The best thing about cycling is that you can have any adventure, big or small, planned or unplanned, and really the only limit is your imagination and ambition. But how are you going to make sure you maximise the fun you have with your cycling adventure?
In this article we’ll share some tips for planning and enjoying your first cycling adventure, whether on a road, gravel or mountain bike.
How To Have An Adventure On Your Bike – at a glance:
- A cycling adventure can be whatever you want it to be
- Any bike can be used for an adventure
- Ensure you bring the correct equipment like spare clothes, food and tools
- Brush up on your bike setup and maintenance know-how
- Plan your route and let others know!
A cycling adventure can be whatever you want it to be. It can be exploring local roads or countryside further afield, but commonly the adventure is defined by covering long distances to new areas and being self-sufficient. Adventures can be single-day or multi-day trips and can involve carrying the necessary camping and sleeping equipment for overnight stops or you can rely on hotels and hostels. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to cycling adventures, you are in charge. It’s all about freedom.
Any bike can be used for an adventure but the bike you choose will dictate the type of adventure you have. If you choose a road bike you’ll be exploring country lanes and roads. Choose a gravel bike and you have more freedom to explore off-road trails as well as being able to ride on the road. A mountain bike will be better suited to pure off-road adventures where you might be tackling mountainous terrain inhospitable to a road bike.
What to bring?
The duration of your adventure will determine how much stuff you need to carry with you. For a single-day trip you can travel fairly light as you would for a regular bike ride but consider taking enough food for the longer distance and spare clothes in case the weather changes. If you’re planning a multi-day trip you’re going to need to be more prepared. How prepared depends if you are being totally self-sufficient and camping or if you are using infrastructure like hotels and hostels. With this approach you can reduce the amount of kit you need to carry.
For multi-day trips you’ll want some bags on the bike for carrying off the bike clothes and supplies from cooking to camping equipment. There’s a plethora of choices when it comes to bags, from the traditional racks and panniers to the ultra cool bikepacking approach of strapping bags to the bike frame, seat post and handlebar. Panniers hold the most cargo and are popular with long distance road touring adventures. Bikepacking bags are easier to fit to any bike, especially a gravel or mountain bike without rack mounts, and offer more flexibility and customisation to suit your needs. It’s worth compiling a checklist of kit you’ll need for your adventure and then choose the appropriate bags.
A quick check over
Check that your bike is in good working order, the chain isn’t worn, the brake pads are healthy and your tyres are in good condition. Pack a suitable set of tools to cover most basic mechanicals from loose bolts to a broken chain, and definitely pack several spare tubes, tyre levers and a good pump. Extras like a tyre boot, spare spokes and a replacement mech hanger can be considered too. It’s worth taking lights for those unexpected long days when you’re racing the sunset to your campsite or hotel, and consider packing a first aid kit just in case.
Need to brush up on your bike maintenance skills?
Learn how to keep your bike in good working order before, during, and after your adventure.
Where you plan to ride is the biggest appeal of the adventure. You can have a very detailed route planned using mapping services like Strava and Kamoot so you know precisely how many miles you’ll cover every day and where your overnight and food supply points are. Or you can play it by ear and not plan your route at all and instead have a rough idea of where you are going and simply follow your nose and wild camp when you find a nice spot in the evening. People will have personal preferences for either route it’s really down to you and there is no right or wrong. Other factors might be how much distance you want to cover and how fast you want to get from A to B. For many people it’s about the escape and freedom and taking your time and not racing is the way to do it.
With any adventure it’s important to remember to have fun while staying safe. Be sure to document your adventure with photos, video or written notes so you can look back on it when you get home and share with friends and family. An adventure can obviously be enjoyed solo for the freedom or experienced with friends for the camaraderie. If you are travelling alone it’s wise to let a friend or family member know the rough plan of your route should there be an emergency. Some devices allow live tracking which can be an appealing option for the peace of mind.
And that’s it. Remember to enjoy the adventure. You’ve invested loads of time and energy into preparing yourself, the bike and your adventure route. All you need to do is get out there and make the most of it. Enjoy!