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Saturday, May 2, 2015

How to Carry It All

The Black Hills BackBone is 300+ miles of remote gravel and dirt roads, with no outside support and with very few opportunities for resupply of any kind.  Do you need a trailer to haul all that food, water and equipment?  Not even close.  How about racks and panniers?  Nope.  A backpack?  No, siree.  With today's soft packs, I'll carry everything on the bike.  Here's how.

Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross bike outfitted with Revelate Designs Tangle, Gas Tank and Terrapin Bags, along with a Banjo Brothers handlebar bag and a couple of water bottles, carry everything for a self-supported 300+ mile ride.
The key component is water.  Although I use a CamelBack for mountain bike rides, even long ones, I do not like weight on my back for road bike rides, even relatively short ones.  It's just not as comfortable for me on the road, where I'm less upright and less active moving around on the bike.  So, I need a lot of water capacity on the bike.  A Revelate Designs Tangle bag hangs from the top tube and holds a 100 ounce CamelBack bladder full of water.  Two Salsa Nickless Cage stainless steel cages hold large water bottles, one for HEED and one for Perpetuem.  That's 156 ounces of fluids, a solid 6-8 hours for me, which is all I'll carry.  That's about 1 1/4 gallons, or 10 pounds, for you weight weenies.

The CamelBack sip hose clips to cable housing by the handle bar, for easy drink-on-the-fly access that stays out of the way.  The Tangle bag has a second, slender pocket on the left side for the pump, mud shank and cell phone, plus room for a little more.

Easy on-the-fly access to water from the Tangle bag, food from the Gas Tank, and other drinks from the bottles.
A close observer will note that the Tangle bag weight could interfere with operation of the brake and cable shifters running along the top tube of my Black Mountain Cycles monster cross bike.  No worries, thanks to a Shaun Arritola fix.  For each cable, I cut to length a clear refrigerator ice maker hose, made a serpentine longitudinal cut, and snaked the cable into the hose.  By attaching one of the Velcro pieces under the hose and loosely looping the other over the top, most all of the weight of the Tangle bag is then borne by the top tube and the cables run freely within the clear hose.  Slick.

Perched on the top tube by the stem is a Revelate Designs Gas Tank bag, which holds all the Hammer Gel and Endurolyte FIZZ, as well as a medicinal candy bag of Alleve, Advil, Bufferin and Tums.  Everything stored in the Gas Tank is easy to access, even when cruising on grouchy gravel.

With the Tangle and Gas Tank bags, I normally would be set for an all day ride by simply adding a generic, expandable seat bag for spare tubes, the tool kit and a light rain jacket.  Not so for the BackBone.  I'll need much more capacity for the layers of clothing for the wide variance of temperatures, winds and wets that will occur over 300 miles of exposed prairie and forest roads.  So, I'm pulling out the big gun:  a Revelate Designs Terrapin bag with a compressible dry sack.  That will hold all the clothing I want available, as well as the spare tubes and tool kit.

The compressible dry sack easily pops out of the Terrapin bag holster, without messing with the attachments to the bike.
Also, for the BackBone, there's still a bunch of food and some other stuff to carry.  A Banjo Brothers handle bar bag will carry about half of the additional powdered servings of Perpetuem and HEED, as well as spare glasses, contacts, sunscreen, lip balm, ID, cash, and spare batteries for the lights, tail lights and camera.  I'll start with the other half of the Perpetuem and the HEED, as well as the reserve treat of M&M's and peanuts, deep in the Terrapin seat bag.

Clean cable routing makes for easy installation and operation of a functional handle bar bag.
With all that capacity on the bike, I don't have to carry much, if anything, in my jersey pockets.  But I like to keep a camera in the right pocket and a ZipLock bag with maps in the left, leaving the middle pocket for whatever clothing items I want close at hand at the time.

No, I do not know what this bike weighs loaded.  It will weigh what it needs to weigh for the ride.

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