Sunday, 30 July 2017

2017 BC Epic 1000: Day 4

Crawford Creek to Fernie
Daily distance: 272 km (169 mi)
Riding Time: 25 hours 33 minutes
Total distance: 1067 km (663 mi)
Standing: 2nd place

I was up at 3am hoping to get the jump on Lennard.  I knew Gray Creek pass was steep and I would be walking a lot of it so I want to start early.  As I was walking, I noticed a pain on my rear end.  I thought I would try sleeping in my bibs to save time in the morning; big mistake!  I will spare the gory details, but needless to say, my backside was quite sore for the rest of the ride.  Once I got to the face of the hill, I started walking.  It took forever and I was happy to get to the top. 

Top of Gray Creek Pass

The descent was fast and fun.  The trail followed some gravel roads, and then pavement until just before Kimberly.  I felt good until that point, but once I got into the steep single track, I started to feel really bad.  It started to get hot and I felt really run down.  My airway was closing up and I was having trouble breathing.  I was having trouble finding the track at times and had to backtrack to make sure I was on course.  This was definitely a low point.  I knew I would have to stop in Kimberly to get my airway back.  I stopped at store in Kimberly for about 45 min to force some food down and try to cough out some gunk in my lungs.  I did not feel very good at all.  After choking down some liquids and a sandwich I was off again.  I felt really sleepy so took another cat nap on the side of the trail.  I know with this type of racing that if you feel really low, eventually you will feel good.  I was waiting eagerly to feel good again and I started to feel better after Cranbrook.  The trail continued on rail grade and went into some fun wide single track after Wardner.  I got into a good place keeping my pace comfortable enough where my airway felt good.  I rode as it got dark and crossed the big bridge near Baynes Lake.  I climbed the paved hill and got to the RV campground as night really started to fall.  I found one of the hoses for the RVs had potable water so I filled up for the final push to the end.

The trail started to get a bit sketchy at this point.  I was having trouble finding out where I was and where the route went.  I kept fumbling around in the dark, up and down the gravel roads and narrow grassy paths.  The trail spat me out onto the highway leading up to Elko.  I remembered this stretch from touring it with Kristin a few years back.  That time it was 35 degrees and hot; this time it was late at night and muggy.  After Elko, and crossing the river, the trail deteriorated into a steep, rocky, hike-a-bike.  I had another airway-blocking coughing fit and had to stop to get my breathing sorted out.  The trail gradually got smoother and smoother the closer I got to Fernie.  At one point, I started to nod off and took a quick nap.   After that nap, I was determined to get to the finish.  I felt bad, and couldn’t eat or breathe well, but pushed on.  It was cold, but I didn’t even stop to put on warmer clothes.  I didn’t want to stop and just wanted to get to the finish line.  The sun rose and I pedalled as more and more civilisation appeared.  Farm houses and power lines meant I was getting closer and closer.  The gravel turned into pavement as I wheezed my way to the finish.  I was greeted by my loving family and Chip Andrus.  It was great to be done!  Kristin had a coffee for me to drink and after I was done that, I could speak a bit better.  Lennard pulled up shortly after and we talked about the race.  It was so much fun trying to catch him!  I went back to the hotel for a shower and quick nap and had breakfast with Lennard, Chip and their families.  It was great and I hope to do the race again sometime!

All done!

Glad to talk to Lennard after chasing him for four days

My recovery took a little while.  I went to the doctor after the race and found out I had bronchitis.  He gave me a bunch of antibiotics and I slept most of the time for a few days after the race.  It took a few days to recover and I was well enough to participate in the Alberta Rockies 700 race 11 days later.

Result:  3 days 22 hours; 2nd place overall; 1st place single speed (Eastbound single speed record)

2017 BC Epic 1000: Day 3

Christina Lake to Crawford Creek
Daily distance: 263 km (164 mi)
Riding Time: 19 h
Total distance: 795 km (494 mi)
Standing: 2nd place

My alarm started beeping and I thought, “Great, I got up at 3am as planned”.  I commenced getting ready, had a nice cleansing coughing fit and packed up.  Once I started riding, I realised that I slept through my 3am alarm and got up at my 4am alarm.  Oh well, I probably needed the sleep.  Today was the day with the ferry.  About 225km of riding and the last ferry leaves at 9:40pm… no problem.  The trail was more pleasant rail grade up and over a pass.  The tunnels here were awesome!  Some were really long and dark with water dripping from the ceiling.  I loved it! 

Long, dark, drippy tunnel

On the descent, the trail started to parallel a really big lake.  The views were great!  I was keeping a good pace and was breathing well.  I found the mornings were the best times for breathing well.  Later in the afternoon is when my airway would start to close up. 

View of the lake near Castlegar

I was planning on stopping in Castlegar for some cough medicine.  The trail met up with the highway and I followed it down across a big bridge.  I stopped to see where a store might be and discovered I missed Castlegar.  It was back up the huge hill and off route.  No problem, Trail is only about 40-50km away. Hopefully the trail is as easy going as it was in the morning.  I continued on.  I checked Trackleaders and saw Lennard was about 20-30km ahead.   The best thing for me to do is keep on riding and minimise stopping time.  Hopefully he would stop to take a nap or something.  Haha.  Little I knew the trail to Trail (had to say it) was not easy going. 

