What is bikepacking? This is a bike ride of varying difficulty and duration. Want to try? We will tell you how.
In recent years, cycling, or bikepacking, has gained popularity. There are many reasons to go on a long trip on a two-wheeled friend. For some, this is a way to test their endurance, for others it is better to explore the area, and some just want to diversify their usual hiking and increase the range and speed of movement.
The main charm of moving a bicycle is its great freedom of choice. You can adjust the route on the go, change the planned place and time of parking, or even stop by the city and rest for a day or two at the hotel, which is especially important in case of bad weather or technical problems. In an emergency, you can transfer to public transport by packing a bicycle in the luggage compartment of a bus or taking with you an electric train, train, and even an airplane.
In this article, we will talk about the choice of equipment and accessories, as well as the organization of a bicycle trip.
Where we go?
Long trips can be divided into three types: autonomous, semi-autonomous and non-autonomous.
Fully autonomous bike trips involve a break from civilization and infrastructure for several days or even weeks. As a rule, already experienced hikers and cyclists go on such trips, who will calmly cope with the search for water and an overnight stay and without any problems will solve technical problems even “on the knee”, in the middle of an uninhabited track.
Full autonomy requires more equipment and the ability to properly place it on a bicycle. As a rule, such trips have a long range - 500 km and above.
Semi-autonomous trips are most balanced in terms of the ratio of interest to labor. On such trips, you spend the night in a tent, overcome long enough distances for the day, but there are small cities on the road every day, where you can stock up on food and necessary consumables, and in an emergency find overnight. Equipment for such trips should be taken much less, you will not get tired so much in a day, and there will not be much money spent on the way, because you prepare the bulk of the food yourself and do not spend money on hotels.
The length of such trips can also be very large, the main thing is to at least roughly outline a route so as not to end up in an unpopulated part of the country without food and water. Ideal countries in Europe and the western regions of Russia, in which a higher population density.
Non-autonomous trips are as comfortable as possible, as they mean overnight stays only in cities or at camp sites. The set of necessary equipment for such trips is minimal, some even practice the so-called “Credit card tour”, when with them - at least a change of clothes and a credit card, nothing else is needed. The main thing is to make sure that overnight stays come across more often, and there is always enough money for hotels and hostels.
When choosing a route for yourself, first of all, start from the distance that you cover in one day. To find out your abilities, try to spend the whole day in the saddle - go to the nearest suburb, keep a comfortable pace, take frequent, but short breaks. After assessing the level of fatigue in the process the day after arrival, you can objectively plan the daily mileage for the upcoming bike tour.
Choose a bike
The chief assistant in a cycling trip is, of course, a bicycle. It depends on him how easily you will overcome long distances and how convenient it will be for you to carry equipment.
The main criterion when choosing a bike is the route. Whether large differences in height are waiting for us, on asphalt we will go, or on dirt roads, how much space we need for reserves of food - all this is important to know in order to choose the right one.
For regions with asphalt or good dirt roads, a touring or gravel road bike is ideal. Light weight and good rolling allow you to easily overcome long distances, and the increased speed range allows you to easily climb the mountain. Such bicycles, as a rule, have places for installing the trunk and additional attachment points for bottle holders.
If you cannot choose a bike specifically for the trip and you have to ride on what is already available, it makes sense to slightly upgrade it for the specific tasks of this trip. For example, if only good roads await you on the road, and your bike is mountain, you can change tires from dirt to narrower “slicks” for less resistance and better grip on the asphalt.
If you are brought into hilly terrain, and the bike has a small gear range, it is worth changing the cassette to an option with a large variation in the size of the stars. This will significantly reduce your effort on the rise. Such upgrades will not require large investments and will make the trip more comfortable.
Now that we have decided where and what to go, it's time to decide what we take with us. The choice of the necessary set of equipment also depends on the range and degree of autonomy of the trip.
The basic set that any cyclist should always carry with him remains unchanged - a helmet, interchangeable cameras or patches, mounting blades, a pump, a multi-tool.
For longer trips, it is also worth taking one or two replaceable tires (models with a soft side that fold compactly), a spare chain and a tool for replacing it (chain lock puller or squeeze), a spoke key to fix the eights, grease for the chain.
The more autonomous your trip, the more spare parts it makes sense to take with you. If you are sure that along the way there will be many cities with bicycle shops, you can do with a minimum supply.
The second part of the set of equipment relates to overnight stays.
The tent should be taken as light and compact as possible. Trekking tents have a very small volume when folded, and the weight per person is around 1.2-1.5 kilograms.
For a more comfortable trip and for safety reasons, it makes sense to take care of the necessary gadgets. An ordinary smartphone is suitable as a navigator, but a separate GPS navigator can be much more convenient and save the phone’s charge. To ensure uninterrupted power to all electronics, you can take Power Bank with you, preferably lithium polymer - their capacity and charge speed are higher than that of lithium-ion ones.
For the convenience of charging in cities, when there is access to outlets, it does not hurt to take a small tee with you - so you can quickly charge several gadgets from one outlet. For autonomy, solar panels will be useful. Although their compactness leaves much to be desired, and the effectiveness depends on weather conditions, even a minimal charge in an emergency can help a lot.