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Saturday, September 23, 2023

2023 Black Hills Bounty - Gear List

Here's my gear list for the 2023 Black Hills Bounty, a 6 day bikepacking tour of the Northern Black Hills of South Dakota and the Bear Lodge Mountains of Wyoming, with a jaunt into the prairie for a night at Devil's Tower National Monument. As this will be an autumn ride, I included a few things for colder nights and mornings. Including the bike, this all weighs in at about 67 pounds, with 2+ days of food and 4 liters of water.

Like my bike and me, this kit's built for comfort. It's not built for speed.

Fully loaded Jones 29+ mountain bike atop M-Hill, ready to roll on the Black Hills Bounty.

Sleep Kit:  Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 Bikepack tent, Brooks Range Mountaineering Alpini 30 sleeping bag, SeaToSummit Reactor Extreme liner, ThermaRest ProLite pad, Outdoor Vitals UL Stretch pillow.

Clothes:  Voler bib shorts, Voler jersey, 2 pair SmartWool socks, Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit shoes, Voler arm warmers, Voler knee warmers, SmartWool top base layer, SmartWool bottom base layer, Voler wind jacket, Showers Pass Refuge rain jacket, Marmot down hoodie, SmartWool camp shirt, nylon camp shorts, 45NRTH Nokken gloves, SmartWool liner gloves, Bontrager cycling gloves, Voler skull cap, SmartWool 250 stocking cap, Oakley Aero5 helmet, Oakley M-frame prescription sunglasses, Oakley athletic prescription glasses.

First Aid/Hygiene/Personal:  Ace bandage, gauze pads, large & small bandaids, butterfly bandaids, alcohol wipes, zinc oxide, Neosporin, lip balm, aspirin, ibuprofen, Tums, toilet paper, hand towel, toothbrush/paste, soap, phone, wallet, Spot X tracker/messenger, battery, cords.

Tool Kit:  Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HV pump, Lezyne SV-16 multi-tool, spork wrench for brakes, Lezyne Tubeless CO2 Blaster tubeless repair kit, 2 ounces of sealant, 1 tube, 2 valve cores, 1 valve stem, patch kit, 2 tire irons, LeatherMan Skeletool CX, Jones derailleur hanger, 4 chain links, 2 quick links, chain lube, duct tape, zip ties.

Navigation:  Garmin 530 GPS device, USFS Black Hills National Forest paper maps, Stem Captain compass, CatEye cyclocomputer, Lezyne MicroDrive Pro 800XL head light, Mountain Miser thermometer, Gideon's pocket Bible.

Documentation:  Leather bound paper journal, No. 2 pencil.

Hydration (about 5 liters):  3 x 38 ounce Soma Further water bottles, 2 x 26 ounce water bottles, Sawyer Squeeze filter, iodine tablets.

Food (1-2 days): instant oatmeal/coffee (breakfast), peanut butter/honey/tortilla (lunch), nutrition bars/Hammer Gels/Snickers/trail mix (during the day), ramen/tuna/freeze dried entree (dinner).

Kitchen: Jet Boil MiniMo stove, fuel, matches, 2 SeaToSummit collapsible bowls, 2 sporks, GI Joe can opener, salt/pepper.

Although I make some modifications every trip, this gear list is much the same as that for the 2023 BackBone Grande, the 2022 & 2021 Black Hills Bounty, the 2021 Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, and the 2020 Cloud Peak 500. See, e.g., 2021 GDMBR Gear List.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

One More Day Of Summer

"You know, Steve, you get the feeling that Billy Chapel isn't pitching against left-handers, he isn't pitching against pinch hitters, he isn't pitching against the Yankees. He's pitching against time. He's pitching against the future, against age, and even when you think about his career, against ending. And tonight, I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time, to push the sun back up in the sky, and give us one more day of summer."

Vin Scully, as Vin Scully in the movie "For Love Of The Game" (1999).

This one feels different. This one is leaving a mark. This one is my 65th birthday.

I don't really celebrate birthdays, let alone mark the passing of conventional milestone years. The number of times I witness the earth orbit the sun always seems such an artificial construct from which to view a life. I always looked to what I was doing and planning to do and, more importantly, what I hoped to do. More recently, I work to focus more on who I am and who I can be, especially to others.

So, I don't know why this one is different. 

Maybe it's that time passes more quickly each year.

Maybe it's the harsh reality of mortality hitting home.

Maybe it's the first card I received in the mail, a couple of weeks before my actual birthday, from the U.S. Government Department of Health & Human Services. In big, bold letters, it proclaimed "MEDICARE HEALTH INSURANCE." So, I guess I've officially moved up to the Medicare Division for cycling events.

No matter.

I don't race anymore. But I do continue to ride. And I'm especially grateful to be heading back into the remote reaches of the Black Hills to ride another week long bikepacking trip with friends. 