The single track was fun, but tough.  Steeper climbs than the rail grade so I was required to push my bike at times.  The trail paralleled the river and went up and down the riverbank.  It even went through the river at times and I had to wade through shin-deep water.  I enjoyed it, but it was slow.  I started doing the math.  It’s 1pm and I have to make the ferry in about 8.5 hours.  I am no longer averaging 20km/hr and I have no idea what the trail is like on the way.  I had better keep going and hope for the best.  On I went, pushing and riding where I could.  The trail would go over loose rock and through thick river bushes.  Again, lots of fun, but the ferry started nagging in my mind.  I resolved to stop fast in Trail and ride without stopping until I got to the ferry.  I had no idea if I had to be early to get on either.  We recently took the ferry from North Vancouver to Nanaimo and had to be there early to get on.  All I could do is ride.  Whatever happens - happens. 

I got into Trail at about 2pm.  I had 7.5 hours to go about 120km.  If the riding is easy, I should be able to cover that in about 6 hours.  If it’s not easy, I would take much longer.  I had better hurry!!  I stopped at Safeway and wandered the aisles looking for supplies.  Gas stations are much easier to resupply in.  More cold drinks, less ground to cover looking for snacks, and more ready-to-eat sandwiches.  The good thing is they had a pharmacy so I was able to get some cough syrup.  I took some, but it didn’t seem to help that much. 

Off I go to catch a ferry!  The road to Salmo was all paved so I made good time.  Hooray!  Since I had no idea what was ahead, I was hoping I could keep a good pace.  On the way to Salmo, the sleep monster hit me and I stopped for a quick nap.  I vowed to never ride drowsy due to safety and the fun factor.  On the Tour Divide, I would try to push through the drowsiness and it was miserable; not to mention unsafe.  I stopped for a quick 10 minute nap and snapped out of the drowsy zone.  The little magenta line on my GPS turned north at Salmo and I was back on gravel rail trail.  Uh oh, slower going.  It was about 5pm now.  4.5 hours until the ferry and about 70-80km to go.  I pushed on up the gravel rail grade.  As I reached the summit, I was riding along a creek and heard some crashing in the bushes.  I looked to my right and saw the square head of a grizzly on the other side of the creek.  I whispered, “Hey bear” (no voice) and kept riding.   I blew my whistle a few times, but I wasn’t too worried since he was on the other side of the creek.  After the summit, I started the descent into Nelson.  It was about 7:30pm and I had about 40km to go.  This was going to be close.  I blasted through town and was happy to see it was pavement all the way to the ferry.  I tucked into the aero bars and went as fast as my single speed could take me.  My throat was getting drier and drier no matter how much water I drank.  I kept rolling and staring at my clock.  The darkness fell and I rolled up to the ferry terminal at 9:32pm.  Eight whole minutes to spare.  I still didn’t know if I was going to get on so I attempted to ask a guy in uniform coming from the boat.  I opened my mouth to ask him what to do and nothing came out.  I had never lost my voice that bad.  I whispered my questions to him and found out the ferry was free and all I had to do was ride my bike on at 9:40.  I made it!!  I even had time to get some drinks and food at the store at the station.  

On the ferry

The ferry ride was about 35min long and I had a chance to use the bathroom and charge my battery pack.  On the other side, I started riding and looking for a place to sleep.  I found a spot in the trees by a creek and go to sleep about 12am. 

2017 BC Epic 1000: Day 2

Outside of Penticton to Christina Lake
Daily distance: 276 km (171 mi)
Riding Time: ~19h
Total distance: 531.5 km (330 mi)
Standing: 2nd place

I woke up to a strange groaning sound in the woods.  To me it sounded like a bear, but I wasn’t sure if that was my imagination.  I heard it a few times, sometimes close and sometimes far, as I was getting up so I thought it would be a good time to pack up and go.  I was rolling at about 5am.   I rode up the hill wondering if I would come upon Lennard in his bivy; no such luck.  I found out after the race he rode until about 2 or 3am and was way ahead of me.  I stopped in Chute Lake campground for some water and talked to one of the campers about the race.  Chute Lake was at the top of the climb and from that point on the grade was pretty gentle all the way to Myra Canyon.  The trestle bridges here are amazing.  The sun was rising, the weather was good, and my cough wasn’t too bad so I felt really good. 

Myra Canyon Trestles

The trail descended gradually toward Beaverdell and the temperature started to rise.  I started hearing a strange rattling whenever I went over bumps so I stopped to take a look.  To my horror, my front wheel was loose on the forks!  The only thing keeping it on was the ridge on the fork around the quick release knobs.  I was very grateful that it didn’t fly off going at high speed.  I was also glad that the repair was quick and easy.  I tightened my wheel and rode off down the hill.  Beaverdell was a welcome sight.  I was hot and thirsty.  My voice was all but gone, but I could breathe well and I felt good.  I stopped and had a drink and too much ice cream.  I’m not sure why, but after that little break, my throat started to close up.  I had about 70% of my airway at this point, but was still able to continue with little trouble.  I just made sure I was drinking and eating regularly.  As long as I drank, I could swallow the food.  Candy and sweets were going down the best.

