Preparing Our Bikes for LeJog

Liz and I plan to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats in May. 

We've both been training and now I feel we ought to practice riding the bikes as they'll be rigged for the journey.

This has involved some shop-bought stuff and some home-made innovation as the photos show.  I'll come to those in a moment.

Liz will ride on her stronger (heavier) 'winter' bike, a Specialized Dolce triple.  

It's sized exactly the same as her good summer bike, a lovely Specialized Ruby Comp but has the advantage of braze-ons so it's easy to fit a rack.

Weight goes through skewer
I had planned to ride my winter Trek Alu but wrote it off when, with it on a roof rack, I drove into a car park height restrictor.  So I'll be riding my Specialized Roubaix.

Fitting a rear rack to the carbon frame of Specialized Roubaix is not easy, but the great team at Nevis Cycles came up with what I hope will be a great Bontrager BackRack Light.  

The main fixing point puts the weight, not onto the frame, but through the rear axle using a longer, stronger quick release skewer.  

The only downside seems to be the skewer has to be slid out to remove the rear wheel.

Supplementary fixing point on brake mount
The supplementary fixing point could have been to the seat post collar, but then I'd have had to change my carbon seat post to aluminium.  

Instead, this fixes to the same mounting point as my rear brake, part of the bike which is designed strongest to handle the forces of braking.  

That's how both bikes came back from the shop.  

Now we needed mudguards.

I've tried those race-guard versions which fasten on with elastic bands but they've never been particularly successful.  

With Specialized's kinky seat stays for the zerts' shock absorbers I can't get them to sit correctly.  The first time the bike is leant anywhere they twist out of shape and rub the tyre.

Meant to keep bum dry
"Flexible chopping boards", was the suggestion made by Neil in Nevis Cycles.  

The results you can see on these pages are my attempts to put that idea into action.  

The red chopping board is very flexible and is meant to keep our bottoms dry.  

The white chopping board is stiffer and is meant to keep dry whatever we put on the rack.  

The meccano-like strips of metal are intended to stop the cable ties from tearing through the nylon of the boards. 

We plan to ride with our spare clothes and stuff in one dry-bag each, strapped to the tops of the rack.  

Meant to keep the dry bag dry
Constant road spray on the underside would cause most dry bags to leak after a while, hence the need to protect them with this flat, dry surface. 

We'll also each have a handlebar bag.

I've previously used panniers and I don't think we need them for this trip. True, they put the weight lower which improves bike handling. 

But I'd rather not have two big sails either side of my bike on a long trip.  provided, that is, we can squeeze everything into the dry bag.  

We're fairly experienced ultra-light hikers so I don't envisage too much of a problem.

Will it work?  I have no idea - yet.  Practice rides with the clothes and dry bags come next.


David said...

I take it that you will be camping, as you'd need only the barbag if you were using b&b ?

Simon said...

Good point Dave. We'll be using B&B but I think we might need the space - I'm not sure until we've done the test rides. First thing to go will be the bar bags if we don't need them.

David said...

Isn't this what you need:
Oops well maybe not quite but these are better:
Would seem to be what you need (lightweight) and you can ditch that rear carrier monstrosity which is only going to cause problems IMO.

Simon said...

Ha - love that first one! But I think "monstrosity" is a bit harsh.

I've considered frame bags. The ones I prefer are the AlpKit versions (I have a couple) even though they're designed more for MTBs.

However, my aim is to keep weight off my carbon frame (Liz is different) hence the rack that goes through the wheel skewer.

As I say, we'll see how things work out in the test rides later this month and change our plans if necessary.

I'm certain some riders are prepared to go lighter, just like hikers - I hiked 2568 miles the length of the USA with ultra-light kit. But what suits some people, on some routes, in some circumstances doesn't suit everyone.