Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big Sandy Wheels and I need a Camelbak.

Yesterday marked the beginning of some vacation time I needed to take.  I only work about 2 days over the next two weeks. To start my vacation out right - I went for a nice bike ride out at snowhill.  To be honest, it was a pretty miserable experience. It has not rained more than a sprinkle in about a month. Needless to say, a very large portion of the trail is sandy.  When I say sandy, I mean it is as sandy as riding through a sugar sand beach.  The entire east side of the trail is tight singletrack - of sand.  This means that trying to whip around these switchbacks at any speed is fruitless. It sucks. period.

Once you get out to the river side and over west, its alot nicer.  There is another entrance Im going to use that skips the east side and just drops you off on the west side.  I got a good workout, and again basically ran out of water.  I got back to the car after about two hours with only sips left.  Endoing and going end over end caused one bottle to lose a bit of water.  I dont even want to go into that, particularly.  Lets put it this way:

Stump + high speed + not managing to get rear wheel high enough = ouch, suddenly dirty and sore.

or :

Lets just say that after that mishap I was pretty miserable, and barely cracked a smile. The trudge through sand on the way back left me grumbling and unpleasant.  Afterwords, I trekked right over and picked up one of these:

It is a Camelbak MULE.  I got the non 'NV' model. The NV is supposedly more breathable - but its a pound heavier. I was going to get a small one, but the Rogue and Lobo just wouldnt carry much stuff in case I want to do a long unsupported ride in the woods.  This has a 100 oz reservoir and quite a bit of expandable storage.

It is absolutely not as huge as they make it look on the website.  You can fit a ton of stuff in it, but when it is not packed with 5 days of crap you can cinch it down pretty tight.  It also has the 'Air Director' which consists of six 'meshy' pads which lift a bit of the bag off your back for airflow.

The reservoir has to be removed to be filled.  This sorta sucks, as it has a quarter length zipper in the back and you have to take the reservoir out, and stuff it back in when you fill it.  Here is the zipper opened all the way:

I guess you dont have to remove the reservoir from the pack.  It may be awkward to fill with it inside. We will see.  The storage is laid out very well.  There is a small 'overflow' pocket and a small zippered pocket with an organizer and key attachment:

I was able to fit my wallet, keys, a tube, a multitool and tire levers in here with room to spare.  There is also a nice felty pocket for your ipod, complete with a little earphone hole on the zipper.

There is a huge main pocket that I could throw a base layer, arm warmers, leg warmers maybe even some shoes in.  It does seem to get squeezed a bit by the full bladder.  Theres a giant overflow pocket that can be opened up by uncinching the buckles. Heres a pic with it uncinched:

You can see how huge that is.  I could easily store enough water and supplies for a full day's outing.  The hose can be run on either side, and it has both sternum and waist straps. You can remove the waist strap altogether with velcro loops on each side. With the waist strap on you cannot reach your jersey pockets, but with it off the side pockets are available to be used for gels and other quick grab food.  The pack seemed to be very stable even with the waist strap off.  I jumped up and down and it barely moved.  I also practically stood on my head, and it wouldnt slide up and bonk my noggin.  Ill give a ride report tomorrow, as I plan on going out for as many loops as I can stand of the west side of Snowhill.

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