I think it was Rock Creek where there was a little store.  I bought some Gatorade and found out from the attendant that Lennard had stopped for about half an hour.  It was good news that I was gaining a little bit.  I croaked out a goodbye and got back on the road in the 35 degree weather.  The next stretch to Midway was hot and out in the open through farmers’ fields.  There were a lot of gates that you would have to open and close on the way through.  This is where the heat started to get to me a bit.  I was feeling run down, I couldn’t breathe well and it was really hot.  At one stream, I soaked my shirt to cool off.  I stopped in Midway at the nice air-conditioned gas station for a break.  My airway loosened up a bit and I could breathe better after some liquids and ice cream.   I remembered not to have too much ice cream.  After the nice recovery, I was on the bike in the heat again.  It was starting to get a bit later in the day and cooling off.  My airway was still not fully open, but not too bad so I was enjoying the gradual climb up the rail grade.  I came upon the locked gate Lennard talked about at the start.  I remembered it was at the llama farm. I didn’t want to climb over so I managed to slide my bike under the gate.  On I rode until I came to Grand Forks about nightfall.  I stopped at a small gas station to resupply.  I tried to cough out some of the stuff in my lungs and had a scary experience.  I hacked some stuff out, but in the process, more got lodged in my airway and blocked it.  I had to stop the bike and really concentrate on my breathing because there was only about 10-20% of my airway open.  I started the process of relaxing my breathing and catching my breath, then coughing to clear my airway.  After a few tries, I managed to clear it out to about 60%.  Good enough to ride!  I vowed to keep the coughing to a minimum at that point.  I started climbing as darkness fell.  I stopped on the side of the trail at about 11:30pm to set up camp.  Once I got some sleep, I would probably feel a bit better.  Dion rolled up and startled me a bit.  I wasn’t expecting to see another bikepacker.  Lennard and I were pulling away from the field a bit at that point and I wasn’t considering a westbound rider.  We talked a bit and he carried on down the trail.  I ate my supper and after a nice relieving coughing fit, I went to sleep.  Sleeping was a bit interrupted as my breathing wasn’t easy and I would wake up coughing, but I did get a few hours of good sleep.  

2017 BC Epic 1000: Day 1

What a great experience racing the BC Epic 1000!  Thanks to Lennard Pretorius for putting together such an amazing route through central BC. This race brought some new challenges I had never faced before.  The Monday before the race start on Saturday, June 24th, 2017, I started to feel a sick feeling in the back of my throat.  Not a nervous feeling, but an actual cold or something.  I tried to ignore it and take some extra vitamins, but I was getting sicker and sicker as the week went on.  Being my stubborn self, this had no influence whether I was going to start the race.  I was going to ride no matter what.

I planned as usual and got my gear ready for the race. I rode my single speed Kona Unit and picked a bit harder gear ratio of 34:18 due to the trail being mostly on rail grades. This worked out really well.  I was able to keep a decent cadence on most of the climbs and still have a decent spinning speed on the flatter sections.  I made sure I had my Mike Hall bracelet strapped on my seat bag as a tribute to his legacy.


BC Epic 1000: Day 1

Merritt to outside of Penticton
Daily distance: 256 km (159 mi)
Riding Time: 16h
Standing: 2nd place

Grand Depart

The whole family drove down to Merritt for the start.  We got to Rotary Park about an hour before the start and I began putting my bags on my bike.  With the group photo, small chat with the reporter from the local paper, I was scrambling a bit to be ready on time.  I had just enough time to chug back my coffee from McDonalds and packed my BLT bagel for later.  In my haste, I forgot my cheap little lock on the bumper of the Pilot.  We rolled out of town and before I knew it we were racing.  The start was on pavement and I was able to keep a decent pace near the front of the pack.  The sore throat I had didn’t seem to be much of a factor at this point. 

Neutral start out of Merritt

I started getting into the habit of following the rider in front of me and then I saw him turn around.  We both went off route a little bit.  Not too far, but our turn around resulted in us being in the last group of riders.  Then the gravel started.  I rode with Dace for a while on the gravel and I was glad I did.  There was one section where we had to push our bikes up the side of a ditch to continue on course.  He was familiar with this so he was helping me with where to go. We settled into a nice pace and that’s when the ride really felt like the race started.  Nice, steady gravel for miles. The day started getting hotter and I started thinking about when I needed to stop.  Coalmont came into view, but the General Store looked like it was closed.  I was about to ride on, but noticed I was out of water.  I circled back and found a post office where I could fill up.  Dace rolled up and I said we could get water here.  While he was in the process of purchasing a pop, I packed up and kept rolling.  My throat felt dry and I was losing my voice a bit, but I didn’t feel too bad.  Maybe being sick wouldn’t be too much of a factor…I hope.

Before I knew it I was in Princeton.  I just filled up with water so I was debating stopping.  Then I saw a few bikes at the Subway.  This was my chance to pass a few riders so I kept rolling through town.  There was a steady climb out of town so I started grinding up the hill.  Lennard rolled up, we chatted a bit, and then he started pulling away.  The temperature started to get hotter and I started to run out of water.  My desire to not stop resulted in the bad decision of passing by some surface water sources without filling up. I thought  the Osprey Lake campground would have some water…nope.   Before I knew it I was out of water and getting thirsty.  I ran into Lennard and Ken and they just got some trail magic in the form of water so Lennard shared one bottle with me.  I was incredibly thankful, but could not remember if I actually said thanks.  That bugged me for a few days so I made sure I thanked him at the end of the race. 

