Top 5 Bikepacking Mistakes
In today’s article I’m going to take you through the top 5 bikepacking mistakes. I have made these mistakes in the past as well and I hope that you can learn from mine so that you can avoid them in your future adventures.
-Using the wrong bike
Most everyone will say that the best bike to use for bikepacking is the one you already own. However, if you only have a road bike it most likely isn’t going to work too well for the type of terrain you will be riding. The skinny tires will not be able to cope with the stresses found on gravel roads or single-track trails. Not to mention the stress you will be putting yourself through mentally and physically having to always make a conscious effort to avoid any imperfections in your path. I recommend running at least a 35mm wide tire. If you can do that on your road bike, then yes I think it could work fine for some entertaining bikepacking trips.
Now if you have an old mountain bike lying around it too will be great to use. If you haven’t ridden it in some time, I suggest doing a bit of preventative maintenance on it or take it to your local bike shop for a quick tune up. Ultimately you want a bike that you don’t want to have to worry about and a ride that isn’t going to leave you feeling like you spent the entire day at the gym with Dwayne Johnson.
-Packing too much
At the end of a long days ride your body will thank you for not loading your bike down with tons of gear. Go as lightweight as you can. I know that the lightest gear available is often the most expensive but leaving a few of those unnecessary items at home is the most effective way to be sure you are riding as light as possible. Checkout this blog post for the best inexpensive bikepacking bags.
With that, practice riding your bike while loaded if you have never done so. A bike loaded down with all your gear is going to behave in a totally different manner than if it wasn’t. It’s here where you’ll learn how important it is to ride with the lightest setup you can put together.
If you are completely new to bikepacking and a bit skeptical of your ablities to live with such little gear, try living off just the gear on your bike for a weekend at home. A little hack I received from a viewer of my YouTube videos who used to be a sailor, is to place a small piece of tape on each piece of gear you pack. When you use that particular piece of gear, take the tape off and after a month or two inventory everything once more. Then anything that still has that small piece of tape on it might just be something you don’t need after all, baring items such as necessary tools and first aid supplies.
-Trying to cover too much ground
Having an average daily goal of x number of miles means you will most likely always be focused on hitting that target. The problem I had with trying to maintain an average daily mileage goal was that I wasn’t enjoying trip like I thought I would. If you’re concentrating on hitting that goal constantly, you will probably miss out on exploring that park you didn’t know was there, or riding down a different road you thought might be interesting. When you are more worried about the daily destination you miss out on what the trip is about, the journey itself and enjoying your surroundings.
Having a couple different options as to where you can camp along the way means that if you want to sit in a pub one hot afternoon instead of riding the additional 60 miles you have left means you can do just that. And believe me, enjoying a beer in some AC and not having to worry about that daily mileage goal is awesome.
Over planning can lead you to unnecessary stress. I have read about others who have planned everything down to the smallest detail, even down to when and where they’ll take a 15 minute break for a quick snack. Having a rough guide for the first couple days doesn’t hurt but after that any plans you’ve made after that will most likely be changed. This is why having options instead of distinct set points is best.
For example; what if on day 3 of your ride you have a mechanical issue that you yourself cannot fix? You might could end up spending the better part of an entire day hitching a ride to the nearest bike shop which means throwing your entire plan out the window in most cases. One thing I like to do that keeps me from over planning is to take a look at my options for the next day while I’m resting for the night at my camp site. For me having a rough plan for the next two days is ideal, anything beyond that is wishful thinking.
Not listening to what your body is telling you is a mistake I have personally made more times than I care to count. You have to remind myself that you are not in a race and can slow down. If you have to force yourself to stop and take breaks to eat and drink more water you are doing your body a disservice. This is why it is important to have a couple options on where to camp.
When you find that you are extremely tired and would like be done for the day, you can. Instead of having to force yourself to finish riding the additional 30 miles you need to keep your average daily goal up, you can instead setup camp and rest for the remainder of the day.
I hope that by reading this you can learn from my mistakes and not make the same ones while on your next bikepacking adventure. Cheers and happy pedaling!
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