Arizona trail, Arizona Trail Race, AZT, Bikepacking, Bikepacking preparation, Uncategorized

Setup – some quick notes

I snapped some quick photos of my setup. I’m sorry this is so quick!

I was hoping I could hike without taking a wheel (or both wheels) off (given the smallness of my frame), but I’ve been dissuaded. In any case, the 37-lb rig (that’s right – it’s not as light as I had hoped!) felt okay on my back. (This was without food or water, which will add weight.) I’ve never hiked this way or hiked the Grand Canyon (for that matter), so I’m sure I’m in for a tough stretch. Maybe by the time I hit the rim I’ll feel in good shape. Or maybe not. Or maybe I’ll run out of time altogether. Honestly, I’m just excited to be riding the Arizona Trail!

I went with double strapping my saddle bag rather than running a rack. See straps (3rd and 4th pictures).

I’m running two AAA-bat powered lights and two Garmin units in my cockpit. I also have a helmet light and a headlamp. Electronics and I do not get along, so I’m all about the backups. I have a giant bag full of lithium ion batteries. I like to run simple, battery-powered stuff, when possible.

I have goggles and a buff, in addition to A LOT of allergy medication (prescription nasal spray, prescription drops, prescription pills, shot, etc.). Seeing an allergy specialist was a great move, even if it did take half a day and lots of painful testing. (The doctor I saw is a backpacker and Grand Canyon enthusiast. She did a little research and reported that, given my particular allergies, I should be fine on the trail right now. Ironically, my worst allergy is olive trees, and my dad happens to live next to an olive grove. So, basically, I just need to leave home!)

My strategy with the Osprey pack is to stash things I use a lot in it (as well as strap my bike to it). I also have two 100 ounce bladders inside, plus filtration drops – the kind that takes five minutes to purify your water. Finding water sources is a big deal on the Arizona Trail. I’m using cue sheets and the Arizona Trail Association iPhone app for locating water. Fortunately, I do well in really hot conditions and do not need a ton of water. Still, I need to be conscientious about hydration, reminding myself to drink a lot more than I would normally want to.

In my handlebar bag I have just my emergency sleeping bag and sleeping pad. The bag + sleeping system weighs under 2 lbs. Fortunately, the weather is looking good, at least to start. But the bag is blizzard proof, and I’ve tested it in well below freezing temps. (Those tests convinced me I need the pad, because the ground can get really frickin’ cold.)

I keep all clothing in my seat bag, so as to keep the seat bag light. I have ample rain gear and three base layers, plus my big beloved (red) primaloft jacket. I’m using my new Milltown kit (love it!), in addition to white sun sleeves and Arizona state flag socks. 🙂 I feel like Arizona-themed socks are a must – arguably the most important item.

I put the heavy stuff (two small dry sacks with my maintenance kit and first aid/toiletries kit) in my frame pack, where I also stash my pump, lube and drivetrain brush (and extra food, if needed). I also have room for extra food in my handlebar bag and backpack. Dried mangoes and cashews are my backup food.

Food I want to eat immediately goes in the my feed bag (on my top tube, in the “cockpit”). My little sister Christina and I went food and battery shopping this evening; I think she prefers My Littlest Pet Shop to lithium ion batteries. 🙂 One big motivation to actually finish this thing is that my family is planning to meet me at the end and go see the Grand Canyon.

Alright, I’m pooped (if you can’t already tell from this post), and I have my NAU talk in Flagstaff tomorrow. Off to bed. Let me know if you have any last minute suggestions! There’s not much I can alter at this point, but I can always worry more than I am already worrying. To be honest, I’m more excited than worried. I’ve never been so excited to ride a trail. Desert riding has always been my absolute favorite! Signing off …

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Arizona trail, Arizona Trail Race, AZT, Bikepacking, Bikepacking preparation, Uncategorized

New gear

Arriving at my dad’s house in Arizona, I excitedly opened (or rather, my little half sister and brother excitedly opened!) some of the new items I am trying for the Arizona Trail Race. Thanks Milltown! Check it out:

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I am really excited to try the Osprey Sirrus 24. I see Osprey packs everywhere now, and I’ve been wanting to try one. This sturdy day hiking pack will not only carry extra food/water but also my BIKE, if and when I hike through the Grand Canyon. I guess that aforementioned Analects quote will be one of my anthems – “The ‘Cry of the Osprey‘ expresses joy without becoming licentious, and expresses sorrow without falling into excessive pathos.” 🙂

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My Bontrager/Trek multisport shoes. These are women’s specific. Because 1/4-1/3 of the trail will require hike-a-bike, I need shoes that can handle rough terrain! I’ll also need blister repair supplies, no doubt. 🙂

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The Maxis Ardent (with EXO protection) seems to be the tire of choice for the rocky, cacti-strewn Arizona Trail, which eats tires for breakfast. EXO technology is “An extremely cut-resistant and abrasion-resistant material added to the sidewalls of select mountain tires. This densely woven fabric is also lightweight and highly flexible, ensuring that the performance of the tire remains unaffected.”

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I am attaching two of these AA-battery powered Bontrager/Trek handlebar lights to my bars, as backup lights (in addition to a head lamp and iPhone light). Battery powered backups are a good idea, since my main light (a helmet mounted Exposure Diablo) has a limited burn time and requires recharging, via a wall socket or my AA-battery powered USB chargers. Plus, extra light in rough terrain is not a bad idea, especially since I plan to do a lot of night riding.

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This final item may prove to be essential. Large seat bags (the norm for bikepacking) do not work so well with small 29-er frames (i.e., there is rear tire rub, as soon as the terrain gets tough). So, instead I am attaching a large dry sack on the platform of this lightweight Thule touring rack. So, bike bags are as follows: a top-tube mounted feed bag, a small frame bag (Revelate) and a handlebar bag (Revelate).

Now that I am potentially ditching my tent and getting the bike weight down to the low 30’s, I will have plenty of extra space for food and water. I’m packing super light. Part of the reason is just the sheer difficulty of this trail (the lighter the better). But also, I finally feel like I have enough bikepacking experience to narrow my supplies down the bare essentials and to forego a lot of conveniences. This is me getting serious, I guess. 🙂 It could be a total disaster, but, hell, I want to make good time. What else can I say? I do hope I can stay in a hotel here and there, but it won’t be a frequent thing.

I will provide more updates as the date (April 15) nears. I still have to get the bike all ready, log some more intervals and do some decent route planning, in addition to a philosophy workshop (this weekend in Sedona) and colloquium talk in Flagstaff the night before the race. The talk is definitely on the wrong side of the course. 🙂 The chances of my getting a lot of sleep right before the race? Slim to none. Oh well.

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