I kept grinding away slowly up the hill looking for a water source.  Most of the time when I heard water, it was at the bottom of a steep slope. Then I found a nice rushing stream at the side of the trail.  I finished my BLT bagel from the morning, washed up a bit and filled up with water.  Now I had to wait 30min for the water purification tablets to work.  Thirsty!! That water was great after the wait!

Decommissioned rail trail

The descent into Penticton was nice and smooth.  I tried to keep eating and drinking lots as the town came into view.  As I passed through Summerland, I even got a few cheers from a car.  Nice morale boost!  I came into Penticton and started riding through town.  The route passed through some sort of festival so there were people and cars everywhere.  It was a huge party zone.  The road was pretty busy so I thought there should be a gas station up ahead.  I climbed a steep hill and it looked like I was on my way out of town.  I asked a guy on the street if there was a gas station up ahead – nope.  Lennard pulled up and let me know that the best resupply was right at the start of town.  Route knowledge certainly helps!  I resigned myself to backtracking to the store and letting Lennard ride on.  I croaked a goodbye (started losing my voice) and headed back into town.  After resupply, spotting an Elvis getting some snacks, and riding through town again, I started climbing the hill out of Penticton at sunset.  This was a start of a strange climb.  It seemed secluded, then a car would drive by, and then another.  Then I was riding through a crowd of happy drunks carrying coolers.  Then there were other very happy (drunk or something else) cyclists riding toward me down the hill.   I ran into Ken and we rode together for a short while until he decided to camp close to a picnic table and outhouse.  I kept riding for a while and stopped about 11:30pm and set up camp behind a rock outcropping just off the trail.  Just as I got comfy in my bivy, another group of very happy cyclists came coasting down the hill.  I laid quietly as they loudly organised themselves and chose their playlist for the ride down the hill.  Where were these cyclists coming from?  My cough was getting worse so I dozed off between coughing fits into a nice sleep. 

Sunset in Penticton

Monday, 6 February 2017

Maligne Canyon Icewalk


The power of the Maligne River in summer is undeniable with the rushing water crashing fall after fall. Maligne Canyon in the winter is an entirely different experience. Sections of the river solidify to create a navigable, tranquil slot canyon adorned with frozen waterfalls. We took a day trip to Jasper, Alberta to go on the Maligne Canyon Icewalk through Maligne Adventures.
We booked our tour online a few days before. On the big day, we arrived at their office inside Pure Outdoors Outfitters where we signed waivers and they provided us with warm, waterproof boots and ice cleats. We hopped on the shuttle and met a friendly traveller named Camille from Montreal. On the shuttle drive to the canyon, there was no shortage of wildlife viewing. We drove past a pack of coyotes and saw a huge number of elk grazing outside the townsite entrance. With the bears in hibernation, it was strange for me and Dean to turn off our bear awareness, which has been deeply ingrained from bikepacking and backpacking. 

We arrived at the 5th Bridge entrance, stepped off the bus and took in the lack of view. The mountains were hidden behind clouds and snow. We put our ice cleats on and entered the canyon.

It was -17°C (1.4°F) or -24°C (-11.2°F) with the windchill but inside the canyon we were sheltered from the wind. We hiked Maligne Canyon with our kids in August so it was bizarre to be hiking on the exposed rocks that were submerged in the river just a few months before. The island I could only view from a distance in the summer was no longer an island but blended seamlessly into the riverbank.    
Not an island
Our tour guide, Brody, informed us that the water maintained a temperature of about 5°C (41°F) where the river flowed out of the ground. We reconnected with the marked trails, soon to approach a section where the river disappeared under the rocks. Where the waterfall was once noisy, it merely hissed beneath an intriguing shell of ice and then disappeared beneath the rocky riverbed.


Framed by the pristine snow and the icy shell beginning to form around the edges, the silly string waterfall seemed more beautiful in the winter. The less it looked like a spider web, the better, I think.

The chain-link had been rolled down on a section of the safety rail. It was our entry point into the main event. We stepped off the riverbank onto the frozen river. Even with the ice cleats on, it was very slippery. Note to self: Next time, bring hiking poles! Brody advised us to walk on the wet ice when possible because it was grippier. I never thought I would be eager to walk on wet ice in my life.

Brody and wet ice

We were on a gradual incline. It would be seconds of fun sliding down sections on the way back. Before crossing a narrow, slippery bridge made of skinny logs, we stepped in about 4 inches of water. The warm rubber boots worked great. The chill of the water didn’t infiltrate at all.

The canyon began to narrow as we approached the 4th bridge. I couldn’t believe we were standing where it would have been impossible last August.

We arrived at the first of the towering falls, in awe of its span and the beautiful blues.

Something about the mountains brings out the Gollum in Dean.

Precious waterfalls at Johnston Canyon
All-weather Gollum at Maligne Canyon
Gollum Vision

 We got to explore behind another waterfall.

His view
Her view
Moving on

I noticed similarities to Upper Antelope Canyon [located in Page, Arizona, 2352 km (1463 miles) away]. We toured it on the way home from the Tour Divide in July. I was fascinated with how similar forms could be found in such different places. 

One was carved out by the Maligne River in the Alberta Rockies and the other by flash floods in the Arizona desert.

We stood on a layer of ice and snow at one and sand in the other. 

A chockstone was wedged between the canyon walls at Maligne and a log swept away by floods lodged in the other.

