Back in November I posted part one of Touring The Stagecoach 400. Today I am finally getting around to part two and will focus on my gear and lessons learned.
If you missed my first post on the Stagecoach, you should take a look here. Also, you might want to consider signing up for this year’s race. The Hub in Idyllwild, California has posted up the details and dates for the 2013 Stagecoach 400 endurance race here.
While the thought of racing the Stagecoach sounds exciting, I was more intrigued by the thought of touring it. I would be doing it on the lighter side of touring with a pretty lightweight, bikepacking setup. The foundation of this was a Fargo Ti frameset.
While the route was certainly mountain bike worthy and there were times I longed for suspension or at least a suspension fork, I personally enjoy riding my Fargo for it’s all-around and go-just-about-anywhere capability. I like the overall ride quality and the extra hand positions of the Woodchipper bar on really long days of pedaling.
I have been bike touring for almost 20 years and my gear was starting to reflect its age. For this trip, I invested in two new pieces of gear that really made a difference, both in my overall comfort and piece of mind, but also in easier packability. Those two pieces were my Big Agnes Three Wire Bivy and my Jacks R Bettr quilt. While the Big Agnes bivy does use two small poles that add weight, they are small enough to fit inside my large framebag. In addition, the bivy is made mostly of high quality, lightweight E-vent fabric. The Jacks R Bettr quilt has 900 fill power down, served back up as a down-filled poncho if I got cold and packed down to the size of a softball. Those pieces of gear are really quite awesome.
Here’s a rough outline of my kit and how I carried it.
Front handlebar setup included:
Ultralight Event compression sack
Xped sleeping ultralight sleeping pad, folded flat and held between stuff sack and handlebar harness
Revelate Designs handlebar harness
Tyvek ground cloth
Jacks R Better quilt/bag/poncho
Big Agnes Three Wire Bivy – minus the poles and ground stakes
-Carousel Designs seat bag – I went smaller than my larger Revelate Designs on this trip to carry less stuff
-Mid-weight wool top and boxer shorts for sleeping
-Lightweight beanie in case I got cold at night
-Synthetic camp pants that pack to almost nothing
-Miscellaneous extra food for evenings
-Ti cup with alcohol stove packed inside
-Salsa Fargo framebag by Revelate Design
-Up to four liters worth of water in roll-up plastic bladders
-Denatured alcohol for stove
-Homemade alcohol stove (from shaving cream bottle)
-Two tubes, repair kit, string, needle, lighter, matches, emergency supplies, pump, extra set of cue sheets
-Big Agnes Three Wire Bivy poles and a couple of tent stakes
-Osprey Talon 22
-Mountain Smith camera insert
-Olympus OMD camera with Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 lens
-Three extra camera batteries
-Princeton Tech EOS headlamp with extra batteries
-Any other miscellaneous food I wanted
-Wallet, emergency cell phone, etc.
-Extra two liters of water when we crossed the Anza Borrego desert
Overall, I could not have been happier with my gear. I only made one very critical mistake, that being my choice to go with standard tubes in my tires. Where we live here in the Midwest, we don’t have thorns and other things that sort of force you to go tubeless. I have been very lazy in adapting to tubeless, thinking it was too much work and not worth the mess. Frankly, I was wrong. I will never, ever go back to the desert without tubeless. Here’s why. The photo below is what it took to spend an afternoon cleaning out tires and replacing tubes. The two guys on our trip that went tubeless had zero flats.