What's on your MTB?
September 1, 2010 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Going on a 3-day mountain bike ride, what should I bring?

I've been mountain biking 4-5 days a week for two months now. Once a week I ride with a group of seasoned bikers and they have invited me to tag along with them on a trip coming up at the end of the month.

I'll be camping in a primitive camp site, my meals are taken care of (they are prepared to give us energy on the trails) and we'll be biking around 15-20 miles a day doing some technical stuff, uphill climbs and general trails at here

Each day after the bike ride we'll return to the campsite and chill out (so it's not a bike and camp at different areas).

I've got some things already for my bike trip (spare tube, tire levers, Gu, bike tool, first aid kid, gloves, helmet, camelbak, c02 pump, light - if needed) but I'd like to be prepared as well as I could.

So basically I'm wanting to know what should be in my bike bag and what should be with me while I'm on the trails.

(on a side note, we'll probably be drinking at night...I know that beer dehydrates you so I'll be diligent and drink lots of water along with that frosty beverage and I'll be cognizant enough not to get drunk so I don't have to bike hungover)
posted by Hands of Manos to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total)
Your most common mechanical issues beyond flats are going to be wheel damage, tire damage and rear derailleur and/or cable housing damage. Assuming you're car-camping and don't have to haul it all in by bike, I'd bring spares and shop-quality tools to resolve those issues, but I'd probably leave it all in camp (with the possible exception of a spare foldable tire). A bike repair stand will make you very popular.

Examine your first aid kit to ensure it's up-to-date. Replace lost or contaminated consumables like bandages or antibiotic creams. Add things like emergency splints if it doesn't have 'em. The best way to ensure bad things don't happen is to be ready for them ;^)

Other than that, you seem to have thought of most of the essentials. What about a rig for mounting a digital camera to your handlebars and/or helmet? I use a strap-on mini-tripod afixed to my handlebars when I go on bike expeditions, and it's nice to not have to slow the ride down when I want a picture. Most small digicams will do short videos, too, which is a lot of fun.

Sounds like a great time, enjoy yourself!
posted by richyoung at 3:13 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: You need to decide whether you want to be prepared for 90% of all mishaps or 95%. The extra 5%, of course, requires much more equipment than the first 90%.

So, you might break a spoke. You'd need either a fiberfix emergency spoke or a replacement spoke, a spoke wrench, and (since you're most likely to break a drive-side rear spoke) a tool to remove your cassette's lockring and a chainwhip or equivalent (it's possible to fake a chainwhip using a toe strap or the like). You might break a cable, so you'd need replacement cables, and probably pliers for tensioning. You might break your chain, so you'd need a chain tool, quick-link, and maybe a few spare links.

But, you know, in my whole life, I've broken chains on two occasions, and broken spokes on 3 occasions. I've never broken a cable.

Other than that…spare battery for your phone maybe?
posted by adamrice at 3:58 PM on September 1, 2010

Are you used to being on a bike a lot for several days in a row? Even if you are making sure you have a few pairs of decent bike shorts and some chamois cream might save you some saddle sores.
posted by ghharr at 4:37 PM on September 1, 2010

Response by poster: thank you so much! this helps.

I bent my rear derailleur up something awful the other day and had to replace it. The guys I'm going with are probably 95% prepared and it's always been a "pay it forward" attitude with everyone...so if something was to break that I couldn't repair, they would have it.

I've considered getting the chain links (quicklink) and the chain tool.

I'll have my vehicle right next to my tent, so I can carry a lot of extra stuff if needed.

I actually have a solar battery for my iphone as I use runkeeper to track my rides (it's gps dependent only so it works well with no cell coverage, of which we won't have).

as far as mounting a camera...I'm not sure if I want to do that but I've thought about it. I wouldn't want my iphone sitting out there for the elements to do quick work to it, but I have an older digital camera and a gorilla tripod...but I'm not sure I want to film myself screaming "oh shiiiiiit" and hitting a tree. Then again, the folks back home would probably get a kick out of it.
posted by Hands of Manos at 5:18 PM on September 1, 2010

Wow, I'm envious - sounds like a great trip!

I was going to recommend an App like MyTracks for your phone but I see you already have one - I love tracking my rides. I second the camera suggestion, too. Definitely try using your older digital camera, though.

If possible, use a waterproof gear bag, or at the least PUT YOUR iPhone IN A PLASTIC BAGGIE! The possibility of getting drenched in a sudden downpour up there in the mtns is likely and you want to protect anything that could get ruined....just in case. Oh, and mud guards are a help if the trails are muddy or you'll be riding through creeks. Just the basic cheap ones work really well and are easy to take on and off.

If you have disc brakes, be sure you have the right sized tool (screwdriver,allen wrench) to tighten/adjust them. Those mtn trails can really put some wear on 'em.

Your question was actually about what is on my bike, so I will tell you: bike computer (wireless), gear bag, mud guard(s), water bottle/holder, reflectors, and when needed, light.

You're gonna have a blast. Relax and enjoy the rides!
posted by ourroute at 6:57 PM on September 1, 2010

I think you've already got all of the "on bike" stuff figured out; riding in a group makes it even easier.

Looking at the map, you'll be 15 or 20 minutes outside of Ellijay, which has a bike shop, and worst case, you can roll up to the bike shop in Blue Ridge. So I wouldn't worry too much about shop quality tools and lots of spares, as you can just head to town to get whatever the issue is fixed.

I'm not familiar with Mulberry gap, but it looks like you are right in the middle of the Bear Creek/Mountaintown Creek trails. Depending on weather between now and the end of the month, some of those loops could be pretty wet (creek crossings), so you might want to think about what you are bringing in the way of jerseys/shorts/socks so you aren't having to put on wet gear the next day.

Also weather dependent: bugs. I would bring some bug spray for camping on the assumption there will still be plenty of bugs around. You didn't mention rain gear; end of September in north Georgia and doing 20 mile rides, I would probably pack a lightweight shell just in case.
posted by kovacs at 8:34 PM on September 1, 2010

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