Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bartlett Lake overnighter: lessons learned

My original intention was to ride twice as far, east into mining country. That trip would have had me ride twenty miles on unpaved road through the Superstition Mountains, sleep alongside a highway, and achieve a personal best in burrito-eating. But the Arizonan economy has been unkind to burrito restaurants, with the proximate effect of Big Burrito shutting down its Miami, AZ location and the ultimate effect of me biking instead to Bartlett Lake for my overnighter. It's just as well: The trip proved a good test run, and there are other Mexican food restaurants to eat at.

Here are a few lessons I learned:

  • Use lighter, thinner tires. When commuting to and from work, I use nearly-invulnerable-but-slow-rolling tires that cost me a few minutes each day but in return reduce the odds that I'll sometimes lose fifteen minutes to change a flat. It's a worthwhile trade because it optimizes for predictability. But on a long bike trip, that extra predictability is a waste of calories. Not only do those "few minutes" lost add up to a lot of time, but changing a flat may make for a welcome break off the saddle. I estimate the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I used made the Bartlett Lake trip 10-20% longer, virtually.

  • Increase water-storing capacity. I left the town of Cave Creek Saturday afternoon carrying one pint shy of a gallon. I returned to Cave Creek Sunday morning with only one pint remaining. That's a consumption of three quarts—over the course of a cool February evening and night. If I'm going to do a trip in the desert in the spring or fall then I'll need to be able to carry several gallons. This means adding more bottle cages, wearing a backpack with a bladder, and storing more water in the panniers.

  • Buy a camera. I lost my camera over a year ago when I left it behind at a restaurant. Now I don't have a good way to document my bike adventures. Instead, I have only these words.

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