Author Topic: Maah Daah Hey trail  (Read 6300 times)

mickeg

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Maah Daah Hey trail
« on: September 01, 2015, 04:59:57 PM »
I commented on another thread that I needed some big panniers for a trip.  Dan asked me to elaborate more on the trip.  I started this new thread on the trip I am planning, to see the discussion of pannier selection go here:
http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=10623.0

The trip will be up to eight days on a mountain bike trail in North Dakota, USA.  Mostly or possibly all single track.  Lots of hills and lots of elevation gain/loss.  A couple of stream crossings. 

Good summary of the trail here. 
http://www.bikepacking.net/routes/maah-daah-hey-trail/

We are carrying all our food and camping gear, but there are vehicle accessible campgrounds that have water along the way where we will camp.  There are two of us.  Weather could be anywhere from near freezing to very hot.  (Forecast high for tomorrow is 98 F or about 37 C.) 

The friend I am going with built up a Trek hard tail 29er for the trip.  I have gone on several bike tours with him before, we both worked together before we retired so we have known each other for about 15 years.  I worked in a bike shop before I went to college, I built up my Nomad (and Sherpa, and several others) and he volunteers time to a charity that fixes up used bicycles for underprivileged, so he is a pretty competent bike mechanic.  He has built up several bikes that he toured on.  So, we should be able to deal with any bike problems.

I am sure that some younger energetic riders would consider our plans for up to eight days to be too leisurely for this trail, but we are both in our 60s and don't like to work too hard.  They run a race over most of this trail and the hardy competitors finish it in a day for a one way trip.  We are going out and back, thus double the distance.  The result is that we will have up to four times as much time as the race riders.  Plus, the racers did not carry tents, cooking gear, a week of food, sleeping bags, etc. 

More on the race here:
http://www.experienceland.org/maah-daah-hey-100/

And if we have to bail out, the vehicle accessible campgrounds means that there is road access for us to ride out on the highway if necessary.  But I expect that if we have to bail it would be weather related.  The soils there become very impassible in rain.  I back packed that park in the 1980s and I was shocked that you almost could not even walk on those soils after a rain storm, but it did dry out quickly.  So, if it rains, hopefully we only get stranded for a day.  The stream crossings however could become unsafe raging torrents if it rains.

For the trip I am taking my Nomad MK II.  I stripped off my fenders, switched to suspension front fork which means no front panniers.  Will be using a 36T chainring, 16T rear cog.  Suspension seatpost.  For those of you interested in details on components, the fork is a RockShox XC28.  I wanted to buy a better fork when I bought it, but the XC28 was unbelievably cheap on Ebay, so I got it instead.  I used it last year on White Rim trail in Canyonlands (a 100 mile 4X4 trail) and found the fork to be fully adequate.  If any readers are interested in buying a second fork for their Nomad, if you have a larger size frame (mine is 590M), many of the forks out there have insufficient steerer tube length, so be careful on what you buy.  I also bought a second headset bearing race for the second fork, which simplifies changing forks.

This is my first trip in thorn country (thorn as in the sharp pointy things that puncture inner tubes, not the two wheel variety of Thorns).  I have put a 57mm wide Marathon Extreme on the back and a 57mm wide Hutchinson Cobra on the front.  Rear tube is a thorn resistant tube, front I am using a normal tube.  I put three oz by weight (or roughly 85 grams) of Slime tube sealant in each tube, this is my first experience with tube sealant.  Plan to carry two spare tubes, patches, spare tire.  The risk of cutting a tire on a rock is nil, the spare tire would be in case I get so many thorns in a tire that I can't find them all.  Also carrying a small bottle of Slime sealant.

I am not one of the ultra light packers that can enjoy a trip with ultra light bikepacking type loads.  While there are people that brag about being able to survive a week with a load of 5kg, that is not my camping style.  I would not go on a trip if I had to eat dehydrated gruel out of a single cup using a spork everyday to trim weight.  But the lack of front panniers means that I will have to get by with all my gear in two panniers, a small frame bag, a handlebar bag, and a drybag strapped on top in back.  I expect to carry a capacity of about 4 liters of water plus of course a thermos with a half liter of coffee.

I have done several bike tours (self supported, vehicle supported, fully supported, etc.), both on pavement and also on gravel.  But never on single track with suspension.  So, this will be a very interesting experience.

I mentioned that I do not want to suffer while camping, the photo is of a meal I prepared on my last backpacking trip.


jags

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2015, 05:21:05 PM »
Mike don't take this up wrong but are you mental, why in gods name would you want to put yourself through all that hardship. :o

i know if i was planning a tour it would be the smoothest tarmac on the planet with loads of sunshine ,the days of me beating myself into the ground on a bloody bike is well gone.
but each to there own if thats what rocks your boat  have fun and go for it ,stay safe.

anto.

David Simpson

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2015, 06:21:05 PM »
Mike don't take this up wrong but are you mental, why in gods name would you want to put yourself through all that hardship. :o

I just HAVE to reply to Anto's post. :)

When I saw the photos of that trail, my first thought was "Wow! I want to ride that!". Beautiful countryside, fantastic views, no traffic! Perfect.

Have a great trip. And post some photos of your Nomad on the trail, just to make my Nomad jealous.

- Dave

Danneaux

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2015, 09:17:02 PM »
Thanks so much, Mickeg, for the detailed pre-ride report. I can now fully appreciate why you need the larger-capacity rear panniers and the nature of your upcoming trip, which sounds wonderful on all counts.

<nods> Yes, variable temperatures mean a broader range and selection of clothing, which alone means more bulk. Self-supported tours demand more stuff be carried -- the food, as you've pointed out, and stoves and cookpots and such.

