Annotated gear list for the Telluride-to-Moab mountain-bike ride

Some of the items on this list will seem like overkill, but I was traveling alone, and I’d be a good distance from the nearest town for a week. (Admittedly, I also tend to over prepare.) As SJHS and various online accounts had implied, anything I didn’t have with me or that SJHS didn’t supply in the huts, I’d have to do without. I passed no retail businesses whatsoever except in Gateway, Colorado, at the end of the fifth day. No strip malls, no gas stations, no convenience stores, no bait-and-tackle shops, no lemonade stands on the side of the road, nothing. I was also going to be in Grand Junction and Telluride for 2-1/2 days before the ride and in Moab and Grand Junction for three days after the ride, and I wanted to be able to sit down at a bar for a celebratory beer without folks moving away.

Bike

  • Santa Cruz Superlight dual-suspension mountain bike
  • Brooks B67 sprung leather saddle. Call me decadent, but I’ve tried four other saddles in the last few years, including the stock saddle on two model years of Brompton, the stock saddle on the Superlight, and a Terry men’s saddle that I bought to replace the stock saddle on the Superlight. None of them was nearly as comfortable as the B67.
  • water-resistant saddle cover (in case of rain)
  • Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. SJHS warns about goathead thorns, so I was extra cautious. The Marathon Pluses have a puncture-resistant layer, and I also used thorn-resistant tubes. I had no flats, but I also spent little time on trails.
  • Bontrager thorn-resistant tubes
  • Old Man Mountain Cold Springs rear rack
  • Ergon GC3 handlebar grips
  • Cateye Enduro 8 wired bike computer. I’ve tried wireless bike computers more than once, most recently just a couple of years ago, but I’ve found them to be unreliable.
  • Klean Kanteen water-bottle cage for the mounts under the down tube
  • Water-bottle cage with a side opening for the mounts between the down tube and the top tube. On the Superlight, the space between the down tube and the rear shock is too small to remove a water bottle from a standard water-bottle cage, and the space between the down tube and the top tube is too small for a second Klean Kanteen water bottle.
  • Garmin handlebar mount for the GPS
  • Planet Bike Superflash blinky buttlight
  • Big Earl platform pedals

Bags

  • Arkel XM-45 panniers with rain covers
  • Camelbak H.A.W.G. NV hydration pack (100 oz. reservoir) with small REI rain cover
  • Jandd rack-top bag

Bike tools and parts

I used nothing on this list except a bike pump, the Topeak Alien multitool (to reattach the pedals when I took the bike out of the box in Telluride), and some zip ties (to secure the computer to the handlebars—the computer mount was broken in transit). If I were to do it again and ride the same route, meaning mostly on the road, I’d probably leave one of the bike pumps behind. Other than that, though, I’d take every last bit of it.

  • foldable spare tire
  • two Bontrager thorn-resistant tubes
  • patch kit
  • Park tire boot. More effective than a dollar bill, smaller and lighter than a chunk cut out of an old tire.
  • two Topeak Mountain Morph bike pumps. Overkill, yes, but SJHS recommended two bike pumps. Who was I to doubt their wisdom?
  • Presta air gauge
  • ~20 feet of 18-gauge steel wire
  • ~20 feet of light nylon cord
  • small roll of duct tape
  • ~10 feet of nylon webbing and a buckle
  • a few 8″ zip ties
  • one bungee cord
  • plastic tire irons. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires were a bear to get on. Happily, I had no flats, so I never had to take them off. The Topeak multi-tool (see below) includes tire irons, but they’re awkward to hold.
  • baby powder (travel size—for powdering an inner tube if I had a flat)
  • Leatherman Charge multi-tool
  • Topeak Alien multi-tool (for a pedal wrench, a chain break, a spoke wrench, and other bike-specific tools)
  • 5″ Vice Grips locking pliers
  • chain lube and rag
  • towelettes
  • latex gloves
  • spare disc brake pads
  • spare spokes
  • spare clamps for the connection between the Old Man Mountain rear rack and the seat stays
  • spare rear derailleur

Lights

This is another area in which I erred on the cautious side. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of light in case I was slowed by mechanical problems and had to ride after dark.

