Hardest day ever on bike

I like to keep events on my calendar to help keep me motivated to train. I have seen on this and other forums some think training should be fun. For me training is not so much fun(especially indoors) but it is very rewarding and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I complete difficult workouts. Outdoors with friends can be and usually is fun but my goal is to gain fitness, complete events, and feel good and fit overall. Last week I attempted the Wilson Ramble in the mountain of NC. 3 days self-supported primarily off-road bikepacking (my first trip fully loaded), 130 miles, 15000’+ climbing, with creek crossings and several miles of hike a bike due to the rugged terrain and or grade. I only completed the first day and was toast. I have done some difficult rides in my career but nothing even comes close to this. The hike a bike is what did me in. I am in decent shape and have been training regularly but was unprepared to push a 65+lb bike up very rugged terrain for miles at a time. There was also very limited time for stops due to having to cover enough mileage each day. Lesson learned and I’m glad I tried. My next bikepacking trip will not be as demanding with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the scenery and the people I go with. Last night I saw where only 15 out of 60ish people completed the entire course so I don’t feel quite as bad. Having just turned 58 recently I do notice my stamina is fading slightly so I will be choosing future events a bit more carefully.


I’m into the bikepack/ultra racing thing, and have done several 250mi+ races this year, with another 300 miler coming up in two weeks… I can sympathize with your experience, but I can assure you with a little time, you might get the itch again… I approach them a bit different, and carry about 1/4 of the stuff you look to be carrying, which is a tradeoff of comfort vs weight. I haven’t carried a sleep kit for any of them this year, and have pushed straight through the 34 to 55 hours. There is strategy in the resupply as well, and I’ve taken to carrying a bit more food/calories/carbs and stopping less. There is no way I’d be stopping for a resupply on a 130mi route, other than water. The extra pound or two of food is worth the mental stress of rationing in hopes of getting to your next stop.


To echo upcountry, you had way too much stuff. Your bike is crazy loaded! Guessing about 30-35 lbs of gear which is just nuts for three days. Not sure what you brought, but for three days my gear weight will be 15 lbs ish, depending on if there’s resupply spots.

Hike a bikes are a big part of bike packing! Pushing that 65 lb rig would be brutal, so well done on getting as far as you did. If you can drop that down significantly you will fare much better


Thanks for the tips. I seriously doubt anyone would only be carrying 15lbs of gear for camping, food, water, and other necessities for 3 days unsupported with freezing temps at night and no resupply. None of the 60ish riders was that light except maybe the few that planned to do it in one night. Just 3 liters of water including bottles and a filter is right at 7 lbs. Add tent(ultralight 2ish lbs) or hammock, sleeping bag, camp clothing, 3 days of food, lights, some type of ultralight cookware, garmin or computer of choice, bare minimum first aid, phone and you are well over 15 lbs. This was very remote in the Linville Gorge wilderness and Pisgah. There are a few things I would have cut out but doubt I could have shaved more than 5 lbs max. Straight thru yes…camping no chance IMO. I would really like to see your list that puts you at claimed weight for the conditions described above…seriously it would be very helpful.

That’s impressive! I am unable to go that long and hard without sleep. I’m guessing in freezing weather you are ok because you are moving. I did take enough food but also too much other gear. Lesson learned.

I did a 200 mile 4 day trip last weekend. When loaded up, I was carrying 8.5L of water… so close to 20lbs right there. Riding a loaded bike is very different than what I’m normally used to. And I found harder to push a loaded bike than pedal, so tried to ride as much of the steeps as I could, even if that meant riding at low 30-40 cadence. I was in a calorie deficit each day, and was wiped by the end of day 4. But thoroughly enjoyed it.

For sure worth giving bikepacking another shot!


Ok so temps that cold def make it harder, but I think I’d be able to get by with <20 and be reasonably comfortable.

Water - is 3 L really necessary? That’s a ton. I usually only carry one, but refill and chug water whenever possible. I filter everything. I also try to avoid drinking plain water, always add some sort of sugar or something. So 1L is 2 lbs there.

Food - you don’t actually need three days of food. You’ll have breakafast day one and dinner day 3 before and after the race. You need 2.5 days. My rule of thumb is 2lbs per day (I weigh 190 lbs). That’s gonna get me 3500-4000 calories, which is about the maximum I can really get in me. I use boil in a bag for dinner and breakfast, and snack all day. Aim for 100 + calories per 30g. About 1/3 of this is carb mix and gels. So we are at 5lbs for food, 7 total.

Sleeping: I think tents are an unnecessary luxury for bike packing. They are heavy, delicate, and don’t provide that much shelter. I always use a pyramid tarp, which I love. I have an ultralight western mountaineering bag (0 C) and a thermarest lightweight winter pad. That’s gonna be about 5-6 lbs total, so we are at 13 lbs.

Food and misc- bags filter stove fuel mini repair kit, should be about 5lbs. (I make sure my bike is absolutely dialed before a trip so I can get by with a light repair kits. 18 lbs total now.

Campwear: I’d bring high loft down jacket and pants, with long underwear. Depending on temps the down stuff might not be necessary at all. So let’s say 2 lbs. 20 lbs total.

That would be a very racy setup that’s really trim, and probably some pretty uncomfortable nights. But bad sleeps come with the territory when you’re bike packing. Note I don’t include any wearables when I’m figuring out pack weights.

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Interesting question. First thing that springs to mind was the day that I did three (P/1/2, 40+, tandem) 40 km TTs back-to-back-to-back, on a day so hot and humid that poor Carl Dolan died from heatstroke.

Not coincidentally, another day that I will never forget was doing the MO district TT on my wife’s track bike on a hot, windy day that had me grinding at <70 rpm on the return leg. That was extremely painful, but it is the only TT I have ever done where my average power was clearly higher during the 2nd half. (Raced the tandem afterwards as well, but that was more of a routine slog in the heat than anything exceptional.)

Other than that, there are really painful moments seared into my brain, but nothing I recall that was as interminable.

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Has to be during an event a number of years back. I’d already cycled 1200 miles over 6 days and had developed Shermer’s neck which was getting worse. I had another 200 miles to go on day 7.

I’d jury rigged an inner tube to try and maintain forward vision. I was pushing down hard with palm of my hands, again to try and keep my head up, I was developing saddle sores as I couldn’t get out of the saddle or really change my position much with the neck issues. My palms were losing sensation.

In the end after nearly crashing for the 3rd time I had to abandon due to safety concerns. Only 60 miles from the finish but safety always trumps finishing.

Don’t think I’ve cried or hurt or suffered so much during a day on the bike, both before or after.


I appreciate the insight. This wasn’t a race but still good tips. I could see using a tarptent or pyramid tarp if the wind wasn’t an issue but on this particular trip we had 40+ winds the first night so unsure how that would work. Seems like it may be really cold. Will certainly be trimming down as much as possible for next adventure.