How to Prepare for your First Multi-day Cycling Trip
Bicycles are an amazing way to experience the outdoors, as well as a wonderfully eco-friendly way to travel our planet. Going on an extended bike trip (also known as cycle touring or bikepacking) is a rewarding experience, one that will leave you feeling more connected to the energy of the outdoors. However, before you head off it’s best to do some preparation in order to get the most out of your time in the saddle. We put together some bike touring wisdom to help you do just that.
Ride your bike.
This one is simple, the best way to prepare for a long bike trip is to ride your bike! Try to set aside some time in the weeks before your trip to practice your pedaling. If you plan on carrying a backpack or other bike bags during your trip, it’s best to ride with a bit of weight on your bike. This way, you won’t be taken by surprise once you start riding with luggage. If your trip will be heading through hilly terrain, look for a training route that includes some climbing as well. By doing all of this, you are activating the specific muscles that are going to be crucial once the trip starts. Even if you only ride to work, or around the neighborhood you will be doing yourself a huge favor.
Not all of us will have the opportunity to train on a bicycle. Things like weather, traffic, and location can get in the way. That’s okay, even if you can’t go out riding there are other ways to prepare physically. Stair climbing is a great exercise that targets the same muscle group as cycling. The rule of thumb is to do whatever possible to stay active in anticipation for your cycle tour.
Sleep, eat, repeat.
Good rest and nutrition are integral if you want to feel your best. Oftentimes, work life can put us into patterns where we get less sleep than optimal, and take shortcuts in our diet to avoid lengthy food preparation. Try to give yourself some extra love and disconnect from these patterns, especially in the final days leading up to your trip. Go to bed as early as possible and wake up with the sun, this will set you up for the rhythm that bikepackers follow when on tour. Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits in the days before you embark, think of it as fueling up on premium energy. On the day before you leave, eat a good amount of carbohydrates. This will help you to not feel so hungry as your first day riding wears on. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect, small changes can lead to big outcomes if you move with the right intentions.
Be kind to your back.
Many of us have tight back muscles and we don’t even realize it. Once you spend more than a few hours in the saddle however, your back will make you painfully aware. It’s a good idea to take some preventative measures against lower back stiffness. By stretching a bit every morning and evening, you can lessen the chance of an aching back on tour. Try to stretch for at least ten minutes a day in the weeks leading up to your tour.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a good stretching routing, check out these recommendations.
Take a holistic approach to the experience.
While cycle touring is an amazing experience, it’s important not to glaze over some of the less luxurious details. On an average bike tour you can expect to encounter mosquitos, rain, cold temperatures, dust, small cuts and bruises, all day sun, heat, mud, physical soreness, and a few more unexpected hardships. The truth is that exposure to the great outdoors comes with some hardships. Of course, there are rewards in equal measure! Nothing beats washing off the day’s dust in a refreshing river, or satisfying a formidable hunger with an evening meal. Remember: every trip has its highs and lows. Balance makes things whole. Understanding this will allow you to truly immerse yourself in this journey – and come out strong and rejuvenated.
Perhaps the most important key to preparation is to cultivate joyful anticipation. If you are looking forward to your trip (you can view our trip options here!), the chances are higher that any obstacle you encounter once you embark will be easy to overcome. Mind over matter is the axiom to remember. You’re about to embark on a ride that will put you face to face with yourself, and undergo a transformation in the embrace of mother earth. That’s good cause for celebration!