Dirt Roads / MTB Touring, Personal setups » Liricooli’s Great Divide Setupby liricooli
So this summer I was lucky enough to be riding the Great Divide Southbound, starting in Bnaff and finishing in Antelope Wells.
(Somewhere In NM, the only “Great Divide” sign I’ve seen… at that time of the ride everything was packed neatly)
I had about two months of internet research to get ready, and about 3 weeks in the states to find a bike and buy some gear as I was trekking in South America beforehand. I was lucky to find a used Salsa El Mariachi Titanium on Craigslists.
The Packing Philosophy and System used:
As I had some bike packing experience, and realizing that most of the time I’m gonna spend riding my bike, I tried to go light and to haul the least objects I need. There are a couple of important factors in choosing equipment and packing that needs to take into consideration such as: weight, packing size, price etc.
I was trying to get rid of most things I knew I wouldn’t use on a daily basis or that would not risk me If I didn’t take them. That way I didn’t pack extra riding clothes, and a lot of food utensils.
Also, the less things you have means less time Packing\unpacking, which usually takes a lost of time.
that Philosophy proved worth as I could ride my bike in all climb sections which considered to be a “hike a bike” sections, and to really enjoy going downhill and not worrying about speed or maneuverability.
I used Revelate Designs’ Bags – the Bigger version of the seat-post bag, the Viscacha, the Sling handlebar bag with a Large “Pocket” on top , the El Mariachi Frame bag, and both of the top tube bags.
As I don’t like riding with a backpack, I didn’t take any with me.
I don’t like riding with a backpack because it makes you sweat more and usually causes shoulder pain.
What did I pack ? (Probably missed a few items)
Tarptent Contrail Tent
Homemade Penny can stove with ~12 oz of denatured alcohol
Evernew TI 0.9 Wide pot
A 20 F Sleeping bag
POE Peak Elite Sleeping Pad one spoon
a really small swiss army knife
a basic head lamp
a sleeping bag liner
A Swayer Squeeze water filter with a 2 Liter water bladder for filtering.
I used one set of riding clothes – one riding jersey and one set of cycling shorts, underneath cargo shorts. I got rid of the cargo shorts after a couple of days.
Montbell UL Down Jacket
Long sleeved shirt
2 sets of thin riding socks
Arm Coolers and Leg Warmers
a simple plastic rain jakect and rain pants
iPod, Cellphone(+extra battery), ACR ResQLinq PLB, digital camera, a kindle for reading and for the Great Divide guide book.
I had a AA-Charged Battery so I didn’t need any camera charger, and used the same charger for my cellphone and kindle.
Wallet, maps, sunscreen, first aid kit, toiletries… Luckily I didn’t need anything from my first aid kit.
- Bike setup and bike-related equipment
A Medium Salsa El Mariachi Titanium, set up with full XT (brakes, Derailerus ,shifters, crank, crank arms and pedals, etc) , a 11-36 cassette and two
22-32 Chain rings and a bash guard.
some bike spare parts
3 – one Liter water bottles
2 – one liter Platypus bladders
a 3 liter bladder with hose
ATV “Snakes” tubeless repair kit a spare tube and an extra portion of Stan’s Sealant
some bike repair tools.
How did I pack everything ? (What goes where ?)
- All the clothes and the pot + the stove were packed in the Viscacha, and I had some extra space for food if I needed. As I encountered some really heavy rains I stored my clothes in a sil dry bag inside the VIscacha, which was waterproof to some extent but not completely waterproof.
- The smaller side of the frame bag contained all the bike repair tools and spares, and the bigger compartment contained the denatured alcohol for the stove, the pump and food. It’s not always a good idea to keep food and denatured Alcohol together as denatured alcohol is VERY Toxic, so I always made sure all the food I had in this compartment is closed and sealed,. I used reliable small (8 oz) Nalgene plastic bottles and made sure that the alcohol is not leaking.
- I used a 18 Liter dry bag to store the tent, the sleeping bag, sleeping pad , sleeping bag liner and food for dinner or food I didn’t plan on eating that day.
- I stored Energy bars,snacks, and some more food in both of the top tube bags. I also stored there various things I needed occasionally like a can opener, a swiss army knife etc.
- I used the Pocket to store my wallet and documents, the kindle, iPod, cell phone and sometimes also the chargers if I planned on recharging during the
day or just when I hit my spot for the night.
- I used the pockets in my riding jersey to store my water bottles and the bear spray.
Overall the complete setup weighed 54 pounds including 2 liters of water and 2.5 days worth of food.
I really liked both the setup and the way I packed it. I could camp in relatively fast, I had all the the things I needed during the day accessible.
Tricks and Tips
- Hydration : As there are some long and remote sections with no water supply like the Great Basin , Cuba,NM to Grants, Silver City, NM to the border, Pie Town NM and the ranger station in Gila National forest and some other – you need to have a good water carrying capacity.
In these sections, and some other I carried about 9-10 Liters of water. In order to be able to carry so much water, but be worry free in times when you don’t need so much water, It’s great to use water bladders. They’re collapsible so they don’t take up much space, and when you do need them you can pack them in different places on your bike.When things got rough with water, I packed the 2 Platypus bladders on top of my Viscacha seat post bag, and packed my 3 liter water Bladder on the handlebar packing system, between the Sling\dry bag and the Pockets straps. I can’t say it was awesome, and eventually two days before the end my water bladder was destroyed after being rubbed at the tire, so I packed water like this :
(Couldn’t rotate the photo. anyhow, notice the huge 1-Gallon plastic container on my handlbar. Yes. I was riding like this for about a day and a half. Yes, the handling is even more awful than having full 3 liter bladder on the handle bar. I was lucky that it was mostly flat and paved, otherwise I could have been in some trouble)
- Food: I had oatmeals for every breakfast and sometimes also banana muffins. During the day I had tortillas, lots of cliff bars, power bars and cliff’s block shots. I tried not to eat food which would take my body a lot of energy to digest. For dinners I always had ramen noodles, mixed with either rice, more noodles, mashed potatoes and sometimes also tuna.Here’s a day’s worth of power bars:
- ATV Tubeless Repair Kit : (also called “snakes”) Most riders i’ve encountered during the ride were not familiar with a great Idea for fixing big punctures in a tubeless system. You can get ATV Tubeless repair kit (looks like this) in Auto Depot, etc. It works great once you get to know how to use it. I had a HUGE Puncture somewhere after Rawlins, and kept going with a ridicilous amount of snakes inside the tire for 2 days and a couple of hundred miles. it looked like this :
(I had to insert about 3 Wide snakes and 3 small sized snakes into the tire, pour extra ounces of Stan’s Sealant, but after about half an hour of frustration in the middle of nowhere, the puncture was almost sealed and the tire was holding up the air pressure I was pumping in, so I could keep on going)
(Taken at the Big Basin by some random jeep owner. Notice the blue water bladder hiding on the handlebar bag, the the bear spray on the Viscacha strap and the 2 emtpy Platypus bladders on top of the Viscacha)