Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BIkepacking 101

Throughout the summer I've spent a half dozen nights or so in the woods working the kinks out of my "bikepacking" setup. I think Sarge posted up a link to this site before, but here it is again for everything and anything you ever wanted to know about the emerging cycling subculture of bikepacking. Anyway, I've had this route in mind for a while. This weekend was my first attempt of it. Basically my plan was to ride the NCT up to Mackinaw City and then head south on the old rail trail past Indian River. From there I was planning on hooking back into the NCT via Thumb Lake Rd. and continuing north to complete the loop. The first half went very well. I made it to a suitable campsite along the river south of Indian River after 85 miles and about 8.5 hours in the saddle. I had stopped at the Keyhole for lunch at about 2:30, so I wasn't super hungry when I made my final resupply for the night. Therefore, I walked out of the gas station with a bag of cashews, a large bag of cheese it's, a big bottle of water, and a tallboy of Blue. What a dinner indeed. So during the night it began to rain very hard. Fortunately my hammock tent setup kept me dry and cozy once again. In the morning it was still raining hard so I waited around and had a breakfast of a Clif Bar with the leftover cheese it's. By 10:30 it was pretty clear that it was not going to clear up, so I packed up. From my GPS it appeared that home was about 35 miles due east, and that seemed plenty far to ride in the downpour. So that's what I did. The highway between Indian River and Alanson was interesting in a scary kind of way. The traffic was intense, but I did have on a bright ass yellow coat, a rear red blinker, and I even turned my headlight onto flash mode just to be on the safe side. So my shortened loop ended up being 118.6 miles. I'm thinking the whole deal will run over 150 miles for sure. A couple of lessons learned on this trip: One, I need to pay a little better attention to my nutrition. I was tending towards thinking I didn't need to worry about eating so much because I was riding at a more relaxed pace, but it turns out you still burn calories even if you're not operating at full on race pace. Just south of I. RIver I started to bonk pretty bad, but a kind bar and some cashews set me straight. Two, while I stayed nice and dry in my hammock some of my gear did not. I'll need to take a little better care of getting gear stored under protection of the rain fly. Other than that, the trip went pretty well. The legs felt pretty good both days, and the discomfort from carrying the extra weight on my back was minimal. One last note, you may think the flat rail trail from Mackinaw City south would be a piece of cake. I sure did. I'm here to tell you it's a bear. It's flat so there is no coasting.....for over 40 miles. To add insult to injury, there was a stiff wind out of the southeast making a 11 mph pace barely sustainable. So that's that. Hope to see everyone on Wednesday. Enjoy the crappy phone pictures and ride data below. Over and out.


Action Chuck said...

Nice trip Pete, looks like fun! That stretch of rail trail from The Brutus Camp Deli to Mackinaw is slightly uphill all the way. Great Ore to Shore training stretch!

SARGE said...

Nice post. There's always lessons to be learned during these trial runs. They'll be nice preps for the Coco 250 next fall. Nice work.