Monday, April 21, 2008


Short version: it was good. everything worked. I am pooped.
Long version.

Saturday morning saw me prepping the bike and myself, which seemed to take forever. I guess a lot of this is because i have zero experience with it. As such i need to go by what other people have done and add my own tuppence worth of thoughts and then go seat of the pants.

I decided that i wanted to take everything i would need to be comfortable, rather than go minimalist. I will try to remember a complete kit list, as when i have been researching all this i found others write ups invaluable.

I am super happy with the way the bike went. A couple of school boy errors (such as not tightening up the front cargo net adequately, leading to some early wear on the tubes of the front rack) were the only negative. The bike handles really well loaded: it gains speed with almost frightening acceleration downhill, but the brakes are easily adequate, the ride remains comfortable and secure. Nothing is too flexible, and there are no additional annoying noises or quirks of the seating position for loaded riding. All in all - fit for purpose.

The kit. Well, this is a realisation of a 5 year + collection of stuff, knowledge and experience. It all started in earnest when my parents gave me a supreme sleeping bag as a present. The marmot helium is sub 1kg, and is easily a 3 season bag. It is pertex, light and water sortofresistant, has down filling a 3/4 zip and a cinch down hood. It packs very small for its loft. This, i would say, is one of the primary pieces of kit if you are going to be sleeping out overnight. I have used this down to minus 6 centigrade with the addition of wool longs, in high winds, with zero issues. On saturday night i woke too warm despite a crystal clear night and near frost. Awesome.

The other piece of kit which i bought early was the north face mountain marathon tent. It is now a little out of date, and although it packs small at 48*12 cm, it is relatively heavy at 1.6kg, without footprint. However, it is roomy, comfortable, robust and has a vestibule.

Newer fabrics including SiNy have superseded it in some ways, but my recent interest in bivi sacks and other lightweight tents has been put to one side. After all, if you look at pics of the bike loaded, it is the only thing on the rear rack.

Other kit notes: 3/4 mid thickness thermarest, in a waterproof superlight stuff sack. With the sleeping bag on the front of the bike. The seat pack is a tire bag by jandd. It has my spares and tools.
m3 and m4 bolts for the rack
one spare spacer (i made these myself) for the struts of the racks
a chain link and a quick link (ultegra and sachs 8 spd respectively)
a wtb 29er tube - the most durable in my experience
a park mini tool wrap set including an (exchanged) folding chain tool, which is much more rigid for high pressure riveted chains
a mt1 mini tool
a 8,9,10mm spanner and a bottle opener
a double set of quick patches
a tyre boot
3 zip ties of different thickness
a set of brake pads
2 tyre levers
some tape

It also houses my full size crank brothers pump, which i feel works well despite it being crank brothers. Beautiful looking stuff...but...

All in all with the racks, the bike and all this kit comes to 17kg, or 37.4 lbs. Quite a lot, to be honest, but it was never an issue riding technical, steep trails, or climbs on a 34:20.

In addition i am not sure where i would save weight. Each thing i have is not the lightest, but in order to lighten up i would need to readdress the compromise between function, comfort and weight.

The Wingnut is a tough light pack and holds a 3 litre bladder. I decided to take 3 bottles and the 3 litre as i was intending on using a fairly well trodden loop. As such, there are a lot of newbies hiking the WHW for example and, lets just say, these folk dont always know where to pee or poo in order to keep water contamination to a minimum. Also it was an exercise in what *could* be done not a perfect minimal approach as mentioned.

So in the wingnut, msr stove, with cannister. I made this choice as they burn more consistently, with less mess and less cleaning required and cannisters are always going to be available where i will go. If i start going to the himalaya, well, ill buy a fuel burning stove. I also am lucky enough to have the msr ti kettle, mug and a snow peak ti spork. All light and functional. Together with an msr coffee filter, that was all i really needed. A nalgene full of ground coffee (jumpa jaya beans, dark roasted) and 3 porridge sachets, 2 clif bars, one clif blok, 3 jelly bellys and 2 super noodles. I used most of the food, and all of the water, and was never wanting. I also had a hip flask of dalwhinnie, and a leatherman, tea-tree soap in a tiny nalgene, 10 sheets of tp, my ipod shuffle, a camera, a moleskin notebook, and pen in the side pockets. I also decided to pack some wool longs (from icebreaker, including a full weight top) just in case. I used em. A pearl izumi vapor jacket (as no snow was forecast) rounded out the main compartment. Oh, a buff. 5kg total.

I wore swobo roscos over pearl shorts, a patagonia thick capalene top and pearl brushed polyester top. Thin fox gloves and my lid.

Thats it.

Anything i should have taken? A bowl. Thin wool gloves for sitting around, and perhaps oversock type things for camping. My thought are those shoe cover things..not sure.

I dont know how far i went, though the loop was essentially the mangrunt backwards - with conic hill proving a bugger, as ever. I slept well until artillery started sounding off at 1.30 am, and will be out again as soon as i can fit it in.


trio25 said...

Really enjoyed this report, this is definetly something I would like to try one day.

Cris B said...

Great effort that Jon, quite inspired to do something similar too*

*Perhaps not with an uber-bling bike though :)

I'm not really gay said...

same here, inspired, been thinking for a few years now about an overnighter into the dark peak, prefer a bivvy bag myself but can also see the alure of a tent for multiple nights

lets do it soon Chris, transpennine to Edale/Hope, cheeky bivvy and back the next day

weasel said...

10 sheets of tp, I must use too much

Simon said...

Great report - thank you for taking the time. I did a similar trip (but with a Bivvi) but only into the Pentlands - left from work, rode a nice big loop and bivvied out, and rode back into the office in the morning - top stuff!

I don't know if there's one anywhere near you, but Decathlon sell nice silk gloves for £3 a pair - perfect for wearing on their own for a bit of warmth, and good under summer gloves on intermediate days.

My only other comment is that I've moved to a 1 or 2 bottle and MSR filter approach - all-up weight is less than the 3 bottle approach, and I essentially have an unlimited water supply. I got mine army surplus because they're something like £200 new, but it's the top model and something more modest might be cheaper.

manchester trev said...

i have to say that was a great read, and im also inspired to agree to a suggestion from friends that was put to me a few weeks ago to do it, i think.....

and do you want me to bring my copy of 24solo to SSUK to peruse.....