It’s hard to believe but we (hubby) and I are a week away from our attempted thru-bike of the AZT! To say we’re getting excited is an understatement but I’m trying – really, truly trying – hard to get some tasks tidied up before I leave; tasks like Final Papers! Head down and power through…but it’s the primary reason I haven’t had much chance to update you on our planning progress.
We managed to get our on our loaded bikes over the weekend for a very, very short ride. I was really hoping to fit in a proper bike ride on our loaded bikes before heading out but, alas, the snow is still here and the trails are not yet open. We ended up heading to a recreation area that has a forest/dirt road that is usually clear by this time of year but apparently not this year! It was still super full of snow and ice! We did pedal for a little bit, got super muddy, found out a couple of key things (saddle bag on my post is too big for my dropper seat so will have to swap with his; importance of proper weighting of the handlebar bag). All-in-all, it was a short but beneficial ride. We even tested our GoPro, which I hope we can get some footage to share but neither of us are great with video so…we’ll see!
My last AZT update post I had some gear questions I was working out. Here’s where I’ve landed:
- Sleeping Bag – I’m taking my warm one. Partly this is because a new, super-duper lightweight bag is super-duper expensive; mostly because I want to be warm. I have no idea if/how lupus may flare up on me and I want to ensure that I can get a decent night sleep. I won’t if I’m cold. I can always skootch out of my bag if it gets hot but if I get chilled, I want to give my body the best opportunity to stay warm.
- This has actually been a learning lesson for me in exploring how I want to consider future trips. I do believe in trying to lighten my gear. In general, I would say it’s not that terrible to spend a night shivering (caveat: this does not apply to winter/polar expeditions!) and non-immuno-compromised bodies can truly handle a lot but I have to accept that I have an immuno-compromised body. I will have to constantly manage this disease and one aspect to that management is recognizing my limitations. If that means I need to carry a slightly heavier & bigger bag but the trade-off is that I can continue to enjoy the outdoors, it easily becomes apparent there’s no question. That weight savings is not worth the potential sacrifice of re-flaring. I will be stressing my body out incredibly on this trip – I might as well carry the insurance of being able to get warm.
- Pot Set – So I bought the titanium pot-set…to lighten the gear! Ha! It’s incredible how much lighter it is though. It’s also a slightly different style than the older pots. A lot of camping pots are going taller and narrower versus the low and wider ones of yester-year.
- Feedbags – ordered and awaiting arrival!
- Anything Cages (water bottle cages for our forks) – we are not getting them. After doing a pack and load of the bikes, we realized our capacity, especially with our packs, are sufficient. I omitted my frame bag and can now add a water bottle cage.
- Packs – I have about a 15L bag and Adam has a 30L. A bit bigger than we’d like but we also have to remember we’re planning on hiking through the Grand Canyon and, potentially camping in it. We need packs that we can get all of our camping gear on!
- Trail Head Transport – Arranged and booked! We will land in Tucson and then be whisked to the border monument trail, where we hike in 2.5 miles for a photo shoot, hike back 2.5 miles, and then start biking (probably not too far that 1st day).
Here’s a photo of our gear (with Adam’s sleeping gear still wrapped up in the handlebar bag – he didn’t want to unroll it!). Even since I took this photo, we’ve made some minor adjustments but this will be pretty much our kits. We do not have our ablutions kit packed up yet.
There isn’t anything too far off of what one would take backpacking (and this photo does include clothes that we’d typically be wearing). We have:
- sleeping bag, pad, and pillow
- warm gear (puffy coats, toque, gloves, long johns, long-sleeved merino)
- rain coats
- water filter
- pot set (with stove and spices inside)
- off-bike wear (sun shirts & hat) & flip-flops
- sleep wear (tank/t-shirt & underwear)
- shit kit and pee rag
- electronics (solar batter bank, little speaker, GoPro
- helmets (mine with a fancy brim to block sun)
- cycle wear (chamois, jersey, socks, sun sleeves)
In our backpacks, we will be carrying:
- first aid + my drugs
- extra (dirty) water bladder
- head lamps
- zip ties, zip ties, zip ties and ski straps
- pump & tire levers
- 2 x spare tubes
- patch kit
- stem valve remover tool
- extra goop (tubeless set-up)
- chain lube
- extra brake pads
- extra derailer hanger
- comb – for thorns!
Food will be distributed wherever we can shove it, predominantly in our packs. Our water carrying capacity is:
- 3L in each of our pack bladders
- 1 x 750 ml bottle in water cage
- additional space for bottles in side pockets of packs (approximately 3 additional litres between us, not including anything we put inside our pack)
- 3L dirty water bladder, in case extra long carry required
And that’s it folks! Not much more to say; I have no idea how often I’ll be able to post blog updates but I should be able to post photo updates (so follow @active_women on IG and/or “like” the FB group).
Thanks for following along! And now: back to my paper.