You’ve made it to the Gunnison Valley and now you’re ready to get out and ride. Let us help you fill your pack with the right gear to make sure you have a great adventure out on the trail.
You should have these things pretty much no matter where you’re going. You can probably get away without some of them on the majority of your rides. But you don’t want to be way in the backcountry without them if something goes wrong.
1. A Good Map
Our trail network is so extensive and interconnected here in the Gunnison Valley that it can be hard to stay on course if you’re not familiar with the terrain and trails. We also have some tricky private land and wilderness boundaries that may or may not be marked on the trail.
Luckily, we’ve made it a whole lot easier to take your map with you. Just point the browser on your phone to cbgtrails.com. It’s our brand new, web-based mobile map app. Save the app to your home screen to manage all your maps in one place. Download the map area you’ll be exploring. The maps run off your GPS signal so you don’t need cell service after you’ve downloaded them. Just lock in your location and use the refresh button to update it as you ride.
If a paper map is more your thing, head over to any of our local shops to buy a map.
Bring plenty of water. Whether you’re rocking a backpack with a bladder or you’re going old school with bottles in cages on your frame, we suggest you bring more than you think you’ll need. A lot of our trails are known for challenging climbs and the air is pretty dry here. If you’re coming from a more humid climate you may find that you need to drink more water here than you do at home.
Drinking plenty of water also helps combat the effects of our high altitude. With trails like the 401 topping out well above 11,000 feet, every little bit of acclimatization helps. In fact, you may want to check out local company, Acli-Mate, to try their high altitude sports drink.
Just like with the water, you’ll want to bring more than you think you need. Local riders have a wide variety of recommended food items. Some folks pack the traditional cliff bars, honey stingers, and gu. Others will bring a fat deli sandwich or a breakfast burrito. I like the locally made, raw, gluten-free, organic love bites bars. I know a few riders who swear by leftover fried chicken from Slogar for big days on the trail claiming it’s the perfect mix of protein, carbs, salt, and fat.
Our best advice is to just bring what works for you and make sure you have some fuel to power you through your ride. I went out on a 20 mile ride once by accident without eating lunch and with no food in my pack (this makes a good case for item number 1 on our list). Never again. The trail was really fun and pushed my limits as a biker, but I spent the last hour of the ride hangry and tired because I had no food.
4. Rain Gear and Sunscreen
Our summer weather can be somewhat unpredictable. Given how far we are from major weather stations, the forecasts aren’t always totally accurate. When you’re out deep in one of our mountain valleys, the peaks above you can sometimes make it hard to see clouds gathering on the horizon. The good news is that our summer rains are usually brief, albeit intense. So pack some rain gear and be prepared to hunker down and let a brief downpour pass. You may even luck out and see a rainbow.
If it’s not raining, it’s probably sunny. Our high altitude and thin atmosphere mean the sun is really intense up here. So put on the sunscreen before your ride. If you’re planning to be on a long one, stick some extra in your pack to reapply during your snack break up top.
5. An Oh Sh!t Kit
Bikes, like all things mechanical, can sometimes have issues on the trail. Flats, broken chains, busted derailleur hangers, etc.
Bring some tools and make sure you know how to use them if you’re planning on a backcountry ride. We recommend a multi-tool that includes a chain tool, spare tubes (make sure they’re the right size for your wheels), a hand pump or CO2 cartridges, and some quick release chain links. Those will get you through most of the basic mechanical issues you might have on the trail. Zip ties and spare derailleur hangers are also pretty useful if you’re the type who likes to mash on your bike and get a little loose in the rock gardens. Youtube is a surprisingly great place to learn how to use your tools before you head out. Or keep an eye out for bike maintenance clinics at bike shops.
You should probably throw some basic first aid supplies in your kit as well. Band-Aids are good. Some 2 x 2 or 4 x 4 gauze pads and tape. Alcohol swabs. Maybe a pack of QuikClot dressing.
6. A Camera
It may be your phone, a GoPro or Action Cam, or even a heavy DSLR, but you’re going to want a camera to document your rides on our trails. Throughout the summer you’ll get to see wildflowers, stunning mountain vistas, meandering rivers, and wildlife. When the leaves change in the fall, the trail will turn into a yellow brick road. Even though we live here and see it every day, we still take photos when we go out for rides. If you’re the sharing type, be sure to tag them with #mtbhome so we can see where you’ve been.
Nine times out of ten you won’t need a lot of this stuff. Maybe even ninety-nine out of one hundred. But for that one time, it’s really good to have. Plus, when you can save someone in your group or someone you encounter on the trail with a spare tube or a quick snack, you get to feel like a hero.