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Packing for the Tour Divide

Always Riding's good friend Kevin 'Blackhound' Cunniffe is taking part in the epic 'Great Divide' race through America this year, and here, the intrepid adventurer delves into packing, sleeping bag and other kit matters…..

I have recently purchased a Lomo dry bag for about £8 that is longer and thinner than most dry bags. One problem I have had is that my warm Alpkit sleeping bag is quite bulky and in a dry bag has been buzzing on my front wheel when the suspension compresses. Not good for a long tour!

I have purchased a Western Mountaineering sleeping bag which will fit in my saddle bag and releases the bar bag to be used for other things. This dry bag will be for my spare clothing. Into the 7 litre bag I have stuffed a Smartwool top, Bio Racer shorts, Craft baselayer, 2 pairs of socks, M&S underwear, Patagonia long-johns, Ibex beanie and a Finisterre Etobicoke jacket. The jacket is super warm and packs down small into its own pocket. I need to get my Craft leg-warmers and a spare pair of gloves in here as well which I remembered later, so it could be a squeeze. The weight as packed is almost 1.5kg and will be held in place by a Revelate Designs harness.

One or two bits of kit are subject to change, and of course I will be wearing another set of riding kit.

In the last few days I have received a new frame bag from new Welsh company Wildcatgear which I intend to hold additional water - there are some 130 mile stretches without water and I need to be able to carry up to 6 litres, ideally not on my back. I have a very lightweight OMM ruc-sac and a Wingnut pack, I need to decide which is best for my purpose.

My saddle pack, also a Revelate Designs product, will have my sleeping bag, bivy bag, shelter, water proofs and some bike spares in it.

In practice I should be aiming to need carry not a lot more than I would for a day ride, just sleep and shelter. The front runners seem to only take one set of riding kit. It is possible to buy kit en-route and a possible strategy is to ride the first half in one set of kit and then buy some new for the second half of the race. Personally, I would like to change kit more often than that. I suspect that I will have a bit of practice packing and re-packing over the next few months.

This morning I went to a travel agents to look at flights, a bit more expensive than I thought, one quote was more than a recent business class flight to New York.

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About the Rider: Blackhound
Now retired, Blackhound can get on with the real business - riding! This un-assuming Derbyshire native completed the Tour Divide race in 2011, and in 2013 aims to ride the Highland Trail Race, traverse Spain in a Spanish border tour and, if all that was not enough, roll along for 1,800 miles of the Tour Divide Route.
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