  • Petzl MYO XP headlamp (takes three AA batteries)
  • Petzl Tikka XP headlamp as a backup (smaller, lighter, takes three AAA batteries)

GPS and batteries

  • Garmin Oregon 450 GPS. The reviews of the Oregon 450 are quite good, and the GPS file that SJHS provided was in Garmin format, so I bought a Garmin, but my experience with their documentation and technical support have been abominable. The two or three times that I contacted support because I couldn’t find an answer in their documentation or on their website, I waited days for a reply and, in one case, the answer was wrong, so I had to contact support again and wait for another day.
  • 24 Duracell 2650 mAh rechargeable batteries (for GPS and Petzl MYO XP head lamp—used 16). None of the huts have electricity, so there’d be no way to charge batteries. I didn’t know how long batteries would last in the GPS, or how the cold (overnight lows in the 30s and 40s for the first few days) or heat (highs near 90 approaching Gateway and Moab) would affect battery life. I also didn’t know how the elapsed time since the last charge would affect battery life. NiMH batteries self-discharge 5-10% the first day and as much as 1% per day thereafter, which would leach a lot of power between the time I charged them, just before my departure, and the last day of the ride, almost two weeks later. I turned on the GPS at the beginning of each day and turned it off at the end of each day, and I still used a little more than two batteries per day on average. I used the Petzl MYO XP headlamp for 30 to 60 minutes each day, and there was no apparent decrease in the light output for the duration.

Warm-weather clothes

The warm-weather clothes I brought were perfect for the conditions, but I was also fortunate. Daytime highs were in the 70s for the first four days, and in the 80s and low 90s for the last three days. Weather.com provides average temperatures by month, and the average daytime highs in Moab in June, July, and August are 95°, 101°, and 98°, respectively (35°, 38°, and 37° Celcius). I did myself a big favor by riding in September, when the average daytime high in Moab is a mere 89° (32° Celcius).

  • Pearl Izumi X-ALP Seek III WRX biking shoes. I wanted biking shoes that were also comfortable for hiking because I expected I’d have to get off and push the bike some part of each day. Most of the dozen or more pairs of biking shoes that I tried on were miserable for walking, but these were comfortable immediately and remained so throughout the ride, including the many places where I walked, sometimes for a mile or more.
  • two pairs of Northface pants with zip-off legs and UV protection. I installed snaps at the cuffs to keep the cuffs out of the chain. You can get snaps and a device to install them from your neighborhood fabric shop. The zip-off feature seemed like a fine idea, but I never zipped off the pantlegs below the knee, in part because because I never got too hot and in part because of the UV protection.
  • three long-sleeved REI shirts with UV protection
  • two Ibex lightweight long-sleeved merino wool tops
  • three pairs of Novara (REI) padded biking underwear
  • two pairs of unpadded underwear
  • two pairs of SmartWool hiking medium-weight crew socks
  • one pair of Specialized full-fingered biking gloves
  • one pair of Specialized fingerless biking gloves. I like the Specialized gloves because they have a lot of padding on the palm, but the sizes run absurdly small. My hands are not especially large, and I had to get XXL in the full-fingered gloves. I prefer buying from my local bike shop anyway, so they’ll be there when I need them, but for purchases like this, you either have to try them on or expect to return them for a larger size a time or two.

Cold- and wet-weather clothes

SJHS cautions you to be prepared for rain and snow, especially at the beginning and end of the season, and I was starting three weeks before the end of the season. I was extremely lucky and encountered no precipitation, but I did wake up to frost at Last Dollar hut. As you may deduce from this list, I hate being cold, and I really hate being cold and wet.

  • Ibex Vim hybrid jacket. Until I broke in the zipper, I cursed it every time I put on the jacket. (A drop of Phil Wood Tenacious Oil seemed to help.) Once the zipper started to work reliably, I loved the remarkable warmth of the jacket and the light weight. Note, though, that the sizes run small. I bought a medium because that’s what the size chart said would fit, but a medium proved to be skin tight, and I prefer more room to move and some extra space for another layer on cold days.
  • rain jacket
  • rain pants
  • Showers Pass touring shoe covers
  • wool long underwear
  • one pair of heavy wool socks
  • one pair of silk liner socks
  • two stocking caps (one light enough to fit under a helmet)
  • neck gaiter
  • Carradice helmet cover
  • lobster mittens

Bedding

SJHS provides sleeping bags for eight at every hut, so I didn’t need much bedding:

  • REI sleeping bag liner
  • pillow case that I could stuff clothes into for a pillow

Camera

  • Nikon D80
  • Nikon 18-200mm vibration-reduction zoom lens
  • five D80 batteries. As with batteries for the GPS, I didn’t know how the Nikon batteries would be affected by temperature extremes, and I’d used three of the batteries for over three years. I shoot RAW and JPEG in large format, and I leave vibration reduction on active at all times, both of which eat up batteries, but I’m reasonably good about turning off the camera when I’m finished shooting. I was on the third battery when I arrived in Moab, and I took just over 2,000 shots. I don’t recall whether I used the old batteries or the new ones.
  • SD cards in a Pixel Pocket Rocket by Think Tank Photo
  • mini tripod
  • remote shutter release
  • polarizing filter
  • lens cleaner
  • lens cloth

Water purification and storage

There was little value to carrying gear for water purification. On the four days that water sources were listed at all on the SJHS cue sheets, they were just a couple of miles from the evening’s hut, so all I was doing was saving SJHS the trouble of carting in the not quite six quarts of water that would fill my water bottles and the bladder in my CamelBak. Surely part of the $850 that I paid them for the week’s ride could cover the cost of hauling in a few extra gallons of water. Still, on the first day, I dutifully filtered water from a stream. On the second day, the spring on the queue sheet was nowhere to be found, and I stopped looking after that.

