The Preparation Continues
As the start of the Rocky Mountain Cycle gets closer my preparation intensify. The long sessions each Sunday have been increasing over the past few months and I am currently at 13 hours. I needed to put a number of sessions back to back and I have been increasing the hours on Saturdays and Mondays as this will be the reality of my trip.
Last weekend I headed off into the mountains for two full days cycling with the intention of camping overnight. The preparation for something like this starts early in the week with making a list of everything I need to make it through the weekend. I start by going through the clothes; making sure I have enough, but trying not to have anything I don’t need as space is at a premium. I actually visualise everything I’m going to wear making sure I don’t forget anything. Then I will go through the camping equipment again visualising setting up the tent and everything associated with it. I have to consider everything I need for cooking as forgetting something can be very costly, even something simple like a spork (a combination of spoon, knife and fork).
The next piece of the jigsaw is the food; how much will I need, ensuring I don’t have too much as this means extra unnecessary weight. I have to figure out how much I need to eat and what is the best food to bring and making sure the food can’t spoil or spill. The big problem I am faced with in relation to food is that I can’t be very choosy about food as I will have to go with whatever is available and so I try to reflect this in my eating.
Some of the food that I used over the weekend was granola for breakfast with powdered milk (I choose this as its light and won’t spoil). I bring a small stove to boil water and heat food ; again the stove is light and takes up very little room. For lunch I used wraps with salami and cheese. Not the most appetising but high in calories and should be easy to pick up when I’m on the cycle. The food always has to be quick and simple; no real cooking, no more than heating as this would take up too much time, require more equipment and cause a problem cleaning up. For snacks I have some biscuits and chocolate peanuts; again very high in calories and easy to carry. In the evening I had a Mexican rice with chorizo sausage (I don’t do these trips for the culinary excellence).
Load on the bike
I use these trips as a means of improving my fitness and as a way of testing out the gear I’m going to use. It allows me to pack the bike bags and see how things fit. Packing bags for a bike trip is an art in itself as space is always at a premium and when you go into the wilderness, access to food and water may be severely restricted, there are a number of items you must carry at all times. This means items you considered to be necessary suddenly look like a luxury, as essential such as food and water always take precedents. When you pack the bags everything must fit precisely there cannot be any gaps or air pockets and of course everything needs to be easily accessible and lastly you need to pack the bag in the order you are going to use the items during the day. For example there is no point having your sleeping bag at the top of your bag as it is one of the last things you will use each day.
The panniers are working well and the storage space is good but there is a problem with the bags bouncing away from the rack and also rubbing against the rack. This may not seem like much of a problem but when you multiply this a thousand times a day over 35 days then it can eventually cause a problem; such as breaking the rack or wearing a whole in the pannier which in turn would allow the water into my clothes and food. My solution was to tape foam around the bars of the rack and strap the bottom of the panniers to the rack to prevent it bouncing. This seems to have resolved the problem.
My tent is strapped to the handle bars of the bike in order to take some weight off the back of the bike. I placed the tent in a 10L dry bag and secured it with strong buckle straps. There is no adverse effect on the steering and the tent remains very secure.
Water is always a concern as too much has a huge weight implication and too little can lead to serious dehydration, so getting the balance right is tricky. The worst case scenario is, I will need to carry 9L which is equivalent to 9kg, and this would be almost half of my total loaded weight. There are large sections with plenty of surface water and this I can use to refill my supply etc. The water will have to be purified to be on the safe side and for this I will use chlorine tablets and Swayer mini water filter.