What I Packed: Racing a Gravel Bike on a Cold Weekend in the Sierra
Welcome to What I Packed, our new Journal series designed to help you pack for your adventures by showing you what we brought on ours. Folks on the Huckberry team are always taking incredible trips, so with each installment of What I Packed, we’ll be taking a peek inside their travel bags to find out what makes these adventures possible. This time around, we’re following up with Will Porter on his recent long weekend gravel racing in the freezing cold Sierra.
Born of a partnership between Giro Sport Design and the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, Grinduro is a bike race that is, in my opinion, like no other. At 60 miles and 8,000 feet of vertical elevation change, the punishing racecourse combines elements of gravel grinding, cross-country mountain biking, and enduro. Grinduro has set itself apart, creating a new type of event focused just as much on quality racing as the party afterward.
Since 2015, the town of Quincy, CA, nestled in the Plumas National Forest northwest of Lake Tahoe, has hosted the California edition of the Grinduro, where racers have enjoyed picture-perfect camping and riding weather—sunny and brisk in the morning followed by a warm afternoon that set the perfect vibe for the swimming hole after the final stage and the post-race party. Their claim to fame is the perfect party-to-race ratio, so camping on-site the nights before and after is a must to get the full experience.
About a week before the race, I checked my weather app and saw something I was not expecting. Not a little sun icon looking back at me, but a snowflake. This was a cold front none of us expected and, needless to say, my mental approach to racing—and packing—changed. Performance on race day is as much about having contingency plans for all the variables as it is about physical fitness. Sub-30°F temperatures and a chance of flurries weren’t exactly what I wanted to look forward to before the hardest race of my life, but it’s what we got. So at this point, I did what I do best on trips to races: I overpacked. Here are some of the staples I was most grateful to have in my bag.
A lightweight yet rugged watch
In the bike world, there are tons of options when it comes to electronic tech, but I like to wear a simple analog watch when I train, and it’s great to have on a trip. I love the One Eleven Mt. Everest SWII—it is solar-powered, lightweight, and has an easy-to-read dial that I can take a peek at any time without fussing with my GPS or reaching into my jersey pocket for my phone.
• Sustainably-powered battery charges in both solar and artificial light, eliminating the need for replacing the battery every few years
• rPet Strap crafted from recycled water bottles is easily adjustable thanks to the velcro closure
• Water-resistant up to 100 meters
SHOP THE MT. EVEREST SWII
SHOP ALL ONE ELEVEN
I brought my long-sleeve 72-hour tee, which I basically lived in when I was off-bike at Grinduro. Warm, soft, and scent-repelling, not only do I wear these as an après piece, but I often find myself wearing these on training rides instead of a jersey. I’m obsessed with anything merino, and on any trip, I will have at least two merino items with me. My buddy Ron, who is an even bigger merino evangelist then me, wore his 72-hour tee during the race.
SHOP THE PROOF 72-HOUR MERINO LS TEE
When camping or biking, I always have a muti-tool. You never know what is going to happen on the trail or at the campsite, so keeping a tool in my bag is imperative. The Leatherman FREE K4 ticks all the boxes for a quick trip. With so many features in a small package, I can easily throw it in my bike bag or a jersey pocket and just forget about it.
SHOP THE LEATHERMAN FREE K4
My buddies and I have a tradition we call #casualride where a flask is always in tow, and while this may have been a bit more serious, a freezing cold weekend at Grinduro called for quick access to some whiskey. I don’t need to get fancy when it comes to a flask, and there is nothing like a Stanley flask.
SHOP THE STANLEY CLASSIC FLASK
A bike lock
Ok, so you wouldn’t think there’d be people at a bike race who would steal a bike, but you never can be too careful. Plus, having a lock on hand when traveling with a bike is a must. We stopped at In-n-Out burger on the way up and threw a couple of Otto cinch locks on our bikes so we could eat in peace. These are my favorite locks for riding—super light, ultra-tough, and easy to use.
SHOP THE OTTOLOCK CINCH LOCK HEXBAND
When I saw the rain and snow in the forecast I scrambled for some rain boots that I could just stomp around in without worrying about water getting through. I opted for the XTRATUF Deck Boots. This was the perfect opportunity for them. I didn’t need knee-high Wellington boots, there wasn’t that much water in the forecast, but I needed something I could count on to keep my feet dry and these absolutely did the trick.
SHOP THE XTRATUF DECK BOOT