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Eric Parsons
February 24, 2016

Bikepacking Romania – Vampires and Castles.

Posted by Eric Parsons

Story and Photographs by Revelate Ambassador Dan Bailey.

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Vampires and castles. That’s all I really knew about Romania before deciding to go bike touring over there for a month. Oh yea, and that the country was ruled by a brutal communist dictator for over 20 years, who was executed by firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989 for his crimes against the state. I remember watching the huge public outpouring in the streets of Bucharest on TV at my grandmother’s house.

Other than that, the place was pretty much off my radar for most of my life, until a young German friend of ours told us that her family still has a house in Transylvania. “You should come visit. We go there very summer!” That’s all the prodding I needed. One year later, my wife Amy and I packed up the bikes and flew over for a five ­week tour through Transylvania, the land where Vlad the Impaler, and the mythical Dracula legend were born.

A country that’s been invaded by nearly everyone in the region for two thousand years, (the Romans first conquered the Dacian Empire in 106 AD), Transylvania is known for expanses of wilderness, and a lifestyle that still clings to medieval ways. Cycling around this area is like stepping back in time. On any given day, you’ll bike through sleepy villages, past shepherds tending their flocks on gentle hillsides, farmers working their hay fields, horse ­drawn carts plodding along dusty gravel paths, and you’ll pedal through the shadows of centuries old castles and Saxon fortified churches.

 

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In other words, it’s an awesome place to go bikepacking, as long as you’re up for a little bit (or a lot!) of adventure. Starting and ending in the medieval city of Brașov, we covered over 850 miles and 45,000 feet of climbing during our five ­week trip. We mainly rode from village to village on roads that varied from smooth pavement to muddy double track through hilly forests to dreamy singletrack across grassy pastures. Some routes were easy to follow, others required careful navigation, and sometimes just plain guesswork with fingers crossed.

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With mountain bikes rigged up with bags, we weren’t limited by any terrain­ we could go anywhere. Everything performed flawlessly during the entire trip, and we had no mechanicals or issues with any of our equipment. Me with my Salsa Fargo and Amy with her Niner MCR steel hard tail, we trained and dialed in of our gear for the trip during the summer on some of Alaska’s remote gravel roads, like the Denali Highway and the Nome­ Teller road, which dead ends at the shores of the Bering Sea.

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I’ve toured numerous times with a variety of different setups over the years, but this was, by far, the most streamlined and efficient rig I’ve ever run. My setup was as follows: Megamid in my Sweet Roll, clothes in the Viscacha seat bag, food, beer can stove, MSR titanium cook pot and fuel in the frame bag, water bottles in the feed bags, cookies in the Gas Tank and tools in the Jerrycan.

On the rear rack, I had a prototype pair of Nano Panniers, where I kept both of our running shoes, a spare water bottle and a rain jacket. Essentially, light bulky stuff that isn’t going to stress the rack if I’m bouncing on rough trails. Salsa Anything cages on the fork held my sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and a third rack under the down tube offered space for extra fuel or water. I carried camera gear, chargers and Goal Zero solar panel on my back in my F­Stop photo pack.

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Fueled by hoards of cheap eastern European cookies and snack cakes, fresh plums and walnuts we picked from tress right at the side of the road, crusty bread, couscous, heaping bowls of polenta, mountain cheese that’s stored in casings made of tree bark, and some of the best fresh tomatoes known to man, we lazily picked our route each day and took each day in stride as we explored.

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We camped under the stars on open hillsides, in farmers’ fields and shepherd pastures, or slept in cheap pensiunes and hostels, some of which had never seen an American visitor before. We drank lots of wine and cheap brandy, which we fondly referred to as “Eastern European cough syrup.” Culminating with our crossing of the mighty Transfăgărășan pass, which rises with a dizzying maze of switchbacks over the forbidding Carpathian Mountains, we finished out our month by riding past the legendary Castle Bran and the last few miles back to Brașov just as the first signs of autumn descended on Transylvania.

We left Romania, profoundly touched by the fascinating culture and history, the impressive landscapes and feeling enriched by all of the wonderful, friendly, generous and happy people we met during our bike trip, which, as all bike trips are, ended up being far too short.

