Having never bike pack raced before; I was at a bit of a loss as to where to start. So back to the Internet and voila, lots of information. There is even a website dedicated to bikepacking. Further, the organizers of this race/ride are Brendon Collier and Mary Metcalf-Collier, she of the documentary “The Tour Divide”. The Tour Divide is the grandfather of these races. It is a race from Banff to the Mexican border down the Great Divide. Search “Tour Divide” on Netflix and have a watch; it’s pretty intense stuff. Brendan and Mary run a bike shop (Hub Cyclery – www.hubcyclery.com) in Idyllwild, California which is our start location for the race. Their website has a plethora of information on bike packing and the equipment needed.
I started with my Santa Cruz Blur TR and fitted with a seat post bag from Revelate designs. The bag holds all of my sleeping gear as well as extra clothes, toiletries, and spare parts. It’s kinda cool as it sticks out about a half a metre behind the seat without impacting wheel motion, and surprisingly doesn’t swing around very much. I also am also using a cylindrical handlebar bag from the same company that holds pretty much everything else. I added an extra-large bottle cage below my down tube to carry an extra 2 litres of water. I have two feed bags attached to either side of my head tube and my front shock for easy access to nutrition. I am carrying two Garmin GPS’s (one as a backup) for guidance, and of course a good old map should everything fail.
The weather forecast suggests quite a heat wave in the desert so I think there is a good chance that I will be doing some riding in the dark to avoid heat prostration. I added a Lezyne rechargeable light that I can attach to either my helmet or handlebar. Brendan suggests a good quality air pump with a pressure gauge because tire air pressures in the desert sand need to be in single digits if you intend to ride, and that clearly won’t work when you hit pavement.
All this adds weight to the bike and requires adjustment to both rear and front shock pressures. I was pleasantly pleased that most of the weight added still remains in the food and fluids, and not in the equipment and /or clothes themselves. My test ride down Espresso on Mt Fromme suggests I probably won’t be setting any new descending records.
Watch my progress at www.trackleaders.com under Stagecoach 400. I’ll try to update my progress by Instagram also at @jramsden59.