UnboundXL gear choices

Just for fun, a review of what I took with me on my first ultra distance race including my repair kit, food, spare gear, and even what I wore. Here we go:

The seat bag:

I used a Topeak medium aero wedge pack (a size up from my usual small bag) with the following inside:

  • Spare eTap battery (I needed this some 200-odd miles in!)
  • Two mini bottles of Rock N Roll Gold lube (I had a hot waxed chain, which I was not at all sold on but would absolutely do again for a long race like this, however I also knew the conditions could end up super muddy and I wanted backup)
  • Part of a Chamois Butt’r towel to wipe down the chain
  • 2 CO2 cartridges (the additional cartridge and inflator went in my pocket)
  • 2 spare tubes (I was running tubeless)
  • Mucoff puncture kit with bacon and tool
  • Spare Dynaplugs (bullet tip and pointed tip)
  • Mini patch kit
  • 2 tire levers (a lot of folks wouldn’t take two, but I’ve had enough tire trouble that the extra weight was worth it to me on a ride like this)
  • Multi-tool (larger than my normal one to ensure I had all the tools I needed)
  • Spare derailleur hanger
  • Wolf Tooth master link combo pliers and 2 spare master links
  • Chain breaker tool
  • Valve extender (I run Zipp 303 S 45mm wheels I’ve heard too many stories of folks needing to borrow a tube and then not being able to use it because the valve doesn’t extend on the deeper wheels)
  • Valve core remover
  • Orange Seal endurance sealant – 2oz
  • Chamois Butt’r mini (I used half of this at mile 180)
  • Zealios sunscreen mini
  • Super glue (oh sh*t backup option)
  • Bag of additional ‘oh sh*t’ gear including duct tape, zip ties, safety pins, spare washer, valve core, and 2 tire boots

I did have a couple other repair things in other places. However, maybe most notably, I did not bring a spare tire which many other folks did. I simply didn’t have easily available space for it as I wasn’t running a frame bag. My hope was between the boots, tubes, plugs, and duct tape I could muddle through.

The food:

Note – the donut, Soley fruit strip bars, and Hyper Hydration pictured were ultimately cut (space).

My goal with food was to bring things I knew I loved, could eat when the going was hard, and might not easily find at gas stations. I prioritized foods with high carb to calorie ratio except for the Verb bars which I brought because the 65mg of caffeine they pack sits really well with me. Here’s what I brought and ate:

  • Drink mix:
    • Raspberry SuperFuel (1 serving) and GU Roctane energy drink mix (3 servings) in addition to starting with a bottle of SuperFuel and a bottle of GU
    • One serving of GU and the spare SuperFuel I carried in my jersey pocket for the first stop, the other two servings went in my backpack.
  • In my top tube bag to start:
    • Dates (80g)
    • Dried oranges (100g)
    • Fruit strips (6 strips)
    • Untapped maple syrup packet
    • Spring Gel Awesome Sauce
    • Honey Stinger Gold gel
    • GU sea salt chocolate
    • Honey Stinger fruit smoothie chews
    • Clif Blok mountain berry
  • In my Chase bike vest:
    • Untapped maple syrup (salted caramel) packet
    • Spring Gel Awesome Sauce (3 packets)
    • Honey Stinger acai pomegranate gel
    • Honey Stinger Gold gel
    • GU vanilla bean gel
    • Verb red velvet bar (2)

The only thing I brought but didn’t eat at all was a GU pineapple roctane gel. I put it in a different pocket and simply forgot about it 🤷‍♀️ I also didn’t fully finish part of second bottle of SuperFuel or my last bottle of GU.

Any solid(ish) food in wrappers was dumped into ziplocs so I wouldn’t have to mess with opening packages. That includes fruit strips, all chews, dried fruit, and Verb bars. Obviously I didn’t open the gels! It also saved space which was absolutely at a premium in this set up.

In total, I carried and consumed 4,635 calories 1,112 carbs, and 238mg of caffeine. I talked a bit about what I bought at gas stations in earlier posts but that included Pure Leaf sweetened iced tea (tons of carbs and sugar), fruit snacks, fig bars, Nutrigrain bars, oreos, cheese pizza, and a large Rice Krispy treat.

In total I estimate I ate 7,075 calories, 1,582 carbs, and 295mg caffeine. That averaged to 266kcal/hr and 60g/CHO/hr which I’m super proud of. I worked hard in my training to get my stomach to take in high amount of carbs (90g/hr) and that paid off here as I was able to take in a lot of food in the early parts of the race and still keep eating at a steady rate later on.