The technology faced some challenges with the freezing temperatures. Dean stopped to change the batteries when his camera died but the batteries were fine. Water dripped onto the lens and froze in the camera. He switched to his phone camera and was able to take one picture before the cold took it down too. My phone later tapped out at Athabasca Falls even though the battery life was at 60%. We made sure to store them in inside pockets to warm them up.

Changing Batteries

K-mart pose

We had reached as far as we could go. I took so many pictures of the last frozen waterfall with this nagging feeling that I might miss something. Even as the tour group started to walk away, I was hesitant to leave until I got the picture just right. It wasn’t until Dean stepped into the frame that I had found the shot I was looking for. It encapsulated everything I was hoping for on this adventure: exploring with my other half and discovering new, beautiful places outside.

From the point-and-shoot

Ice Ice Baby


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Tour Divide 2016 Gear List

I have put together a gear list of sorts.  Below is a snapshot of my spreadsheet listing each item and its starting location on the bike.  The location of some items moved as the trip progressed.  Below the spreadsheet are some notes relating to each item.  Hopefully this helps others in choosing their gear. 

On bike
Bike w/ Sigma BC1009 STS wireless computer, Profile Design Aerostryke aerobars, Lezyne Gauge Drive HP air pump
Etrex 30 GPS
Fenix LD41 Front light
Bontranger Flare 3 Rear Light
Bear Spray
ACA Maps
Rear Bag
 Pika Seat Bag
Rocky Stretch Gore Tex Rain Socks
Outdoor Research Versaliner Shell Gloves
Cheap Nitrile Rubber gloves
Helly Hansen Loke Rain Pants
Helly Hansen Loke Rain Coat
North Face Thermoball Coat
Running Room Beanie Toque
Chaos Merino Wool Tubular (Buff)
Specialized Therminal 2.0 Leg Warmers
Camp shorts
Diadora Windbreaker
Compression Sleeping Socks
Long Sleeve Base Layer
Gen 3 Spot Tracker
MEC Nano 3L Dry Bag
Front Bag
Revelate Med. Sweetroll Handlebar Bag
Outdoor Research  Helium Bivy
Thermarest Neoair Xlite Sleeping Pad
Marmot Plasma +15F Sleeping Bag
  Nikon Coolpix Camera
Front Pocket
Revelate Pocket Bag
Rash Cream
Butt Stick
Toiletries First aid Bag
Hand warmers (5)
Glasses and contact lens case
Gas Tank Bag
Revelate Gas Tank
Cell phone
Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-tool
Titanium Spork
Feed bag
Revelate Feed Bag
Feed bag
Revelate Feed Bag
Lip balm
Eye drops
whistle/ compass
Frame bag
Revelate Salsa Frame Bag (guess)
MSR Dromedary 2L Water Bladder
MSR HyperFlow Microfilter
Rag, Lube, Cleaning Kit
2 Spare tubes
2-2032 batteries
Tool Kit
Abus Bag
Abus Bag
GoPole DualCharge 5000mAh Solar Portable Charger 
Sea to Summit Tiny Backpack

Kona Unit:
I love my simple steel single speed.  It’s a bit on the heavy side being steel, but with the Ritchey WCS carbon fork, it’s still pretty light.  The adjustment system for the chain tension is bomb proof.  Bike choice is very subjective.  In my opinion, reliable and comfortable is the most important.  Choose something that works for you and will not cause concern on the trail.

Sigma BC1009 STS Wireless Computer:
This is a simple bike computer that was reliable and simple.  It never steered me wrong.  I usually had it on the clock.  I didn’t like to see how far I had gone during the day until I was done.  I liked the clock to time when I should be shoving more food in my mouth.  I would tell myself, “Next snack at 12:30”, etc.

Profile Design Aerostryke Aerobars:
These aerobars worked well for me and were quite comfortable.  They were one curved piece instead of two single bars.  I mounted my big light on the centre at the middle.  One thing that I wished I thought of when buying them is where the bars are mounted.  These mounted under my handle bars which gave less space for the Revelate Sweet Roll and Pocket bags.  It took a bit of adjusting to keep them from rubbing on the front wheel.  It might have been better to get aerobars that mount above the handle bars to give more clearance.

Lezyne Gauge Drive HP Air Pump:
This pump is nice since it’s all sealed off from the gunk that can build up riding when wet.  The hose with the valve screws into the housing.  It also has an air gauge.  I only used it once to add some pressure to the front tire on the Gold Dust Trail outside Breckenridge.  The pump screws on to the valve which is nice and solid. 

Etrex 30 GPS:
Great GPS!  It takes a bit of experience to learn, but after you do, it’s a great machine.  It uses AA’s so no recharging. It hasn’t failed me yet and I have used it during training too.  I got the heart rate monitor and could load the gpx tracks on to Training Peaks for analysis.  I used BaseCamp to break the track of the route into 3 pieces that were less than 10,000 points so I could keep the detail as high as possible.

Fenix LD41 Front light:
This was my big light on the aerobars.  It takes 4-AAs and is super bright at full strength.  I never used it at the brightest setting so the batteries lasted a long time.  Over the 19 days, I replaced the batteries once.  The light is very bombproof and reliable.

Bontranger Flare 3 Rear Light:
I use this light for commuting to work.  It’s pretty bright so I feel safe riding in the dark.  I used 2-AAA rechargeable batteries that I used for the whole trip without changing.  It was mounted to my seat stay.

