‘The Mountains Don’t Care’ – Tour Divide gear rundown

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The stuff. All the things that I’m carrying. When it’s all laid out, it doesn’t look like much for a few weeks of living off the bike. But when I’m pushing it up a mountain road, it feels like a ton.

I’ve never cared about how much my race bike weighed. I’ve always felt that the main difference between a 20 pound mountain bike and a 27 pound mountain bike is about $2,000, and the fact that a heavier bike won’t break when you hit a rock the wrong way.

But this is different. When the dry weight (no food or water) of the whole setup is pushing 50 pounds, I’ve been doing everything I can to save weight. I even bought a kitchen scale to weigh crap. And I’ve been debating the little things: do I need a wool hat if I have a jacket with a hood? Probably not. Saved 150 grams.


Editor’s note: Montana is a former intern at Bicycle Times and longtime friend-of-the-mag, so we were especially proud when he completed the 2,700-mile Tour Divide this summer in his first attempt. Read his epic account of the trip here. You can also follow along with all his adventures on his blog, The Skrumble.


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At the same time, everything isn’t as race optimized as it could be. For example, I can only afford to own one tent, and I like camping with Colleen, so I have a two-person tarptent instead of a lighter one-person.

The rest of the stuff is a result of the way I’m going to be racing. I’m navigating primarily with GPS, trying to go as fast as possible (and make it to the finish), and not staying in any hotels.

For a typical Tour Divide year, I might have been packed a little heavy. But for the weather this year, I was pretty dead on. I used everything I had, and never wanted anything extra (except for a stove and some coffee in the morning, but there was no time for that, becasue bike race).

All the framebags were made by Lane and Monty at Oveja Negra in Leadville. I like them a lot.

My sleep stuff, all packed in a drybag on the handlebars, was a Tarptent Double Rainbow, Thermarest Prolite pad, and Big Agnes Horsethief SL.

A full tent was great—especially the first week, when I set up in the rain almost every night. Since I practiced before I left home, I was able to get the tent up, pad inflated, and bag unrolled in about five minutes. That beat the hell out of hunting around for the perfect place to string up a tarp, or suffocating all night in a bivy.

The Big Agnes bag is rated for 35 degrees, and unlike most overly-optimistically rated bags, it’s actually warm at that temperature. I was able to sleep naked every night and dry out my ass, which helped helped heal my saddle sores.

By the time I was in Wyoming, the rain let up, so I was just using the tent as a ground cloth and sleeping out in the sage brush.

My rain gear was Outdoor Research’s ultralight Helium jacket and pants. The stuff was really swell until it broke—which I really don’t blame OR for. Ultralight stuff isn’t intended for riding 800 miles in the mud.

I wore a giant hole in the seat of the pants by the forth day, and zipper broke on the rain jacket right before I descended a long pass into Basin, Montana at night in the rain. Because all my layers got soaked on the descent, that was one of the three nights I spent inside during the race.

My other clothes were a wool top, wool tights, a Club Ride button-down, a pair of light polyester baggy shorts, a Mountain Hardware synthetic bubble goose, two pairs of thick wool socks, and two pairs of wool boxers.

I don’t wear chamois anymore, because I think that having a dirty sponge on my ass all day is nasty. Since I was able to sink wash a pair of underpants everyday, I didn’t have nearly the saddle sore problems that some racers did (some people had some seriously gross stuff going on down there).

I carried a bunch of spare bolts, brake pads, and all that stuff all the way to Fleecer Ridge. After blasting down the ridge like I had somebody to impress, even though there was nobody around for miles (it’s one of the only hard descents on the entire route) I was rewarded for showing off by tearing a big hole in my back tire on some sharp shale at the bottom.

The Stan’s wouldn’t seal the hole, so I plugged it with a Genuine Innovations tubeless tire plug. That little plug held for the next 2,000 miles. I wish I would have know about those things earlier- they would have saved me so many races over the years.

I was so excited about the plug that I hopped back on my bike, and rode away from my bag of tools.

Which later led me to the discovery that A&D Ointment works as a chain lube.

