Come on, the old bike in the dusty corner of your garage deserves better than that.
Imagine a short reset adventure that comes from the simplicity of loading your old, trusty two-wheeler with a rack and a few bags and heading off to your favorite state park or recreation area. There really isn’t a need to buy any special equipment or supplies. Most of what you need is probably already in your hiking backpack or camping supply box.
Welcome to the simplistic, rewarding world of bikepacking and the #S24O — otherwise known as the sub-24 hour trip.
Whether or not your bike is equipped to ride off-road, the #S24O is a perfect opportunity to try out bikepacking at a low-commitment level. Bikepacking combines the supply load of backpacking with a bicycle equipped to carry those needed supplies.
At its most basic level, you need a recently tuned-up bicycle with a flat repair kit, a commuter rack that you can find at most local bike shops, and a set of pannier bags that can carry your food, water, sleeping setup, and clothing. You can also take standard dry-bags and attach them with straps to your bike seat and handlebars.
Outside of those basic needs, you’re limited only by available physical bike space and the weight of the bikepacking rig that you will have to pedal (it adds up quickly!)
Where to Roam
After checking to make sure your bike and supplies are in order, finding a route can be as simple as visiting a tourism cycling website: Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation (mobikefed.org/missouri-bicycle-and-touring-routes), Adventure Cycling Association (adventurecycling.org), and Ride with GPS (ridewithgps.com) are three popular options.
Make sure as you’re evaluating your route needs that you think through how long you want to ride with a weighed-down bike (yes, you’ll be slower than normal) and the type of surface you wish to ride on. Road bike touring has been popular for over a century, but now there are many off-road opportunities if you have a bike with wide-tires to handle the terrain. Oftentimes, even a flat-bar mountain bike can make a great bikepacking rig.
Before you commit to your trip, take the time to load your bike down with all of your gear. Check to make sure nothing is rattling or falling off while you’re riding your bike around the block. Did you leave room for a small camp stove or do you plan to grab snacks, food, and water from a local gas station or restaurant along the way?
Once you know your gear will hold up, make sure you book your campsite in advance and download or print any maps you might need for your adventure. GPS and Wifi aren’t always going to be reliable or available depending on where you decide to go bikepacking.
The best thing about bikepacking is the lesson in minimalism that can occur when you realize you want to carry as little as possible, especially if you choose to do a very hilly route or schedule your trip during the hot, summer season.
Above all, enjoy the experience of combining cycling and camping in a 24-hour adventure. Before you know it, you’ll be wanting to do a longer, multi-day trip and experience more of the world via your bike!
You can learn more about bikepacking, for beginners as well as the already initiated, at bikepacking.com/bikepacking-101/.
Essential Bikepacking Gear
Bike gear carry system
Water capacity (bottles or bladder)
Chain lube with rag
Spare chain link
Shelter (tent, hammock, or bivy)
Utensil (spoon or spork)
Stove with fuel
Fire (matches or lighter)
Phone charging solution
Wool base layers
Jersey or riding shirt
Rain layer (jacket and pants)
GPS tracking unit
Journal with pen
Camp solar light
Author: Jessica Alexander is a contributor to Terrain Magazine.
Top Image: The author on an bikepacking adventure in Arkansas. (Jessica Alexander)
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