Bear Spray:
Bear spray is a good insurance policy for peace of mind. I have camped, hiked, and cycled in the Rocky Mountains for years and never needed it but the one time I don’t bring it, I probably would.  It feels good to have it.  Even in the areas with no bears, it’s nice to have just in case any threat comes along.

ACA Maps:
I had all the maps in a stack attached with a bungee on my stem.  I had an elastic to attach keep them all together and put them in a big Ziploc freezer bag.  I used an elastic hair tie to secure the Ziploc and then a bungee on my stem.  I liked having the maps for something to look at while riding.  I also had route information that I added to the map.  By the end of the trip the Ziploc had clouded over with the friction of the dust and rain so it was harder to see through.

I had a small cloth on my handle bars just to wipe my nose and face.  I lost the first one the first day, and then bought another one in Elkford.  It’s nice to have handy so you don’t have to wipe your nose with your glove.

Revelate Pika Seat Bag:
I’ve got short legs so had to go with the smaller bag.  There was less clearance required between the seat and tire with this bag.  Great bag!  Very durable and reliable.  I will be using it for many years to come.

Rocky Stretch Gore Tex Rain Socks:
I bought a pair of these socks about 18 years ago when I was hiking the West Coast Trail and I still use them.  They still are mostly waterproof after all these years!    Very durable.  I bought a new pair for the Tour Divide.  They worked great for the first while, but after my feet swelled a bit, they got to be too tight.  These socks are not super stretchy.  I stopped wearing them after the first few days.  Also, since I never wore my rain pants, the rain would run into the socks from the top.  That’s not really a comment about these socks, but the concept of wearing socks in general.  Rain socks will not usually keep your feet totally dry, but they will be less wet if you wear them.

Outdoor Research Versaliner Shell Gloves:
I wore these on top of my wool gloves for a windbreak layer.  I could wear my fingerless cycling gloves, wool gloves, then these and I would be pretty warm as long as it wasn’t pouring too hard. They claim to be waterproof, but like I have heard about many products like this, they are not.  They were light and with these three layers, I still had enough dexterity to eat while riding.  I kept my wool gloves and shells in my jersey pockets and would take them off and put them on as the need arose while still riding.  If it was raining, my raincoat would keep them dry and I didn’t have to stop riding to dig them out of a bag.

Cheap Nitrile Rubber gloves:
I pulled these out when the rain really started to fall.  I got these at the Dollar Store for $2.  They are similar to dishwashing gloves.  I would keep them in one of the mesh pockets of a feed bag.  Again, no stopping to put them on.

Helly Hansen Loke Rain Pants:
Really light pants, but I never wore them.  I won’t bring rain pants again if racing.  My leg warmers kept me warm when wet.

Helly Hansen Loke Rain Coat:
I loved this coat!  I wore it often.  It would be a layer of warmth on cold mornings.  It has zip vents in the arm pits that I left open pretty much all the time.  I used the hood to keep the mud off my neck if it was really sloppy.  It was really light and as far I could tell it was waterproof.  When you are sweating a lot, it’s hard to tell.  One thing with this kind of riding, you are always damp due to rain or sweat. 

North Face Thermoball Coat:
I saved this coat for the campsite.  I never rode it riding to keep it dry.  After stopping for the day, I would put it on to stay warm after I stopped riding and then it would be my pillow at night.  I wear it all the time in the Alberta winters and it’s an awesome coat.  It’s synthetic so it will keep you warm when wet.

Running Room Beanie Toque:
I got this toque doing the Resolution Run in Edmonton.  It’s a 5km run on January 1st that my wife and I generally do every year.  It was light, thin and warm.  I would wear it under my helmet and while sleeping at night if it was cold.

Chaos Merino Wool Tubular (Buff):
This is a very warm buff.  It’s thin and light.  I wore it on cold mornings and while I slept.

Specialized Therminal 2.0 Leg Warmers:
These were awesome!  They always kept me warm no matter wet or dry.  I would wear them in the rain and mud and they would dry fast when conditions got better. 

Camp shorts:
These were some polyester shorts I use backpacking that are pretty light. I never used them.  They stayed in the same bag as my rain pants in depths of my seat bag.  The only time I spent in camp was pulling down my bike shorts and climbing into my sleeping bag. 

Diadora Windbreaker:
I got this thin cycling wind shell on sale in Canmore just before a backpacking trip.  It was one of my almost everyday layers.  The only time I wasn’t wearing it was if it was really hot. Simple, cheap, light, and very effective.

Compression Sleeping Socks:
My ankle was a bit sore before the race so I went to my physiotherapist.  He is an accomplished cyclist and recommended getting some medical compression socks for recovery between rides.  I decided to spend the big bucks ($125CAD) and get fitted for a pair of knee high merino wool compression socks.  They worked great.  I would sleep in them every night and I believe they helped with recovery.  They were very warm which I appreciated on the cold nights, but were a bit too warm in the southern part of the route.

Long Sleeve Base Layer:
This is a merino wool polyester blend base layer.  It was nice and warm.  The only thing I would change is to have a full zip.  This was my only pull over layer and it was a bit of a hassle when going to the bathroom.  With bib shorts, to go #2, all the top layers had to come off and with the pull over, I had to take off my helmet.  Not too big of a deal, but it’s a small thing I would do differently next time.

