One Relentless Life

Relentless Forward Motion

Tag: camping

A Quick 300 Miles

You never know what’s inside of you until you test the rest of yourself. You can read all of the books, study all of the guides, read every blog, but until you have an experience first hand, you only have an idea. My training partner Indy and I have been training for months for our upcoming bikepacking race. We’ve spent lots of hours in the gym, on the bike, and meditating. We’ve worked on our mobility, reviewed tons of gear, and competed in a number of single day races. The real bread and butter however, is multi-day bikepacking races. So recently we set out to do just that; 3 days, 2 night, and 300 miles of self-supported bikepacking.

Friday night classes were winding down and my ride prep was done. I had my bike all packed excluding the Jimmy John’s I planned on buying across the street on our way out of town. I bought my sandwiches and Indy and I hit the bikepath as a light drizzle fell on our rain gear. We had about 15 miles of path and road until we left town and hit the start of our adventure.

As we turned onto the trail leading out of town, we stopped and took a break to eat. The wind was picking up and the rain was turning into sleet and snow. It was getting colder too. Nevertheless, we pushed on. Heading east with a wind out of the north, we were making good time but not as great as I had hoped; I planned on us making it 65 miles before midnight.

The further we went the more the wind picked up and the colder it got. The sleet started to burn the side of my face and neck. I stopped and put the hood up on my new Patagonia jacket, which was super comfy. We crossed county roads, small bridges, and pedaled through the sand, grass, and moss as we made our way. Indy asked me if the moss felt soft for it being that cold out.

“I don’t know, I guess so, maybe.” I replied.

A few minutes later and his tire was almost entirely flat. I sat with my back to the wind as Indy changed his tire. It only took a few minutes. We can still make it, if we ride a little longer than we originally planned.

Indy got his wheel remounted and we took off again. After a few minutes of pedaling we finally shook off the cold. I was getting used to the sleet. I almost forgot about it pelting me, honestly. I was really losing interest in riding though and I started to dream of my bivy and relaxing for the night. We had a big day coming up tomorrow. Then I heard the womp womp womp of Indy’s tire bouncing as it lost air again.

When we stopped I could heard Indy getting frustrated. It was only a little after 23:00, almost an hour before we planned on stopping for the night, but I was ready for sleep. Indy said he would fix his tube and set up his camp gear if I could find a decent site for us. I pedaled down the path about 100 yards and found a nice spot behind some brush that blocked the wind. I struggled a bit with frozen straps as I wrested my sleep gear out.

I was snuggled in my bag for 20 minutes and hadn’t heard anything from Indy. I wondered if he missed me tucked in the bushes and pushed on down the path looking for me. I sat up and looked back he was still in the same spot. When I climbed out of my bivy and walked down the path, the wind cut right through my clothes. It was getting brutally cold. When I got to Indy he had his mittens on trying to get his tire back on the rim. To me it looked like he was getting too much exposure to the cold and needed to get in his bivy and warm up. He agreed to call it a night and fix the tire in the morning.

I lay in my bag tossing and turning. I was trying out a new bivy sack but it wasn’t quite big enough. With me and my bag inside, I couldn’t close it completely; I could pull it pretty tight, but there was still a pretty large opening right over my face. Sleet hit me right in the face as I lie there. I tried pulling the hood of my jacket over my eyes and my buff up to cover the rest, but it quickly got soaked and uncomfortable. I rolled to my side. The wind was shaking the trees and howling just a few feet above the brush that was blocking our camp area. Whichever side I chose to put up, the wind quickly sucked the warmth right out of me. Tossing and turning, I couldn’t sleep. I decided to wake Indy up and move to a new spot.

I called to Indy to tell him we were moving. He had thought I was comfortably asleep and he welcomed the idea of moving. It was wicked cold getting out of the bag. The straps that held my sleeping pad on my bike had frozen solid. I shivered as I put my rain gear back on to block the wind. I reached out for my shoes and noticed that they had been a nice layer of sleet in the bottoms of them; I took a couple of deep breaths and slid my feet in. So cold! My hands were hurting and the wind was beating the shit out of them. As I slowly packed my gear I took a break every 30 seconds to warm my hands in my coat. Ice formed on my gear in just the few minutes that I had been out of it. Indy packed up and started to fix his tire.

