West Desert Bikepacking

blueeyes

ephemeral excursionist
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,109
Preparation

I need to lose weight. I say this every time I step on the scale. I feel it every time I ride uphill. There I said it we shall see if I can do anything about this spring/summer. Goal for this trip is not to take too much food or unnecessary clothes. Expected temperatures mid 60’s in the day and 40’s at night.

15.5 lbs H2O (7L)
3 lbs of food
32 lbs of gear
33 lb bike
198 lb rider

Meals

Lunches: Green Belly Meals

Dinner: Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

Breakfast: Pad Thai and Coffee with Bourbon Cream (might have taken a bit too much but ya never know when someone would like some in their coffee too).

Snacks: 2 Nut Rolls, apple with caramel dip, 2 small bags of trail mix, several Honey Stinger gels, gouda cheese, pop rocks.​

Random Thoughts

Everything fit in Sarah's car a Kia Spectra, tight fit but I managed it. Cheaper driving this car than my 4Runner.

I do not want to carry a pack on my back but I really have no choice with needing minimum of 7L of H2O and warm clothes for colder temperatures.​

Location/Route/Riders

The start was in the West Desert approximately 50 miles down the Pony Express route from highway 36 near the Dugway Geode Beds. The plan to ride a 40 mile loop taking us over Colored Pass to the Geode Beds and then back to our cars. There were four of us. Three from SLC; Becka our trip leader, Bryan, Andy and me from Idaho Falls.​

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Day 1

After getting our bikes ready, we started with a 2 mile climb heading east on Pony Express route. On the other side of the climb, we over shot the first right hand turn as we enjoyed the momentum of the downhill. Becka caught the mistake and corrected our progress. We followed this two track for another 18 miles before making camp. I move slowly on a fatbike loaded with camp gear. My pace is about 5 miles per hour. We left the cars at 2:30 and my goal was to be at camp by 7PM. It took me 4 hours and 15 minutes. 20 miles and 2000 ft. of elevation gain or so my Strava says. I averaged 5.4 MPH a nice tortoise pace, maybe slower than a tortoise but I made it to camp before 7!

We went about setting up camp, made dinner, and watched the full moon rise. As soon as I started to get to cold, I climbed into bed that was around 10PM. I woke up at 2 am shivering and needing to pee. I hate that. I do not want to get up, but if I don’t I will just toss and turn and never really get back to sleep. I checked my little thermometer (not super accurate) it was somewhere between 40 and 32F, I would guess 35F. The moon was so bright you didn’t need a headlamp to see. I should have pulled my reflective blanket out of my pack and put it between the sleeping pad and me. That was too much work. Instead, I put on my puffy and pants ate some trail mix and drank some water. This helped but still shivered now and again.​

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Day 2

At 7AM I decided I had had enough tossing and turning and got out of bed. I quietly made my coffee and breakfast and waited for the rest of crew to wake up. That was around 8AM as the sun started to peak over the hill. By 9AM it was warm enough to be in shorts. The 60-degree temperatures for both days were wonderful!

After breakfast, we packed up and started the hike-a-bike over Colored Pass. Brian was the first to start and I have no idea what time but probably about 45 min before I started at 10:15. He hauled his bike trailer over first then came back for his bike. In retrospect, I should have done the same thing. Carried my bike bags over then returned for the bike. Pushing that bike loaded with gear over the pass was one hell of an upper body workout. We were all over the pass and on the other side by 11:45.

Riding after the pass was 100 times easier than the day before. When you lighten the load and have mostly a downhill ride that is to be expected. I actually made it out in front of the group a few times instead of always being the caboose. The fatbike loves downhill and gravel washes, it really loves the two combined. We cut 5 miles off our route deciding to ride straight back to the cars and then drive down to the Geode Beds. It took 4 hours and 6 min to make it back to the cars from the time I started pushing my bike up Colored Pass. Including the hike-a-bike I was still a tortoise pace at 5.8 MPH.​

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We cut the route short by 5 miles. Instead of riding our bikes to the goede beds we went straight to the cars. Then drove the cars back to dig for a bit.

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I stopped in Tooele at Becka's recommendation and ate at Bonneville Brewery. Delicious.

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After Ride Notes

Not much in the way of food or water left (1.5L) obviously I needed to be drinking more the second day. I accomplished my goal! Didn't run out, didn't take too much. Used every piece of clothing except my gloves but would have had I not gone to sleep and I needed the clothing I took.​

All that was left.
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This was a great trip! My 6th bikepacking trip and I feel like I finally have the gear and packing dialed in. I have a few ideas how I will change things up the next trip but they are all minor changes. Only thing I need to dial in now is the rider. Then the entire package will be golden.


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Last edited:

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,779
This is super cool, I love those west desert tracks and have been meaning to do something like this.
Did you feel that a fat tire bike was worthwhile? I can imagine big sand patches would make it useful but I haven't seen that much of that out there.
How did that little bike trailer work out? Better than a backpack?

I've specifically wanted to go for an all-night ride on the salt flats at night when there's a moon out in summer, but haven't made this happen yet either...
 

blueeyes

ephemeral excursionist
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,109
This is super cool, I love those west desert tracks and have been meaning to do something like this.
Did you feel that a fat tire bike was worthwhile? I can imagine big sand patches would make it useful but I haven't seen that much of that out there.
How did that little bike trailer work out? Better than a backpack?

