The rain finally fell toward the end of September, packing down the dirt and finishing off an excellent summer of biking with prime riding conditions. Last weekend we headed up to Downieville to camp by the Yuba river and ride the downhill. The trails were in good condition and the 17-mile ride gave us the perfect opportunity for a final test of some of the gear we have been happily using all season.

Hydration Pack: Hydrapak Morrow $124.99
This pack has everything that you need and nothing that you don’t for a take-everywhere, do-everything hydration pack. Made from lightweight, durable, rip-stop fabric, the 800 cubic inch pack comes with a 100-oz bladder. The bladder hitches onto the inside of the pack so that it stays upright and in place, and a slick zipper lets you open and close the bladder to fill with no spill. The straps and back panel are made from ventilated mesh that has been keeping me cool on hot rides. Six conveniently placed pockets store everything I need for a ride, just where I need it. One of the coolest things about this pack is that all of the straps have easy, tuck-away storage for the excess, so that there is no strap dangle or flapping while riding.

Sunglasses: Ryders Defcon Photochromic $69.99
Ah, technology… These durable, lightweight glasses change their tint depending on the amount of sunlight. This meant that it was bright enough to see obstacles clearly while riding down a shady creek bed and then dim enough to protect my eyes from the glaring sun when we emerged from the shadows 10 minutes later. The glasses fit well on my face, staying in place while the rest of me got bumped around.

Energy Chews: GU Chomps $35.20 for 16
Gone are the days of worrying about keeping an energy bar warm enough so that you don’t break your teeth, or choking down just enough grit to power you through the rest of your ride. GU chomps are easy to chew and they taste like candy, so they go down easily and provide quick energy during big climbs and tours. I alternated between the caffeinated and non-caffeinated flavors depending on whether I needed an extra energy boost or just some extra calories. Flavors include orange, peach tea, blueberry pomegranate, strawberry, watermelon and cranberry apple. Peach tea and strawberry were standouts for me.

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