Shivering, we climbed on our bikes and headed back to an overpass we had seen just a few hours ago. As we pedaled, I shook the shakes, and everything started feeling good again, other than my hands and feet. 20 minutes later we hit heaven; a dirty overpass blocking most of the wind. We leaned our bikes and sat back in between the pillars. Just having the wind off us was like taking a portal to a tropical paradise. I unzipped my jacket, took my gloves off, and had a good laugh with Indy. As we were sitting back we could see the waves on the canal pushing upstream, and hear the trees still shaking, but we were covered and comfortable. We ate a quick snack and decided to sleep until the sun came up to get some extra warmth. I laid out my sleeping gear and climbed in. Out of the wind, I didn’t even have to zip my bivy up all the way to be comfortable. My eyes were heavy and sleep came easy this time.

I woke up to Indy’s alarm going off. What the fuck? The sun isn’t even close to being up? I yell at him to turn it off. He yells back that it wasn’t his. I got my phone out and that wasn’t it. What is it? I yelled at Indy again, and he replied that it must be crickets. I was fairly certain that there aren’t crickets in winter in a 0 degree windchill. It was pretty rhythmic too. Half asleep I tried to sort out what it could be. A few more cycles of the sound and I remember that I set the alarm on my Garmin Etrex to see if it would wake me up. It did. I crawled out of my bag, walked over in my socks and shut it off. I climbed back in my bag and immediately fell back asleep.

The next time I woke up, I saw the reflection of the sun coming up. I sat up and looked over my shoulder at the crisp landscape and soul warming sunrise. There is safety in the light. Something mental changes when the sun comes up. You just feel more at ease. The wind had shifted a bit but it was still amazing to be a troll under the bridge. Indy and I packed up again and decided to back track to the gas station we had passed late last night. According to the GPS it was only 5 miles away. We took off riding into the wind.

As we pedaled we discussed where things had gone wrong and what we could do to improve for the future and the upcoming race. The wind blowing in our face sucked but it was only a short way to be indoors. My left shoe wouldn’t lock in straight and I figured the cleat had come loose.  As we pulled up in front people stared at us like we had something wrong with us which is debatable. I had been dreaming of foot warmers the whole way there. I leaned my bike, grabbed my wallet and headed in as Indy made a video to post. I cut a line for the foot and hand warmers. I grabbed them and made a circle by the counter to drop them off. The attendant looked at me like I was an alien. I made another lap of the store and grabbed a whole pile of food and a coffee.

Indy came in as I was sipping coffee and taking my shoes off to put the foot warmers on. As we ate we discussed the plan for the day. We checked the forecast for where we were headed up north. It was supposed to be the same conditions we had last night and 20 degrees colder. We went back and forth and ended up deciding it would be better to pull the plug and head home to fight another day than to push on and risk getting injured. We were to have another 250 or so miles in the loop or we could head back directly into the wind for 50 miles and learn from what we had done the previous night. 50 miles it was. We settled on a plan of riding the 35 miles to the next town and taking a break to warm up again.

Out the door and moving, my feet were warm and the sun was on my back and the wind was in my face. Nice and steady we paced around 7.5 mph. 20 miles in we stopped to eat a bit from our feed bags. I took a leak in the bathroom and sat down outside to eat a half frozen sandwich. I didn’t want to be in the wind. I went back in the bathroom and stood and ate my sandwich. I would rather smell piss and be out of the wind. Food done, we got back on the bikes. There was a guy getting ready to go fishing as we left. We joked about who was crazier. On we went.

35 miles down, 15 to go. We hit the next town, ordered the top notch $5 breakfast pizza and got some Gatorades. All warmed up we hit the road again. A mile down the road and I was thirsty again. Good news, I had 2 of the 3 liters of water left in my bag. Bad news, it was frozen solid. I considered stopping every time we passed a store. I also knew that I would be home in a few hours and all would be well. Slow and steady we made it back.

I walked inside my house to the greatest feelings; warmth and food. I ate until my stomach hurt, took my wet clothes off and showered. I napped on and off for the rest of the afternoon and slept all night.

There’s something to be said about getting out of your comfort zone. It makes taking it easy so much nicer. If I were to just wake up and get on the couch, I wouldn’t appreciate it. After a hard fought ride in the cold, sleet, and wind, my couch was one of the most amazing things in the world. We tend to take for granted the amazing things we have in life when they are available all of the time. Take a minute and be thankful. Thanks for reading.