I've specifically wanted to go for an all-night ride on the salt flats at night when there's a moon out in summer, but haven't made this happen yet either...

I love my fattire bike. I put the same amount a miles each year on the fatty as I do on my full suspension. I do roll slower on the fatty compared to everyone else. But if I am bikepacking I am not out there to be speedy in the first place. I am looking to slow down and enjoy the process of getting there. The fatbike handles very well loaded with camp gear and me. It plows through and over everything.

Bryan's bike trailer surprisingly did very well. He was hauling 20L of water on that thing! Why... I don't know ask him. He was worried we would all run out of water. It was sweet of him to think of us. It slowed him down that is for sure! But he is a strong rider and it didn't slow him down enough that I could keep up. I don't recommend a trailer. He had to haul the trailer up the pass and over the other side. It is fine on two track and dirt roads but not single track and not bushwhacking.
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
.
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
1,016
Another great bike report!

Curious, how much bushwhacking did you do? Other than the one uphill, your pictures
all show well maintained double track.

I'm impressed that you actually cook on the trail. When it comes to food, I'm
such a minimalist in the backcountry.
 

blueeyes

ephemeral excursionist
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,109
Another great bike report!

Curious, how much bushwhacking did you do? Other than the one uphill, your pictures
all show well maintained double track.

I'm impressed that you actually cook on the trail. When it comes to food, I'm
such a minimalist in the backcountry.

In all the bushwhacking wasn't that much. We rode 35 miles of 2 track and I think 1.5 miles was bushwhacking. Going up wasn't too bad. It would have been easier and better to have taken my bags separate from the bike. I could have moved a lot faster if I wasn't trying to huff 80 lbs up and carefully get it down the other side. Even making the trek twice I probably could have done it in half the time. Getting the bike with bags down the other side was tricky because of the weight. I fell down twice because it was that loose scree stuff. Scrapped my legs all to hell from the bushes. I have bushwhacked way worse than this climbing out of Zion when we didn't have a permit to go through the Narrows. Becka had an E-bike that thing was a beast to get over that pass compared to my fatbike. But she sure did zoom along up the hills with no care in the world. :)

As for me and food in the backcountry. I like my gourmet meals and cooking in camp. I really hate all the freeze dried flavorless crap. I tend to take way more than I will ever need, so my goal the last few trips is to figure out the perfect amount and I think I am finally there.
 

wsp_scott

Member
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Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
986
Looks like a nice trip.

Care to add a little more details about dinner? It looks pretty good
 

Miya

Because I am able.
Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Messages
1,263
I LOVE photos of food! So thank you!
I don't know what that...building is, but the wood looks stunning.
I struggle to go steep inclines with my pack, I can only imagine having to push a bike up with me, I would probably end up crawling haha. Thanks for the share!
 

blueeyes

ephemeral excursionist
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,109
Looks like a nice trip.

Care to add a little more details about dinner? It looks pretty good
That was breakfast Pad Thai! Dinner was just as delicious Chicken Sweet Potato Curry.

Both recipes I got off of bikepacking.com and have modified them a bit.

Pad Thai

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Curry
They use salmon. I am not a fan so I used Sue Bee single chicken packet. You could also go with out any protien.

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Both recipes as written above make enough for 2 people in my opinion.

I am always looking for fun delicious backpacking meals. I probably eat better in the back country than I do at home.

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blueeyes

ephemeral excursionist
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,109
I LOVE photos of food! So thank you!
I don't know what that...building is, but the wood looks stunning.
I struggle to go steep inclines with my pack, I can only imagine having to push a bike up with me, I would probably end up crawling haha. Thanks for the share!
The building is part of an old mining claim. I am not sure what was mined. I love old structures. I think the wood is beautiful they way the sun and elements have weathered it.

I have pushed a bike up steep inclines before and even gently picked my way down stuff that was too steep to ride. But this was a first for doing it loaded with camping gear! If you could just roll the bike and not have to lift it up and over rocks or bushes it is actually easy. But trying to navigate the obstacles on a steep angle was the hard part.



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Last edited:

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,094
Looks like a blast.

Were those greenbelly meals that you mentioned the 640 cal 2-pack meal replacement bars? If so, i’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on them. I just ordered a few to try out.
 

blueeyes

ephemeral excursionist
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,109
Looks like a blast.

Were those greenbelly meals that you mentioned the 640 cal 2-pack meal replacement bars? If so, i’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on them. I just ordered a few to try out.

I do like them. I am tired of the usual bars like cliff bars and laura bars and whatever you can get in a grocery store. I will probably eventually get tired of these too but for now I enjoy them. I also feel they have a bit better nutrition to them. I use them for lunches because it seems like whoever I adventure with wants to keep moving at lunch. These are easy and filling. I like all three flavors. They seem to be a bit dryer than the above mentioned bars so plan on more water to wash them down.
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,094
I do like them. I am tired of the usual bars like cliff bars and laura bars and whatever you can get in a grocery store. I will probably eventually get tired of these too but for now I enjoy them. I also feel they have a bit better nutrition to them. I use them for lunches because it seems like whoever I adventure with wants to keep moving at lunch. These are easy and filling. I like all three flavors. They seem to be a bit dryer than the above mentioned bars so plan on more water to wash them down.

Awesome, thanks for the feedback!
 
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