- To use “one monkey nut and half” in each side.
- To use a washer in the driveside of the rear axle, between the lock nut and the drop out.
Roberto Garcia Lema is a bikepacking enthusiast from northwest Spain who was a long distance cycle tourist that has turned to bikepacking for a more rugged experience. Roberto just returned from a trip on the Pyrenees Mountain Trail. What is your age and where do you currently live? I am 41 years old and I currently live in Vigo, an industrial city in the south of Galicia, in northwest Spain. What do you do for a living? I have been a firefighter in Santa Uxía de Ribeira since 2004, a town placed 100 kilometers from Vigo. Before that I was working several jobs, for example, as guide and instructor for a Galician outdoors company for some years, or sled dog guide in the Argentinian Patagonia, or truck driver for a well known soft drink brand… Biking is clearly very important to you, share how you make it a priority in your daily lifestyle. Well, I’ve been riding bikes since I can remember (or before), so they have always been a part of my day to day routine. For exploration, to commute or to ride with my devils and dreams – the two wheels have been wandering around me since I was a child. I hit the trails with the mountain bike two, three or four times per week, it depends: with my job I have a lot free time but me and Mima (my wife) also have a two year old wild boy, so you know…. we would like for the days have more than 24 hours. We also ride our commuting bikes daily, so Hugo (my son) is growing up surrounded by bikes which makes me so happy. He likes to repair them, so you can find bike pieces in the most unexpected places at home! You recently finished spending nearly two weeks cycling in the Pyrenees mountains, what inspired you to plan this excursion? In 1995 I spent two months wandering through the Pyrenees with my huskies with backpacks, and since then I knew that I needed to have a date with my bike on those mountains. Last year I changed my bike travel style (Hail! Hail! Bikepacking!), so I thought the Pyrenees mountains could be the perfect trip to test the new equipment. You traveled by bike for roughly 630 miles on the Pyrenees Mountain Trail, one of the more demanding trails in Spain. Describe the terrain you crossed along the way. The Pyrenees Mountain Trail is, together with the Pilgrim Way of Saint James and The Silver route, one of the most well-known trails in Spain, but the Pyrenees is the toughest so far. It´s a mountain range that runs from east to west (from the Mediterranean to the Cantabrian Sea), which serves as a natural border between France and Spain. A small country called Andorra is placed in the heart of these mountains. If you are looking for a new challenge, or following the traces of the history, or if you like architecture or gastronomy… the nymph Pyrene´s mountains could be waiting for you. I rode the trail from Almadraba Beach in the east (Girona province) to Donostia (Basque country) in the west. It was more than 1,000 kilometers long (620 miles) most of them along mountain tracks and dirt roads. Perhaps I rode 20% on paved roads, but in the form of small mountains roads. The elevation gain was 26,000 meters (85,000 ft) and it took me 12 days. There are three different zones along the route: The first one is called the Eastern Pyrenees. They are hotter, with short, hard, continuous climbs and descents. The Central Pyrenees are higher and colder. The climbs are longer (up to 20 miles) and steep (from 8% to 20% grade). The maximum height reached was about 2,300 meters (7,500ft). The last zone, called the Atlantic or Western Pyrenees, is a mixture of the previous – but much more wet than the first due to the presence of the Cantabrian Sea. In general, the trail is rough, dirty, dusty and rocky with very technical sections in several occasions. Mud conditions were not a big problem for this date (August) and hiking is a must, not all days, but frequently. Strong wheels, low tpi tires, and good metal brake pads (or a spare pair) are highly recommended. It´s the perfect terrain for 26+ and 29+ platform. Tell us about surviving in the backcountry of Spain. How was the climate for you in August? August is not the worst, but neither the best month to ride the Pyrenees due to several factors. There was an electric storm each evening, and very hot weather in the first few days, but in this case, family and job conveniences were decisive to choose this month. Although the weather was not too bad this time, I think the most stable month to ride this trail is September – less hot, less storms, dry weather and still enough hours of light. In spring you have to deal with the thaw and muddy conditions, and late autumn is wet and cold. In winter, you will find high mountains conditions: cold rain in the lower zones, snow, low temperatures, wind on the higher zones, as well as closed trails and danger of avalanches in several places. To get clean water is not a problem along the most of the trail, and the longest time you have to carry food between towns is for two days or so. Did