My Krampus was solid. I had to replace a bottom bracket in Steamboat, but other than that I didn’t have any mechanicals. I didn’t even go through a set of brake pads on my Shimano XTRs, which might have something to do with braking technique, because a lot of people around me on the exact same brakes were blowing through pads like crazy.

The 29+ Knard tires were heavy, and they definitely slowed me down sometimes. I was using the 27tpi wire bead version, because the 120tpi tires I bought before the race were messed up, they grew some big tumors in the sidewall when I installed them.

When I rode with Alice, she coasted away from me everywhere. Gradual pavement descents, flats, washboard roads. It didn’t matter. Her Moots on Schwalbe Racing Ralphs just rolled faster.

The Krampus was super comfortable, and I never regretted riding it (it’s my all time favorite bike), but the current tires just aren’t race quality. The casing is too thick and slow rolling for Divide racing (For touring, I wouldn’t think of using anything other than the Knard though).

I really wish Surly would make the Knard with a folding bead and a 60tpi casing. That way it would roll well, and wouldn’t be super fragile like their current lightweight tire.

Other parts were Jones Loop Bars. I love the sweep, and the loop is a great place to mount a light and dry bag, gearing was 36×22 (works out to about 32x19ish on a bike with shorter 29er tires), and my saddle was a Chromag Trailmaster. Thomson stem and post, Shimano SLX cranks, Industry Nine single speed hub—all stuff that works.

I ran an Exposure Revo light, and charged my iPhone with a Shutter Precision hub and Sinewave USB charger. I couldn’t believe how well these electronics worked.

Even after being constantly submerged, the hub kept on chugging. The Sinewave USB charger was flawless, it put out constant power, even in the rain, as long as my speed was more than six miles per hour. There were a lot of other models of dynamo chargers out there, and a lot of riders having problems with them.

I used the Gaia GPS app on my phone, and it made following the route pretty stress free. I never had a problem with GPS reception, and never had to buy batteries. I also used the phone to play music and take pictures—really slick to be able to do everything with one device.

As a back up, I carried cue sheets and had a cycling computer.

There were times I wished I had some aero bars, but there were more times I wished that I didn’t need aero bars. So overall, I was happy with my setup. It ran real good.

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Seatbag

  • Rivendell wool shirt
  • Smartwool tights
  • Socks
  • Mountain Hardware Thermostatic jacket
  • Outdoor Reaserch Helium rain jacket and pants
  • Space for food

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Framebag

  • Park MT-1 (the most underrated muti-tool ever)
  • Pliers
  • Brake pads, spare bolts, needle and thread, sidewall boot
  • Chain lube
  • CO2 (to reseat a tubeless tire)
  • Soap, A&D, Pepto, toothbrush, toilet paper, bandaids, Neosporin
  • Four-liter water bladder
  • Steripen Ultra (not pictured)
  • Space for food

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Handlebar bag

  • Revenge of the Rattlesnack bandana
  • USB Battery (buffer battery for dynamo hub)
  • iPhone charger
  • Headlight
  • Mountain Hardware PL-100 gloves
  • Space for food

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Dry sack on handlebars

  • Big Agnes Horsethief sleeping bag
  • Tarptent Double Rainbow
  • Thermarest Prolite

Not in bags

  • Lezyne mini-pump, with Gorilla Tape wrapped around the handle
  • Shutter Precision hub dynamo
  • Exposure Revo dynamo light
  • Sinewave Revolution dynamo USB charger
  • iPhone with Gaia GPS (primary navigation tool and camera)
  • Modified Lifeproof/ King Cage iPhone top cap mount
  • TwoFish bottle cage on the top tube
  • Two 29er tubes strapped to the down tube

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And the bike

  • Industry-9 Torch Single Speed Hub laced to Blunt 35s (built by the same handsome fella who’ll be riding them)
  • Jone’s Loop H-Bars
  • Shimano XTR Trail brakes
  • Thomson post and stem
  • Hope bottom brisket
  • Shimano SLX crank
  • MRP Rock Solid fork (not in the picture)
  • Chromag Trailmaster saddle (finally found a saddle that fits my ass right)
  • Surly Krampus frame
  • Surly Knard 29×3 27tpi tires

 

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