One of the main questions I was asked before, during, and after, my ride on the GBDIVIDE was what kit I was taking. Whether it was my camping setup, the bike itself, or the bags I was carrying, people seemed to be interested in what I took with me for fifteen days on the road and trails.

I didn’t have any ‘rules’ for how I was going to do this ride, but I ended up taking a self-supported approach. Although I purchased food and drink along the way, I carried everything else that I needed with me on the bike. So, below is a comprehensive list of everything I took with me, along with a few insights into what I would change if I was to do something like this again.

I was lucky enough to have access to the advice of riders far more experienced than me while I was planning for this ride, so hopefully I can pass a bit of that knowledge onto someone else who is looking to embark on their own adventure.

The Bike:

  • Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1
  • Tyres – Teravail Rutland Durable (650bx47)
  • Gear ratio –  Crank:40T / Cassette:10-50T / 12-speed
  • 42cm Aluminium Handlebars
  • 3x Bottle Cages
  • Aluminium Seatpost
  • Handlebar Extender Mount

The Bags:

  • Ortlieb 16L Saddle-pack
  • Ortlieb 9L Handlebar-pack
  • Ortlieb 3.5L Accessory Pack
  • 1L Stem Cell
  • Lifeventure Ultralight Drybags
  • CamelBak Women’s Solstice 10L pack
  • Elite Tool Bottle

Clothing I was wearing:

  • Mavic AllRoad Pro shoes
  • Madison Lightweight Merino Socks
  • Pearl Izumi Shorts
  • Sports Bra
  • Montane Dart T-shirt
  • Montane Primino Merino Long Sleeved T-shirt
  • Mavic Comete Ultimate Helmet
  • Julbo Rush Sunglasses

Extra clothing:

  • Spare Shorts
  • Second Merino Long Sleeved T-Shirt
  • Montane Dart Long Sleeved T-Shirt
  • Madison DTE Women’s Hybrid Jacket
  • Spare Socks
  • Pearl Izumi Summit Lite Pant
  • Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
  • Pair Of Pants
  • Waterproof Trousers
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Buff
  • Beanie
  • Vivo Barefoot Lightweight Shoes
  • Gloves
  • Face Mask

The Camping Setup:

  • Thermarest NeoAir Uberlite Sleeping Mat
  • Sea to Summit Spark SP1 Sleeping Bag
  • Lifeventure Silk Liner
  • Exped Air Pillow
  • Lifesystems Mosquito Head Net
  • The Deuce Trowel
  • Vango F10 Helium UL1 Tent

Tools and spares:

  • Tubes x 2
  • Patches x 18
  • Dynaplugs x 12
  • Tyre Levers
  • Topeak Multitool
  • Gerber Tool
  • Pump
  • Valve/Core
  • Pad Separators
  • Quick Links x 4
  • Tyre Boot
  • Chain Section
  • Mech Hanger x 2
  • Brake Pads x 4pr
  • Lube
  • Thermarest Patches
  • eTap Battery/Charger
  • Brake Pad Pin
  • Zip Ties
  • Gorilla Tape

Electricals:

  • Phone
  • Garmin Etrex 32x
  • Garmin Edge 830 (as backup)
  • Headphones
  • Powerbank
  • Front Light x 2
  • Rear Light x 4
  • Charger cables
  • Spot Tracker
  • Headtorch
  • Batteries
  • Charger plug

Toiletries:

  • Anti-Perspirant
  • Midge Cream
  • Sun Lotion
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Immodium
  • Veloskin Chamois Cream
  • Sudocreme
  • Bug Repellent Spray
  • Hand Sanitiser
  • Wipes
  • Soap
  • Vaseline

Other:

  • Wallet
  • Lifeventure Chlorine Tablets
  • Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System 1L
  • Elite Fly MTB Bottle 950ml (x2)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Tick card
  • Safeman Compact Pocket Cable Lock

Was there anything I didn’t use?

There were some things that I didn’t use along the way, but would definitely take again. Aside from changing my brake pads once (which was always planned) I thankfully didn’t need any of the other tools and spares that I brought with me. Through a combination of careful and considered equipment choice, and a bit of luck I’m sure, I had no mechanicals or punctures for the duration of the event. If I did this ride again I would still take the exact same repair kit, and at no point did I regret carrying it with me. All of my spares and tools fitted in one tool bottle which I had on the down tube, and it meant that I could enjoy the ride with the confidence that I could fix most issues that could have arisen. And if not, then at least I would have a chance of getting to the nearest bike shop.