you have any major difficulties on the trail? I cannot tell you that there was a lot of risky adventure in this trip, because all went well. Just some difficult places where long hiking was a must. There was one day where I was navigating with no cartography in the GPS, only printed maps and the sixth sense (old style). The storms in the high mountains were an element to note, it was important to reach some safe place to camp or a shelter before the sky began to spit out millions of volts over my head. As I said, no risky tales, but a funny story… It happened in the Aragonese Pyrenees, in the central section of the range. I was tired and was pedaling at the end of the day in auto pilot mode, moving my legs up and down, up and down, up and down… climbing with the lowest gear from a wooded valley to the altitudes in a difficult, rocky and steep trail… I was thinking about the shelter that was waiting for me in a few kilometers with a fire, a dry place to accommodate my sleeping bag and a hot meal. Days ago I had been talking about bears several times with different locals in towns along the route, for no reason, only by chance. Talking about how the bear population is recovering and growing slowly in some regions of Spain, such as Picos de Europa or the Aragonese Pyrenees. Before the trip, we also went with Hugo to the zoo, and two bears caged there had impressed me with their way of looking… so I think I carried his eyes in my subconscious. Right when I crossed noisily a big pile of dry branches, I listened how a big animal began to run frightened on my left side, but I could not see anything through the dense bush until I heard a strong GROOOOOOWL!!! Ooooh man…..the shot of adrenaline was immediate. You should have seen how my tired legs recovered immediately – all their power hit the pedals as steel pistons. “The f****** bear !!!” I thought, and for an eternity or so I climbed like a rocket through that difficult and rocky pass at 3 mph! (you know, fast enough to escape from a hungry beast…) Ridiculous, I know, but not as ridiculous as when after one of the switchbacks of the ascent I was surprised in the middle of the trail by a family of… wild boars! They ran away down the hill side growling as I had heard before.. I have confused a wild boar with a bear. What was the most memorable moment? Well, days in the wild are always full of great moments. Nothing special, but all is special, that´s the course. To find water, to have good meals to eat, to sleep dry… For example, I like to be riding before the sunrise when the earth smells like new, or feel the dust of the trail in my hands, in my face. The power of the big wheels downhilling like bulldozers at 35 mph makes my stomach fly. The sound of the tires crawling for hours over the rocky steeps raise my soul. I like the feeling of being a stranger, and the new silents of an unknown trail. I like to arrive at a bar in a town and take a beer or two with the bike parked on the sidewalk, while I watch through the window as the locals approach to take a closer look at the machine. I love to push myself and play with new projects while I ride hard. It´s a memorable moment when you understand that you are not going to die devoured by a wild bear. What is one piece of gear that you couldn’t live without? Difficult question this time… I loved every component of my bike, from the wide and double walled rims to the efficient and free-of-maintenance hydraulic brakes. The big and aggressive tires or the homemade remodeled and comfortable saddle. From the chameleon-like frame, to the versatile fork, the short and nervous stem or the prickly platform pedals. All of these define the performance of my bike and made me feel comfortable in the saddle for hours, day after day on the trail. Lastly, each component was involved in the result of the trip. I feel the same about most of my gear. Every piece was like a cog wheel and it´s a must that they work fine all together. But perhaps there is one piece above all that I`d save the first if my bike bursts amid napalm air strikes while playing the “Ride of the Valkiries”. My leaderdog, the Lieutenant Colonel of my squadron is my handlebar: The 710 Loop H-Bar from Jeff Jones. What bike were you on during this ride? I built my bike around a Surly Troll frame (and fork), size M. The attributes that I appreciate for a go-anywhere bike are its trustworthiness and its toughness. By my understanding, trustworthiness means that if some tough and unbreakable pieces breaks, I will, and can, repair it by myself or find any spare part in a dusty bikeshop of a lost ghost town to replace it, temporarily or permanently. My Troll, in spite of being a 26+ bike, meets this criteria. Spec Summary: The Troll runs 26’’ x 3” Duro Wildlife Leopard tires (30 tpi), on 47 mm wide double walled Kris Holm unicycle rims. 36 spokes and three crosses with XT hubs. They are heavy (no tubeless), but strong wheels and ride them nowadays with 0.8 bar (11.6 psi) in the front and 1.0 bar (14.5 psi) in the rear. Yes, the Troll can run 3” tires on wide rims, but there are two tricks that you have to know: