Monday, September 6, 2010

My First S24O: Vashon Island

I finally got a chance to try a S24O. What a great idea! It was a gorgeous weekend in the Seattle area. I rode out to Vashon Island from our house in the Mt. Baker neighborhood--one way about 22 miles plus a nice ferry ride. Not epic by any means, but perfect for my first time bike camping. I rode my Saluki. The draw was the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts Isle of Vashon TT, a vintage motorcycle rally I have attended for many years on various motorcycles. I sold my last bike a couple months ago (See <>) but didn't want to let not having a motorcycle get in the way of hanging out with old friends. For the last six years we've camped at the Eagles Club, which always proves to be "interesting." A nice big grassy lawn for tents, very cheap drinks in the evening and a big ol' breakfast buffet in the morning. Nothin' like camping at the bar....;) 

Here are some pictures: <>

A few things worked really well:

• I switched out my 8-speed 12-28 cassette and DA 7800-series rear derailleur for a Harris Cyclery custom 13-34 cassette and an XTR RD, along with a new SRAM chain. I was really glad I did! I was able to shift into the 26T chainring and 34T sprocket and slowly toodle on up the ~300' elevation gain from the ferry. The XTR RD shifts as well as the DA. Took a little getting used to the low-normal, since it reversed the function on the levers on the ErgoPower brifters. This particular Harris custom cassette number CS837  has the following sprockets: 13-15-17-19-21-23-26-34. There's a big jump between the 26T and the 34T, and that is the only problematic gear change. It does eventually jump up there though. I may try fiddling with the barrel adjusters, see if that makes any difference. 

• With the rains fast approaching, I decided to switch tires, from my beloved Pari-Motos to the Schwalbe Marathons I bought from Franklyn on the Rivendell list. I put in a set of Schwalbe tubes while I was at it. While they don't feel as nice as the Pari-Motos, I really appreciate the extra confidence of knowing I'm unlikely to flat. This ride went through a fair amount of industrial area with bad pavement, and not having to worry as much about glass in the road was super nice. 

• I'm liking the Trail Designs Caldera Ti-Tri stove. The whole thing is super light and compact, and burns alcohol or wood. Nicest thing about alcohol is it's so quiet!  

A couple things I'll change when I can:

• The medium Wald basket is a touch small...though I wouldn't necessarily want to carry a heavier load up front. I'm saving up for a PlatRack, which I can take off more easily when it's not necessary. I haven't found the basket as universally useful as I thought it would be. 

• My yellow Ortleib Backroller Plus panniers worked totally fine, but were a bit of a pain to get in an out of, and clash with the butterscotch of the Saluki. (Oh NO! ;)) I didn't have a handlebar bag, and I was using my Panasonic GF-1, which doesn't quite fit in a jersey pocket. Maybe I'll try Grant's strap technique. Eventually I'd like to invest in a SaddleSack Large

• Definitely would like a lighter shelter. Looking at either making a RayWay tarp and bug net, or a hammock. I like the Warbonnet Blackbird hammock. Between cutting down the weight of luggage + rack, and a lighter shelter I could probably take ~7 lbs off the setup. Which would probably be made up in food, if I was camping somewhere besides the lawn outside a bar....:)

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