Sunday arrived, as did "The Vortex". Since I had a complete rest day on my schedule, I turned on the fireplace and started digging into more route and gear research. I had slowly whittled potential sleep system candidates down to about 4 in each of the categories for shelter, pad, and insulation. After more reading that afternoon, I finally made the decision to just start with something, and resell anything that didn't workout after some testing. So my starting setup is -
Milesgear Pico Bivy - I had looked at their UberBivy a few years ago. Going back to his site I saw this new, smaller bivy, made with the same materials. It's relatively light at 568g (not including the ground cloth) and was fairly inexpensive at $160 shipped. Most important to me was that, unlike my Nemo bivy, it doesn't require any stakes to use. No stakes or cord to fumble with when setting up, and no stakes to forget somewhere on the route. I'll be able to set it up on a picnic table or a slab of rock if necessary. Packed down, it rolls into a cylinder that's 12" long and 5" in diameter. I'm going to use it with the stock one piece pole that it was supplied with, and see how well the pole packs up. I may end up with a corded metal pole as a replacement. My interactions with Dave Miles were easy and pleasant. The bivy was delivered this week. Initial reaction is that it's a bit noisy, but it's also made of tyvek and hasn't been used yet. A bit of scrunching or maybe a water only trip through the washer should take care of that. The space inside is more than adequate. Will report back on how well it breathes and waterproofness after it warms up a bit.
I'm still working out a sleep pad option, but I'm a stomach sleeper so some of the superlight X-frame pads are out. I have a loaner Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite on loan from a friend. It's a short pad, so it will only go to my knees. I'm not sure if it will be enough to keep me warm, but I hope to test that out soon. If not, that same pad in a regular length is an option, assuming I can handle the noise. I have other pads from Nemo and Klymit on my short list too.
I also invested in some rain gear to test. While posting for my bag on the BPL forums, I came across a guy selling some lightly used pac-lite based rain gear for a price I couldn't pass up. The gear itself is from Luke's Ultralight. I ended up with a pair of pants and a seam sealed raincoat for $110 shipped. The coat has a bit more cloth in the sleeves than I expected, but the body has plenty of coverage for when I'm in a riding position on the bike. This particular coat also had the pit zips installed for some extra ventilation. Again, I hope to test this gear out sometime soon.
I also made a dyno hub choice during the last couple of weeks. I opted to save a bit of money and go with the Shuttle Precision PD-8X dyno hub instead of the equivalent SON. I've seen a number of the SP hubs in action and they have all seemed to work as well as the SON. I don't know if it will have the extreme lifetime that the SON claims, but I think it will be adequate to the task at hand. It also shipped with a QR adapter, which is a nice touch.
I've been taking it easy on the riding the last couple of days due to straining a muscle in my left leg. This is the same tightness that I had a couple of weeks ago, but I think that walking lunges appear to be the root cause of the issue. My long Saturday ride turned into a light spin/rest day with a lot of work on the foam roller to get things to loosen up. More ice, foam roller, and Trameel today to get it back in working order.