On my person:

The blue sports bra and my beloved cookie buff were both cut

On my body:

  • Ride Or Die Collective cargo bib shorts (Cutaway)
  • Ride Or Die Collective lightweight jersey (Cutaway)
  • Sports bra (I wore the green one)
  • Buff half headband for sweat
  • RIDE bracelet
  • Darn Tough wool socks
  • Castelli Competizione gloves (men’s small, bought a few days before the race 🙃)
  • Wahoo heart rate monitor (worn on my forearm)
  • My favorite pink $25 supermarket sunglasses (it’s either real fancy or real cheap here 🤑)

Gear and misc in my pockets:

  • CO2 cartridge and inflator
  • Dynaplug
  • Chapstick
  • Altred (4)
  • Wallet with health insurance card, credit card, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Benadryl, a spare hair tie, and cash (needed this easy access for the gas stations)
  • A mask
  • My 2 bags of drink mix for the first stop (this took up a lot of space but after the first stop I was then able to use this pocket to mostly carry wrappers)

Additional things that I put on but didn’t take with me:

In my vest and my feed bag:

Two pumps pictures but I only brought one

I love my Chase bike vest. It’s not the most aero thing when it’s full, but it carries a TON for its size, sits well on my back, and gives me easy access to my phone and a couple front pockets. In addition to the food mentioned above I brought along:

  • 1.5L bladder – filled completely for the start and twice (thrice?) more during the race
  • Specialized Deflect H20 jacket (SUPER lightweight and compact and with decent water resistance for its size)
  • Specialized gloves (spare pair, which I would switch into at mile 180)
  • Mini pump (lent to me by a friend as mine is a bit large!)
  • Chamois Butt’r minis (3)
  • Zealios sunscreen minis (2)
  • Mini hand sanitizer packets
  • Handiwipes (5 in a ziploc in case of crash or if it was super hot and I wanted to clean off my face from salt/sweat/dirt)
  • Spare Garmin 530 (Paul’s – as mine is a bit loved and I was worried about it)
  • Mini first aid kit with bandaids, Neosporin, athletic tape, one large bandage, and some Imodium (ask me about the one and only time I ran Hood to Coast…)
  • Spare cash (split up in case I lost my ziploc bag “wallet”)
  • Spare mini USB stick charger (I was fully prepared for 2 nights out)
  • Headphones (not allowed but I know people frequently use them and I wasn’t sure how bad things would get… I didn’t need them this time though!)
  • Paint stick in the outside pocket

I also love my Revelate feed bags and for this I had one bag with me with:

  • Garmin inReach mini (required, in an outside pocket, eventually moved to a front pocket on my vest once I saw it was having issues)
  • A spare chain in another outside pocket (no, not the most logical place to have a likely not needed piece of gear BUT it was super heavy and I wanted that weight on the bike and not on my back as the vest was already heavy)
  • Exposure Joystick helmet light (easy access for night time; set either in program 2 or 3, can’t remember)
  • Clear glasses (again, easy access)
  • Larger mini charger with cable (my Garmin is loved and doesn’t hold a charge past ~8hrs so I knew I’d be using this on and off)

The bike:

Here’s the set up for the bike and related:

  • Bike specific set up:
    • Maxxis Rambler 40mm tires inflated to around 30PSI (usually run ~25PSI but added air for the fully loaded bike and rider)
    • Zipp 303 S wheels
    • 1x SRAM Eagle set up (46 chain ring, 10-52 cassette)
    • Force eTap shifting
    • Garmin power pedals
    • SQ lab 611 ergowave saddle 13cm (it took a lot of trial and error to find this saddle, but I love it!)
  • Smith Convoy helmet (yes, it’s a mountain bike helmet but I love it…)
  • 2 water bottles (one 24oz, one 16oz)
  • Garmin Edge 1000
  • Shimano XC5 shoes
  • Solas 250 rear light (attached to my seat bag)
  • Exposure Toro front light (either in program 5 or 6, can’t remember)
  • 2 spare red/white mini lights from Paul attached to my frame as emergency backups (not used in this race, but used in a practice ride when a light unexpectedly failed – they were a literal ride saver)

And that’s everything! Overall I think it was a really good set up. I feel most confident that I nailed my food and my easy access to nighttime riding set up. I did use my rain jacket (twice) and I’m not sad I had the repair kit with me as a lot of folks suffered a variety of mechanicals. Many other things were cut (including arm warmers, food, and some additional repair kit stuff). I had tested just about everything on the bike at one time or another, but a couple hours before the start I took the fully loaded bike (and wore my jersey with pockets full) on a ~10min test spin just to confirm it all worked together the way I hoped. The one downside I found was that the extreme mud at mile ~300 got into and around the straps for my feed bag which I had attached to the frame. That did cause some rubbing off of my paint but… oh well. What’s a gravel bike for if not to get a bit dirty and dinged.

There are things I’d change for next time but for my first go at ultra distance I’m pretty happy with how it worked out!

Author: cartwheelsandcake

Cyclist, climber, hiker, trail runner, back country skier, dabbling mountaineer Lover of cake, chocolate, brownies, and sweets. Excellent napper.

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