Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gear rundown

Here's a gear rundown for all of the geeks that are into this sort of thing, such as myself.

The two main factors when picking out gear for this trip could be boiled down to
A) cheap!!!
B) ultralight.

Considering I have an ultralight backpacking background, most of the camping stuff I had covered. I knew from the get-go that I didn't want to do the typical panniers route that most people do while touring due to bulk and price. I briefly considered getting only a rear rack, and then bungeeing compression sacks to it instead of panniers to save weight and money, but this fell apart when I ran across what these guys were doing. Not only were they a huge inspiration to push me to pursue another adventure, but their approach to travelling via bike made complete sense to me.

My mountain bike doesn't have rear eyelets/braze-ons to attach a rear rack to like most bikes, which really limited me in rear rack selection to store things on. My options were: 1) buy a special $100 rack from Old Man Mountain which can attach to ANY bike, 2) go to hardware store and get all sorts of clamps and adapters to attach the rack to my frame, or 3) cheap seatpost rack. Since a seatpost rack fits the two criteria I mentioned above, I went for it. You're not supposed to put more than 25 lbs on a seatpost rack, which won't be a problem for me.

On the seatpost rack I'll have the following gear stored in an old compression sack and lashed to the rack with UL ladderlock accessory straps:

-Tarptent Rainbow
-Night time clothing (thermal bottoms, wind pants, spare socks, dry shirt, etc)
-Alcohol stove with small pot
-12 oz denatured alcohol
-Hygiene products

On handlebars in compression sack:

-Nunatak Arc Alpinist down quilt
-Titanium Goat bivy sack
-Montbell Thermawrap insulated jacket

I transformed an old backpack lid into a handlebar bag containing things that will be frequently accessed while riding:

-Camera (most important piece of gear)
-Bike tools (multi-tool, chainbreak, spare chain links, tire levers, lube, rag/toothbrush for chain cleaning, Swiss Army Knife)
-Spare Tube
-Book (Ed Abbey to start...cliche I'm well aware...)

In the triangle of the frame I've got a tiny Nashbar frame bag that will hold more food, 3L bladder of water on long dry stretches, zip ties for bike repair, and 3 spare spokes. There is a full-size bike pump stashed in the velcro attaching the bag to the frame.

I'm still trying to decide if I'll wear a backpack or not. A huge goal of this trip is to fit in 2-3 day backpacking trips in scenic spots (Canyonlands, Arches, Zion, Capital Reef, Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim, etc) to be a tiny break from pedalling all day and a way to get away from roads and really into the wild. My original plan was to use my ultralight backpack (ULA Amp) while riding, and inside would be my blue foam sleeping pad as the pack's frame, tent poles, and rain gear. With the new addition of the handlebar bag, I may not need the extra space that the pack provides most of the time. There will be some stretches where I go 3 days without going thru a town, and in these situations I may need that extra space. If not, I'll just secure it under the compression sack on the rear rack, and not have the weight on my back. I'll figure that out on the road, as well as balancing the weight on my bike better.

Since I plan to leave my bike for extended periods of time while hiking/canyoneering:
There's a 6-ft cable bike lock wrapped around the stem, which I may get rid of in favor of a smaller ghetto setup of hardware store chain and masterlock....

On my body

-bright green long-sleeve Railriders shirt for visibility and sun protection
-awesome Bell helmet given to me from Yard Sale (he's doing the GDR check here)
-nerdy helmet mirror made by CycleAware (worn only when there is no shoulder)
-cheapo (but good) Aevero cycling shorts
-old-school Old Navy board shorts (versatility: can hike or swim in them, without the lycra cycling shorts)
-Inov-8 trail runners
-Cool guy cyclist hat
-Women's Prana headband
-sunglasses that I'm destined to break and/or lose
-arm/knee warmers made out of long socks from thrift store
-silk liner gloves
-bread bag rain/wind-protection for hands/feet

Warning: I know nothing, really nothing, about bike components. What I do know is that I have quite a bit of Shimano parts that came with this bike. Keep in mind that this bike was given to me for free, so the fact that it happens to have some quality involved is purely miraculous. The crank and derailleurs are all Shimano. You won't find me telling you why my Deore XT rear derailleur is so great, because I really don't know what makes it better than any other derailleur. All I know is that it works, and I've set the limits on it successfully. 7 cog rear cassette. V-brakes. Salsa fork with front suspension. I've added bar-ends, bottle cages (one held on by zipties), and I'm using toe clips, not pricey, and awkward, clipless shoes.

I've only ridden a grand total of 3 miles with the bike fully loaded, and it rode incredibly well. Dare I say it felt better than unloaded???

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