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Repairing your tent- Don’t just pitch it

I was very seriously considering throwing away my trusty solo tent. Read about it here. I have got a lot of use out of it, The mosquito netting was ripped and it started to lose it’s waterproofing. I have been eyeballing some newer tents that would be an upgrade. Getting new gear is fun. You get to open it up like it is Christmas and have the excitement of trying something fun. These are all of the excuses I have been making to justify buying a new tent. What I really needed to do is, not be lazy and spend the hour and $10 and repair my tent. So that is what I did. I bought a sewing kit for under $2 and some Scotchgard Water Shield for $8 and got to work.

The first problem that I addressed was the rip in the netting. Everyone has been in a hurry to get out and got the zipper stuck and just kept pulling anyway. Good news is that it is simple and easy to fix.



The first step is to zip the door closed so that you can see how big the hole is. It also helps you know how much pressure to put on the stitches to get it repaired while still allowing the zipper to close full and not further damage the tent. Why not just zip it all the way shut? Then you cannot get your hand inside to push the needle back out.


The next step is to start sewing. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I cut off about a 6 foot piece of string to work with. It was way too much length but, for the cost and not having to try and start sewing again in the middle it was worth the waste. Starting the repair is the hardest part. You have to tie a knot in the string. I pushed the needle through the zipper in and out as close together as I could and then tied a simple overhand knot. After that I started working both sides of the rip together. Making sure to go into the netting 1/4 of and inch. This is due to the netting ripping slightly when you pull it tight. If you have the thread at the edge it will just rip out. Then I stepped up 1/4 of and inch. Repeat until the hole is closed.



As you can see it is not perfect and large bugs could get in easily. That brings us to the next step. Gorilla Tape. I already had some lying around so it worked out perfect. I tore off a piece slightly longer than the tear and applied it to the outside first. This would insure that I got the entire rip covered and wouldn’t have to worry about the tape sticking to another part of the netting. Next I unzipped the zipper and attached a similar sized piece to the inside. Last I rubbed the two pieces between my palms to make sure it was stuck down as well possible.


That’s it. All done.

Now onto the even easier part. Restoring the waterproofing.

The first step is to clean the tent. I used a microfiber towel to wipe down the floor and a shop-vac to pick up way was left behind. Time investment was 2 minutes.



Then I applied the waterproofing spray. I made sure to spray up the sides of the bathtub just in case. I didn’t spray above it for two reasons. One is that the rain fly covers that area and two if there is water that deep you are in a world of hurt anyway as the water will rush in the bug netting and door.




Just follow the directions on the can for application. It says to make sure it is covered but not saturated or something to that effect. That means it should be wet but it should not have puddles or be dripping.

Next up is the rain fly. After attaching the rain fly, I made sure to first coat all of the spots that were over lapping, Zippers, flips up vents, etc. Then I applied a nice even coat like I did the inside floor.


Once the tent had dried fully, I did add a second coat of spray to the bottom side of the tent just in case I missed a spot. I had extra and I wasn’t going to save a small bit in the can in hopes of finding a use for it.

So all in all I had about one hour and $10 into repairing my tent. I think I can get another 50+ nights out of it now. I will keep everyone updated.

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As an added bonus, when I had the sewing kit out, I repaired the tent bag. tentbag

Montbell Versalite Rain Suit Review

I’ve been waiting to write a review of these until I used and abused them more thoroughly, but after the amazing performance of them in a recent rainstorm I cannot wait to tell you how awesome my Montbell Versalite Rain Suit performed.

Montbell Versalite Rain Suit

I caught the very beginning of a huge rain storm the other day and tossed these on. I biked the rest of the way comfortably. I really liked the feel of the pants. They fit nicely in the crotch and it didn’t feel like I had restricted leg movement or a diaper on. When I got to my destination, the sky unleashed the fury.

I stayed perfectly dry. For the next few hours I was in and out of the building carrying heavy bags. By the time that I got home a few hours later, the sweat from riding there had even dried.

I am very happy with this rain suit. The pants and jacket have a combined weight of 11 ounces and pack smaller than a Nalgene 1 liter bottle. The cost for the quality is very reasonable as well; it was $85 dollars cheaper than the Marmot Super Mica jacket that I had as my last ultralight.

versatile rain suit

I will keep you updated on the durability and longevity, but so far so good. You can check them out here- Jacket and Pants

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