The GearWhat to bring is always a toss up, depending on the course, the proposed weather, and your motive. This was my first bikepacking route with a full suspension bike. I recently purchased an Ibis Ripley that I named Ike. Without getting into mumbo jumbo tech talk, the Ripley is the most versatile bike I’ve ever ridden. Just about a week before riding the bike along the spine of the state in competitive time, I was riding lift access downhill and jump trails on the same bike! When setting up for XVT, I did not think I’d be sleeping for much more than a few hours one night. I first considered bringing just my space blanket, but I’m glad I decided to go one step heavier with the SOL E-Bivy, which I decided to use over a thermal sleeping bag liner and my usual Klymit Pad. It was minimal, but that’s all I felt the need for. Embarrassingly, with all my bikepacking trips, this was my first to use a bivy. As far as clothing, I wore bike shorts, a jersey, and 5″ wool socks, packing a Smartwool top layer, leg warmers, and my trusty Patagonia Super Cell shell. I knew I was going to be riding through the dark, so I ran a Shutter Precision Dynamo to power a USB charger and my K-Lite lighting system. I used a cheap USB headlamp, powered from rechargeable USB cache batteries, and zip-tied a blinky red light to the back of my helmet. I decided to carry a Camelbak Mule for water capacity, as I waited too long to order a frame bag. Other accessories packed as listed: -Pump -Tube, a good one, cause tiny pumps suck -Patch kit -Bike tool w/ chain tool -Spare SPD cleat -Chain/quick links -Needle -Fiber repair spoke -Chain lube (tiny bottle) -Zip-ties -Medical tape
The RideThe route is 301 miles and about 33,000 vFt. The route has little [bike] traffic thus far, and has been primarily ridden northbound from Massachusetts to Canada. Living in central Vermont for the last few years, I had ridden the central part of the route extensively, and expected to be on similar terrain throughout. When it came to bike choice, I went full suspension, mostly for experimentation for future plans. The initial time to beat was set at an impressive 54 hours, on a rigid singlespeed! Rumors were that there was a lot of singletrack, tough double track, and rough class 4 roads. I expected my pace to be a bit slower than “Divide” cruising, and was warned to be ready to push my bike for the hills, and the mud. Sticking to my guns, I planned to be finished within 48 hours, as I had only taken one day off of work in addition to my weekend, and wanted that day to get home and recover. With a great forecast for the weekend, I couldn’t help but be excited to have a route completed without constant rainfall. The night before, I camped in Molly Stark State Park. As the alarm went off at 4:59AM, I got out of my sleeping bag and into my riding clothes. The cool morning air was filled with a thick fog. On the drive to the state line, morning’s first light crested the rolling hills. Stars still filled the sky, as excitement to ride filled my mind. Bags in place, GPS on, SPOT activated. I wanted to be rolling at 6:00am. It was 5:58. “Where are my gloves? DAMMIT, WHERE ARE MY GLOVES. Home, on my stack of clean laundry.” I hate riding without gloves! Now barehanded, I decided to roll at 6:05. The crisp air chilled my bare hands; I was so mad at myself. “Snap out of negative thoughts. It’s a beautiful day, and you’re on your bike,” I told myself. As soon as I cleared the first mile or so of pavement, I lead myself into what would be my most enjoyable day of bikepacking in memory. Early miles ticked off quickly, on winding forest service roads, often with a beautiful creek along side. A bit of grassy trail kept my feet wet, as morning dew had yet to evaporate.
Thanks to my awesome sponsors!
Alpine Bike Works http://www.alpinebikeworks.com/
Nuclear Sunrise Stitchworks http://www.nukesunrise.com/
Lonewolf Cycling http://lonewolfcycling.com/
Surefoot USA (Insoles) http://www.surefoot.com/