Death Valley Preparation 1: Packing for Bicycle/Motorcycle Adventuring

Reviewing PJAMM’s “Top 10o U.S. Climbs” I quickly noticed there’s a bunch that are unlikely to be possible to ride at the height of summer, especially anything in Death Valley.  I’ve been through Death Valley on my motorcycle in 2011, as well as riding through once in late Fall and the heat on the valley floor is something difficult to describe.  So I mentally crossed these off the plan for June.

However, while I was experimenting with my whole moto-bicycle scheme, some buddies were planning a parallel dual sport motorcycle trip for early March to the same area.  And after my successful Diablo ride I needed a longer, multi-day, with camping, multi-point moto-bicycle trip to practice with.. so.. why not leap straight to “difficulty level 10” in logistics and piggy-back onto their trip?  That way I have some people in the local area if things go off the rails.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve had a bit of a nagging hip issue for the past month.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t injure it while bicycling, since it is barely noticeable while on the bike but it was improving slowly enough it was difficult to say.  So, in short, I didn’t decide to go on this trip until a week before launch, and even then I was probably 50/50 until 2 or 3 days before.

You can see where this is going.  One of the biggest challenges of motorcycle-bicycle-camping-extended-trip is packing logistics.  Volume is king on the motorcycle, and the bicycle steals both space for bags and adds a lot of volume with shoes, helmet, water bottles, food, etc.  Also a small issue was that the bike I plan to take on the trip is not the bike I put on for the Diablo trip..

Less than ideal packing strategy

For longer trips, I love my Wolfman Expedition Medium Duffle (Amazon)

Wolfman Duffle – Amazon

– it holds everything I need to set up camp – tent, cot, jetboil, camp chair, mini-hatchet, etc.  Unfortunately this bag is both too big to comfortably fit behind the bicycle fork, and since it is a top roll, “transformation time” would be extended.  Given the kit I had available due my last minute decision, I rolled with my Kriega US20.  This held my spare motorcycle tube, pump, and first aid kit, in addition to the items I would use while bicycling:  Pacsafe squid, stuff sack for my motorcycle gear, bicycle shoes, hydration pack, bicycle tail pack with tube/spares/etc, bicycle handlebar bag with food, emergency beacon, glow stick, water filter, e-blanket, etc.

With so much loss of volume, my “luxury camping” gear went out the window – no tent, no stove, no camp chair.  I figure combining bicycling and motorcycling doesn’t leave much time for camp setup/tear down anyways, so going for speed here is probably more realistic.

The one item I’ll never camp without is the LuxuryLite UltraLight Cot (Amazon)

Therm-a-rest LuxuryLite Cot – Amazon

– if you’re a side sleeper, this is THE camp bed to have.  I wake up stiff and crippled on anything else (and I’ve tried plenty!)

So what I was left with:

Kriega across the top plate:  Motorcycle tube/pump & first aid kit, bike shoes, Pacsafe, gear stuff sack, hydration pack, bicycle tail & handlebar pack.

Left case, camping & non-daily used stuff:  Cot, Marmot Never Summer (Amazon) sleeping bag, OR Helium Bivy Sack (Amazon), travel bicycle pump, beach towel, bag with misc straps, couple of stakes, etc.

Right case, day-to-day stuff: clothes bag, bicycle kit bag, bike helmet filled with ride stuff (bike computer, HR strap, gloves, skull cap, etc.), bicycle tools/spares/batteries/etc, bath & hygiene stuff.  I also put my water bottles for the bicycle in here since there was room to keep them upright and not leaking all over.

Tank bag (Giant Loop Diablo – Amazon) – Usual ride-all-day stuff:  hat, sunscreen, bug repellant, ibuprofen, chapstick, camping headlamp, etc.  This also holds my CamelBak hydration bladder, which during bicycling with no water available will transfer into my hydration pack.

So, the bicycle transformation plan with this kit:

  • Remove & assemble bicycle
  • Kriega
    • Remove Pacsafe & stuff sack for motorcycle gear
    • Pull out hydration pack
    • Attach tail pack & or front pack to bicycle
    • Pull out bike shoes
  • Side case
    • Remove helmet & gloves/windbreaker/etc
    • Pull hydration bladder from the tank bag and put into hydration pack
    • Put tank bag where the helmet was in the side case
    • Attach water bottles to bicycle
  • Clothing dance
    • Jacket into stuff sack.  Stuff sack + pants + boots into Pacsafe, secure to motorcycle with cable & lock
    • Lock helmet to frame
    • Put on all the bike stuff
  • Go ride!

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