This is the first of a short series of reports that look back at some bike packing events that have taken place in this country and abroad, where our gear was used. We're always interested on how our gear holds up in the toughest conditions.
This year was the first year that the Bear Bones 200 event took place. A 200 km individual time trial through some very challenging terrain in Mid Wales. With over 6000m of ascent and a wide variety of terrain, it was going to take good preparation and selection of kit as well as fitness to complete the route.
Taking enough equipment to survive a night under the stars was mandatory. At the start, some 30 riders lined up on a clear and cool morning. A wide range of bikes laden with varying quantities of gear made it clear there were a wide range of strategies for this event. Ian, pictured above, strapped the minimum of kit to his Singular Pegasus and headed out on a mission to complete the Bear Bones 200 in under 24 hours. Here's what he took:
- Terra Nova Moonlight bivvy bag
- Balloon Bed Mark 2
- PHD Minim Ultra sleeping bag
- PHD Ultra 900 vest
- Small first aid kit
- Endura arm warmers
- Assos leg warmers
- Medium weight merino long sleeved top
- Extremities fleece hat
- Gil eVent waterproof jacket
- SPOT satellite tracker
- Wildcat Clouded Leopard frame bag
- Wildcat Mountain Lion handlebar harness
The Clouded Leopard was a special item we made for the event. Made to be light from the outset, we selected VX07 fabric that sacrificed some of the durability and abrasion resistance of VX21. It tipped the scales at 150g, though we could have paired this down further by selecting a lighter material where the bag interfaces with the frame. As far as capacity is concerned, it turned out to be like a little TARDIS, easily taking the balloon bed, bivvy bag and first aid kit as well as a significant amount of the food for the event. The result was that Ian was able to ride without anything on his back, not even a small hydration pack or rucksack. Up front, the Mountain Lion held on to a 8 litre dry bag containing sleeping bag, clothes and waterproof and other small items. Here's what Ian said about the kit he used:
The Clouded Leopard worked really well for the event. I was able to pack the food near the front where it was very easy to access, even on the move. Grabbing my water bottles on the move wasn't an issue either, with the side entry bottle cages complimenting the frame bag perfectly.
The Mountain Lion was a crucial bit of kit too. I knew that most of the gear in my dry bag would not see any use if I decided to forego sleep and push through the night, so I needed to just fit and forget it, which is exactly what I did. The Mountain Lion held the bag securely for 17 hours of hard off road riding without any movement in the straps. The whole thing remained really tight and even on the roughest of trails I wasn't aware of any movement.
Ian made it back to the finish joint first with another rider Kevin Roderick at the very early hour of 3:28am, with a riding time of 17 hours 23 minutes for the 210 km route. They were the only two riders to complete the route in under 24 hours and earn a coveted black Bear Bones 200 badge.