Beginner’s Guide To Bikepacking With Bitchn Grit

The talented trio of Dani Armen, Kristen Legan, and Emily Schaldach can be found tearing up the Colorado ‘cross scene each winter after the typical summer-long assault on gravel events. This year though, the Bitchn Grit riders decided to branch out and take in a different experience…one that involves more miles, more pizza, and bigger bags on their Firefly bikes.

Approximately three weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned a concept to me which absolutely blew my mind. You’ve heard it, the “Led Zeppelin Sound” – even though you may not know the lyrics, or the name of the song. But you sure as hell know it’s Led Zeppelin. The band was so incredibly unified and in sync with how they wanted their “sound” to be, that even the impromptu solo at a concert, whether it be Jimmy Page or John Bonham, created this very distinct noise which is Led Zeppelin. This is tight but loose. Such an incredible postulation.

Bike packing is the ultimate definition of “tight but loose”. Since I had no idea what I was doing, this was an excellent way to throw a wrench into my perhaps complacent thinking/living tenancies. Luckily, our BNG squad is a pretty adaptable bunch.

We only did three nights and three days on the Colorado trail (Kenosha Pass to Buena Vista), but it was enough for us to all to mess up a little and adapt. The greatest thing about this trip was learning from each other. There was no time for ego when we all needed to get to the same place together in one piece.

My brain is a dump of not-so-existential epiphanies. So please see the following lessons and realizations around this newly acquainted (excellent) sport of bike packing:

  • “I’m going for the record of most burritos consumed in four days.” – Kristen Legan
  • Elevation is a greater gauge than miles when planning days.
  • Real showers would be helpful for yourself and others around you every 3rd or 4th day.
  • Gore-Tex is the only thing that matters, don’t skimp on the rain gear.
  • Wool is the 2nd only thing that matters (t-shirts, underwear things, socks)
  • Two greatest purchases of the year:
    • Collapsible water filter (BeFree) to avoid a pack if you can!
    • Gaia GPS for hunting down all the primo camp spots.
  • Everything that gets wet, stays wet.
  • It’s really tempting to stay by creeks, but things stay more humid and things dry a bit slower. We did it cuz…feels.
  • Minimize your wiggle in your bags for max shredding.
  • Get Pho whenever possible.
  • Objects in trail view are larger/cooler than Instagrammed.
  • Mini gas canisters are sold out everywhere. Sell the soul of your firstborn now in order to obtain one in three weeks.
  • One can actually clip a good pace (up and down) when your bags aren’t swinging like a dufus.
  • Extra gains made in the technical uphill practice arena.
  • Stuff sacks are not only the most underrated bike packing tool, but they will also give you hands of steel.
  • LTE is available on most mountain tops – ask KP who received pictures of her brand new niece!
  • Comfy pair of cycling shoes = total shoes for the whole trip.
  • Swedish Fish by the gallon is a singular gift from heaven.
  • You just get to eat all day, it’s great.
  • Bring a greens powder/vitamin C/zinc… you know, to cancel out the Swedish Fish.
  • A small bottle of bug spray was very handy.
  • High alpine dips. Enough said.
  • 15 wildflowers identified.
  • Bring a mini bear sack, throw it into a tree at your own risk.
  • Spot tracker is helpful, especially when all three phones and chargers take their lives the first day in.
  • A High Mountain Pies large pizza for each person will bring three ladies back to life.
  • “I’m either a three-hour ride person or eight-hour ride person.” – Emily Schaldach
  • No truer words have ever been spoken, outside of “We are trash bags.”
  • Everyone on the trail is happy, as were we.