In advance – this is probably going to be quite a long post full of my opinions. I’m not sorry if yours differ. After riding this setup for over 12,000km it works for me. I’m not changing it now. Probably. I probably will before I leave ok…damn it. Oddly, when I look at the kit packed – there is not much, but when I write it all down…flip that’s a lot of stuff.
I’ve already given a breakdown of the bike I’m taking on the Tour Divide the Salsa Cycles Cutthroat. I thought my TI Fargo was the bike for the job, then I got this from the folks at Raleigh UK and….well it’s better for what the Divide is. I’ve no idea why I suspect it wouldn’t be. I’ve also covered the bikepacking bags from Ortlieb that I’ll be taking. Waterproof bags make sense. Not waterproof bags don’t. I really haven’t got much more to add. I am quite looking forward to getting my hands on the new frame bag when I get back. There are some other bits on the bike I’ve not covered, so I’ll go into that first before I drill into what is in each bag and why.
The Divide is a long, long race with lots of changing conditions and terrain types along the way. Gravel, singletrack, tarmac it has it all. I’ve been using drop bars for years now, 4 at least, and I like how they ride with a compliant rigid fork like the Salsa Firestarter. Double tape on the bars for cush and a shallow drop Ragley Luxy bar – oh how I wish these were still in production. I’d contemplated my Jones bars…but they didn’t feel right after a few attempts. They can stay on the other bikes. Trusty SRAM Apex levers are where I want them, I pretty much ride only on the drops or extensions these days so I don’t miss the lack of tops any more. But, I can still use them when I want to.
The aero bars are cobbled together from a few pairs of bars off old track and time trial bikes, as well as my wifes tri bike. Thanks hun. The S kick bars may be a bit aggressive for some, but as someone who used to race Ironman with straight extensions and a very low position from his track days, it’s fine. Snuggled in between is my eTrex 20 that has over 20,000km on it, a Exposure Revo for lighting duties, and over on the left a Gen3 spot – a much better improvement over the Gen1 I’ve had for years. Not shown, small bike computer as a backup that sits on the stem – only for ODO duties between towns, and if my GPS dies.
Everything fits in nice and neat below the bars and I can shift and brake as I need to, the manner that you can drop the Ortlieb bags helps this a lot, really much better than I ever had with my Apidura setup or a borrowed Revelate Sweetroll. I have a preference for a weight bias towards the front so I can hop the back over things if needs be, it also keeps the front down on very steep climbs for the 28 – 40 granny gear I have – very little that I can’t climb on this if my legs are willing.
Power to the Greg:
Sitting underneath all this is a mess of wires from my dynamo hub – up to the Revo to power that directly and my rear light- then in parallel to a Plug3 USB charging unit – the internals of which are hidden away inside a KCNC handy mount thing. This gives me the option to charge an external cache battery on the move, or my phone, camera and so on. Sadly, it does not charge me. I’ve used the REVO as my main light for nearly 3 years, and have had zero issues with the SP hub charging it – I’ve one of the first 15mm bolt through ones and it’s been faultless.
I’ve a separate line up to the back of the eTrex from an Exposure Support Cell that is giving me 36 hours moving time with the GPS and does not drain the lithium batteries – I’m going to do my damnedest to limit the amount of waste I create, and without ample places to recycle batteries I’m hesitant on chucking them away. Always an environmental impact. If needs be, I can line-in power the SPOT too. All good.
I like to be able to cram things away in every place I can. The Spocket on the bag holds mostly bars, things I don’t need to get to fast, but will want at some stage. Also, just in case it pops off, I don’t want anything important in there. I used to keep my SPOT there…but the Gen3 gives easier mounting options, so I’ve put it where I can see it.
The Ortlieb front pouch is used to swallow things I want to get to pretty readily – the likes of food, gloves, wind-proof jacket, sunnies, butt cream, maps, shit kit. Usual things. It’s a bit of a cavern in there and things can get lost so I tend to pop things in with smaller bags then dump things on top. The bag can easily swallow a 4L DSLR pod with camera and spare lenses with space to spare. But that is heavy, so I’ll be taking the Sony RX100 with me – it’ll live in my jersey pocket, or an Apidura feed pouch – of which there are now two on the bike.
The Revelate Tanglebag is …well it’s empty as its for water storage when I get to the dry sections, I’ve a 2 litre bladder that goes in to expand the amount of water I carry. A pump and tube sit in here too, with space for food up front near the headtube junction. The map pocket on the other side is used for tools and spares- covering them further down. Add to this the Topeak gas tank and I can carry a crap load of food easy to hand so I don’t have to stop much. I think I can get about 8 Cliff bars in the gas tank with my cache batteries. Below that, is just over 2 Litres of easy to get to water. This will be filled at every opportunity. One of those bottles will also be a Travel Tap during the race – so that I can filter water on route. Have used one for a few years now since….the incident on the Sarn Helen. 7 weeks of liquid stools = not cool.
This is the storage space for the trip – I wholly intend to fill it to it’s maximum on some days wit crap food and burritos. In fact, I’m quite looking forward to it. So at the moment it looks quite svelte on space and contains not a huge amount. I have a problem with the cold, if I get cold, I am screwed. I get severe issues with my hands – so am going for multiple options and a “wet and warm” system with VBLs. So I’m carrying maybe a bit too much warm kit, but am happy to mail it back. Everything I’ve taken is based on a lot of riding in it, and mostly time in the mountains. Hopefully, it’ll pan out ok:
- 2 Maxxis lightweight tubes – one in frame bag.
