Top 10 tips on planning your first cycling adventure
Thinking about planning a cycing adventure. Read Jack Martins top ten tips. Jack has been cycling for many years.
What is a cycling adventure?
A cycling adventure can be defined as many things. It could be an extra-long ride to a location you have never been to before, it could be a multi-day ride around a part of your home country that you have never experienced, or it may even involve completing a famous cycling route in a completely different county.
In short, a cycling adventure can mean whatever you want it to, and it should be appropriate for your level of cycling experience. In recent years there has been an increase in multiday bikepacking. Bikepacking involves taking the bare essentials with you and cycling long distances, often point to point route over several different days. Read Jacks South Downs cycling adventure.
Of course, you should try to be as self-sufficient as possible whilst bikepacking, especially if you are venturing far away from any large villages or accessible shops.
But if you are passing through towns or villages that you have never been to before, why don’t you stop at a local independent cafe and explore what they have to offer.
If you are riding on a popular route, you could have a look at where other people have stopped before, or have a look on websites like TripAdvisor to see which places the locals enjoy the most.
If you don’t want to stop at cafes, small village shops can be great fuel stops, often stocking all of your ride essentials just make sure you task some cash with you as they may not all accept cards.
Planning an adventure that you can actually complete
This links back to the first point of a cycling adventure can be whatever you want it to be. If you are thinking about planning your first cycling adventure, you should think really carefully about the distance you are able to complete in one go.
Whilst a multiday bikepacking adventure might sound exciting, I really recommend that your first experience of bike packing is a single day venture.
Maybe complete a long ride with your bike set up with full bikepacking gear, including bike bags and extra storage so that you can make any adjustments.
Don’t focus on numbers; instead, enjoy the world around you.
If you a racing cyclist, you are probably used to staring at a Garmin and focusing on your power or speed data. Even if you are not a racing cyclist, at some point, you have probably become obsessed with your average speed or how many miles you ride per week.
Whilst these metrics can be useful when tracking cycling fitness and performance, you should try not to focus on them too much whilst bikepacking or whilst on a cycling adventure and should instead focus on the views and nature that is all around you.
Cycling adventures should not be about average speed but should instead be about slowing down and getting back to basics, and just enjoying riding your bike again. After all, most of us didn’t start cycling to track our average power but instead started cycling to explore new locations and experience new things.
Adventure cycling should be the same, so try not to focus on your speed or other performance-based metrics and just enjoy being out in the fresh air and experiencing new things.
Seek from advice podcasts and strava
There is lots of advice out there on the topic of bikepacking and adventure cycling in general. If you are after local routes that you haven’t done before, Strava’s heatmap feature can show you the most popular roads for cycling in your area that you may not have explored before.
Kmoot is another excellent route planning website that can give you detailed information on the types of road surfaces that you will encounter on your ride so you can see if your bike is suitable for your planned route.
Additionally, there are a wealth of podcasts that focus on the topic of adventure cycling the unpaved podcast is my personal favourite. But I really recommend listening to at least a few of them to pick up tips and tricks for your first bikepacking or adventure cycling experience.
This can be an opportunity to try something new. Bikepacking isn’t about chasing strava KOMS or QOMS, so tight-fitting lycra doesn’t have to be the only option for clothing.
If you are venturing off-road, you may wish to wear baggy shorts and t-shirts or other similar mountain biking attire that allows you to feel more comfortable. No matter what you chose to wear, it is essential that you pack extra clothing. Be smart and look at the weather forecast for when you have planned your ride and if there is even the slightest chance of rain or cold conditions pack the appropriate clothing.
If it does rain you will thank yourself. In hot or humid conditions you should also consider taking an extra t-shirt with you that way if you stop for food or a quick bit of rest you don’t have to be stuck in a sweaty mud-splattered t-shirt.
The overnight stay to hotel or wild camp
This one really comes down to personal preference. If you want to stay overnight in a hotel or an Airbnb type situation then plan in advance and make sure they allow you to take your bike inside or at least have somewhere secure where you can store it overnight.
On the other hand, if you are planning on camping out in the wild, do some research on whether there are any local campsites nearby and what kind of facilities they have to offer.
If you plan on sleeping in a field along your journey, read up on the local laws for that area. The last thing you want to do is to be woken up by an angry farmer in the early hours of the morning.
What type of bike to use?
You can, of course, complete a cycling adventure on any type of bike. So whilst planning your first cycling adventure, think carefully about what type of bike you have and what type of terrain is suitable for that bike.
If you have a road bike, you should plan most of your route on tarmac with the occasional passage of gravel. If you have a mountain bike, single track and rolling grassy hills might be more enjoyable.
What is important is that your bike is in a safe, roadworthy condition, so it is important to give your bike a once over before you start your adventure.
Think, do you need new brake pads, are my gear and brake cables in good condition? Do my tyres have large cuts in them or worn out sidewalls. Common mistakes of long riding long distances.
The last thing you want is to be miles away from civilization and have a critical competent fail on you with no way of getting back home. Read Robbi Ferris five long distance tips.
Share the experience with others.
Adventure cycling should be out experiencing new things and exploring new places. So try to convince some of your cycling friends to join you.
Not only will they keep you entertained throughout the day, but they also help motivate you up the steepest of hills and provide shelter on all the windy bits. Another great tip is to tell someone where you are going and what time you’re expecting to be at certain locations.
If the worst does happen and you need some assistance to get out of a tricky situation, then it is really helpful to have someone have a rough idea of where you are so that they can come and rescue you.
It’s not a race
Remember, this is an adventure and not a race. So do the ride at a pace that feels comfortable to you and one that you can maintain for a long time. It is likely that this will be your longest ever ride on a single day or over multiple days.
So take it easy, don’t get carried away on the climbs or chasing strava segments and don’t be afraid to stop every now and then just to really appreciate the experience.
share your opinion – I’d love to hear your thoughts!