Thursday, May 31, 2007

Camelbak packrat

Date: May 30
Mileage: 14.4
May mileage: 168.9
Temperature upon departure: 49

Today's ride was short and sweet, punctuated by some swimming to give the day a little more meat. I've made some great progress with my knee following my joint-shredding vacation to Utah (the exercise suggestions that people sent me have really helped. Thank you!). But I'm back on a bit of a plateau. I've gained quite a bit of strength but I still don't have the range of motion I need to turn pedals comfortably. I probably should take some more non-bike weeks for healing, but I'm dubious about the whole notion of that ... if only because I'm in less pain now that I actually use the joint from time to time. Got to get blood flowing to the cartilage somehow.

Earlier today I was digging in my Camelbak to look for a bandaid, which I didn't find. This surprised me, because I'm used to finding just about everything else under the sun in that pack. I'm prone to lugging around an impressive assortment of useless stuff on nearly every long ride and hike I do. So today, out of curiosity, I emptied my Camelbak to see what was inside. Surprisingly, it's actually fairly normal right now, culled down mostly to stuff I actually use. (In the past, I have been known to carry everything from Happy Meal toys to several ounces of sand.) Still, it remains excessive. This is the current state of my Camelbak:

Random food that has been stuffed in there so long it has lost most of its nutritious qualities: because it is so old and squished and gummed up with stale rainwater, the chance that I actually ever eat it is pretty slim. Still, I keep the deformed Clif Bar, slimy GORP baggie and wad'o'fruitsnacks just the same. When you think about it, it's the ultimate workout food. It's great insurance against the omnipresent bonk, and you don't have to worry about the temptation to crack into it when you're simply feeling snacky.

A memento from an old race: I tied a Susitna 100 tag on the outside of my pack before a recent flight because it has my name and address on it. But after it fell off, I stuffed it in one of the pockets and now I can't bring myself to throw it away.

A ballpoint pen: I always think inspiration is going to hit me when I'm out riding, but it never does.

100% DEET: This is usually a permanent fixture in my pack, regardless of the season. I can not bear the thought of getting caught unshielded in a bug storm.

Iodine tablets: I've had this bottle since 1998 and I've never cracked into it. But it's gone with me on nearly every adventure I've had since then, and now it has more sentimental value than my Susitna tag (not sure if it has any bacteria-killing value anymore, however.)

Sunscreen: Also something I rarely crack into. But hope springs eternal.

Bear mace: It's arguable that that this is the most useless thing I carry, because in the time it would take me to wrestle the canister from the nether regions of my pack, a grizzly would have already eaten me several times over.

Loose change: One time I cleaned out my Camelbak and found no less than 34 pennies at the bottom, along with another $5 or so in dimes, nickles and quarters. You'd think this would teach me about the weight perils of throwing my gas station change in there, but it hasn't.

Bike tool: You know the Boy Scout motto. Unfortunately, with my mechanical skills, it is about as useful as 34 pennies.

Chap stick: These randomly multiply, too. The most I have ever carried is seven.

Old wrappers: And receipts. And folded-up sections of newspaper. And pieces of notepaper, always blank. Like I said, the muse never strikes. Why is that?

Claratin: When I lived in the Mountain West, I used to get hay fever every May. Now it waits until July to hit. Everything in Alaska comes late and leaves early, except winter.

Mountain bike tube and tire lever: For the longest time, I've only had one lever in there. I sometimes ponder what happened to the other, and what exactly I'm going to do, when the inevitable flat-changing time comes, with just one lever.

Comb and hair tie: This is probably the equivalent of hauling lipstick around the trail - but, hey, you never know when you might need to look your best.

They say a woman should never reveal the contents of her purse, but ya'll already know that I'm a spill-you-guts sort of a person. So ... what's in your Camelbak?


  1. With seven grandchildren around - I don't even want to see what's in the bottom of my purse!

  2. You don't wanna see the inside of my msg bag.... to scary even in only 5 days time... When I go for the long ride I just try not to have any room to put anything else in there =)

    Glad the knee seems to be on the mend... i'd say keep doing what your doing if its helping =)

  3. My Camelback is full of:

    mold (in the bladder)
    multi-tool -decrepit and heavy
    electrolyte capsules

  4. . older-than-dirt wad of toilet paper
    . rolling papers (Zig-Zag)
    . "shake"
    . Leatherman
    . tiny dirt samples from half dozen different states (at least)
    . pump/tube/patch kit
    . zip ties
    . compass
    . book of matches (commemorative from my first wedding - Ick!)
    . holes
    . memories

  5. Jill, Mr. Whiskers says hello! :)
    My husband is in the Army, so the Physical Therapists are used to crazy people. They like that I am active and MTB, so they are actually trying to help me...
    But to the content of my hydration pack: ( I am using a Deuter because it's German)

    (multi-tool, tire levers and co2 are in the saddle bag now: since I don't race xc with my pack)

    gels and gel-bloks, powerbars (don't know how many and I am with you, don't throw anything out. I took my dog for a walk once and had to eat dog treats...not further comment...)

