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Gear considerations for epic rides

  • First you need to have a level of physical fitness and skill suitable for the ride.
  • You need to know where you are going and let someone else know as well. A Find Me SPOT or Garmin InReach are an excellent idea as well as a GPS (Garmin GPS) with good batteries.  A link to help is critical in an emergency.
  • Bring enough food and water for the longest reasonable ride scenario. Also bring water bottle(s) with an energy drink mix It may be advantageous to bring a water filter or Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets as well depending on the ride length.  I keep some MP1 tabs in my bike bag at all times, they are light and small. Check out Hammer Nutrition's recommended drink and food intake quantities. http://www.hammernutrition.com/downloads/fuelinghandbook.pdf
  • A light source.
  • Fire starter.
  • Emergency medical kit.  Little things can turn into big ones if not addressed on a multi day ride and this stuff is light weight.  Blisters, cuts, stomach/digestive issues, cramping, chaffing, aches and pains.  Small amounts of Ibuprofen, pepto bismol, neosporin, salt tablets, bandages, Blister 2nd skin, PT tape, etc.  
  • Sunscreen, lip balm and bug repellent if applicable.
  • Check the weather and prepare for the worst but be reasonable. 
  • If you will be riding with others try not to duplicate some of the rarely used emergency gear to save weight.  Be mindful that you may get separated and you should still carry gear that is more likely required on a ride.
  • Inspect everything you choose to carry and verify you really need it for the ride you have planned.  The weight of little things ads up.  It may not seem like a big deal at first but if you start suffering on a long ride you will start wishing you hadn't brought that toothbrush...  There are so many stories about riders unable to finish because they brought way to many convenience items instead of minimalist survival gear and proper energy fuel.  On a bike ride every time you stand up your lifting whatever is on your back.  This takes extra energy and results in more walking, a sore backside and creates some balance issues!  Being weight conscious is not just for racers, it can be the difference between a great experience and a miserable one without finishing.  
  • If I carry a backpack I like to put the lightest weight items in it and also consumables so it will get lighter as the ride goes on.
  • Be sure to do some training rides with the same amount of weight so you don't have "a rude awakening" on your epic ride.  Even if it is on your short local trails.  This is also a reality check for what you really need to be carrying.

Preparing your bike for an epic ride

  • Your bike and equipment must be checked over thoroughly. Check all bolts, spokes, inspect tires for damage, inspect the bike for damage/cracks, shifting properly, and make sure tires have sealant in them. Never take a bike out on an epic ride that has recently had work performed on it without a thorough test ride!
  • Make sure your gear is evenly distributed between you and your bike. I prefer to have it all on the bike and there are plenty of bike packs available. Important! Always test out your setup on a shorter ride before the epic!  It's not fun to deal with a pack that constantly falls off. 
  • Make sure everything is fastened adequately. Strap water bottles with Velcro straps and on particularly rough trails reinforce the connection with tape or velcro on any other items that could potentially break off.
  • Make sure there are not rubbing points with gear, straps, cables or anything else.  Particularly where there are moving parts like suspension and steering. Something that appears minor can saw through a lightweight frame.  Use protective tape available at bike shops.
  • I like to use some electrical tape on my pump to seal openings better from the elements. Tip: Folding the end of the tape over creates a quick way to remove it for use.
  • Make sure that any devices mounted to bars like a GPS have a backup connection. Tether a strap or tape.  I like to use adhesive velcro on a Garmin so it can't be easily pivoted if knocked and fall off but also removed for charging. 

Bike tools and spare parts for an epic rides

  • Tube(s).  Make sure it is protected.  Wrapping it in Glad Press n seal works well but make sure the stem end is protected and won't rub a hole in the tube.  Check the tube for leaks by filling it up before epic rides and periodically. If your seat pack design allows you to snug the contents tight to prevent movement that will save tubes from damage as well.
  • Tool with tire spoons and chain tool (Know how to use these tools).  Check your bike bolt sizes.  You may not need the massive multi-tool.  Bikes can have all similar fastener sizes so a lightweight minimalist tool will work.  However, there may be one weird fastener that requires an odd ball tool that is not even available on the mega tools so you may need to figure out a tool to carry or aggressively loc-tite it prior to the ride.  
  • Small pliers.  Not having a way to deal with a tire stem spinning, cable, thorn, etc. can leave you helpless on the trial.
  • Tire patch
  • Tube patch kit
  • Carrying a small amount of tire sealant is also a good idea if there is significant risk of developing slow leaks.  If you have to put in an extra tube it's nice to have sealant to add in case you miss a thorn in the tire when you put in the new tube.
  • Duct tape (This has saved me a few times!)
  • Chain quick link (Make sure it is the correct match for your chain)
  • Zip ties
  • Extra Velcro straps on rides with a lot of gear
  • Cash
  • Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets
  • Air pump and Compressed air (A real pump is essential)
  • Extra spokes (You may have four different sizes of spokes on one bike. Check to make sure they are correct by comparing them to the ones already on the wheels)
  • A small assortment of screws:
    • Shoe Cleat bolt
    • Chain ring bolt (Single speeders)
    • Misc bolts (Check your bike for common bolts & lengths
    • Any other special bolts on your bike susceptible to loss and essential for the bike to function
    • Also note where on your bike you could rob a less critical bolt from in an emergency to finish a ride.
  • Toilet paper
  • Always pack an extra derailleur hanger (They are small, cheap and lightweight and make sure you have the tool to change it).  In a pinch you can shorten the chain on a geared bike to give yourself a singlespeed but that is not ideal and can be frustrating if the gear choices are not lined up and the chain jumps around or is not an optimal ratio.
  • Extra derailleur cable (And know how to replace it). Inspect the cable before the epic ride. They typically fail at the point where they are clamped on the rear derailleur and this can be hard to spot.

IMPORTANT MOUNTAIN BIKING IS DANGEROUS

Maps and descriptions are intended to be used in conjunction with a TOPO and not in place of it. There is no substitute for good route-finding skills, good judgment, a good TOPO map, a compass, a GPS and the ability to use them correctly. These trails can be confusing, trails and routes can change, and an accident can happen at anytime. A complete topo map is necessary to find a quick exit. The temperature falls dramatically at night and there can be dangerous animals around these trails. Bad weather can happen at anytime, and a rider should always be prepared for the worst. The estimated riding times, skill levels, and endurance levels can vary depending on the weather and trail condition. The descriptions are based on the trail conditions at the time of printing this map, but they can vary from year to year depending on the amount of weather, maintenance, slides, downed trees, and ATV use. The distances are based on GPS miles and may vary from bike computers. Every effort has gone into making this map accurate but there may be mistakes. Check the website for map and trail updates. Upon buying this map and reading this disclaimer you release and discharge me, my heirs and representatives from mistakes, getting lost or wrecking. Always wear a helmet, bring water and food, carry a patch kit, a pump, an extra tube, and tools. 

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