It’s the time of year when a number of publications publish their ‘Best of’ series and I thought I’d do the same. After a decade of bikepacking I’ve had more failures than successes, so this will save readers from the hassles and costs that I’ve incurred!
Category Archives: Gear
I had some quiet time over the Christmas/New Year holiday so I got together my gear for use when I (hopefully) ride the Tour Divide this June. The biggest changes from last year are:
- I’ll be riding a 29’er this year. Another titanium Motobecane.
- I went to the larger platform Shimano pedals—easier for riding with one foot through the snow.
- I’m using a SON dynamo hub for power while I ride and also to power the main lights. Using a helmet mounted Fenix as the backup light.
- Rather than wear a hydration pack I’ll have the 3 L bladder mounted to the handlebar harness using a Camelbak Unbottle. No bottles on the front forks to potentially damage the wheel when I crash. I’ll have a 1 L ‘Magnum’ water bottle mounted on the top tube in front of the seat post, and a 2 L bottle on down tube in front of the cranks.
- While I list a lot of tools/parts, most fit into a small toolkit box 2” x 4” x 0.75”. I’ve included a Stein mini-cassette removal tool this year. I’ll probably take 3 x Allen keys rather than the multitool as that is all I really need.
- I’ve added two of the Revelate Design ‘Mountain Feed Bags’ behind the handlebar harness to hold nibbles, water and my camera (smartphone).
Otherwise pretty much the same. My Paremo jacket worked great—especially on rainy days when I could put the hood up under my helmet and be very cozy and dry. Goretex socks are a must. The Ground Effects gear is simply the best.
My packing philosophy is:
- Harness contains what I need to sleep at night. The sleeping kit is in a separate bag inside the harness dry bag. This harness bag is only opened at night.
- The frame bag contains all my food, as well as key clothes to regulate temperature.
- The seat bag is ‘deep storage’ for things I don’t need often.
- The handlebar bag is for the things I need regular access to.
It is not the lightest kit – I’ll weigh the bike and kit in a few months once I finalize everything – but that’s because I know my limitations (cold and wet don’t work for me!).
Here is the full list.
I’ve finally assembled all the gear for this year’s attempt at the Tour Divide race. It is a source of endless discussion as to exactly how much you take on the ride. Kurt Refsnider, who won in 2011, has what I think is the singularly best view on what take. He tries to “strike a respectable balance between ultra light and well prepared.”
I was waiting for my wife to check her e-mail at the Takaka (New Zealand) library when I saw this very unusual bike packer. He had fitted an engine to a mountain bike!
In just over a week I’ll be somewhere south of Banff on my way to the US border. It’s quite the adventure and a very important consideration is the gear you will take with you. In fact most of the Tour Divide (TD) bloggers report that their their gear pages are by far the most visited. I can see why. As a self supported race you’ve got to carry everything with you and the more you have, thee harder it is to slog over the 4,418 km course. There are some like perennial champion Matt Lee who are the absolute minimalists: a sleeping bag and not much else, and then mere mortals like me who want to enjoy a few creature comforts: like rain gear. After months of planning and running my credit card red hot this is what I’ll be racing with.
Over dinner the other night a friend asked why does anyone need eleven bicycles. Good question … especially as I’m now up to number twelve. Of course a key consideration in having this many bicycles is an understanding wife: Lis says she would rather I have a bicycle in every port than a girl.
If there is one way to increase your fitness quickly it is through interval training. You go very fast for a time, and then after a short recovery, you do it over. And over. And over. Last night at our track workout I ran 8 x 800 m at 3:55 min/km pace, with a 200 m jog between. Intervals on bikes are often done with stationary trainers since that lets you focus on riding hard and not having to be interrupted by things like traffic signals. I’ve found the perfect timer for cyclists to use for interval training: the Gymboss Interval Timer. Only $US 20, it must have been designed by a cyclist. You input the length of your interval, the length of your recovery, and the number of intervals you want to do. It does the rest. It even has a clip so you can attach it to your clothes. If you do cycling intervals check it out—you will be able to focus on your riding and not watching a clock.
When I moved to New Zealand in 1983 from Canada the runner Lorraine Moller was always in the news. Going on to win the Bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, she is the best marathon runner New Zealand has produced. I met her at the 2009 Boston Marathon where she was selling her book. I’m glad I bought it—not only because it is an absolutely riveting read (very unusual for a sportsman’s biography) but I’m sure her signing it for me and sharing her ‘wings of Mercury’ talisman helped me to a PR in the race. Thanks Lorraine for the great read and the PR.
If you are going to inflict an Ironman triathlon on yourself there are two things I would recommend: (1) check out the free resources at www.endurancenation.us and (2) buy this book. You will be set to go. These two sources complement each other and the book is well worth the $15 at Amazon.com. It is singularly the most thorough guide for Ironman training through racing.
This is one of those books which was seminal for cycle training. Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan explain the concepts of training with a power meter and how you can use it to maximize the benefits of your time in the saddle. If you have a power meter and don’t have this book you are wasting your time and money. You should also join the ‘Wattage Group’ which is a very active online community devoted to power cycle training. Join at: http://groups.google.com/group/wattage/topics