Packing for the Big Bike Trip Trip

My route to the west: Madison, WI to Ashland, OR

I must have been born lucky. I love mountain biking, as Im sure you do. We think about it during the work week, we fit in a ride whenever we can, but sometimes the time is short and we just cant work that long ride into our schedules. But every so often (annually?) the stars align and the full-on-nothing-but-fun riding opportunity comes up. Ideally you have a bit of time to plan for it, letting the anticipation build with every day that brings you closer to the first pedal stroke on Strange Trails.

Last year I told you about my trip to ride the White Rim Trail in Moab. This year my big hurrah is MUCH bigger: leaving my job, riding my motorcycle (with mountain bike) west to Ashland, Oregon for UBI framebuilding class, and camping along the way. Let the packing begin!

As a type-A tightass, I love a list. My wife mocks me every time I prepare to travel for work because I pull out my tried and true packing list. Its been honed and perfected with almost two dozen international trips to Europe and Asia in the service of making lots and lots of bikes. But I dont mind her teasing; my joy is having everything packed the night before a departure. Theres a magic to the sleep one can have knowing every item has been considered, inspected, and tucked in the right spot. No last-minute frantic searches for passports, no getting to the hotel in Taiwan (that stores a bike for you) only to realize you forgot pedals. I love to travel, but I need to do it without the anxiety of wondering whether my checked bag contains the mini pump I meant to bring. So in preparing for my latest adventure I spent long and happy hours creating and refining my packing list. When considering motorcycle riding gear, mountain biking clothes, camp items, tools, maps, etc. it takes a lot of forethought.

First thing is camping gear:

Enclosed hammock for sleeping when trees are available.One man tent for areas without a place to string the hammock.

-Sleeping pad and sleeping bag. Temperature rating depends on time of year–the week Im going will bring me from Midwest plains to high desert to the moist Pacific Northwest in mid-September so Ill bring a bag and a liner for as wide a temperature range as possible.

-Camp clothes. After a long day of riding motorcycle and mountain bike the last thing I want to do is stew in my chamois. A good pair of trekking pants, a fresh t-shirt, and soft wool socks will serve me right during the nocturnal hours reliving the days adventure, refueling for the next day, and maybe sipping on something from the flask.

-Camp kitchen. A stove is necessary due to the unpredictable fire rules and wood supplies Ill encounter. Treading lightly in delicate environments is key so the less the impact on my surroundings, the better. Add to the list a pot for water boiling, high-class alloy (or titanium for the weight weenies) spork, camp plate, and nighttime beverage/morning coffee vessel.

-Ride clothes for the trail. I dont know about you, but a day in the saddle when the temperature is in the 80s and 90s makes bad things happen in my grundle region. With limited capacity on the motorcycle Ill bring two kits and do some daily washing to make sure I have a fresh chamois for each shredding.

-Headlight. A retina-scorching trail light for midnight hooliganism, and a lightweight LED headlamp for around camp. Either way it will help finding my toothbrush before lights out, or mixing that last Tequila Tent Pole.

Hydration pack. It’s for more than supplying the water I’ll drink riding the motorcycle and out on the trails. An Epic Ride is no place to get stranded due to a mechanical. Ill be riding unfamiliar trails so the Boy Scout motto applies here. This is the time for belt and suspenders: two tubes, mini-pump AND CO2 inflator, sunscreen, electrolyte tabs, power bars or goo, chain link, multi-tool, kitchen sink, camera, 1967 Dodge Dart water pump you can never be too prepared.

-Ill say it again: camera. Im here for memories, but at my age they dont always last like I want them to. I don’t have photographic skills but I hope to make up for it with technology. Even as a rank amateur Ill take as many snaps as possible to share with my friends who are busy doing stuff like work, child rearing, or internet poker. A tiny tripod, a tripod mount for my iPhone, and a clip-on set of lenses for this little pocket wonder turn my phone into a halfway decent capturer of Facebook images and blog fodder. In addition, my darling wife (who seems to one-up herself every year in the birthday-present-giving category) sent a GoPro HD my way this spring. Ill have hours of footage to edit by the time I get back from riding in 6 states (whoa shit, this is going to be fun!).

-Add to all that a well-stocked motorcycle tool kit and a one gallon gas can to get me through north Nevada and I think I’m all set. The night before the trip I’m going to sleep like a baby…

If you’re reading this article, Luke has made it to Oregon! You can catch up on the whole trip right here.