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Going Long

Ever heard of bike-packing?

As the days lengthen and the snowline recedes, many mountain bikers embark on all-day or even multi-day adventures. Not only are these types of rides a great excuse to be on your bike for a long time, but they will also build character and confidence. Planning for a long ride can be intimidating, but being prepared will ensure you are ready for almost any situation. Below are some important things to consider:

  • Are you fit enough to enjoy the ride? If you want to have a good time it may be wise to build your fitness before you head out. 

  • Is your bike ready to get you there and back? Visit your local bike shop, and have them inspect and tune your bike. 

  • Most adventure rides will involve some hike-a-bike. Make sure the shoes you are wearing are up to the task. 

  • What’s the forecast? Thunderstorms are common during the summer months in the high country. Few things can turn an adventure into a survival situation faster than being caught out in a dangerous storm with nothing to protect you from the elements. 

  • What are you wearing? Try out all your cycling clothing on shorter rides beforehand. You need to be comfortable and to stay comfortable for hours or days. Quality cycling shorts with a padded liner are invaluable. Most of us who wear these shorts use some sort of anti-chafing product. A lightweight, packable, hooded jacket that is wind and water-resistant is something I carry no matter the forecast. These jackets are very light and pack down to the size of a PB&J sandwich. 

  • Speaking of PB&J’s, what are you eating? Fueling for longer rides requires trial and error to know what your body best tolerates. Calorie-dense food and drink mixes with carbohydrates and electrolytes are a good place to start. Gels and energy bars have their place, but few things are more delicious than a PB&J sandwich on a long ride. I also carry a Katadyn BeFree 1.0l water filter. If water is available to filter along your route a filtration system will reduce the amount of water you have to carry. 

  • Is the route open? Some trails have seasonal wildlife closures and can only be ridden during certain parts of the year, other routes are inaccessible until the snow melts, mud dries, and someone clears the deadfall. Connecting with a local trail conditions group is a great idea. 

  • Can you read a map? Basic map reading skills are a huge help in the backcountry. Study your route, know it well and plan for extra time for stops and possible repairs. 

  • Does someone know where you are? It is vital you share your plan with others.

I always bring the following items for any dawn to dusk type adventure rides: water/filtration system/drink mix, plenty of calories, lighter in a Ziploc baggie, small folding knife, tubeless tire plug kit with large and small plugs, small flashlight, small tire pump, spare chain-link, zip ties, tire levers, small multitool, packable wind/water resistant jacket with hood, cash, small bar-mounted light, cell phone, spare tube, and a positive attitude. Being prepared will ensure a great ride! Ride safe out there.