Together, we'll suspend time for awhile, and share at least one more day of summer.

Vin Scully Announcing the Beginning of the 9th Inning.
For Love Of The Game (1999).

Sunday, September 10, 2023

2023 Black Hills Bounty - Still Aint Worried

I don't know what you've been told,
But time is running out, no need to take it slow.
I'm stepping to you toe to toe,
I should be scared, honey, maybe so.

But I aint worried 'bout it right now, (right now)
Keeping dreams alive, 1999 heroes.
I aint worried 'bout it right now, (right now)
Swimming in the floods, dancing on the clouds below.

I aint worried 'bout it.

I Aint Worried, Ryan Tedder, Brent Kutzle, Tyler Spry, John Eriksson, Peter Moren & Bjorn Yttling (2022).

Dropping down USFS Low Standard Road 223 toward Roughlock Falls.

The third annual Black Hills Bounty approaches. 

Back in 2020, bikepacking buddy Paul Brasby inspired the creation of the Bounty with repeated, wistful musings of a weeklong bikepacking ride exploring the Black Hills of South Dakota. As the idea took shape over many miles of riding together, he grew determined to share the experience. So, he gathered a small group of friends from Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado to ride throughout the Central Black Hills in 2021 and then returned for a tour of the Southern Black Hills in 2022. See, 2021 Black Hills Bounty Links and 2022 Black Hills Bounty Links.

One of many fabulous dispersed camping sites in the Bear Lodge Mountains.

For 2023, we're embarking on a 6 day rough road bikepacking tour of the Northern Black Hills of South Dakota and the Bear Lodge Mountains of Wyoming, with a jaunt into the prairie to camp at Devil's Tower National Monument. It's a typical Bounty mix of rough Forest Service roads, abandoned two-tracks, some single track, a stretch of Mickelson Trail, and even a bit of pavement, with camping both dispersed and in USFS campgrounds. A self-supported, self-navigated adventure/vacation, with a nod toward vacation.

Winding through a thicket on USFS Low Standard Road 172.1 in the Northern Black Hills.

Topping a ridge line along USFS Secondary Bear Lodge Road.

Experienced endurance cyclists all, these Bounty-riding friends once again ask very few questions in the weeks leading up to the ride. Maybe by now they know what to expect. Maybe I made the route too easy. Maybe they've thoroughly prepared bodies, bikes, and gear. Maybe.

Or maybe this group is like the Top Gun pilots playing Dog Fight Football instead of training before their improbable mission. Aint worried 'bout, it right now.

So now, that's the Official Theme Song for the Black Hills Bounty.

I Aint Worried, New Republic (2022).

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Time To Re-Tire

Cyclists always ask about tires. Here's a short story of a tire that worked great for my bikepacking.

For over 3 years, I tested the capabilities and components of my Jones 29+ mountain bike in all sorts of conditions, including loaded tours on single track and rough roads. I scrutinized every bit and piece, but maybe wheels and tires more than anything. My original wheel set ran behemoth 3.25 inch tires on 45 mm rims, which worked great on technical tracks, but rode sluggish on decent gravel and dirt. Ultimately, I bought a narrower, lighter wheel set to run narrower, lighter tires for bike packing all but the roughest stuff. See, Next Time on the Jones 29+ (March 2021).

In early July 2021, I finally selected and installed a new set of tires for my impending ride of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The 2.60 inch Bontrager XR2 Team Issue tire, for both front and rear.

What a great tire for that purpose.

On a fully loaded bike on rough roads, that front tire rolled every one of my 2,650 miles from Canada to Mexico without a single issue, without a single crash. The back tire took a puncture at about Mile 80 on Day 2 and the plug held for over 1,500 miles. I may have been able to baby it to the border, but decided to replace it in Salida, Colorado before launching into the rocky remotes of New Mexico. 

I then rode all of 2022 on that same 2.60 XR2 Team Issue front tire, including the 5 day 2022 Black Hills Bounty bike packing tour. I even rode it through the winter and the first half of 2023, fully loaded to prepare for bikepacking rides this summer. All with no leaks, no flats, and no issues.

That's a lot of long, hard miles carrying a loaded bike on rough roads and trails. In addition to being durable, the XR2 Team Issue rolled well, gripped great, and tracked flawlessly. I loved its performance over a long period of time in a wide variety of conditions, especially loaded. The tire, like the bike, never limited where I could ride. 

Finally, just before our 2023 ride of the BackBone Grande in June, I removed that front tire. In its place, I installed slighter narrower 2.35 inch XR2 Team Issue tires, both front and rear. 

I suspect I'll love those tires, too.

Well deserved retirement, although here it looks like it's got some life left.

July 2021 trail test of brand new 2.60 Bontrager XR2 Team Issue tires on M-Hill,
just days before my 2021 ride of the Great Divide.