I also got my Ergon BC3 TransAlp backpack this last week so I was eager to go out this morning to confirm my bike building handy work and test the bigger bag. I had already purchased the 15L version for the Ride to Rhodes but it wasn't going to cut the mustard on the Freedom Challenge.
The bigger 25L+ version is a similar design and is fantastic as it distributes the load directly onto the hips and one carries only 20% of the load on the shoulders. It also has a swivel shoulder harness that gives one unrestricted upper body movement and it works superbly. http://www.ergon-bike.com/gb/en/home.
Anyway we (Fiona, Doug, Dave C, Dave B, Carine & myself) set off this morning @ around 07:30 am from a restaurant (nothing new about that now is there !) on the Broederstroom road. It was around 1'C early this am but it warmed up somewhat and by the time we got to the Wimpy (still nothing new there either !) it wasn't bad at all.
A quick cup of coffee later and we attacked a Lehanna type portage (much shorter of course, maybe 1km) straight up the side and along a rather large rock strewn hill.
It was another great opportunity to refine bike carrying techniques with full backpacks and test trail shoes and such like. It certainly got the heart rate up for a bit and then we were down the other side on our way to the Bridal trail.
We weren't in luck today as there was apparently a race on and we couldn't do the route. It was a catastrophe for me because there would be no coke stop at the trading store at Skeerpoort either !
After some route strategy deliberations we decided (Actually Queen B hijacked Dave C's ride) to head up through the veggie farm and over the saddle (a geological feature in case you're wondering) towards Franks farm, one valley away and then head across the other way back to the start at the restaurant.
It wasn't a long ride (50 odd km's) but was taxing enough with the loaded backpacks. The restaurant was an interesting experience - A 1hr + wait for toasted samies and a kiddies cheese burger - They sure know how to torture hungry MTB's ! I nearly died...
Now I know what you may be thinking, but WE DIDN"T have breakfast here before we started and ONLY had a coffee at the Wimpy. Ok, they gave us a complimentary biscuit too. The bike handled a treat and so far the Ergon bag is the best thing since bubblegum.