Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tour Divide - Stuff That Worked - Ergonomics

Even though my 2010 Tour Divide ended with a blown freehub in the Great Divide Basin instead of at the Mexican border at Antelope Wells, the trip was wonderful. Including my 850 mile ride to Banff and the 1,358 miles of the Tour Divide that I did complete, I got to spend much of the month of June riding over 2,200 miles of some really pretty country.

I didn't suffer the pains and problems that afflicted some of the other racers. A good part of my luck can be attributed to my slower pace. Riding a fast 150 miles per day is a heck of a lot more stressful than my turtle average of 100 miles per day. But I also spent a year dialing in my bike fit and I've spent decades figuring out what it takes for me to be comfortable on a bike. Some of my equipment choices are a bit unusual, but they work well for me.

My bike is a steel Redline with no suspension. I find I don't need suspension. 29 inch WTB Nanoraptors, the little bit of flex inherent in a steel frame, plus bent elbows and knees give me all the suspension I need.

I am very fussy about fit and the three contact points I have with the bike: my hands, butt and feet. I know exactly where I want my bars and how wide they should be. I know the kind of saddle I need and where it should be in relation to the bars and bottom bracket. And I know what kind of shoes and pedals work well with my feet and knees.

Ergon GC3 grips continue to be an absolute joy. While the Ergon grips and my Ergon pack were key parts of my kit, it wasn't until after I crashed into an unfortunately placed barbed wire barrier that they really proved their worth. In the hours and days after that crash, when the adrenaline wore off, it became obvious that I'd cracked a rib and broken a bone in my hand. It turned out that I was most comfortable when riding, using the Ergon grip as a virtual splint on my hand. The pack's harness system kept the weight off my bad rib.

While some other Divide riders were plagued with saddle sores, my system of padless shorts under suplex pants combined with my faithful WTB Rocket V saddle was trouble free. My saddle did get a bit scuffed up on the trip and I had to fix up the saddle nose with duct tape, but in terms of comfort the saddle was first rate. I used a wear one & wash one strategy with the shorts, but things were so damp on this year's Divide ride that I wound up wearing the same pair of shorts for several days in a row. It is important to keep your lower regions clean on a ride like this and I carry baby wipes in my pack instead of toilet paper.

I have no knee or Achilles issues and I attribute my good fortune on that score to the single most controversial thing I do on a bike. I ride with flat pedals. I know all the arguments in favor of riding clipless. I've ridden clipless. I know about the advantages. And I also know that, for me, flat pedals have more advantages. This year on the Divide, the mud and the snow made for a lot of walking and I was very glad to have my plain old Keen Voyageur shoes.

I ride my bike because I like to ride my bike. By carefully picking my gear and taking the time to find out what works for me, I find I can go pretty far, pretty comfortably. I'm not the fastest guy out there, but I have fun and most of the time I manage to keep rolling.

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


chatty cathy said...

i wonder if a white ind single sp freewheel woulda kept ya in the race kent. there sealed real good. the problem fer most folks including me is that there expensive

Gunnar Berg said...

Given what transpired, would you op for a freewheel with a spare, or do you think this was a one in a lifetime event? Or would you carry a crystal ball?

Kent Peterson said...

You can't carry everything. In 2005 I did have a wheel with a White Industries freewheel and my rim cracked. I wound up getting another wheel in Helena then that had a freehub, but I wound up hauling the White freewheel back home 'cause it was too expensive to leave behind!

One way to go is get a fork with 135 mm spacing up front and have a spare rear wheel up there! If I'd had the energy 7 inclination I could've hitched to Riverton or Lander, gotten a multispeed wheel but just run it single and ridden back to the course. But I figured the universe was really telling me to stop. As my dad says "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then give up. There's no use being a damn fool about it." I figure after the fence incident and the too tired stupid mistake that took me on a 25 mile off route tour, and then the freehub going, I'd used up my mojo for this trip.

Gunnar Berg said...

Holy bivalents! I ask because I have a young friend who just rode across America, he's looking for the next challenge and has a $100 bicycle, which is a step up from the dumpster find that he rode the length of the Pacific coast. He wants to ride the Tour Divide, but I wouldn't dare let him go that unprepared.

I may be getting back to you on this.

Anonymous said...