Best wishes for what looks like a fine journey ahead. May all go well with good times throughout.

Best,

Dan.

Andre Jute

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2015, 09:55:12 PM »
Sounds like a well-considered, well-planned tour. That, and sharing the risk with a competent, proven companion, is probably half of eventual success, and all but a fraction of the rest is weather-related.

Don't forget to take lots of photographs to titillate the rest of us.

The only large panniers I know are made by Basil, and I really don't know how much rough wear, or for that matter serious adverse weather or even persistent light rain, they can handle; they're good as commuting and utility panniers (and I'm a huge, huge fan of Basil's pannier baskets), but horses for courses. Out there you don't want to be a beta tester for inappropriate gear.

John Saxby

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2015, 04:03:03 PM »
Brilliant stuff, mickeg--enjoy!  Look forward to your stories & photos, including outwitting the pointy bits... (Assume you're using dense-foam sleeping pads, not inflatables?)

I had heard of this trail, but hadn't looked at it in any detail.  Sounds like an 8-day safari is about the right amount of time to enjoy it to the full.  Hope your water supply will be OK.

mickeg

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2015, 12:41:43 AM »
UPDATE.

I should have posted this some time back but have been a bit busy.  I did not have much time between getting home from that trip and leaving for my next trip (us retired guys just do not have enough time).  But, finally decided I better do it while the memory is still a bit fresh.

I friend who is also a former co-worker and I went out there in mid to late September.  We have bike toured several other gravel routes before, we expected single track to be a bit rougher but doable.  The photos I was seeing on the internet suggested it would be as easy or easier than the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands, so we were optimistic that we could bike tour it.

When we got there we learned that (1) the river at the starting point would be unsafe to cross due to recent rains and (2) the first campground we planned to go to did not have potable water at this time.  So we modified our plans slightly, we drove to the second campground with the intent to just day trip on the first day on the trail and then start touring with our panniers and camping gear the next day.

After riding our bikes a short distance on the trail on day one, we decided that day tripping each day while car camping instead of hauling our camping gear on our bikes to the different campgrounds would be the best option.  Some of the parts of the bike trail would have been immensely difficult to haul our camping gear on.  Unfortunately there is very little information on the internet about this trail and we really had no warning how tough this trail is.

While we were there a total of three groups (one of which was one person, yet I am calling it a group) were attempting to bicycle tour the trail with their camping gear.  All of them had problems with running low or out of water on their first day and this was in September when it is not very hot.  And everybody was doing it with bare minimal amount of lightweight gear and only carrying food for a couple days.  One of them quit after a day and a half.  We however would have had over a week of food and stove fuel, which weighs a lot more.  Bottom line - we had a much more enjoyable time car camping and day tripping on the trail than we would have had if we had attempted to bike tour it.

Photos are all reduced in size, comments on the photos are as follows by photo number, in order:

Photo 1956 - The photo is deceiving as it is much much steeper on the hills than it looks, this part of the trail has switch backs because it is so steep.  I saw some experienced mountain bikers walking their bikes down part of this hill.

Photo 0130 - My fiend took this photo, it shows a short hill we had to push bikes up, some of these hills were pretty steep.  If we bike toured this, this is one hill I probably would have had to drop the panniers, push the bike up, then go back down for the panniers.  I also would have had a dry bag that started the trip full of food on the back rack.

Photo 1977 - Nice view.

Photo 1990 - A better part of the trail.  If the entire trail looked this good, we would have hauled our camping gear on the bikes and had a great time.  There are some petrified forest stumps in the photo, they are the tannish brownish rocks.

Photo 2055 - Scenic view.

Photos 2066 & 2068 - Some of the steeper areas.

Photo 0135 - Photo of me digging into my tool bag to fix my flat tire, we were on a gravel road at the time.  My flat was caused by a valve stem separating from the tube, not by a thorn.

Photo 2145 - The camera does not do it justice, it was extremely steep here.  There were a lot of small cacti hiding in the grass off the trail waiting to puncture our tires.   If you look closely at the photo you can see a lot of cacti in the foreground, I am not sure but I think they were prickly pear cacti.
 



mickeg

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2015, 12:44:02 AM »
More photos attached.

mickeg

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2015, 12:45:20 AM »
And one last photo.

Danneaux

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2015, 01:31:41 AM »
Very nice photos, mickeg; terrific to see the update for "the rest of the story"!

All the best,

Dan.

John Saxby

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2015, 03:16:56 AM »
Tough, rugged country, George, and you made the right choice to enjoy it, rather than to create adversity for yourselves.  Great photos, too, and in4's earlier suggestion about your Nomad-and-overlook seems spot-on -- the bike looks right at home in the badlands, and the photo is a fine advert for Thorn's bikes.

in4

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2015, 10:50:43 AM »
Thanks so much for posting. Inspirational country but tough too. I'm wondering if 'Maah Daah Hey' is somehow descriptive of the sensation of riding the trail!


http://mdhta.com/


"The PHRASE Maah Daah Hey ORIGINATES WITH the Mandan IndianS, A TRIBE LOCATED IN NORTH DAKOTA, THEIR ABORIGINAL HOME. In the Mandan language, A SINGLE word or phrase can CONTAIN PROFOUND meaning. IN SIMPLE ENGLISH, the phrase means an area that will be around for a long time"

« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 10:53:30 AM by in4 »

Andre Jute

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2015, 01:59:35 PM »
And one last photo.


Is this one sideways on?

About this tour: BLOODY HELL!

jags

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2015, 02:07:57 PM »
i told him from the start but just wouldn't listen. :o

Andre Jute

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Re: Maah Daah Hey trail
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2015, 08:23:59 PM »
Heh-heh!