- Topeak mountain morph pump – or in the frame bag.
- Montane Minimus jacket.
- Berghaus waterproof over trousers with velcro for DS leg.
- Salomon Sense Ultra3 bag – for the longer sections for water and food, only weighs 80g or so.
- Some ACA maps – spares to get mailed back as I go.
- Patagonia R1 Hoodie – womens medium, fits me better, has a nice hood and wrist covers.
- Endura Windproof/fleece winter gloves / Gore gloves. (TBC which ones are coming)
- VBL overgloves – aka Marigolds and Nitrile gloves.
- Morvelo sweary pink Jenn socks – spare pair.
- Squirt lube.
- First aid kit – paranoia of being medically trained, and also someone who crashes…
- ICE Kit – phone, food, music – 700 calories in it.
The roll bag on the front has all my sleeping and bivi kit, as well as acting as a spare cram stuff in space as the day goes on, I can straddle the bike and get stuff in there, or under the bungee cord for quick storage. It works well and currently contains:
- Outdoor Research Helium bivi – with netting, pole, and 4 pegs if the weather really craps out its fine to sleep in mostly closed up…mostly.
- RAB Nutrino 200 – I’ve done so much in this bag over the past 4 years it’s like a second home at this stage. Taking the weight penalty of 200g over an UL setup to be warm.
- Exped Synmat Hyperlite -pre production model from the folks at Lyon Equipment – stunning how comfortable and small this is. Weighs nothing, stays in the sleeping bag.
- Exped Schnozzle to pump the Synmat up and because I am soft, an Exped UL pillow. I can’t really sleep without my head raised since my jaw got screwed up, so it is coming. 50g….
- Patagonia Nanopuff Pull on – I’ve had this since they came out – I was going to take the vest version, but this works better for many reasons, and weighs 2g more.
- Montane Fireball gloves, Montane Fireball booties and a beanie to sleep in – then probably ride out in.
Tools and Spares:
Simple list as I know most of the bike by heart now and what tends to fail or wear out. Both wheels are built to accept the same length spoke, both sides, so I’ll have two spokes and some cable ties crammed up my seat-post Jefe Branaham style – good tip. I’m carrying enough to fix most things – tyre boots can be made easily from gel wrappers or other things. I’ve also to add a small piece of toothpaste tube to this – need to brush teeth more first 😉
- 4 pairs of pads – If we get a wet year, I want to be able to at least stay self sufficient.
- Topeak pump with Ducttape on it – two metal lined tyre levers.
- Brake cable + gear cable.
- 2 spokes, nipples and cable ties.
- Spare mech. hanger (en route from USA…), cleat and bolts, M4 and M5 bolt, tubeless valve, tubless valve core and tool, cleat.
- Crank Bros. multi tool with chain break and a needle-nose pliers – for brake pad changes.
- 2.5mm allen key…to get to a specific something fiddly.
- Lube – in rear bag in a sock to clean chain.
- Quick links – 2.
- Sugru – 2.
- Random cuts of Tuff Tape for bag fixes and other sticky things.
- Spare dyno and mini USB cable…I plan to ride at night quite a bit, can’t afford a failure here.
- Tyre turds + boot + puncture patches and extra glue.
- Voile strap (not shown)
Random kit that will rotate about the bike as needs come and go:
- Toothbrush – toothpaste – earplugs – sunscreen – spare clear lens for sunglasses.
- Exposure Joystick – also acts as cache battery if needs be.
- iPhone 3G – cable – and iPod Shuffle, earphones and cable. Sealed away in an ICE kit with two Cliff gels and a Cliff bar.
- 6AA and 6AAA lithium batteries – GPS backups and for SPOT.
- Aquatabs for dodgy water + NUUN tabs for me.
- Sony RX100 +2*16GB SD cards + spare battery + charging cable. USB in-line charging is most excellent.
- Portapow 10,340mA cache battery and an Exposure 3,100mA cache battery (may not come, have lighter option)
- Double US USB wall charger + cables needed.
- Some Ortlieb Ultralight drybags.
Race Clothing Kit:
Tried and tested kit that I actually enjoy wearing. Some more tried than others…bordering on worn out:
- Salsa Cycles Team Kit – thanks to Raleigh UK for sorting me out this year.
- Sportful leg warmers.
- Assos sun cover arm warmers.
- Morvelo sweary Jenn socks.
- Patagonia Nine Trails Gilet – nearly 12 years old now…favourite piece of windproof kit I own on it’s third zip. Repair, reuse, recycle ( not shown as getting repaired)
- Montane Featherlight jacket – so good, will probably wear this most days. Best 48g piece of kit I own 😉
- Vulpine cotton cap.
- Short finger gloves.
- Smith Optics Overtake helmet and Pivloc glasses – stunning combo.
- Specialized Comp MTB shoes with SPD cleats and new Boa dials.
- Suunto Advisor – going on 15 years now – altitude and barometric info is good. Oh and the time.
I have no idea how much this weighs – I only weighed things to see if they were heavier – or lighter – than their counterparts. Then I chose accordingly. All I know is that this kit has worked for me all winter, even down to -4 and in utterly miserable conditions to boot. Sure, there is room to ditch weight easily – gloves and spare LS top. But I know after years of this crap, if I get cold, I will not warm up. So it’s not an option. I totally intend to post things back en route to cut weight down. I also expect to adapt as I go along.
Is this kit light enough for me to go as fast as I’d like, I don’t know. Can I ride this kit fast…well yes, I’ve been riding with more than this since January on every ride for nearly 5,600km…so I expect so. Time will tell.