I wear red 10L Evoc FR Lite pack on the trail and get asked all the time, “What do you have in that pack?” My response, “Everything.” Last June while taking a VIDA Mtb Series clinic in Winter Park my coach, Jon, pulled out a small plastic divided box filled with bolts, zip ties, chain links, cables, brake pads, a bite valve, and other items to repair a bike with. I wondered, a bite valve? Yes, a bite valve, because if you or your friend loses their bite valve or if it is leaking 20 miles into a 40 mile epic, they are in a predicament. He also had with him pumps, tubes, CO2, tools, and duct tape.
After that clinic, I repurposed an old 6.5” x 1” x 3.5” divided storage box into my own emergency toolkit. In it I placed spare cleats, cleat bolts, quick links, 6” of chain, a derailleur hanger, chain ring bolts, brake pads, zip ties, a presta valve, spacers, bolts, and a bite valve. I not only placed items that would work on my bike or shoes, but also on others. I ride Crank Brothers pedals, but I also have a SPD cleat in my box. I have an 11 speed drivetrain, but also carry 10 speed chain and quick links. Into my pack also went a pump, CO2, tire plugs, patch kit, tire irons, multitool, leatherman, duct tape, tire boots, shock pump, and full first aid kit.
For two months the box sat in the bottom of my pack unused, but there just in case. Then, one day as Byron was shuttling me and a friend up Monarch Pass to ride the Monarch Crest and Fooses Creek, I noticed her sitting with her hydration hose in her hand with water all over her shorts. I asked “Is your bite valve leaking?” “Yeah,” she said, trying to control the leak. “I have a spare in my pack,” I said. She looked surprised and said, “Really? Can I have it?” and I handed her the bite valve. We were just getting ready to ride high alpine trail for the next 14 miles, and then ride another 10 miles back into town, having a leaky bite valve was not an option for the day.
We and I rode along the Crest and then headed down Fooses Creek, mid way into the descent she asked, “do you have a shock pump with you?” "Of course," I replied and we stopped and for her to add pressure to her shock. It was during this ride, that I truly began to understand the importance of being prepared, because when you are that far out there is no stopping back at the car to fix something.
Over the past year, my 8.9oz box has proved time and time again that it is worth carrying. While riding in Steamboat Springs this summer, Byron’s rear derailleur cable was coming unraveled. During a break, I pulled out the box and my Leatherman and crimped on a new cable end cap. Two days later, while riding the 26 mile Divide Epic Trail, Byron said he could not clip in and out of his pedal. We stopped and looked at the bottom of his shoe, he was missing a bolt. The box came out again and we were back on the trail within minutes. A week later I was coaching and one of my students was taping her bite valve; it has torn and was leaking. Yet, again out came the box and a new bite valve.
I always make sure to restock the supplies I use from my box after the ride or trip, so I know they are there for the next time. Yes, I have a big pack with a lot in it, but when something goes wrong chances are a fix is in there somewhere and so far I’ve never regretted having the extra weight in my pack.
Until next time,