Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tour Divide Gear Preview - Clothing

This is the second in my series of gear posts for my 2015 Tour Divide attempt. Today, the exciting world of clothing.

Everyday riding gear

All of this gear was basically chosen after a lot of riding, testing and personal decision making. The jersey and shorts are what the Rasmussen Mountain Bike Team decided on for the team kit. Fortunately, talking people into buying the better bibs and chamois has been an easy sell and it makes my seat happier. :) The jersey is a touch thinner than I would like, but I can make up for that with the merino tshirt as a base layer. The Twin Six shorts will provide a couple of extra pockets and some extra protection against cold, brush, water etc. In addition, many people are uncomfortable having someone sitting/walking around in lycra. The shorts will make me a bit more "normal" looking whenever I'm in a business (whatever normal means). The merino T will give me a little bit of extra insulation and help wick water away. It's another thin layer to sleep in if it's not too cold and it will dry out quickly.

I've tried two or three different pairs of shoes before settling on this pair of X-Projects. My normal Specialized shoes aren't super hiking friendly. I tried a pair of X-Alp 1.0 shoes during my July GDMBR trip. They were super comfortable hiking, but a little too flexible in the sole, and I was afraid that extended use would result in achilles issues. The X-Project shoes have plenty of grip on the bottom, but are a little stiffer in the cleat area. I have them running about a 1/2 size larger than normal so my feet will still have circulation when swollen and/or when I have waterproof socks on.

Optional riding gear
  • Cloth neck buff
  • Goretex beanie
  • Regular cycling hat
  • Arm warmers
  • Knee warmers
  • Spare wool socks (mid calf)
  • Summer weight riding gloves (full finger)
  • Heavier riding gloves (full finger)
  • Sleeveless wind vest
This section is all stuff to help regulate temperature and protect the skin while riding. Nothing super special here. The arm/leg warmers are currently some Specialized ones that I've had for a few years with some fleece lining in them. There's a possibility that I'll swap them out for some wool ones before the race. The neck buff will be used to keep the sun off my neck and dust out of my mouth and nose. Dipping it in a stream or pond can provide some much needed cooling. Spare socks will hopefully help keep the funk away from my feet. The wind vest will be useful to keep my core warm, when my rain/windshell will be too much and can be unzipped/zipped as needed on climbs and descents. 

Rain Gear
I bought the coat and pants via I had read about Luke's Ultralight doing raingear research. His stuff is seam sealed and fairly light. The coat and pants also pack down fairly compact. The raincoat also makes a great insulating layer when the temps dip below freezing in the early mornings. The waterproof socks are still completely up in the air at this point. I used my current socks as a windproof/insulating layer during TransIowa V10, as well as during a couple of shallow creek crossings on training rides. They don't go too far up my calves, so they won't be useful in deep water crossings. I have a couple of brands of calf high socks that my friend Dennis has clued me into (Dexshell and SealSkinz) that are under consideration. Gloves from those manufacturers are also on the table. In the end, I'll probably end up wet no matter what I use. It will just be the difference between warm and wet vs cold and wet.

Sleeping/Off bike clothes
This gear will mainly be used for sleeping, but all of it will be a useful insulating pieces if it's cold and I'm stopped somewhere for an extended period. The Q-Shield down in the coat is supposed to help resist moisture. Not enough for rain, but enough to help with the touch of moisture you generate while sleeping in a bivy. The 260 weight shirt is a touch heavy for sleeping, but it can also serve as an additional insulating layer when riding. If necessary I can take off my jersey, toss this on and look a bit less "bikey". I may swap out for a 200 or 150 weight if the temps look like they will be warm. The merino boxers will let me air my seat area out at night without requiring me to go full commando.

All of my clothing is being stored in my Mr. Fusion seat bag system, so I can undo two straps and get it off the bike and where I am quickly. The sleeping clothes are stored in a waterproof compression sack to make sure they stay dry and take up minimal room. The optional riding gear plus the waterproof socks & gloves are stored in a standard drybag so I can have quicker access to them throughout the day. The raincoat and pants are just shoved in by themselves.

If any veterans are reading this, they are probably thinking that this is way too much clothing, and they are probably right. :) I'm packing for my fears a bit, as I don't like to be cold, either on or off of the bike. Some of the warmer pieces will likely be mailed home as I get further south on the course. 

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them. 

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