Bike Packing the Adirondacks
When people ask me what my favorite part of this trip was, I tell them that we were prepared and didn’t experience any major problems. No mechanicals, no flats, only took 2 wrong turns. Not too bad for 2 women riding almost 200 miles through the Adirondacks Mountains on the shoulder of the byways being buzzed by cars for a few hours a day. My other favorite part was sharing this experience with a good friend. We laughed so hard we almost steered ourselves off the road and kept each other sane during really hard days on the bike. It was all part of the experience.
Deciding which stuff to bring was the most agonizing part of the experience. I had to make sure I was bringing the right gear and supplies for spending 5 days on my bike camping in 50-80 degree weather. There were many hours spent comparing products, reading reviews, and asking my experienced back packing and bike packing friends a lot of questions. My steel frame Kona Rove gravel bike should have been the perfect bike because it’s set up for bike packing with extra brazons, but the gear ratio of the SRAM Rival One was more suited for North Texas hills than New York mountains. The Kona Esatto Titanium set up with a SRAM FORCE 50 x 34 crankset would be the bike that would get myself and 20 extra pounds of gear up some ferocious climbs. With no extra mounts other than water bottle cages, I had to find bags that could to be strapped on the bike.
There are a few companies that make bike packing specific gear. Blackburn is one of the brands that we carry at Local Hub and a brand I personally trust. I purchased the Outpost handlebar roll and dry bag and the Outpost seat pack and dry bag. My biggest concern with the frame bag was that I could reach my water bottles. Topeak’s new frame bag, the Midloader 4.5 L, was the perfect match to my requirements. The 2 other bags on my bike were a snack bag attached to my stem where I carried an extra water bottle, and a top tube bag that had extra food, tools, and anything I needed to reach while I was on the bike.
If you know me, you probably know I’m not a camper…well, wasn’t a camper. This trip converted me to being a lover of sleeping under the stars. Having nice camp gear helped bring me to the bright side. “Only bring things you need” was my advice to my friend traveling with me. After telling her that a few times, I was the one who overpacked. My Big Agness Fly Creek UL2 tent weighing in at a mere 2 lbs was quick and easy to put together. The Big Agnes Air Core Ultra sleeping pad was simple to put air in and take out. However, since I was the only one in the 2 person tent, I would have opted for a double sleeping pad to have more room to roll around. The REI Ambiant 36 sleeping bag rated for 35 F wasn’t quite up to par when the temps dropped, but was comfy and packed up nice and tight. I didn’t bring a pillow because I used my dry bag rolled up with clothes. Most of my camp cooking gear was made by snow peak. The Gigapoint 2.0 stove with a built in ignitor ended up being a good investment because neither of us brought matches or a lighter. The titanium cup and spork might seem a little extravagant, but it worked amazing well and more importantly matched my bike. Bike repair items included a 10 piece multi tool, 3 tubes, 4 co2 cartridges, and patch kit. My friend had a pump we used every day to air up our tires
Along with all that gear, the non-basic necessities included 2 cycling kits, 2 dry fit shirts, running shorts, running tights, 2 pairs of cycling socks, Shimano mtb shoes, Teva’s, and good set of ear plugs. I could have left some of this stuff at home since we had access to water and I could hand wash clothes at night and dry them on the bike during the day.
We got pounded by rain the first 3 nights of camping. Keeping all our gear in our tents at night proved to be a really smart decision. The tent had a rain fly which was a nice area for putting on shoes before making a run for the bathroom during the middle of the night. We pre-booked all the campgrounds due to our trip being on a holiday weekend. The first campground was by far the most interesting. There was a full on karaoke party when we arrived and people were partying into the wee hours of the night. This is why I packed ear plugs! The 2nd campground was in a state park on the shores of Lake Durant. It was by far the most beautiful place we stayed. The 3rd night was spent at a family run campground at Lake Tupper. This is where I learned how to start a fire! The 4th and final night was spent at a luxurious KOA 10 miles outside of Lake Placid. Only 1 of the campsites had electricity, but for an electricity stalker like myself it wasn’t a problem. My navigation device was the priority when finding an outlet. My phone was secondary since I didn’t have cell service the first 4 days on the trip, thanks Sprint. No matter where I’ve traveled in the world, people are kind and generous. We made new friends at each campground and the other campers helped us when we needed a beer and kept our fire going when we didn’t know how.
The mileage each day was based on the distance between campgrounds. We didn’t have a hard time finding places to stay because there are campgrounds all over the Adirondacks.
Day 1: 17 miles. 1,100 ft. of climbing. This was after flying into NYC, renting a car and driving 4 hours to Glen Falls.
Day 2: 45 miles 2,800 ft. of climbing. We started an hour later than planned and didn’t eat correctly.
Day 3: 33 miles 1,879 ft. of climbing. Found the best iced coffee in a little town along the way
Day 4: 45 miles 2,096 ft. of climbing. Lake Placid is gorgeous.
Day 5: 37 miles 1,500 ft. of climbing. Got on the ferry to Burlington. Then rode 8 miles on beer and burger bellies. I’m pretty sure it was uphill all the way.
We weren’t just riding for ourselves, we were riding for freedom. Freedom for the right to choose, to not be discriminated against because of our race, religion, color, or ethnicity, and the freedom to be outside. Thanks to the generosity of our friends and family we were able to raise $2,433 which was split between Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and the National Forest Service. Do epic things and don’t be scared to take a wrong turn. You never know where it might lead you.