Downsizing Before the Big Ride

The more I bike the more I realize I need to carry less and less.

Each training trip makes me optimize. That two-person tent becomes a one-person. That bag of all my bike tools I throw in my panniers gets sorted and pared down. That hardcover becomes a paperback. Seriously.

My big U-lock is next on the chopping block in favour of a sleeker, smaller bike lock. I’ve biked across three countries, (okay — small European ones) so I thought I had this figured out. The truth is, biking in the Yukon is very different. You need more gear, and have to pack supplies for days instead of the day.

When loading up, keep your bike’s centre of gravity low by placing the heaviest items in the bottom of your panniers. It’s easy to cram your sleeping bag in the bottom, but that isn’t the best idea. A 40/60 rear-to-front-wheel weight distribution is recommended because the extra weight on the front wheel will keep it from lifting while going uphill. Also, having low racks will help with the centre of gravity.

Weight distribution needs to be equal side-to-side as well. You can do this just by judging with your arms, but the truth about bike touring is that what you carry changes daily, depending on what you’re eating and wearing, so think carefully as you pack clothes, food, and gear.

My training rides make me realize what I need more of, too. Whitehorse-Atlin-Carcross is my next trip, which I’ll detail in next week’s article. With the hot sunny weather we have been having, the weight of water has been on my mind. I’ve decided to make my own sports drink mixture in powder form, that can help make the most of my water fi ll-ups while biking this summer.

There’s five main parts to a sports drink; water, carbs, salt, citric acid, and flavor. Here are ratios for a sports drink:

• Approx. 700 ml water

• 4-6 level tablespoons white sugar/dextrose/glucose

• Pinch of salt

• Squeeze of lemon

• Kool aid powder

• EmergenC powder

• Splash of juice

Play around with it to taste.

As much as sports drink companies extol their science, even on a bike tour you’re not exerting yourself to olympic standards. The important thing is that salty, sugary water replenishes you better than plain water after an hour or more of sweaty medium-tohigh intensity exercise.

On a day with five or more hours of cycling, one or maybe two drinks can help keep you going.

I had planned to bike up to Twin Lakes Campground this week, but alas construction is more of a bane to the cyclist than the driver.

A gentle reminder to check the road conditions at before your ride. 

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