Prequel to First Solo Bikepacking Trip

In a little over three weeks I will be departing on what I guess I would call the grand finale to my 2015 racing season.  This will mark the 6th year of the Trans North Georgia Adventure race but obviously my first event of this format.  Here is the official description:
The TNGA (Trans North GeorgiA) is a 350 mile mountain bike route through the mountains of North Georgia on trails, forest roads and paved roads featuring challenging terrain, beautiful scenery and over 56,000 feet of climbing.
 I have done a lot of biking and some backpacking over the years but have never put the two together.  In preparing for the TNGA, about a month ago I went up to Mulberry Gap (which is on the route) to get a little primer on how to live on your bike for a few days.  It was an awesome experience which I'll try to find some time to write about.

What I am doing this upcoming weekend will put into practice some of the skills I learned at Mulberry first solo bikepacking trip.  It is going to be a combination of a big weekend of riding (~240 miles), being completely self supported and testing what I actually need to pack.  If you know me well you know that I research the shit out of things before I get into them.  I have talked to a lot of people who have done bikepacking tours and races.  I have read every blog, race report and pack list in existence.  I do not like to feel unprepared.

The route I am riding this weekend is unfortunately going to consist of a lot of flat pavement but a good amount of gravel roads and one of my favorite trail systems in Mississippi.

Friday - Jackson to Noxubee -
Saturday - Noxubee to Roosevelt -
Sunday - Roosevelt to Jackson -

If I have time today I am likely going to modify the long legs to get off of the main roads and onto some country two lane and gravel.  The primary goal of the weekend though is just to get some long days in the saddle and to get comfortable with my kit.

Ok.....onto the bike setup.

  • Niner SIR9 with RDO fork
  • SRAM XX1 drivetrain
  • Shimano XT brakes (These are new.  I suffered on Avid XOs for YEARS!)
  • Nox Teocalli hoops laced to an I9 in the back and a SP dynamo hub in the front
  • Maxxis Ikon 2.35 in the front and a 2.2 in the rear
  • Revelate bags
  • K-Lite lighting (I'll do a full write-up on this later)
In the Revelate Pika seat bag:
  • Gore rain jacket - on the Mulberry Gap trip I found this is also good to sleep in if cold
  • CX tube
  • First aid kit
  • Green bag contains: Mountain Laurel Designs bivy, Klymit sleeping pad and Klymit pillow
  • Thick wool socks for sleeping
  • Massage ball (because my IT bands suxor)
  • Extra pair of riding socks
  • Merino t-shirt (camp clothes)
  • Lined running shorts (camp clothes)
  • Tailwind reloads 

Note that I do not have a sleeping bag listed.  It is going to hotter than hell this weekend so I don't think I will need it.  I have slept in this bivy down to about 60F with no bag and stayed pretty warm wearing a buff on my head, wool socks and my Gore jacket.  I could always pile on arm/knee warmers and wear extra socks on my hands.  Sock puppets are fun.

The top little pocket you may or may not see on the seat bag has my Spot GPS tracker, helmet light and a baggie with cash/coins, Skin Sake packets, bug wipes, ID & credit card.

The Revelate Jerry Can (little red bag under my saddle) has all of my tools in it.  Sorry no pic.....I don't really feel like pulling all of this stuff out.  Use your imagination.

  • 2oz stans
  • Zip ties
  • Tire sew kit (I hope to never have to use this again)
  • Valve core tool
  • Spare valve core
  • Derailleur hanger
  • Multitool
  • 2x CO2
  • CO2 head
  • Patch kit
  • Tire levers
  • Small lube
  • Small pocket knife
  • 2x quick links
  • Small length of chain
The Revelate frame bag is split into three compartments.  The left side is a small pouch kind of pocket where I have a USB battery pack and some misc charging cables, ear buds, etc.  In the top portion of the bag I have a 2.5L MSR Hydromedary bladder with a Sawyer filter inline.  In the front of that section of bag I have room to stash some soft stuff like a little towel, arm warmers, knee warmers and other stuff I might shed during the day.

The bottom portion of the bag is where a bunch of other stuff gets stashed.
  • Extra baggie to keep trash tidy
  • Tailwind reloads for the day (so I don't have to dig into my seat bag)
  • Extra MTB tube
  • 32oz Sawyer bag in case I need to carry some extra water
  • Toiletry bag: toothpaste, toothbrush, flushable wipes, lanacane, sunscreen & noxzema
  • Pump
  • Ti spork with some duct tape wrapped around it
  • Medicine bag: vitamins, ibuprofen, allergy meds, starbucks vias, eye drops & endurolytes
  • Bag o' protein.....tuna fish in oil and sardines

Are you starting to get the idea that I am very type A?  Everything has it's place in it's own baggie not to touch the other thing.

The only other bag is the feedbag behind my stem.  It will have lots of salty stuff in it and some sweet.  Right now some of my on-bike favorites are:  mini payday bars, apple pie lara bars, justin's PB packets, beef jerkey, bags of nuts and homemade oat/almond bars.

The other side of my nutrition story is the sweet liquid type.  Over the past couple of weeks I have been experimenting with how strong of a concentration of Tailwind I could handle and that magic number is 600 calories in a 24oz bottle (that is a LOT of sugar).  For me this should get my by for about three hours.  I'll carry one in my middle jersey pocket to drink off of while riding and a second one in a bottle cage attached to the bottom of my downtube.  In practice last weekend this is enough nutrition to easily get me through a 6 hour ride.  The 2.5L bladder (which will just have plain water in it) is the equivalent of about 3.5 bottles so I will need to top that guy off about every 3 hours or so.  I put a Sawyer Mini inline so I can fill the bladder from ditch water if needed.

So that is it.  Me and a bike for a weekend of adventure.  I am very excited that Wendi and a few other friends will be coming up to the Nox on Saturday morning to ride the trails but I have kindly asked my beautiful wife to not bring me anything in the spirit of staying self supported.  I'll write a post-ride report on my flight to SFO Sunday afternoon.

Ride on!
Jason Shearer