I press down and pull up hard on the pump as the pressure gauge reads 25 PSI.
I strap the nylon bags to the frame, fill the bottles till they overflow, glance over the map, and check my lights. Ready for takeoff.
My feet lift off the ground, pressing hard into the right pedal as the first rotation thrusts the rubber knobs through the dusty road, and accelerates me into the shadows of the Rockies. This is bikepacking: an off-road riding trend that has recently emerged in the West, distinguished by leg-burning mileage and vertical gain.
When I was a teenager, I was under the impression that all Cyclists were spandex-clad, sucked down space formulas, and couldn’t be bothered to repair their own equipment. But during college, I found myself in the unpaved prairie hills of Oklahoma where a rowdy, night-riding community of off-road pedal junkies began to change my perception.
They were completely the opposite of what I thought cyclists were supposed to be. These cyclists camped on public land while they rode the Great Divide from Canada to Mexico. They survived on cinnamon rolls and whatever sustenance they could find at local gas stations. They were self-supported dirt bags who ate leftover bacon wrapped in tin foil, and shotgunned beers as they crushed 100+ mile days. I was hooked, and when I graduated and moved back to Colorado, I continued to embrace the bike-packing community right in my backyard.
Breaking down in the backcountry can ruin a trip, and ultimately be very dangerous. Make sure that you are prepared to repair anything that has the potential to break. Here's what I put in my bike-packing repair kit:
- 1 multi-tool - hex, phillips, & torx tools are a must for my bike, and I find having a chain tool to be very handy. Crank Brothers M17 (shown) has everything I need with a sleek design
- 2 bike levers - heavy duty plastic so they do not snap; metal can damage tire or tube (shown in green)
- A couple of tire boots or a few dollar bills work to patch holes in a tire (Park Tool TB-2 shown)
- 1 small bottle of tubeless sealant or 2 spare tubes of your wheel size (Orange Seal Endurance Tubeless Sealant shown w/hose).
- 1 stem remover for adding tubeless sealant (not shown - Park Tool (VC-1))
- Hand pump or CO2 cartridges w/ adapter (2 cartridges, & green adapter shown)
- A sewing kit & fishing line (snagged mine from a hotel) Can be used to repair split shorts, deep wounds, or slashed tires.
- Bike lube for chain & any moving parts that might want to squeak (shown in silver pack)
If you go (bikepacking) as a group, have everyone bring a special surprise to pull out throughout the trip. If the going gets rough, there is nothing more effective to keep the stoke alive than sharing a special homemade treat, riveting bedtime story, or a nip of whiskey with your partner(s) in suffering.