park to start because this kind of thing appeals to me more than brappin berms.

You know we have two TD finishers right here in Austin. I have seen the Sheila's several times on SATN. You might want to talk with one or both of them.

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13 minutes ago, mack_turtle said:

I really need to dig into some interviews to see how people pull off stuff like this. I am lucky if I can leave my immediate neighborhood for more than a few hours to ride, let alone take a month + off to ride the whole country top to bottom. I'll have to start with a weekend excursion to a state park to start because this kind of thing appeals to me more than brappin berms.

Same here. I’m 30 and in the early parts of a good career, and when I get back from a 5 day weekend the shit has hit the fan. How could I take off 3-4 weeks. 

I’m in the process of outfitting my bike for long weekend bikepacking trips. Plan to have everything dialed for the fall and have routes planned out for pedernales falls sp, Bastrop sp, inks lake sp, and pace bend. All of which are sub 50 from my place. 

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IIRC from watching the documentary, a lot of people that do this are teachers, and others work their life (including jobs/careers) around cycling not the other way around.

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29 minutes ago, AntonioGG said:

 work their life (including jobs/careers) around cycling not the other way around.

There it is. Not this lifetime, but I could do better for myself in that regard.

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35 minutes ago, bestbike85 said:

I’m in the process of outfitting my bike for long weekend bikepacking trips. Plan to have everything dialed for the fall and have routes planned out for pedernales falls sp, Bastrop sp, inks lake sp, and pace bend. All of which are sub 50 from my place. 

I am down for a long weekend of this kind of thing and I probably have all I need to make it happen except the will to just do it.

 

Careto share your routes for these?

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@shredhead used to organize sub 24 hour bike packing to LGT for those of us that had never done it and wanted to get our gear and planning tested.  Sadly I never took advantage of this.  This is definitely a fall or early spring activity though.  I bought all the gear but have never used it for bike packing.

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59 minutes ago, mack_turtle said:

I am down for a long weekend of this kind of thing and I probably have all I need to make it happen except the will to just do it.

 

Careto share your routes for these?

Im up north west near the 620, 183, 45 intersection, so that’s my starting spot for all of these. 

Pace bend heads south down 620 then turns west onto lakeway blvd, then northwest onto bee cave rd, then northob onto pace bend rd to the finish. 32 miles I believe is the exact mileage, but other small additional loops could be added. 

Pedernales isn’t very different from driving, but 620 to Hamilton pool rd to chimney ranch to fitzhugh. Good chance to take a detour on fitzhugh and hit jester king before heading back west to the finish. 45 miles or so. 

Inks lake heads north through Lakeline through Leander and west at liberty hill in 1869, turning north to oatmeal then creeping your way through burnet and onto inks lake. Right at 50 miles. 

Bastrop goes down parmer through the whole city basically, ending up in webberville then onto Bastrop. Just under 50 miles. 

These should be a good starting point for me in the fall for overnighters. 

Gear consists of:

Bottles in the triangle (medium frame).

Bedrock Bags Coconino seat bag 

15in and 10in Stasher bags attached to one another on the bars.

Salsa exp top tube bag.

2 Anything cages on the fork with 2 7.5 liter roadrunner bags up there held down with voile straps. 

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Pretty sure people have bikepacked using Bastrop/Beucher State Parks and Bluff Creek Ranch.

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On 6/9/2019 at 8:55 AM, June Bug said:

During the question and answer session, someone asked her how one could train if they don't have mountains or time to do long distances.  She suggested riding to the event -- that you'd be in pretty good shape after riding all day for four or five days. 

 

I rode to Walnut once and totally killed it. And by "it", I killed a six pack.

On 6/9/2019 at 8:55 AM, June Bug said:

Edited to add: Her bike is rigid single speed for this year's Tour Divide -- no suspension, no gears. 

 

OMG.

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Just now, mack_turtle said:

Steel toed boots and jean shorts too.

Yeah, I read an article about her a few days ago, boots and cut off shorts, snickers and gatorade. All of that was stunning. But I think past bikes were geared, at least in some races, so to now add rigid and singlespeed... holy shit.

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https://bikepacking.com/bikes/tour-divide-rigs-2019/

That age spread!

Quite a few single speeds in the bunch, actually. Think about all the mechanical issues you avoid that way. You might not climb or cruise as handily as the gearies, but you'll blow past them when the snap a hanger.

Not a lot of suspension to be seen among the riders at all. Rohloff hubs on quite a few bikes too. Surprised there are no gearbox equipped bikes shown.

I think they started with 150 riders, and not all of them are really competitors. Need some chips to go with all those Salsas too.

Edited by mack_turtle
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1 hour ago, spicewookie said:

What's mounted to the seatstays?

Might be King Many Thing Cage  You just put whatever fits in there and cinch it down, from stuff sacks to water bottles.  The cage is also in use to attach bags on the fork legs.

Both Lael Wilcox (female) and Sofiane Sahili (male) have set Tour Divide records in the last 24 hours.   Alexandera is holding at 15th place overall out of 167 riders.   If Sahili can maintain his pace, I don't think he can be beat by anyone.  

The daily mileages of the serious contenders are beyond savage and would shred normal humans.  As far as I can tell, these people have a "you can sleep when you're dead" thing going. 

Pics of Rigs of the 2019 Tour Divide from bikepacker.com   My sense is that the serious contenders are minimalists.  They aren't carrying an ounce more than they need for the basic survival on the trail.  They aren't setting up a camp at night; they're throwing down a sleeping bag (if that) to grab a few hours of sleep. 

Again, you can follow along at trackleaders.com/tourdivide19   Keep in mind you can filter out the few people starting from the south. 

Edited by June Bug

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1 hour ago, spicewookie said:

2019-Tour-Divide-Rigs-John-Girmsey.jpgWhat's mounted to the seatstays?

Those are the Blackburn cargo cages with voile straps. Commonly used when you only have 1 or 2 mounts, and it looks like that cutthroat only has 1 which would commonly be used for a rear rack. 

https://www.blackburndesign.com/en/outpost-cargo-cage/p/7056599

On the fork are the salsa anything HD cages, which I have for my fork. These operate on 3 mounts which salsa specs on practically all of their cross/gravel/touring bikes. They are paired with the salsa anything bags, which IMO are a bit too small as they claim 4.5 liters, but after a triple roll are more like 3.25-3.5 liters.

https://salsacycles.com/components/category/racks/anything_cage_hd

https://salsacycles.com/components/category/bags_frame_packs/anything_bag

disclaimer: I do not work for blackburn or salsa, I’ve just spent a shit ton of time the last few months researching bikepacking gear. 

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4 hours ago, Anita Handle said:

But I think past bikes were geared, at least in some races, so to now add rigid and singlespeed... holy shit.

It was my understanding that her previous races were geared with front suspension, but don't know about her fat bike. 

There are only 12 single speeders in the entire Tour Divide field, and single speeders must maintain the same gear ratio from start to finish. 

Edited by June Bug

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