Jun 29 2009
When I was a kid I had a bike, and like all my friends, I rode my bike everywhere. Fresh pavement was the most fun, especially if that meant riding circuits around the grocery store on Sunday mornings when the store was closed. But we also took our bikes onto dirt roads, across streams on farm tracks, and on forest roads. We rode the bike we had. I carried that philosophy along with me into adulthood, and took my road bike everywhere. I even rode it up some terribly steep jeep tracks by way of training my legs and lungs for a mountaineering trip to the Pacific Northwest. Today I still have that road bike, but I’ve also got a utility mountain bike and a Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike. The LHT is my bike of choice for going everywhere, in all seasons, because she fits me so well.
Whether it’s a road bike set up for rough riding, or a mountain bike, riding on unimproved roads has its rewards. My recent article, “Riding the Rough Stuff: Out My Back Door With My Long Haul Trucker,” pointed Brazilian Helton Moraes towards more rough-riding photos in our photo gallery. What he saw there encouraged him to write and share his collection of photos from a 90-day trip he made across south and southwest Brazil in 2006-2007, much of it over rugged terrain and terrible roads. His bike? Let him tell you:
My bike is actually a pure-breed mountain-bike, a circa ’96 GT Karakoram, with chromoly tubes, 26-inch wheels, large tire clearance, and a somewhat aggressive and slightly uncomfortable riding position. What I did was put full fenders, a large rack, mounted a pair of Schwalbe Marathon XR 2.00 tires, and ride it with its original rigid fork. It is not much different from a LHT, and for practical purposes a brand new LHT does not differ much from what my bike has become, because of what I would call “adaptive convergence”.
And a beautiful bike the Karakoram is, too. It’s surely a capable steed. Take a look at this photo to see why I say that:
And if you think that’s bad, look at the boulders in this roadside turn-off:
They’re only a little larger than the ones on the road. But what about taking your road bike on an amphibious adventure?
The reduced images here don’t do justice to Helton’s original photos. Visit Helton’s Picasaweb gallery for nearly 80 excellent photos of his exciting bicycle tour in Brazil.