Gen 3 Spot Tracker:
Not much to say about this since it’s so common.  Reliable tracker.  I use it for all of my rides out in the back country.  It’s peace of mind and allows my wife to check where I am.  I bought it at a discount and the subscription runs about $300CAD per year.  The plan you choose can be tailored and that varies the cost.

MEC Nano 3L Dry Bag:
This bag is a bit more robust than the typical ultralight dry bags.  I chose this because I wanted it to last for a longer time.  I used this one to store the clothes I was consistently putting on and taking off like the base layer, leg warmers, and wind shell. 

Self-explanatory.  I brought a roll of toilet paper and was very glad I did!  I ran to the woods several times on the trip.  One jumbo roll lasted the entire time.

Revelate Med. Sweetroll Handlebar Bag:
Good bag.  Mounts fairly easy and was easy to access with the roll closure sides. 

Outdoor Research Helium Bivy:
I debated bringing a tent vs. bivy for quite a while.  I bought a lightweight tent and used it on a training ride and found it was a bit of an effort to set up.  I like the comfort of the tent, but like the ease of set up and take down of the bivy.  I decided to go with the bivy.  I wanted to race so time spent on set up and take down was important to me.  Condensation is always an issue so I always tried to sleep with just the bug mesh and not the entire bivy sealed up.  That meant constantly looking for sheltered places to set up so if it did rain, my head would be covered and I would not have to zip the bivy up fully.  In the year I raced, I didn’t have a lot of rain so the bivy worked very well.  I kept my pad inside the bivy and would roll them up together.  Set up was simply rolling it out and blowing up the mattress.   I really appreciated this when tired and out of it.  The bivy also allowed for stealth camping.  There were many times I would sleep out of sight on the side of the road tucked under a bush or inside a small stand of trees.  I would not have been able to do that with a tent. I liked the bug mesh to keep the crawling bugs out and with just the mesh zipped, I didn’t have any real issues with condensation.  This bivy comes with a single pole that worked okay.  It didn’t have the stability to stay perfectly vertical, but it did provide a bit of space between the bivy and the top of my sleeping bag.  You could view the pole as optional.

Thermarest Neoair Xlite Sleeping Pad:
I really like this pad.  Warm and light.  I have used it for a few years now backpacking and it has been reliable and very comfortable.  I sleep on my side sometimes and my shoulder does not touch the ground.  I see some of the new pads like this have a bigger blow up valve and that would help.  This one takes several breaths to fill up so that might be my only small negative.

Marmot Plasma +15F Sleeping Bag
This sleeping bag was really nice on the cold nights.  It is pretty light for the warmth factor it provides.  It was warmer than I needed, but I wasn’t sure what to expect on the route.  I thought I had be better safe than sorry in terms of warmth.  There was one pretty cold night that I was glad I had this bag, but other than that, it was almost too warm.  I never had to wear my Thermoball coat sleeping so I probably carried too much insulation.  Many nights in the southern states, I was sleeping shirt off with the bag wide open.  +30F probably would have been fine.  I just ordered a +40F Enlightened Equipment Quilt to try on future rides.

Nikon Coolpix Camera:
I bought this camera in Banff the night before the race.   The one I had been using for years died on the shakedown ride I did the day before the start.  This camera runs on AAs which was my only real criteria.  I’m not a professional photographer by any stretch so this camera worked well at recording highlights of my journey.  Point and shoot – simple.

Revelate Pocket Bag:
I tried to figure out a way not to take this bag, but I had too much stuff.  It was nice to carry the odds and ends here.  I only had a few things to carry in this bag so it was only about half full. It worked well as a place to put the extra things bought on the way like pain killers.  I discovered the day before the race that it actually clips into the sweet roll.  The sweet roll comes with a harness and if you take it off, you can clip the pocket in its place.  This may be obvious to some, but I didn’t notice until the night before the race. 
I kept all my odds and ends in the Pocket:  A small tube of diaper rash cream.  I applied some every night.  Sunscreen/ lotion mixture.  The butt stick was something I found just before the race.  I can’t remember the brand and I threw it away at the end of the race.  It ran out right at the end.  It was a little thing that looked like a deodorant stick and smelled like menthol.  I would apply it once or twice a day and I had no chafing.  Lots of saddle sores, but no chafing.  For toiletries, I had some ibuprofen, Tylenol, polysporin, cold medicine, gauze, tape, band aides, sewing kit, etc…  I had some hand warmers I would put in my shoes on cold mornings.  Five pairs were more than enough.  Sunglasses, glasses, and contact lens accessories were kept here too.

Revelate Gas Tank:
Handy little bag that was easy to access.  It would tend to rotate on the top tube to the left or right since I couldn’t get the strap on the stem too tight.  The strap would squeak so it would drive me a bit crazy.  I ended up taking it off to stop the squeaking. 
I kept my cell phone, cash, ID, and credit cards in a Loksac here.  My titanium spork was stored here and I never used it.  The Leatherman Juice XE6 multi-tool worked well.  Pretty light with a lot of features.  I used it for the knife a few times and used the pliers to fix my pedal.