I think for a ride like this you need high quality hubs rims and spokes, with not too many miles on it. Especially if SS. It doesn't take much to disassemble and fix a Hope hub.

Small Adventures said...

Gotta LOVE Redline steel frames,WTB saddles (wheels,tires,etc) and platform/flat pedals!!! Though mine be the less expensive and heavier frame (4130,not the Sanko stuff),and I may be running 2x9 on my '08 (Redline) d440,your setup is eerily similar to mine,and it works well for me too =). I have been wanting to give Ergons a try (and my Rocket saddle's broken,using the stock RL one currently),I run Sram X9 twisty-shifters,so I haven't made the move just yet.

I enjoyed this post especially,Kent...kinda felt like kindred spirits there =)


Anonymous said...

Hiya Kent. The Keen Voyageur product description says: "Mesh lining replaces a waterproof barrier for continual airflow"

Were yours mesh, or some gore-tex-esque previous version? I'd love to hear more about your footwear and what worked well for the soggy/snowy push-a-bike you had to do.

Jimmy Livengood

Kent Peterson said...

Hi Jimmy,

My Voyagers have the mesh panels, that's why I got them. I have Keen sandals which I thought would be a bit too breathable for the Divide and a couple of pairs of Keen Targhees which tend to stay damp if they get soaked. The Voyagers plus wool socks worked great. I got them completely soaked at times but they dry out quickly and were the best thing day after day after day. On many days on the Divide it would be right around freezing at 5:00 AM but by 9:00 AM the temps might be eighty or more!


Midnight Mike said...

I couldn't agree more with you about the pedals. After reading a Grant Petersen:
I started riding with tennis shoes, Keens,etc.. I feel much better and don't fall ala the guy on the trike on "Laff-In". I am amazed after riding STP for the first time this last weekend, how many people have bought into the clipless myth or whatever it is. Most of them had "roadie clipless" shoes and the clicking and clacking at the rest areas and when clipping in after stopping was annoying. Most all of the people would be better off with regular shoes and pedals. They are so uncomfortable off the bike. At the least you think they'd find out about MTB shoes where the cleats are recessed. Another example of follow the leader blindly and listening to some fool in a bike shop selling them a product they don't need, because they saw their biking hero wearing them! I'm not a fast guy, but did manage to keep up with my clipless riding partner and we averaged 13.3 mph--not bad for two guys in their early and late 50's!! What is your schedule these days? I plan on coming up to Bellingham around the end of the month and would like to drop by and say Hi! and shake your hand. I won't be riding my bike as I have to be back in Astoria for some Nursing School requirements that I have to meet on Monday the 2nd of August. Thanks for all you do.

Midnite Mike from Astoria---where all the weather in the world goes through!

Kent Peterson said...

Midnight Mike (and others who might be wondering),

A "normal" work week for me these days has me at the Bicycle Center in Issaquah Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon & Tuesday. The shop is open from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM on weekdays, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Saturdays, and noon to 5:00 PM on Sundays. On any day but Sunday I may be home for lunch at sometime around 1:00 or 2:00 PM (I only live 4 blocks from the shop). On Wednesdays and Thursdays I may be writing, camping with my buddies or my wife, rolling around Seattle or who knows what.

If you do come by the shop, you run the slight risk of me selling you something!


Loose Thoughts said...

Hi Kent, my dad and I enjoy your blog immensely!

Do you run tubeless, or tubes with sealant, or just regular tubes?

Kent Peterson said...

Mostly I run WTB Nanoraptors with plain tubes. I think I probably still have a TruGoo tube up front.

Mike Morris said...

Hey Kent: thanks for the great 'stuff that worked' series. One of many things I miss about Sheldon Brown is his generous spirit, and particularly his genuine willingness and desire to openly share demystified information about cycling. I'm always happy to check in with your blog and find Sheldon's brand of generosity alive and well.

Alabama Biking said...

Kepp up the cool blog, I dig it and ride myself here in Alabama! You would love the ride here!

Andrew said...


Thanks for both the specifics of your gear and the general expression of philosophy.

The great mountaineer/rock climber Alex Lowe said, "the best climber is the one having the most fun."

Good to see you translate that into biking.


Ergonomic Chairs said...

I absolutely enjoyed this post.. I also love biking. Thanks for sharing your experience and both the specifics of your ergonomic gears. will definitely check them out..