Trials.

3 06 2013

I am packed up and ready. Food fights, splashing and laughter and Daisy is in bed, so I jump in to the car, still-warm pizza wrapped in foil on the seat beside me. A cold beer is in a box with some other essentials. Fast forward and I am in Aviemore again. Pop the beer, drag the bike out of the back of the car and imbibe as I cinch everything down and start pedaling.

The rain has just stopped but the warm air holds onto the humidity. It is 11pm and the last of the sunlight is retreating accross the hills and away from the greedy embrace of the early summer leaves. Into the woods I pass, silent. I know where I am going, no light needed.

My nervousness is apparent in the care I take setting my bivi. I know I may suffer overnight: I am trying a different approach with my gear. The sleeping bag is barely there – an old down liner, sub-400g all in. Hoodless. Primaloft jacket and wool longs with a Patagonia R1 hoody in between. My aim is to extract more versatility from the separate pieces of gear, less packed volume and the ability to ride tighter, rougher trail with less compromise. If it goes well I will apply it to more isolating rides.

The dew point is important if insulation is minimal. Every feather counts, so the bivi is left open, just the netting tonight. There is no real wind to speak of, so I hope that I will stay cosy enough to sleep well. The grass and pine duff underneath should help and the NeoAir is in a slight hollow, but higher than the river I am camped next to. The riverbed will act as a sump for the coldest air.

1am. I open my eyes, shivering. With grim resignation I partially close the bivi sack and cinch the bag tighter around my shoulders. Again at 4.45am, cold, I surface. At 6.45am I vaguely awaken but drift off aware the sun is warming my site and there is a good chance I might catch up on some much needed rest.

As the hot coffee hits the spot, the Revelate gear swallows my seemingly meagre load. I have brought much more food than needed, again, as a trial of sorts. With 2 days worth of food, but not including water, my gear adds 6.8kg/15lbs to the bike. There is some redundancy – kettle *and* cup, water bladder rather than purifier. But as I take in some glorious sinewy trail, I know I can handle this load in demanding terrain.

I ponder between the fun sections. There is some lingering doubt over insulation at night – a quilt? primaloft trousers? add in a superlight synthetic bag? I’m not sure I will ever stop asking questions. Partly, I accept with a half smile, this is why I enjoy bike packing so much. Deliberation, cogitation, application, fulfilment.

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8 responses

3 06 2013
Biff

Set me straight but a down bag is a tiny addition? I’m asking the question so you have one less to ask (life is finite :O)

4 06 2013
thelazyrando

I’ve been using a very light down bag which was a suffer-fest in March [sleeping with a puffy jacket + all my clothes on] and then worked great in early May [slept in T-shirt and boxers].

I’m now trying a down quilt that attaches to my sleeping pad. This allows all the insulation I carry to all be useful vs. crushing half the insulation underneath me. Since the quilt attaches to the pad it can’t fall off or develop cold spots.

http://cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/sleeping-bags/alpine-blanket-35/product

I appreciate a light bike, but unless I get a good night’s sleep I can’t have a strong enjoyable ride the next day.

6 06 2013
velopest

i’ll be interested in your impression of the quilt. my concern is wriggling….and i’m totally with you on the good overnight for a strong next day….

biff: :-)~ … *adding* a synthetic bag to the down bag….ideally down inner/synthetic outer, so the dew point rests in the synthetic and allows max warmth with max ability to put away ‘wet’ reuse, and still be comfortable…mo’better for wet climes than the full down bags that are admittedly lighter/smaller packed size. though with the advent of proofed down, the game may have changed….

7 06 2013
John Ross (@Shaggyjohn)

Want to borrow my Top Bag for a try? It’s my favorite bag. I’m not a fan of stuff attaching to the mat- IME it leaves cold air pockets at your side rather than really conforming to your body. There is a bit of a knack to using it but you soon roll over inside the bag. Obviously you don’t get drafts under it either. I’ve got a Synthetic outer bag as well, but I would rather take more clothing, then it’s multi-use for the same weight.

9 06 2013
velopest

i had wondered if it would be a ‘learned’ thing….afterall it’s no different to a duvet at home i guess? i’m curious about them….i think there may be a middle ground…clothing with quilt/top bag?

15 06 2013
Miguel

Howdy! This post could not be written any better!
Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this write-up to him.
Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks
for sharing!

2 07 2013
sleeping bag pajamas

I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.

I’m quite certain I will learn a lot of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

8 07 2013
velopest

thanks for the kind words!

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