We love gear. If you live in the mountains, that is just a way of life. Reinhold Messner famously said, “The modern climber carries his courage in his rucksack.” While this can come off as a bit negative, it can be nice to know that you can get yourself out of any situation because of the gear in your pack and the brains in your head. While the gear below may not exactly be lifesaving, hopefully these items may trigger thoughts of other helpful pieces that you can customize to your own style.
Colorado may be considered a high desert, but that doesn’t seem to stop the thunderstorms from rolling in on a hot summer afternoon. This is one of those items that you hope you never use, but are always glad you packed it when the proverbial poop hits the fan. Once I was biking on a higher mountain in the Vail valley when a lightning storm came in that had bolts hitting the ground within a few hundred yards of the trail. Needless to say, I ditched my bike and ran for low ground. By the time the storm cleared enough to ride again, the temps had dropped into the 40s and I was freezing…and wet. Lesson learned.
What once was considered a luxury will become mandatory after one ride on a dropper post. While riding alpine terrain that seems to go straight uphill once, followed by one long downhill, it may not seem as necessary. But ride anywhere else in the country where trails roll, features stack up, and positioning mobility is critical, and you will learn how great this feature is. On most rides my dropper lever is pushed more often than my rear derailleur, turning the ride into a more fluid and natural effort rather than the stop and go of lowering seat posts. It may be pricey, but what isn’t now a days?
You can never have enough tubes. Even if you are running a tubeless setup, you can still never have enough tubes in your kit. Patches can work, but they can also be a nightmare when the seal breaks every few miles. I recently went on a ride with someone who had never had a flat, and by the end of that ride that same person had 4 flats and had to finish the trail by foot. Granted, no one could have packed enough tubes for that situation, but Murphy’s Law loves to come out and play when you least expect it. So don’t rely on your buddies to pack the tubes, because you never know when they are going to run out.
Riding with a pack may seem uncool, or too hot for that matter, but how else are you going to carry what you need to get yourself out of a bad situation 10 miles from the trailhead? The modern packs are so minimalistic and well ventilated that the only thing you will notice is how much easier it is to sip water when you are thirsty and spinning up a steep pitch. Since most riders aren’t hitting a huge jumpline, or doing a ride so short that a mishap would be negligible, the benefits of a pack far outweigh the drawbacks.
Exploring can be the most exciting part of riding your bike. However, getting lost can be the most frustrating part of your ride. The sinking feeling you get in your gut when you come to a fork in the trail and are unsure whether you went the right direction can be unsettling for the rest of your ride. If you don’t mind just meandering, then no worries. But if you are strapped for time, low on water, or even worse, energy and daylight, then losing your way can be a pretty dangerous detour. If you don’t have a map, at least download an app like Stava so you can backtrack to your origin if the trail is intricate and has low vantage points.