    OFF or other stuff

    Band-Aid cleansing foam

    Sun/Wind protection

    medal and prize money from my last 6 hours race (that's where those went:))

    orange tape (OK that one really needs some explanation. I am in an organization call THOR (Trails Have Our Respect) and we take care of our local trails here in Omaha, NE. I carry that, in case a tree/logs is down, so I can mark it.)

    chewing gum wrappers

    little-tiny roll of TP (

    missing: tube (running tube-less tires, comb (don't own one;hair too short, shap stick: good idea!

  6. I like to be prepared for any situation, so whatever size the Camel Bak is, I'll fill it. I purposely bought a new one with a smaller cargo area that forces me to consider everything that goes in it. Bars and gels in the top compartment, repair kit in the bottom compartment. I use my big one for commuting, pants, shirt, lock, wash cloth, food, etc. It can get real heavy by the time I'm done loading it!

  7. The hydration pack (Mountain Equipment Co-op's version) only has the empty bladder, emergency space blanket, insect repelent, compass, waterproof matches, bear bell and emergency medical kit. I only drag it out when I'm going on a real trail, which alas, isn't often these days.

    My Crumpler courier bag (oh so stylish for commuting) always has:

    -Roll up tool pouch containing
    -Crank Bro's multi tool
    -mini pump
    -15mm wrench
    -Pedro's tire levers(the best)
    -Kevlar replacement spoke
    -Park tire boot
    -2meters of duct tape
    -glue type patch kit
    -key for locking skewers

    -Victorox multi-tool, yah I know I've got the Crank one, but the Vic has pliers, wire cutters, knife and metal file.

    -Compression sack with
    -leg warmers
    -rain shell for helmet
    -Gortex jacket

    -PDA with wireless keyboard, email is much more fun to write when sitting under a tree. :)

    -Book I'm currently reading assuming I don't have one on the PDA

    And today it also has:
    -Long sleeve button-up s shirt for work

    The stuff I recycled or pitched after doing this list:
    -7 till receipts
    -2 plastic bags
    -1 paper bag
    -2 dead aaa batteries
    -1 dead 9volt battery
    -1 half eroded cookie (vanilla I think)
    -2 stubby black licorices
    -A half gram or so of fine silt, who's composition I'm not even going to speculate about.

  8. Oh, I forgot the most important thing, well, the most sentimental anyway:
    -A little plastic pelican I found in a parking lot on the night my partner and I agreeded to start trying to conceive. We're in the third trimester now so it's become something of a good luck charm.

  9. Bought a tube b/c I was told, in case I have a flat, I could put the tube in the tubeless tire!?!

    And I have to out myself b/c I or 4 packs. Different sizes for different occasions. I guess, it is like a purse:D

    I actually broke down today and bought a small 50oz one for xc racing. I cannot get used to using bottles and always run out of water. No fun in the Midwest, where temperatures can be hot 90ies and 100 for races in the summer months and my races are getting longer:)

  10. Lessee, two bags on recumbent, one on seat, one under seat.

    Under seat: Tools, tubes, pump, CO2, 10 dollars.

    Behind seat: old stale snacks, shell, an assortment of gloves, small tube sunscreen, old altoid mint tin for IBU etc., Antelope Island pass, camera, GPS, loose change, and unlknown strange material in bottom, like crumbs, dirt and stuff only Gill Grissom can determine..

  11. Hi, Jill...I hope you don't leave this comment up on your blog as it's rather personal. I wanted to email you, but I didn't see an email address on your blog site.

    I'm writing to you because my stepbrother recently died of hypothermia on Douglas Island -- they think back in April or May. I was suprised that someone could die of hypothermia at that time of year, but then again, I"m from Texas. I did a google search for "die hypothermia douglas island" and your blog came up. Apparently you took a bike ride to Douglas Island once, and you were afraid of dying of hypothermia in Utah.
    Anyway, I hadn't seen my stepbrother in over 25 years. He had schizophrenia, and had estranged himself from the family after he was diagnosed -- probably related to the paranoid aspects of his illness. Anyway, it crushes me to think of him dying of hypothermia. They think that he was camping there because they found a tent close by with his wallet. What can you tell me about Douglas it cold in April or May? He was found on the southern end of the island according to the newspaper article I read. Do people camp there a lot? Are there homeless people there?

    I hope to hear from you because I'm trying to put his death in some sort of context.

    Kelly (

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