Tuesday, August 10, 2010
What's in the bag?
Me and the bike loaded up for adventure. There's alot going on here and it's all been carefully thought out. I'm not saying I've figured this all out but I have some ideas that I indulged this time around. First of all I wanted to get away from the "Beverly Hillbilly's" look I had with the extra bag and shoes tethered to the main bag. I used most of that stuff but I carried way too much of it. So I spent some time reading hiking blogs and talking to hikers I know to come up with a lighter more compact approach. I also wanted some re-use of items so some things serve a dual purpose. Finally I wanted to carry weight as low as possible on the bike to not upset the center of gravity too much.
What follows is my pack items and the various bags I'm carrying on the bike. I took the pictures as I was loading for the trip which also serves two purposes: Blog material and a reminder for me when I think I've forgotten to pack something. I tend to get OCD about these things.
Number Plate Bag
The bag is strapped to my "number plate" which is just above the headlight. This bag isn't waterproof but all the contents are. In general this bag holds my rain gear which is all light so I don't upset the handling of the bike too much by adding weight here. Here's the list: Frogg Togg rain pants, Aerostich 3-digit over gloves, balaclava, and my first aid kit.
I don't have a picture of the bag that sits on the front fender. The contents are a front tire tube, valve core remover, and tow rope. The front tube is by far the heaviest item mounted on the front end but because of it's bulk and the convenience of the bag it ends up there despite the impact on handling.
My tank bag sits on top of the gas tank and was also used on the DRZ last year. over the course of last years trip I really began to love the convenience of having it. This is mainly for items that I'd like to easily access during our rides. I've added some lights to the bag this year since it would be so easy to find there in complete darkness. Here's the list: Sunglasses, dust mask, Ipod controls, camera, tire gauge, a couple lights, pen, contact info for the hotels, and my current registration and insurance.
I'm a big fan of the Giant Loop bags! Ignore the olive drab collapsible Jerry Can obscuring the view of the bag it's clipped to. I'm using the Coyote on the new bike and I used the Original on the old bike. They hold a ton of stuff, place the weight where I want it, and this one can be installed and removed from the bike in a minute. That makes it great for hotel camping but since our additional loops on the Tour of the Tater are all out-and-back's it also gives me the option of stashing this stuff in a bush so I can ride sections with less weight. I like options. The Coyote bag comes with inner nylon side bags and top bag. I took pictures of the individual bag contents since you can't see much when it's all put together.
This side rests on the exhaust and thankfully this bike has an amazing heat shield that never feels too hot to the touch. Still, the bag will get warm so I packed my clothes on this side. Since we're riding most of the day I really only need some clothes for relaxing and going to dinner. And I learned last year that you really only need one outfit for this. I also picked up a few t-shirts along the way last year so I expect this side of the bag to grow during the trip. Here's the list: Camp pants with the zip off legs, t-shirt, sweater, down slippers, spare cycling shorts, and spare riding socks.
This is where I've placed the items I want along for crash repair, bike maintenance, and my trusty fuel siphon. Not shown is a small fuel bottle I'll carry in this bag also. Here's the list: 2 air filters, fuel siphon, spare fasteners, spare brake and clutch lever with perch, countershaft seal, fork seal, shifter, spare fuses, electric air pump, duct tape, and 550 cord.
This bag fits my sleeping bag really well typically and I think it was made for that purpose. But for this trip it will mostly hold my snacks. My thinking was to put light items here since it sits the highest on the bike. But frankly these snacks weigh more than I thought. As I eat through them it should get a little better. I've also got my running shoes in here. For some reason I don't feel comfortable going off the grid without some comfortable shoes to walk back to civilization. Not that I even want to imagine having to do it. I also staked out a spot for my jacket in this bag although I don't plan to carry it there on the trail. Still, I thought it was good that it had a home Here's the list: Running shoes, emergency bivy, instant coffee, foul weather jacket, trail mix, and energy bars.
Agri Supply Tool Tube
What you don't see is tools but rest assured I've got them. I put a Agri Supply Tool Tube on my bike with the help of my machinist. So far so good with the design. The placement allows me to add weight just opposite of the exhaust which in theory does the least amount of harm to the balance of the bike. The tube contains the stock tool kit that came with the bike and a selection of tools to complement that. It also contains tire irons for changing a tire tube along the trail. You can't overhaul an engine with these tools though so there are still some bike failures that can leave me stranded.
So that's what is in the bags. I said after last year that I should've carried half the stuff and I'm sure I'll say the same this year. I think you say that for quite awhile and encounter alot of challenges on the trail before you can confidently say you've got it just right. I'm clearly not there yet.