Neil Shirley’s Bikepacking Adventure: Part 1

Words and photos by Neil Shirley

Former professional road and mountain bike racer and longtime Lezyne Ambassador Neil Shirley is planning his first multi-day bikepacking trip so we asked him what bags he’s going to use and what he’ll be filling them with.

Sometimes, planning an adventure is half the fun. That’s been the case for the upcoming 4-day, 428-mile ride I’ll be setting out on with a few friends, and there’s been plenty of planning to do for such an outing. First off, after picking a general route there were hours spent pouring over Google Maps in search of dirt road alternatives that can get us off the pavement and away from cars. Then there’s figuring out what essentials we’ll need to carry with us to make sure we’re covered and can handle any mechanical issue out there while trying to keep the packing list to a minimum.

I’ve had a loose plan to do something like this for the past year, but it wasn’t until Interbike when I saw Lezyne was entering the bikepacking realm with the XL Caddy seat pack and Bar Caddy handlebar bag that I got serious about it. That sealed the deal. All I needed was an excuse and now I had one.

The idea is pretty simple really, we’ll roll out of Santa Clarita, California, where I live on the start of day 1 and finish there three days and 450 miles later, completing one big ass loop around San Luis Obispo and back. By pairing my phone to my Lezyne Super GPS and utilizing the Lezyne GPS Ally App v2 phone app and online GPS Root I was able to create my own custom route for this adventure and save it on my GPS.

Day 1 – 82.46 miles: Santa Clarita to Pine Mtn. Club.

Day 2 – 125.5 miles: Pine Mtn Club to San Luis Obispo.

Day 3 – 114.33 miles: San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara.

Day 4 – 105.23 miles: Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita.

Doing a multi-day point-to-point unsupported ride will be a first for me, though, the true bike packers will call me a fake, and they’re probably right because sleeping under the stars atop a picnic bench in a public park really just doesn’t do it for me. I’ll be staying under a roof with running water, a warm shower and a real bed along the way. I know, I’m a total poser. I can live with that. Not having to worry about bedding and cooking stuff eases the load considerably and leaves room for other things that aren’t exactly necessities. After honing my packing list, this is what I have it narrowed down to:

Bar Caddy

  • External battery and charging cords for phone and Lezyne Super GPS computer
  • 3x boxes of Pop Tarts (assorted flavors)
  • Flask filled with Yippee Ki-Yay whiskey
  • Sandals
  • Rain jacket
  • Lezyne RAP 20 multi-tool
  • Lezyne Metal Kit (patch kit)
  • 3x Inner tubes
  • Chamois cream
  • Sunscreen
  • Topical Edge PR

XL Caddy

Now that I have my packing list complete, the routes planned and some play time with the Bar Caddy and XL Caddy on my gravel bike, all that’s left is the second half of the adventure … the ride itself.

Check back shortly for a recap of the ride and follow Neil here.

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