Readers Rig is a series of articles that showcases bikepacking kits from riders around the world. Be it long rides or short, races or slogs, everyone has their own unique set up. We hope you enjoy these rigs and maybe pick up a thing or two to add to your set up.

Jeff Oatley
Fairbanks, AK
Civil Engineer
Iditarod Trail Invitational

I’ve been riding bikes forever, and have been racing them for 25 years. It has been a journey for sure.  In about 1995 or so I somehow heard about this race up in Alaska called the Iditasport.  I knew I was going to do it, but didn’t think too much about how right away.  A couple of years later…I was pretty burned out on driving all over the Rocky Mountain region to do 2-hr mountain bike races or 90-minute crits… so I decided to move to Alaska to start making the Iditarod thing happen.  That was in 2000.

Since then it has worked out for me to focus more on winter riding.  The Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) has always been central to that.  Getting prepared for that race is really more about getting prepared to survive whatever might get thrown at you over the course of an Alaskan winter.  It’s taken a few years but I have gotten to where I’m pretty comfortable being out on the trail in most any situation.  Probably more comfortable out there than I am anywhere else.

That experience has (safely, I think) opened up a few options that maybe I would have stayed away from 10 years ago.  Also, over the last several years my interest in racing has faded.  That’s really allowed me to think about some big rides that put me “out there”.  One door closes, another one opens.

Last year I rode the Yukon Quest Trail.  There is not a more “out there” trail anywhere in North America, I don’t think.  I’ve travelled all over Alaska for both work and for play and I just don’t think you can compare the remoteness and isolation of the Yukon Quest to anything else.  I finished it thinking, “Man, if you strung the Yukon Quest together with some overland trails to get from Fairbanks back to the Yukon you could pick up some village trails and end up on the Iditarod Trail proper, and then potentially ride from Whitehorse all the way to Nome.  That would be a helluva ride!”  Then I figured that if I was gonna go that far I might as well start in Skagway and try to get from there to Nome, which only adds 110 or so miles, and it becomes a route with quite a bit of historical significance from the gold rush era of the late 1890’s/early 1900’s…that nobody travels anymore.  At all.  16178855_1064769307002305_8108924025231504807_o

So that’s what I’m going to try to do.  I don’t have an unlimited amount of time, so I do need some sort of luck with the weather.  That being said, I think it’s at least possible.  It’s a big ride for sure, but it’s still just a ride.  I’m just going to take what I can get and go as far as I can go.  If I have to pull the plug early, I’ll at least have spent a good long time “out there”.

Bike Build: 2016 Fatback Corvus (18”); 1×11, Nextie 90’s, D5’s, BB-7’s. Solid, strong, reliable.

Bike Bags: Mixed of Becker Gear and Revelate Designs

Clothing: Yeah, it’s a good idea most of the time.

Sleep System: Ridgerest with a -25 Western Mountaineering for ITI, Ridgerest with -60 Feathered Friends for Yukon Quest.  The -60 bag is a load!  Since I’m coming through Fairbanks I may swap them out.  Almost everything west of here is slightly less remote. Can still be ridiculously cold, but there is more shelter available.  

Extra Gear: mp3 player, Nano puff with fur ruff, spare pump, whiskey.


We caught up with Jeff after he won the 1000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitation to Nome in 2014, Click here to read our profile on him.


  1. I hope the trails are not too grown in.
    best of luck!
    Ken Austin

  2. Good on you. Sounds like an awesome adventure. What are you wearing for boots?

  3. Patrick Ford

    Hi Jeff, I attended a lecture on the Iditarod at the Royal Geographical society in London some years ago, so I have some appreciation of what it takes to survive out there, what sort of stuff you need to be made of and what inspires you. The very best of luck. Have you got some bear spray or will they all be hibernating?! Any other dangers, apart from the cold? I’ll be following you with interest

  4. Jeff,

    Good luck on the ride! Will buy you some beers and dinner when you get to Nome!!

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