Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pack a Pick Of Peppers

In the dead of winter it is always fun to begin planning a bicycle trip for the warmer, sunnier weather that is sure to come now that the days are getting longer by a minute a day!

I remember my first bike packing trip with my friend Roy when I had monstrous panniers filled to the brim with all manner of crap.  A bath towel.  Running shoes.  A flashlight.  No wonder it took forever to pack every morning before we could depart for the trail.

The big load

All that gear I was carrying weighed close to fifty pounds when you consider that a wet bath towel weighs a good six pounds alone.  Even the pajamas I brought along weighed down my load.  Is it any wonder that the whole kit and kaboodle was wrenched off the bike in a most undignified manner when having to ride a very hard trail?  And of course it had to happen in the worst place.  No shade and many miles yet to go before camping for the night. It took an hour and a half for Roy and I to figure out how to reattach everything to the bike.

Fifty pounds of crap fell right off
During Bike Month I give a seminar on bike packing and one of the tips I share with the bike packing neophytes is to check everyone's load when you ride off first thing in the morning and any time you've unpacked your load - lunch perhaps? 

Careful attention to loading up
This will insure that none of your gear gets lost on the trail.  My friend Roy tells a story of how he and his nephew were bike packing in the back country and when they got to camp and were ready to set up their tents, Roy discovered that his was missing completely!  Clever guy that he is, he played back pictures on his camera and could determine by spotting the last picture that included the tent where it might have fallen off. Unfortunately it was too far back down the trail to bother trying to retrieve it.  Luckily his nephew had a two man tent and they could bunk together.

Jackies load is coming undone
In the above picture, you can see how perilous it can be when your load begins come apart.  First my daughter's pannier came unhooked which led to the sleeping bag dislodging which unlatched ...
This winter I won't have to draw up long lists of equipment to buy for this year's cycling adventures since I have everything I need to bicycle camp in just about any climate and trail condition.  I've managed to shave 20 pounds of weight off my load since my first trip which means I can use smaller panniers and the bike is a lot easier to manhandle over the numerous obstacles you're always bound to find on the trail.

It took a lot of pushing to reach this spot



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