In mid August, six bikepackers took to the Adirondack Trail – a 500+ mile route filled with doubletrack, singletrack, and forest service roads through the notorious Adirondacks Mountains. This loop starts and ends in Northville, a small town an hour and change, northwest of Albany, NY. While all but one of the participants below did not finish, each participant took away a good amount of knowledge to help them for next years Adirondack trip. Even if you don’t plan on riding this specific route, there is a lot of useful information you can take from these question and answers.
Jim BelknapWhat was the highlight of racing TATR? Seeing some of the remote areas of the Adirondacks that I had never experienced. The remote ponds and the Pine Orchard were memorable and I will probably return to some of those places to show others, Also the sense of being self-sufficient with no time schedule. What was the lowest part of your ride? Finding a suitable place and setting up a campsite in the pouring rain in downtown Indian Lake. I ended up in a small patch of brush behind an abandoned grocery store and stayed in a bar until it was time to crash for the night. Did you have any bikepacking experience before attempting the Adirondack Trail Ride? I did 3 or 4 S24O’s in the months leading up to the ride in order to dial in my bike and gear. If so, how much and where? The Black River Canal in the Southern Adirondacks was a good one. I rode about 60 miles over 2 days with an overnight. The others were local to my area. Anywhere from 4-20 miles, with overnight and some cooking. What were your goals going into the ride? To give it a good effort and see what a bikepacking event was like. I also wanted to just get out into nature with myself and my gear, to experience the freedom for a while. What bike and bags were you using? My bike is a 9:Zero:7 Fatbike with a 29 plus wheelset that I had built for this event. The front wheel has a SON dyno hub that powered a K-lite headlamp and Sinewave inverter for USB charging. The bags included a DIY framebag and 2 DIY feedbags on the Jones loop bars. A Revelate Harness and Gas Tank was on the front, and a Blackburn seat bag for the tent and clothing. The forks had Blackburn cages with dry bags for the food and cook kit. Looking back, would you change anything to your rig? Not really, I saw that smaller wheel/tires were faster on the road sections, but I really enjoyed the rideability of the rig on the off-road segments. It’s a trade-off based on what you like to ride and what the course is like. The course was a mystery to me so I just went with what I like. One piece of gear you couldn’t live without (excluding bike)? Sawyer Mini.
Shawne CampWhat was the highlight of racing TATR? Day 2 I pulled into Inlet for food before continuing on in the rain. I found myself at the Screaming Eagle and ordered a large supreme pizza. I took the leftovers and loaded them onto my bike. On day 3 I got to the top of a climb with a beautiful view and ate the rest of the pizza which at that time was the best ever. What was the lowest part of your ride? Day 3 at approximately mile 220 I found myself not able to hold my head up while on the bike. I dumped 40 OZ of water from my backpack, removed my headlamp from my helmet and stretched. None of this helped and all I could do was stare at my front wheel in pain as I rode. I had injured my knee on day 1 which had already become an issue on the climbs. I made it to Star Lake and knew I could no longer continue safely in that condition and made the decision to depart the race. I found out the next day I had Shermer’s Neck. Did you have any bikepacking experience before attempting the Adirondack Trail Ride? No true multi-day bikepacking experience but I have done touring. If so, how much and where? Solo across the US 2009, San Fran to Colorado 2011, Malta NY to Savannah GA on a fat bike 2013. What were your goals going into the ride? To be safe and have fun. What bike and bags were you using? I used a Surly ECR outfitted with Revelate bags and 5 liter dry bags mounted to Salsa Anything Cages. Looking back, would you change anything to your rig? The 29+ setup worked perfectly. One piece of gear you couldn’t live without (excluding bike)? Navigation! Pairing the Garmin Edge 810 along with the Nat Geo maps
Ruth CunninghamWhat was the highlight of racing TATR? I had an early DNF, but the part I did was such an extreme mix of terrain types in a short length which added to the adrenaline factor. I never knew what would come up next, which is an aspect I enjoy with bikepacking. The mystery factor is also why I have jumped on doing several rides during the inaugural year since there isn’t that much info about them yet. This was also my first time to the Adirondacks. It wasn’t like you had miles and miles of a boring single terrain to plug through wondering if you should shoot yourself, or IMBA singletrack with banked out turns and rocks re-placed with a nice line so it looks and feels like every other trail in the US. This was raw multi-use terrain. What was the lowest part of your ride? Finally getting down the first long stretch of rocky rough off road, only to hit the tarmac and realize my rear rim had decided to split right open. It’s the gamble with doing a new route on only a few people’s descriptions, everybody describes things subjectively, but in reality you never know the best gear until after you are there. I chose rims that I have xc raced on a lot, but were just too light for what I expected on these trails. Did you have any bikepacking experience before attempting the Adirondack Trail Ride? Yes. A lot of informal rides throughout my home state of Pennsylvania & nearby West Virginia. Between 2010-2014 I finished a total of 14 timed bikepack events in eastern US. If so, how much and where? TNGAx4, AMLx3, Hur300x4, CFiTTx2, Crush the Commonwealthx1. Plus 4 starts that were DNFs: AZT300-2012, AML-2014, AMLX-2015, TATR-2015 What were your goals going into the ride? I’m not super speedy but in a small field: to get the inaugural women’s finish and time record. There were 3 women registered, 2 of us started, only 1 finished. What bike and bags were you using? Niner EMD, Stans Race Golds/Nano 40 (always tubeless), Whiskey fork, front 36, 22 with 10spd cassette. For bags I used Bolder Bikepacking Bags small size seat pack (i’m short on a 29er), Revelate Gas Tank, Camelbak Mini Mule, Event dry bag on bars in Bolder Bikepacking Bags small size harness, an original mountain feed bag (not Revelate.) Looking back, would you change anything to your rig? Bwahahaha….obviously….the rims. But really tires are always I think the biggest decision to make for any route, the one you debate and change. I wasn’t thrilled with my Nano choice. everything else I was pretty standard in using on any route, the gears/fork set up is what I like. One piece of gear you couldn’t live without (excluding bike)? Nothing is indispensable. Anything could break or be dysfunctional at anytime, so I don’t really rely on thinking anything is needed absolutely to get you to the end. I do carry navigation back ups (I put the route on 2 GPS units – using a Garmin510 as back up, and small hand drawn maps/cues.)