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See more of Dan’s work at Danbaileyphoto.com

Eric Parsons
January 27, 2016

Introducing the Wampak winter hydration pack!

Posted by Eric Parsons

Introducing our newest product – The Wampak.
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This winter hydration pack has been a bit of a love child around here and a long requested item from our friends in the winter ultra race circles. It solves a simple, yet common problem – how to hydrate when winter biking. Common ways to do this are put bulky insulated bottles or bladders in a frame bag, that works for a little while, or you can put Nalgene cozzies on your handle bars – that sorta works too but is unstable and as soon as you drink half a bottle the threads and rest of the water tends to freeze up. The only logical place for long rides is on your back. Problem is, hydration packs just don’t work when it’s cold out. Sure you can insulate the hose and blow back, but eventually the hose is going to freeze and you are SOL.

Like most of the stuff we make, we only do it if we see a need. Looking around there was nothing else available that really checked all the boxes for what’s required of a hydration pack to function well in a true winter environment.

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The only real source of constant heat is the furnace of your own body. This pack is designed to be worn under your layers, using that furnace to keep the hose and bladder warm, and insulate along the back where it is most exposed. An aluminized liner fabric cuts down on radiant heat loss and a layer of insulating foam cuts down on conductive loss – with your clothing over it all – you can put ice water in the bladder, ride at 15 degrees and the water will be warm within an hour.

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Likewise, a clean chest harness carries well and allows breathability since the pack is worn so close to your skin. Stretch woven pockets carry your chapstick and spare camera battery.

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The bladder opening is accessed via a hassle free magnetic clip buckle and can accommodate bladders up to 100 oz. The shape of the pack is optimized for using Camelbak antidote bladders, yet almost any will work. A top clip keeps the bladder from sliding down.

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Although we strongly encourage under arm hose routing for winter use, the hose can be routed over either shoulder if you prefer.

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Since the pack is worn under your layers, we designed the shoulder straps with disconnect buckles at the bottom. Simply pop the sternum strap and each shoulder strap and the pack slides off under your layers.

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Coupled with our Powerline hoodie and you have a solid setup.

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There you have it. MSRP is $95, bladder not included. There are obviously a ton of hydration products out there that almost get the job done, but this one really does for winter riding & ultra racing. You’ll dig it’s well thought out features, thanks for looking!

 

 

 

Eric Parsons
October 29, 2015

Updated Terrapin in stock now!

Posted by Eric Parsons

We released the modular Terrapin system a few years ago. It was the first bikepacking bag system on market to combine a removable waterproof drybag with a holster like mount. We’re happy to release this updated version that improves upon the original in a big way.

First off – It generally looks the same, the main differences are in the stiffening components and the main closure.

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First off, we steepened up the seat post angle to prevent buckling of the lower section and to keep the rear of the bag more level. The side panel stiffening was switched from plastic to a thin resilient foam to solve some some creasing and wear issues we’ve seen with plastic side panels. The stiffened side panels still feature a pair of thin fiberglass stays along the edges so the mount does not warp under compression forces. Lastly a pair of abrasion guards was added under the main mounting buckles. The front seatpost attachment now has an alloy loop for ultimate strength when tightening down.

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The next big improvements come at the rear.

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Gone is the single strap that needed to be double over in favor of a joined, 2 strap and buckle system. This system is simpler and easier to open and close than the original.

blinkey webTo keep the 2 straps from sliding off the drybag there is an sliding joining web that is perfect for mounting rear lights too. This rear area is also perfect for storing wet items that you don’t want inside the main drybag.

top straps webThe top of the Terrapin now has this super versatile mounting deck that can be used in a number of ways. It has loops to run a bungee through, daisy chains for straps, a center main channel for a spot tracker and is compatible with our add-on Spocket bags.

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Lastly we added stiffening elements to the main mounting panel which significantly reduces lateral sway.

All this gives you a super versatile platform for carrying stuff and keeping it dry (or separated if wet) with no hardware to mess with.

Thanks for checking in!