Friday, August 02, 2013

Bikepacking attempt on the Colorado Trail part 1- gear and setup

The story of this trip actually starts well over a year ago as a plan was hatched for a small group of friends to head off into the wilds for a few days on bikes with full camping gear and hopefully emerging on the other side alive and with some cool experiences etched in our minds. Talk of various locales included Montana sections of the Great Divide route, Colorado Trail, and even some more local gravel loops. Eventually it whittled down to Colorado trail and more specifically riding from the eastern trailhead at Waterton Canyon to Breckenridge and back.

I was low man on the food chain when it came to having any bikepacking experience and gear. Basically I had no bikepacking experience and very little gear beyond my bike that I owned that would be applicable to the task at hand. Shooting for a manageable setup based on my friends' gear choices that have more experience than I do, I still needed to source the following: frame bag, handlebar gear mount/rack, extended seatpost bag, packable sleeping bag, tent/shelter, sleeping pad, cook kit, shoes suitable for extended hike a bike sections, and some drybags of varying sizes.

Being on a budget, I purchased minimal amounts of the gear and borrowed what I could. Once nice thing is with the gear I did buy, Rasmussen's Bike Shop was able to order a majority of it in for me. While they carry a minimal amount of this gear on hand, they have access to pretty much all of it (tents, bags, cooking gear, pads, etc) available within just a day or two of ordering.

The 3 of us going planned to split duty on some of the gear so as to hopefully not be quite so redundant in our setups. We split carrying 2 full cannisters of fuel (Optimus), a pair of pedals (we were all riding Crank Brothers), and water filtration kit (Platypus). We also talked about sharing some things like multi-tools, matches, first aid kit, pump, etc, but we mostly had at least 2 of all those type items. In retrospect, we could have probably knocked a pound plus off each our setups had we gone all out with splitting our gear up to only having 1 item of each.

In the end, I ended up with a setup that converted my sub 18lb singlespeed El Mariachi Ti build into a 55ish pound rolling armageddon setup.

My final bike setup was- 2013 El Mariachi Ti, Fox F29 80mm fork with G2 offset, 3x9 SRAM X0 shifty bits with 11x32 cassette, Thomson Masterpiece post, Specialized Romin Evo Expert saddle, 2.4 Racing Ralph on Stan's Crest front wheel (tubeless), 2.0 Specialized S-works Captain on Stan's crest rear wheel (tubeless), Ashima 180mm front/160mm rear brakes, Ergon GS2 grips, Race face Carbon bar,  Salsa/Revelate frame bag, Porcelain Rocket seatpost bag, Revelate mountain feedbags (x2), Revelate handlebar harness and front pocket. With a full load of gear, water, food, etc the weight was a bit staggering at 55ish pounds.

I had two specific battles I had to deal in gear setup after a few test rides showed shortcomings due to my limited experience. One was moving weight out of the rear bag and into the frame bag due to excessive sway causing the bike to rock back and forth. I juggled the load around swapping as much large lightweight oddly shaped stuff to the rear bag as possible and filling the frame bag with heavy/dense items. The other issue was cinching and packing the front roll enough that it didn't rub the front tire under fork compression. I fixed this issue using a couple of additional straps wrapped at the outer portion of the roll around the bars and adding more air to the front shock to help offset the addtional weight. I was still about 10-15mm short of having full travel, but I really can't recall any major rubbing once I got these two items adjusted. A smaller diameter front roll (mine was 15L) would also have made a big difference, but only swapping to more packable (more $) camping gear would have allowed that to happen.

One notable item is that I had nothing on my back unless I put something in my jersey pocket for quick access. I was very glad to not need to wear a backpack of any type. Even with as much weight and muscling around that was required of the bike, it still was a better choice for me than having weight pulling on my shoulders and back all day.

Camp kit in a 15L dry bag:

Eureka solo tent, North Face Cat's Meow sleeping bag, and Thermarest Neoair X-lite pad. 6.5ish lbs total.

For the total gear geeks, here's a full on list of everything that started the ride with me:
8 assorted Kate's real food bars (approx 2400 cals)
2 chicken/2 Beef instant Ramen (approx 1500 cals)
1 quart ziplock homemade trail mix (cashews, craisins, almonds, dark chocolate chips, chocolate covered espresso beans) (approx 1500 cals)
1 pack dried/sugared mango slices (approx 900 cals)
3 Salted nut rolls (approx 720 cals)
2 Blueberry instant oatmeal
70 oz generic water bladder
Sleep gear:
Cat's Meow 20 deg synthetic bag
Eureka solo tent
Neo air X-lite sleep pad
Clothing (stored on bike):
Zip off leg midweight nylon pants
Heavyweight wool long sleeve jersey
150 weight long sleeve merino base
7" Swiftwick merino wool socks
Arm warmers
Knee warmers
Polar fleece hat
cotton boxer briefs
1 pair cycling bibs
Full zip cycling rain jacket
2 leg straps
1 pair midweight full finger MTB gloves
Riding Kit:
Pearl Izumi X-alp Launch shoes
4" Swiftwick merino wool socks
Road ID
Rasmussen MTB team bibs/short sleeve jersey
Short sleeve windfront base
Cycleops powercal HR monitor
Long finger gloves
Oakley Jawbones w/ clear to dark transition lenses
Specialized S3 helmet
1 tube
1 glueless patch kit
1 glue type patch kit
1 plug kit
40g Big air
20g CO2 cartridge
mountain pipe pump
Full size leatherman
multi tool with chain break tool
shift cable
4 misc screws and chainring bolt
6 zip ties
2-3' electrical tape
1 crank brothers candy pedal
1 set brake pads
3 misc nylon/plastic gears straps
Pair of tire levers
Chain/misc wiping rag
Pot/pan/spork cook kit
1 cannister cook fuel for optimus stove (8oz net weight)
3-4 Sandwich/Snack zip ziplocks
Personal care:
Adventure medical kit wallet with added knife, misc ibuprofen, matches, and lighter
Emergency blanket
16 baby wipes
travel toothbrush, 2oz Bronners soap
4oz SPF 30 spray on sunscreen
6 single use chamois cream packets
Misc electronics:
Garmin 705
4 AA usb charging pack w/mini usb cord
Cell phone
4 AA lithiums
4 AAA lithiums
Spot tracker
Point and shoot camera
AAA headlamp
Storage gear:
Porcelain Rocket large seat bag
Misc dry bags: 15L, 5L, 2L, 1L
Salsa/Revelate frame bag
Revelate mountain feed bag (x2)
Revelate handlebar harness
Revelate front pocket

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