Let's go back to the Summer of 2008....
I had just completed my first year of graduate school at Penn State, and was about to take part in my first stint of actual lab work at the National Ice Core Lab (NICL) outside of Denver. While I was prepping for this field work, it occurred to me that I could potentially stay a bit longer than planned in Colorado after my work was completed, and go after a thru-hike of the ~485-mile Colorado Trail. I had wanted to get a taste of true alpine hiking ever since finishing my AT hike the previous summer, and figured this would be a chance to make it a reality. I calculated that if I hiked at a similar pace to my AT hike, I could finish the entire trail in about 3 weeks.
...And so the planning began. I bought the requisite maps, went through scores of online thru-hiking journal entries, and picked up the necessary cold-weather/alpine hiking gear. I was genuinely excited for a true alpine adventure. What I wasn't expecting though was the ridiculous amounts of snow I'd encounter in late-June in Colorado that year.
- "Remember that time we broke down going across Kazakhstan?"
- "I can still recall getting mugged while making my way through Colombia."
- "How about that flat tire you got while moving across the North Slope of Alaska!"
- I bought the bike myself,
- It was under 250cc in size.
- 300-500 cc (although I'd maybe consider a little bigger if the bike is not too heavy)
- < 400 lbs
- Under $6000-$7000 if possible
- Dual-sport or adventure capable
- Meant for on- AND off-road (and can handle single track and even some technical terrain)
- Decent clearance
- Can carry a lot and/or has panniers
- More of a classic look (no crazy pointy fairings or futuristic plastic bits)
- Nice suspension
- Not too tall (I have a 31-32" inseam and wanted to be able to flat-foot while stopped)
- Probably single cylinder
- Simple machine that I can maintain and service myself (not crazy complicated)
- Nice protection parts and guards
- Good parts availability and aftermarket parts
- Reliable with good reviews
- Switchable ABS
- Has a center stand
- Nice console, dials and readouts (not all - crazy digital)