On the Horizon - Bikepacking!

Both kids will be at camps next week so Owen and I have a whole week to ourselves. Instead of going on a relaxing vacation, however, we are going to load up our bikes and go on a bikepacking trip!

We don't have a tent, sleeping bags or equipment to make food along the way so we are going to stay at hotels along our route. This sort of bike touring is commonly called "credit card travel" - as in you use your credit card to pay for accommodation and food along the way. That said, we will be packing clothes and other things so will get a taste for what it's like to carry things on our bikes.

Our plan is to drop Ryan off at camp on Sunday in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. We'll leave our van at his camp and bike northwest to Siren where we'll pick up the Gandy Dancer bike trail that goes north along the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. We'll bike that to Superior then take another bike trail from Superior back down to Shell Lake. I figure we'll bike about 200 miles in four to five days (Sunday will be a short day as we won't leave until mid-afternoon. Thursday will be a shorter day as we need to be back in Shell Lake well before evening). I've never been on a multi-day ride so it will be interesting to see how my body holds up!

As for equipment...

Bikes: Owen will be riding his 2013 Salsa Mukluk 2 and I'll be riding my 2013 Salsa Vaya 2. Both bikes have two bottle cages so we'll have two bike bottles each. We'll also have a bike pump on each bike. I have a bike computer on my Vaya. Both bikes will have headlights mounted on the handlebars and we both have clip on tail lights.

Bike Bags in which to carry our stuff: 

  • We purchased Revelate seat bags from Milltown Cycles for both of our bikes to put our clothes in. Owen got a bigger bag than mine because he has more room for it on his Mukluk than I do on my extra small Vaya. The seat bags expand out to carry a ton of stuff! Owen's bag is the Viscacha and mine is the Pika.  
  • We'll both have handlebar bags (not sure of the brands on these - we've had them for ages) for our toiletries and first aid stuff.
  • Owen will carry spare tubes, patch kit and bike gear in a Banjo Brothers frame pack
  • I have a Bontrager "Pro Speed Box" bag that sits on my top tube near my handlebars. My iPhone and some snacks will go in this bag
  • Owen will probably have a Revelate "feed bag" on his Mukluk in which to carry his iPhone and snacks

We brought the bikes inside in the air conditioning so we could try on our new bike bags and check our equipment. Here's Owen's Mukluk (the fat tire bike in the back) and my Vaya

What will we bring?

We've learned to pack light from all of our trips in our little Pacer and, before that, our Christen Eagle (the Eagle had almost no baggage space - I had to fly with a duffle bag between my feet). That said, we'll be packing even lighter for the bike trip.

This is my tentative plan for clothing.

I'll wear:

  • bike shorts (Terry Bella shorts)
  • jersey
  • sports bra
  • Smart Wool socks
  • bike shoes
  • bike gloves - fingerless
  • sunglasses
  • bike helmet

I'll pack:

  • one pair pants that zip off into shorts (Kuhl brand)
  • two short sleeve shirts
  • one lightweight jacket
  • extra pair Smart Wool socks
  • underwear (4 or 5 pair)
  • bra (one that packs flat)
  • sandals
  • extra jersey
  • pajamas (lightweight knee length t-shirt thing - might leave behind depending on space)
We're considering:
  • I'm giving some thought to bringing a swim suit since we'll be surrounded by lakes and I'm sure it would feel good to swim at the end of a long day of biking. But I think the suit will not make it.
  • I'm also giving some thought to bringing a spare pair of bike shorts. That said another option is I'm thinking about bringing some really thin panty liners to stick on my chamois to keep my shorts a bit more hygienic. Not sure on that yet.
  • Owen is wondering if we should bring ponchos for rain. We have some that pack up really small
As for other stuff we'll pack - I don't plan to bring much for personal items. Since we're staying in hotels/motels I can (hopefully) plan on finding soap and shampoo in the room so don't need to pack things like that. I should be able to fit most of my stuff in a quart sized zip-lock baggie.

My Vaya equipped with bags
Here's a tentative list of personal items I'll carry in my handlebar bag:
  • travel toothbrush
  • small tube of toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • small thing of liquid Castile soap
  • spray on hair conditioner (so I can actually comb through my hair after I shower)
  • comb
  • contact lenses (I'm bringing daily disposables)
  • my glasses
  • vitamins/melatonin/ibuprofin
  • maybe some BB cream
  • lip gloss (Burts Bees)
  • Icy Hot
  • maybe a small container of lotion
  • pen & small notebook
  • elastic ankle support (for my left foot - for my plantar fasciitis)
  • racquet ball (also for my left foot - rolling the ball under my arch works out the muscles on the bottom of my foot)

Stuff Owen and I will share that will go in my handlebar bag:

  • sunscreen
  • small thing of aloe vera (for potential sunburn)
  • bug spray (likely some Off wipes I found - easier to pack)
  • hand/body wipes (great for quick clean ups along the trail)
  • Benadryl cream (for bug bites)
  • hand sanitizer (I have a small spray container)
  • a travel towel - most likely bringing. I think it could come in handy
As for other stuff
  • We'll carry some food (meat sticks, Clif bars, nuts) and will purchase these things along the way as they are pretty easy to find in convenience stores
  • I'll bring a container of Nuun electrolyte tablets (tri-berry flavor
  • I like to have Clif Shot bloks on hand (Mountain Berry flavor)
  • several pant leg straps that double as straps to fasten stuff onto our bikes, if need be
  • lightweight bike lock
Well, that's the tentative lineup of equipment, clothing and personal items. We'll pack up our bikes with everything and go on a ride to test everything before we head out on our trip. 

To those of you who bikepack, does it look like we are missing any essential items? Let me know! We still have time to make adjustments before we head out on our trip!


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