What is a Shake down you may ask.
phrasal verb of shake 1. To become established in a new place or situation; settle down.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation”. A favorite quote of mine from Arthur Ashe. For several months now I have been training diligently, collecting gear as well as knowledge from other tour divide veterans in hopes to have a great experience with my TD journey. Last week while in Pisgah North Carolina, I got to put all of this together for my solo Shake down adventure.
CJ at the Hub bike shop in Brevard designed my two day route. It consisted of approximately 70 miles and 7500′ of elevation gain. We weighed the loaded bike before I rolled and it weighed in at a hefty 50
lbs! Not bad! Actually I was thrilled with this weight. Riding a fully loaded down bike is quite a different feel. My Salsa Cutthroat is brilliantly designed and actually handles even better when fully packed out. Oh yeah and it is full rigid! You have to ride it to believe “how sweet it is”!
Let’s get this Shake down ride started! At 3 pm I rolled out of the Hub bike shop. After about 2 hrs into the ride it began to rain. I whipped out my rain jacket and proceeded to roll on to my designated camp spot for the night. After a short bit the rain subsided just in time for the real climbing of the day. The last hour and a half was spent in my lowest gear digging deep while maneuvering my rig over washed out fire road turned to single track all while fighting off drafting bugs. Once at the top, I hit the true single track in search of my evening resting spot. The light of day was dwindling so I wanted to find camp in order to set up everything just in time for dark. Setting up my tent and sleep system took me about 30 mins. Let’s just say I need to work on getting faster with set up and take down. Experience will hopefully help with this process. After eating 1/2 a subway turkey sandwich, I stored all of my food and anything else with a scent in two dry bags. While eating my sandwich I scouted out the best spot to hang the bags from curious forest creatures in a tree about 30 yards from camp . Once this was done, I crawled into my nest and slept amazingly well all night. Well besides getting up in the middle of the night to “kick a pink bush” and a bit of a hassle, falling back asleep has never been an issue! A veteran TD friend told me to always sleep naked so you can air out your junk and keep things healthy (a TD concern). Standing in your birthday suit wearing your bike shoes in the middle of the night is exhilarating, plus the stars were crazy and bright so there was that bonus!
The next morning I was a bit slow on the takedown process so I will work on speeding up this process. While packing I was trying to choke down my breakfast of Poptarts and peanut butter crackers. Time to roll and get day two under my belt!
This next section of trail was quite technical and consisted of several downed trees, rocky terrain with quite a few stream crossings. While on this bumpy trail I learned that my attempt to make things lighter by using cuban fiber dry bags in place of the proper dry bags designed by Salsa was a complete fail. These bags were to go along with the Salsa Anything cages on my front fork. Now I know,
thus the importance of the shakedown ride!!! After about 4 gazillion stops to adjust my bags in the anything cages, I caved and decided to disperse the items in the bags to other locations on my bike! That was not easy due to limited space on the bike and the size of the bike bags. Finally, after being creative with the adjustments, I got some flow into my ride! This days route consisted of crazy single track, nice descents, gravel road, easy single track, crazy climbing, a flow trail and finishing off the ride on a sweet bike path right through the town of Brevard, NC. This all ended right back at the Hub bike shop in which I immediately awarded myself with a nice cold locally brewed beer.
After all was complete, I learned a few things that needed adjustment but all in all I was completely satisfied and felt confident with my Shake Down ride!
From the moment I announced I was going to ride the divide, I have not looked back! My “Eye has been on the prize”! I feel very confident that I have done everything I can up to this point to make this journey a success! A huge thanks to my tribe of friends, family and sponsors who have been on this journey with me to this point! The fun is about to begin for real! Rock, Gravel, and Pedal on, Grace