I also had no need for the suntan lotion along the way, which was less appreciated, but I would definitely take it again. Better to be safe than sorry, as you have no time to recover from something like sunburn when you’re out on the bike all day everyday.

The one thing that I wouldn’t take again was the overshoes. It turns out that if you’re wading through rivers and streams multiple times a day, there’s no chance that an overshoe can save you from getting wet feet. Once my shoes were soaked through, they stayed wet for the rest of the ride. The overshoes were not only an annoyance in the end, they also then made it more difficult to hike as they covered some of the grip on the sole. After a few days of carrying them, along with the added weight of lots of water, I threw them away.

Is there anything I would change?

I was pretty happy with the kit I ended up taking. I definitely wouldn’t change anything about the bike or the bags. The Lefty was absolutely perfect for this ride, and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better bike to take me over the varied terrain, the tyres didn’t let me down once, and having sturdy and waterproof bags was more necessary than I had hoped.

The clothing I wore was ideal for me. This is a pretty personal part of a ride like this, as warmth and comfort are important, but I was really happy with the balance I struck. I couldn’t have carried much less given the weather conditions I faced, but I also never felt that I needed more while I was on the bike. It was also a good decision to take a couple of layers that I reserved for wearing at night, as having something dry to put on really helped as I set up camp and ate dinner. Given how cold I still was, I’m not sure I would have coped if I had to keep wearing my sodden ride clothes.

In terms of camping setup, I was really happy with the tent. I personally don’t enjoy using a bivvy unless it’s only to grab an hours sleep in a shorter event/race etc., and definitely couldn’t have survived for this many nights in one. I ended up having rain and wind for every night that I camped, and I wouldn’t have made it to the end without a tent. It was really quick and easy to put up and take down, and was a pretty perfect size. Inside I could move around a bit, and there was a small porch area so I could at least attempt to keep some bits of kit dry. It made a fairly un-enjoyable part of the experience somewhat bearable!

However,  I would swap out some of the kit I had inside the tent. I had anticipated a fairly standard beginning to autumn, and instead I ended up in a storm for almost the entire two weeks. I was cold and wet every night, and then I woke up shivering every morning. If I was to do something like this again at a time of year with the potential for bad weather, I would definitely swap the lighter weight down sleeping bag for a warmer synthetic one. I would also potentially take a full sized sleeping mat so my entire body was off the cold, wet ground.

Aside from the bike, were there any standout bits of kit?

There were a lot of kit choices that I was happy I made, and there were some unexpected hits. The first one was probably the merino long-sleeved base layers. I ended up wearing one from start to finish, day and night, and it was brilliant. It kept me warm, and surprisingly it stayed odour-free as well. I never liked the feeling of merino on my skin before this, and couldn’t really afford it, but the two I had (one from Montane and one from Chapeau) were super soft, comfortable, and on the cheaper end of the merino spectrum.

Speaking of affordable and high quality ride kit, I also loved the Montane Dart T-shirt that I rode in for the duration. Again, it was comfortable and well fitted for riding, and has polygiene anti-odour technology. Way cheaper than any ‘cycling’ t-shirt and performed great.

The final clothing win, although there are more, was the Madison DTE Women’s Hybrid Jacket. I rode in this a lot, and wore it at night in addition to all my other layers. Really comfortable, light, warm even when wet, good for the hiking and the biking, and packed down nice and small.

A bit of equipment that I would never have thought to use, and ended up being brilliant, was the handlebar extender mount. Cost under £10 on eBay, and meant that I could fit my bags, multiple lights, and Garmin on the front of the bike with ease (and still had space for my hands on the tops).

Another bit of kit that was surprisingly good was the Camelbak Women’s Solstice Backpack. I knew in advance that I would need to carry a bit of kit on my back as I can’t ride with a frame bag, so I tested out a few unisex packs before the ride. I think they would all have been bearable to ride with, but they definitely weren’t comfortable. Then I tried the Solstice and I was instantly sold. It fits great on narrower shoulders, and holds the weight nice and low. It never once annoyed me, and ended up being a really useful bit of kit. Any layers I was taking on and off, plus any valuables, and a bit of food, could be within easy reach.

Finally, something that proved absolutely essential on this particular ride was water purification/chlorine tablets (and a lightweight, packable filter bottle). Although I could buy drinks when possible, I sometimes went days without passing a shop. Even when I did go through patches of civilisation, I often couldn’t carry enough to last me overnight and into the following day. I probably drank over 90% of my water from rivers and streams during the ride, and didn’t have any issues with this.