Bikepacking/ Racing philosophy
I really love how in recent years the bikepacking race scene is becoming more of a thing. With the creation of races like the Transcontinental Race and the Trans Am. It gives people like me with a wanderlust nomadic heart and competitor’s brain something to get into. With the market building all sorts of gravel/ adventure bikes. And local and international companies building some awesome bags for us to hall all our gear in. This type of sport can get really interesting. With pro cycling their strategy is more physical than anything else. As for bikepacking, there's a little more to it.
There is the several things to consider:
Sleeping arrangements ( hotels, bivys, tents)
Food and water ( where do I put it all )
Clothing ( warm, wet, fast, comfortable)
Tech ( gps, phone, lights, charging)
Possibly the biggest is Bike and BIke fit or position
All of these things are extremely important in a bikepacking race, but where is the line between touring and racing? How much is too much and how much is not enough?
There are so many great videos online of different ways to do it. This is just my way.
First I will start by saying my background is in Triathlons. So I am most comfortable in the aero position. The greater the distance is this becomes more and more important. The longer you stay in aero the less watts you need to overcome the drag. Now if you CAN'T put out power in this position than obviously you need to sit up. So it is vitally important to get set up in a comfortable yet aero position on the bike. I have developed what I feel is one of the best bike setups for this type of racing. I will be doing another complete post on this as well as a link to my video on YouTube.
One of the coolest things about bikepacking and racing is seeing where everyone puts there food, water, tech, sleeping kit and clothing. Typically this all depends on the duration of the race and the conditions. If its cool and wet you may need to bring more warm clothes and there for need more room on your bike. If its hot then you can get away with bringing less warm stuff but maybe bring some extra water. For me I believe in a very minimalist setup.
I believe that if you can get your kit packed into as few bags as possible. This gives you the option to add or remove things depending on the climate. For example; for a 3 day race in summer I will have a half frame bag with my bivy and rain gear. Maybe some arm warmers or a light jacket. I carry two top tube bags one big one for food and tech. And a small one by the seat post for toiletries. Now the reason why I say this is because if you don’t need extra stuff DON’T BRING IT. You will be much faster and lighter with out it. Also by not carrying a rear bag you can free up space for warmer clothes or a sleeping bag. Now keep in mind this is for competition. Sleeping is only for a short time so I'm not to worried about being super comfortable. Especially since this is for a 3 day scenario.
Bringing a comfortable sleeping setup may be worth it for a long week of racing in the middle of nowhere. But if you plan it right you can get away with staying in hotels. If your only doing a 3 day event its much better to just rough it in a bivy for a couple of days.
In all use your judgment, but I've learned that even with a simple weekend overnight trip you really don't need a lot of gear. So my philosophy is pack light but make sure you know you limits regarding shelter. I you don't feel comfortable being to exposed to the elements get something a little more protective. I just use a survival bivy that cost 20$ and it's amazing how little space it takes up in the bag. For a longer race or a tour not very good, but in a pinch it will serve you better than none. Please stay tuned for my post on my entire setup for racing and touring. I will talk about my love for hammocks, the brand I go with and how I use it . Also there will be a link to my YouTube channel were I post some product reviews but mainly just my thoughts and suggestions on hyper light bikepacking.