Gearing Up for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

I have a lot of stories on my mind lately, and a lot in draft as well. From going on an epic hike with a bum knee in a hail storm at Great Sand Dunes to getting lost on my bike on a mountain in Los Alamos and getting saved by a man wearing all purple, plus everything from moving into a new house to painting an 8-room law office in Albuquerque to the avoidable death of (yet another) friend, it’s been a busy, confusing, heartbreaking, heartswelling, monumental month. I have these stories lined up, like I said, but today I left for my morning walk with the dog ready to put them on the back burner and write a post about the importance of finding what in life will keep us going (for me it’s riding my bike, writing, and celebrating the physical challenges of the body [a reason I love boxing]); by the end of the walk, I was feeling a bit less depressed—isn’t that the goal, to always strive to feel just a bit less depressed than the moment before?—I was sick of thinking about that sort of thing. I still think it will be an important story to tell, but the story I want to tell right now is a story with forward motion, the story of preparing for my bike trip. Here’s a picture of all my gear:

Here's what I'm bringing!
Here’s what I’m bringing!

Missing from the picture are my tools, which I keep in a tool roll in the bottom pocket of my hydration pack, a second water receptacle, a cup, bandana, camp flip-flops, Kindle, and charging cables which will hook up to  Taylor’s charging hub. Also, that coffee maker is a stand-in for a much lighter coffee maker that is on its way, and my camera and phone are currently in use. Here is a list of my gear, as pictured:

  • Sleeping bag, warm to 40ºF
  • Lights for camp
  • Camping towel
  • “Palmy” mini u-lock
  • One-person tent, which I just bought after weighing my hammock setup
  • Sleeping pad
  • Inflatable pillow, which I’ve never used before and seems so luxurious
  • Headlamp
  • Water filter
  • Toilet paper and toilettes
  • Handmade knife and sheath, for both utility and safety
  • Camping silverware (fork, spoon, serrated knife)
  • Poop shovel
  • Gear sealer and adhesive to repair tent, jacket, bags, etc
  • Waterproof matches
  • Saw
  • Pocket Rocket stove
  • Clothes: long johns, base layer top, shorts chamois, bib chamois, lightweight windproof puffy, ultralight raincoat
  • Food: dehydrated bell peppers, black beans, lentils, carrots, potatoes; ramen, oatmeal, waffle snacks, electrolyte chews
  • Small moka pot which will be switched out for an ultralight coffee dripper
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, tooth; sunblock; first aid kit (more info on that later)

Hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland was one of the highlights of my life. I learned so much about myself, but moreso about the strength of other women and how much we underestimate ourselves. One person got brutal blisters all over her feet (and I mean, all. over.) while another hiked while fighting pneumonia, but otherwise everyone made it out with no noteworthy injuries, until the second to last day. After hiking dozens of miles with our lives on our backs, one of us slipped on wet grass near a swimming hole and sliced open her foot. It was the first time we really needed our first aid kits, and had to put things together to bandage her up enough to walk the three (I think?) miles to the parking lot where someone offered her a ride into town. So here is what I put together this time around, based on what we needed and what I wished I had:

  • Nail clippers
  • Safety whistle
  • Bandaids of varying sizes
  • Sting relief
  • Gauze, scissors, tape
  • Tweezers
  • Mole skin
  • Neosporin
  • Natural bug spray
  • Tea tree oil
  • Antisceptic towelettes
  • Paper stitches (liquid stitches?)
  • First aid manual, wilderness edition
  • Migraine pills
  • Ibuprofen

So what’s what I’m taking, and it all packs down pretty well. What am I missing?

If you can think of anything I need, like maybe some chocolate or a love letter with encouraging words, feel free to mail us along the way. The post offices can only hold our mail for a finite time but are generally very excited about people riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) and said that so long as that is written on the box or envelope somewhere, they will make sure it doesn’t get sent back before we can pick it up.


Carolyne Whelan

℅ General Delivery

Polaris USPS

96 Billings Creek Rd.

Polaris, MT 59746-9998




Carolyne Whelan

℅ General Delivery

Slater USPS

681 County Road 129

Slater, CO 81653-9800


Early August:


Carolyne Whelan

℅ General Delivery

El Rito USPS

1134 State Road 554

El Rito, NM 87530-9998


Just remember to not send anything too heavy or bulky, because we might not be able to carry it with us.

Also, this would be a GREAT time to contribute to my Patreon account. I have a few poems up there right now and will be posting a few before I leave, and plan on leaving audio recordings up there as we move along on this bike trip, as well as some of the raw notes. I’m still figuring out how I envision Patreon (and, lets be real, my life) to work, so people who have gotten in on the ground floor have gotten to read some cool stuff for almost zero money, since I wasn’t posting very much. I promise not to bombard you, because I literally don’t think I’ll be able to, but it will be a great way to support our trip and listen to some of our stories on the road.

Training ride in La Tierra
Training ride in La Tierra