Were I to do the ride again, I’d carry another quart or two of water every day, and I’d skip the filter and associated paraphernalia.

  • 100-ounce bladder in the CamelBak hydration pack
  • one-quart Nalgene bottle
  • 27-ounce Klean Kanteen stainless-steel water bottle in a water bottle cage on the bike
  • generic 20-ounce plastic biking water bottle. A second Klean Kanteen water bottle wouldn’t fit in the water bottle cage between the top tube and the down tube.
  • MSR MiniWorks EX microfilter. The MSR folks and the CamelBak folks are competitors in the hydration business, so the MSR filter and the CamelBak bladder don’t talk to one another worth a damn. A generic adapter that was supposed to connect the bottom of the filter to the main opening on the CamelBak bladder didn’t. I ended up with a length of surgical tubing from the local Ace Hardware and a little plastic adapter from CamelBak that slipped into the bite valve (the part you drink from) on the CamelBak. Kludgy, but the best I could do.
  • one foot of 3/16″ or 1/4″ surgical tubing for the connection between the filter and the CamelBak. Take the filter into the hardware store with you. The fit should be snug.
  • CamelBak HydroLink filter adapter
  • cleaning tablets for the CamelBak bladder. I never used them.
  • Potable Aqua iodine tablets in case the filter failed. These I might still take along in the event of an emergency, but there’s very little water to be found on the route in September.

First-aid kit

This list is mostly from the SJHS Biker’s Bible.

  • Band-Aid adhesive bandages in a few sizes
  • gauze
  • adhesive tape
  • Betadine disinfectant
  • Neosporin
  • hydrocortisone ointment
  • blister patches
  • Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin
  • snake-bite kit
  • bug spray. By mid-September the mosquitos were gone, but some riders who’d written in the hut journals earlier in the season had complained about them.
  • mosquito bite anti-itch stuff
  • nail clippers
  • prescription antibiotics
  • Acetazolamide for altitude sickness. I didn’t experience any of the more severe symptoms, but I did sleep better the second night, after I took one Acetazolamide, so I continued to take it for the next few days.
  • ibuprophen
  • Chlortrimeton antihistamine/decongestant pills
  • anti-diarrheal pills
  • cough drops
  • mirror
  • survival cards (first-aid quick reference)
  • space blanket
  • SportLegs capsules. As I noted in Day 1: Telluride to Last Dollar hut, I was skeptical about SportLegs before I bought it and remain so because I’ve never done the ride without it, but I followed the recommended dosage, and my legs were not as sore as I would have expected. How’s that for a lukewarm non-endorsement?

Toiletries

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • camping towel and washcloth
  • facial tissue
  • toilet paper

Assorted other stuff

  • sunscreen
  • lip balm, SPF 15
  • hand sanitizer
  • Dr. Bronner’s peppermint liquid soap. Every cabin includes dishwashing liquid, so this was completely unnecessary. Because of the SJHS restrictions on water use, I couldn’t have used much of it anyway.
  • Several Eagle Creek packing cubes to organize everything. One side is mesh, so you can see what’s inside.
  • spare pair of eye glasses
  • candles
  • matches
  • small sewing kit and thread
  • a foot of two-sided Velcro
  • Mountain Biking Hut to Hut: Telluride to Moab, by Stephen Hlawaty
  • Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville. In retrospect, I’d have preferred something lighter—P.G. Wodehouse, for example.
  • cell phone. The route is so remote that a cell phone is almost completely useless. On the third day, the SJHS queue sheet suggests that you may be able to get a signal at Tabeguache Overlook, but I had no luck, and I had a nearly full charge. Even at the resort in Gateway, I had only a sporadic signal. If you need to be accessible during the ride, your only reliable option is a satellite phone.
  • whistle
  • compass
  • bandana
  • SJHS route maps
  • SJHS Biker’s Bible
  • helmet
  • glasses mirror
  • baseball cap, so I’d have a visor in case of rain
  • several Ziploc sandwich bags for carrying food during the day. SJHS provides sandwich bags, but in a couple of huts I couldn’t find them.
  • small notebook
  • pen

On to Lunch at Il Bistro Italiano in Grand Junction

Back to Day 7: La Sal hut to Moab

Back to Mountain biking (and walking) from Telluride to Moab

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