Revelate Feed Bags (2):
These were great!  They were strapped up at my aerobars in front of the sweet roll.  I found if they were kept at the stem where most people mounted them, my knees would hit them.  On the single speed, I was standing a lot so I moved them out of the way. 
I kept sweet food on one side and savory on the other.  I would alternate sweet and savory to prevent sugar overload.  They were easy to access, open, and close while riding.  In the mesh pockets I stored garbage wrappers, and my bear whistle, lip balm and eye drops.  My wife convinced me to bring eye drops since I wore my contact lenses non-stop the whole race, but I never used the eye drops.  The bear whistle is a compass-magnifying glass-thermometer-whistle combination made by Coleman.  I think I got it at Walmart for about $5. 

Revelate Salsa Frame Bag (guessed the weight):
This bag was made to custom fit one of the Salsa bikes and it happens to fit my frame triangle well.  It’s a good, solid bag with sturdy zippers.
I tried to keep the heaviest things in the frame bag to keep the weight low on the bike.  I had my extra batteries, tubes, and tool kit. 

MSR Dromedary 2L Water Bladder:
This bladder is nice and durable.  I bought a couple of quick connects for the hose.  On was for the bite valve hose so I did not have to thread the bite valve through my handlebars every time I had to fill the bladder up.  I would just disconnect the hose and remove the bladder for filling.  The other quick connect went on my filter hose.  When filling the bladder from the filter, I just had to connect the hoses together and pump the filter.  It was nice not having to keep the hose in the bladder opening.

MSR HyperFlow Microfilter:
I use this filter backpacking quite a bit.  It filters the water pretty fast when it’s clean.  It slows down when it gets dirty.  You are supposed to backflush it regularly, but it’s a finicky process.  I might not get the same one when it comes time to buy another one.

Rag, Lube, Cleaning Kit:
This was a baggie with a rag, small bottle of lube and a toothbrush that I fashioned a hook out of the handle.  The toothbrush came in pretty handy and I used the hook to scrape off gunk every once in a while.

Tool Kit:
My tool kit had some loose Allen wrenches, brake pads, chain breaker, spoke tool, patch kit, Tenacious Tape, and various other items.  I didn’t really have to use very much of this thank goodness.

Abus Bag:
This is a small frame bag I had that I stuffed under my seat.  It’s not designed to go there, but pretty much fit.  It did very lightly rub the inside of my thighs so my shorts got a couple of holes by the end of the ride.

I found a tiny Bible after a few months of searching.  I discovered that if you want a tiny Bible, you can’t be picky on the translation.  This one is an English Standard Version that measures 4.5”x3”x0.5”.

GoPole DualCharge 5000mAh Solar Portable Charger:
I found this charger at Best Buy at the last minute.  It’s advertised as being a charge source for a Go Pro.  It worked well for me.  I only had my smartphone to charge and I never ran out of battery power.  I would take advantage of the plugs whenever I stopped for a significant period of time.  When it was sunny, I would strap the charger on the top of my seat bag.

Sea to Summit Tiny Backpack:
This little backpack was great! I wore it for the whole trip and stored extra food.  It was comfortable enough that I would forget I was wearing it.  That might be because I didn’t have much weight in it.  I would usually just have about 10-15 bars in it.  If packs down to a cylinder about 1.5” across and 3” long.

Miscellaneous not on the gear list:
I used Locsak bags for other things like my phone and cash, and batteries.  These are like thicker Ziploc bags.  One of the bigger Locsaks I used for the rain pants and camp shorts.  These aren’t listed on the gear list because I would weigh the items inside the bag.

Merino Wool Full Zip Jersey:
Merino wool is the best!  I never washed this jersey for the whole trip and it got a little musty, but not super smelly.  It wasn’t too hot and the full zip helped control temperature.

De Soto 400 Mile Bib Shorts:
These are shorts my coach Joel Maley recommended.  He is a top amateur triathlete and these are shorts made for triathlons.  They didn’t hold moisture so I wore them through every sort of weather.  I never wore my rain pants because when these shorts got wet, they shed the water and dried super-fast.  They were very comfortable with no chaffing.  I got saddle sores, but with the unsanitary conditions down there, I am not surprised. Most shorts have the pad sewn into the shorts, but these shorts are constructed where the shorts are sewn around the pad.  This is the first time I wore bib shorts and I liked it.  The only inconvenience is going to the bathroom.  You have to basically get naked to get the shorts off.  That is an acceptable trade off since the bibs are so much more comfortable without the constricting waist.  Very cool design and I will definitely be wearing them again.

Shimano SH-M089L MTB Shoes:
These shoes worked very well for me.  I liked the softer rubber in the soles for grip when things got wet.  They were comfortable and lasted the whole trip with no issues.  When picking shoes make sure they are comfortable for walking.

Giro Montaro Helmet:
This is a decent, comfortable helmet with MIPs.

Fenix LD22 Light:
I used an air pump mount and a Velcro strap to stick this light to the top of my helmet.  I used a chunk of inner tube to adjust the angle.  It worked great!  I loved this light.  I never ran it at the brightest setting and I only had to change the 2-AA batteries once or twice.  I used this light all the time.  It was used to set up camp and get going in the morning.  It was the first light I would turn on in the evening.  Great light!

DeFeet Woollie Boollie Merino Wool Socks:
I wore these socks the whole trip and never washed them once.  They got wet a lot though.  That counts for washing, right?  Merino wool is the best.  Even without washing, they didn’t stink too bad.  They were pretty warm when it got cold.  They were warm when wet, and when it got hot, they were still comfortable.