My new Trek Skye has had a few upgrades added since we bought our bikes for Christmas. A wireless computer, rear rack, front and rear lights, and a pair of trekking handlebars.
What are trekking bars? If you don’t know, it’s understandable. Neither did two of the bike shops I visited. I try to use the local shops when I can. It’s nice to have a relationship with the folks who will servicing and repairing my bike. So when the third shop knew what they were, I had them order a pair for me.
Trekking bars are handle bars that provide several hand positions. Most mountain bikes have flat bars, which provide basically one hand position while riding.
After installing the new bars I gave them a very good test ride: I rode up and down KICCO Grade, a washboarded limerock road, from the ghost town of KICCO. From the backside of River Ranch to the S-65A lock across the Kissimmee River, the Florida Trail crosses this limerock road several times before joining it for nearly 5 miles through open pastures with very large cows. And bulls.
I dropped Sandy off at the first trail crossing and drove to the KICCO town site, about a mile north of the lock. After loading up the bike and adding a couple of Gatorades to my pack, I headed north to look for her. Our plan was for her to make a large X when she came to a road crossing. That way I would know where she was along the trail.
As I was about to enter the open pasture, I noticed two hikers about to begin their long hot walk along the open road: Dirty Bowl and Cyrilla, who were thru-hiking. I’d met Cyrilla the weekend before at Billy Goat Day. I gave then a bottle of Gatorade to split, and continued to deliver the other one to Sandy.
When I reached her, she was at the north end, about to start the same road walk. After giving her the drink, I headed back to the car. Passing the thru-hikers along the way, I said that I would be back with another drink.
After a quick snack, I picked up another load of Gatorade and was back on the road. Sandy and the ladies had crossed paths, so after leaving one with her, I picked up the pace to try and catch Dirty Bowl and Cyrilla. But they were well ahead of me. They’d already left the road and disappeared into the woods.
Most of the road was a rough washboard surface. I was very happy to have front shocks and a shock-absorbing seat post. Even with these comforts, I was getting a pretty good shaking.
On the return trip I parked the bike and hiked in to meet Sandy at the Rattlesnake Hammock campsite for lunch. It’s moments like this that I am so thankful to be outside, sitting at a picnic table under the shade of the oaks with nothing but the sounds of the wind and the birds. A great place for our lunch date.
Buy the time Sandy had finished her 7.4 miles of hiking in the hot sun, I had ridden the road out and back twice, tallying up 26 miles. Without the trekking bars it would have been miserable ride. It was great to have so many hand positions available on such a rough road.
The next addition to the bike? Handlebar tape or foam covers. I had lots of positions for my hands, but the addition of padding will improve off-road riding even more.