Mikey IntrabartolaWhat was the highlight of racing TATR? Actually racing TATR! It had been a dream of mine to create a bikepacking route in the Adirondack Park since 2012. So to actually put the route together, organize a grand depart and finally race it with others was an amazing experience. What was the lowest part of your ride? Despite leading the race, ending my ride. Or more accurately, a few hours and about 20 miles prior to ending my ride was the low point. In short; I was riding through the Tooley Pond Easement section north of Cranberry Lake. I passed a hunting camp and saw a bunch of pickup trucks but no hunters. About 10 mins. later one of those trucks was pulling up beside me on the dirt road and the driver was very unhappy. He was accusing me of trespassing and told me the whole area was off limits to the public. There were no posted signs and this information was completely contrary to what I had learned from the DEC while I was mapping this area. We had our words and I tried to explain what I was doing and insisted that I was pressing on. After we parted I was really upset but looking forward to the next section which was a remote gravel two track with a good climb. To my horror, this section (I had ridden it no more than a month prior for mapping) was totally transformed. It was now a freshly torn swath of destruction! Recent logging activity had me guessing if I was on the right track. It was now a 40’ wide path of splintered trees and logging debris. Combined with the rain we were having it was barely rideable – I alternated between struggling to ride a muddy line with sinking in soft, wet earth, to walking and pushing my bike through quicksand. As I made it to the next intersection where the route headed north, I was completely disenchanted and started thinking about what the hunting camp owner was telling me earlier. I decided then and there that it was my responsibility as the race organizer to re-route the other riders around this section. I knew 5 more people riding through this area wouldn’t be good following the conversation I had with the hunters. The land access issue combined with the destruction from logging made this a logical solution. I pedaled out to the nearest town and with the help of my wife, crafted a re-route and spent the next 24 hours finding the rest of the riders on course to give them the info. Did you have any bikepacking experience before attempting the Adirondack Trail Ride? Yes If so, how much and where I’ve only competed in and completed 2 bikepacking races before turning my attention to TATR. 2012 Tour Divide and the 2014 AML. On a less demanding scale, my wife and I have bikepacked before it was even called bikepacking. We have traveled in New Zealand, Tasmania, Northern Europe and The Adirondacks (our home). Always with our bikes, always seeking dirt roads and trails, always trying to go with the lightest setup and in the process making our own gear, cobbling together what works from our backpacking background but ultimately just trying to get off the beaten path. What were your goals going into the ride? To ride hard but most importantly to finish. Also to complete the loop. I still have not done this route in one go from start to finish – I have only done it in sections. What bike and bags were you using? My bike is a 15 year old Rocky Mountain steel hard tail. Yes, it is a 26er. Yes, it has had some modifications and upgrades over the years, like S&S couplers and frame additions to allow rear disc brakes – didn’t have those back then! I run Industry Nine hubs and rims front and back. For this race I used Continental Race Kings set up tubeless and it was an excellent choice. Bags are all Porcelain Rocket – I run a frame bag, seat bag, and handlebar bag. I have a top tube bag mounted near my seat post. Looking back, would you change anything to your rig? I don’t know if I would change anything specifically because of this race, but I have entertained the idea of a rigid fork. Although having the suspension was really nice for the rugged parts of TATR. I would like to add a dyno hub for light and charging. One piece of gear you couldn’t live without (excluding bike)? GPS. I love being able to navigate without much issue. Since there are no dedicated maps for TATR and some of the trails aren’t even on paper or digital maps, this is a must.
What was the highlight of racing TATR?
The kind people in the Adirondacks. Ted Christodaro, owner of Pedals and Petals bike shop in Inlet, NY went above and beyond to help me with my mechanical issues. I got two rides back to the bike shop! One was from Frank and Jackie Rudolph, owners of Northern Lights Bed and Breakfast in Lowville, NY. Peggy and Barry Mix owners of the Alpine Homestead Bed and Breakfast in Olmstedville, NY packed me a lunch to go!
What was the lowest part of your ride?
That would be after crossing the Boreas River when I started bushwhacking. I had a hard time following my GPS since my Garmin is only accurate to a few hundred feet. I ran out of food and once the sun set it seemed impossible to navigate over all the down trees, so I bivvied in between the trees.
Did you have any bikepacking experience before attempting the Adirondack Trail Ride?
If so, how much and where?
Tour Divide 2012 & 2014
What were your goals going into the ride?
To spend time in the Adirondack Wilderness and fine-tune my evolving bike set up.
What bike and bags were you using?
My bike is a Moots Mooto X with Black Sheep handlebars and fork. I’m running a Shutter Precision Dynamo hub with a Super Nova Dynamo light and an E-work for charging in the daytime. My bags are a mix of Oveja Negra and Revelate Designs.Looking back, would you change anything to your rig?
I removed the water bottle cage under the down tube mid ride before it was removed for me from rocks or down trees. I also moved my aero bars forward, since I was getting pretty bruised up from them. I changed from the Egg Beaters to the Candy pedals after this ride.
One piece of gear you couldn’t live without (excluding bike)?