Much has been written about stage-race packing and theories range from fanatical scout-like check-listing to ‘throw as much as you can into the bag, until it’s full.’
Speak to most experienced Epic riders – camping and those who favour private accommodation –and you’re going to find most err toward the side of the Scout (so as not to forget anything). Here is a broad overview of some valuable tips on how to get that comprehensive checklist all into one bag.
The trick, says six-time Absa Cape Epic finisher, Craig Kolesky, is to pack by compartments. “Invest in smaller (I find lightweight mesh ideal) bags for each of these sub sections,” says Craig. Now, Craig is well known as a fanatically methodical packer in the adventure sports fraternity in which he works as professional photographer. But, and trust us on this, he’s on to something…
Not only will these packing cells or cubes help you fit more gear into bag, but they also provide easy access to specific gear and clothing items and makes repacking a breeze.If you see Craig out on the route – he’ll be chasing his seventh straight finish in 2019 – give him a little ‘thank you’ pat (push up a climb) on the back.
And, if buying additional mesh bags or ‘cells’ is a step too far, just use a few pillow cases.
Here is what a basic packing list might look like:
Tip: Sign up for the rider laundry service here and you’re good to go.
3 Cycling tops
3 under layer vests
3 x arm sleeves
3 pairs socks
Tip: Pack your daily nutrition into ziplock bags (please recycle these), as tubs can take a up a lot of space. Work out exactly how much you will need per stage and separate this beforehand. This goes for the amount of scoops you use per day for your drinks and recovery; for the gels, and bars too.
21 Gels – 3 per stage
16 Bars – 2 per stage
6 x bottles
Clothing (off the bike):
Tip: Don’t pack outfits; take items that work well with a variety of things. Also, pack items that can roll rather than need folding (less creasing).
2 x Shorts
5 x T- shirts
2 x hoodie
1 x Jacket
Shoes(1x pair of closed shoes/trainers; 1x pair of flip flops)
Personal medical kit (including an antihistamine, Mosquito repellentetc)
Tools (including duct tape, cable ties and multitool)
2 x combination locks (1 for SCICON bag and 1 for tent)
Your rider bag
At registration in Cape Town you will receive a SCICON rider bag with your personal race number on it. This bag is the only bag that we transport between stage locations and, if you are staying in the tents and rely on us to transport your kit, everything you need during the race (including your sleeping bag and pillow)must fit in here.
Oh, it’s big enough, there’s no need to worry about that. The trick lies in how to pack it so that it becomes the most conveniently possible ‘race cupboard’ to live out of during the event.
The specially designed SCICON riders bag itself comes with various compartments so keeping your ‘sub sections’ separate shouldn’t be too much of a problem and hopefully not lead to a bottomless pit through which you need to rummage each morning just to find your Chamois cream.
All of that being said, don’t let the packing stress you out. There are enough other pre-race elements that could add stress, this need not be another. You have the basic checklist now and no-doubt have add-ons of your own and through advice from other riders. Happy camping!