Now that we're familiar with the essential gear, it's time to plan our bikepacking adventure. This chapter offers expert tips for meticulous preparation.
There's no better way to travel than from the saddle of a bike. Pedaling on two wheels, you achieve a peace hard to find elsewhere, moving at a speed that allows you to reach any destination while still appreciating, breathing in, and enjoying the details along the way.
You're free to start when you want, eat, take photos, write, read, and rest whenever you're tired. Sometimes you'll admire the song of birds, other times you'll be pedaling furiously to reach the top of a pass or hill. There are no schedules or obligations, except those set by Mother Nature's weather.
You won't have to queue as if boarding or disembarking a plane, or wait for a bus at your stop. This flexibility, where anything can happen on your journey, is what makes cycle tourism, bike travel, and adventure so appealing.
Every trip becomes a memorable experience because it leaves a unique sensory impression. You are the master of your time and space. It can be a day trip or a round-the-world tour; the essence is the same. It doesn't matter if you go alone, with friends, family, or your pet. The essence of the journey is to step out of your comfort zone, immersing yourself in a sea of new smells, colors, sounds, tastes... No matter your age, what matters is that you continue to be amazed by things and realize, despite what the mass media tells us, that the world is a beautiful place filled with kind people, and you deserve to see it for yourself.
Step-by-Step Guide to Planning a Bikepacking Trip
The first thing is to enjoy the journey, which starts when you have an idea and begin researching its feasibility and potential enhancements. This means looking at maps, exploring blogs and websites of people who have already traveled your intended route.
Personally, I find this one of the most exciting phases because you are responsible for your decisions and have total freedom to choose where, how, when, and with whom to embark on a cycling adventure. The ability to choose can overwhelm many people, but don't be afraid if it does. Enjoy that flutter in your stomach, those little or big fears, because if you proceed, you will overcome them all. This is your first victory. You've decided to take a trip, and you will do it.
After researching your destination, you'll need to consider the best time of year to go... or is it the other way around? Many people decide to bikepack because they have holidays, free time, or a gap in their schedule. Therefore, the time of year might dictate your destination. It's different to bikepack the Trans-Pyrenees in summer than in winter. It's a crucial factor to consider.
You know where and when. Now, it's time to decide whether to go alone or with others, as this will also determine the type of trip. Sometimes the decision of whom to travel with is based on their physical fitness level.
Our recommendation, if traveling in a group or with someone else, is to do so with people of similar fitness levels to avoid constant waiting, which can frustrate and dampen the group's mood. Remember, a trip is a process. Don't just think about the destination; the goal is to enjoy the journey itself.
Perspectives on Training, Expectations, and Technological Integration
You might hear the phrase, "Don't start your trip until you have certain things ready." Give yourself a deadline to prepare as best as you can, mark that start date on your calendar... and go! Remember, you're never 100% ready for something new, especially with the uncertainty factor; there's a high risk of postponing indefinitely. As they say: Just do it.
As you embark on more and more bikepacking trips, this whole process will become natural, requiring less effort and becoming more enjoyable. From designing a route to experiencing it and reflecting on improvements.
We always recommend starting with overnight trips, then two nights, and after gaining some experience, try trips longer than three days (up to a week). Once you're comfortable with the logistics of week-long bikepacking trips, you're ready for multi-week journeys (if you're fortunate to have such a free, open, and clear activity calendar).
Go slowly, burn through the stages at their own pace, and bikepacking will be with you for life. Learning about training, technology, navigation will come as you gain experience on your bike.
With our journey planned, we're ready to hit the road. Chapter 4 shares real-world experiences to inspire and prepare you.