Introduction to Dirt Touring

Trip Dates:
Jul 20, 2014 -- Jul 25, 2014
Whitefish, MT
Booking Status:

As the experts on self-contained bicycle travel, we’d like to share our knowledge of off-pavement riding through our Introduction to Dirt Touring (IDT) course. Two days of classroom instruction provided by some of our most seasoned trip leaders will be followed by a four-day tour on backcountry dirt roads in northwest Montana, including an exceptionally beautiful slice of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route to give you the opportunity to test ride and apply what you’ve learned.

Note that you’ll need to come to this intro course with camping skills and experience riding on gravel and unpaved surfaces. After finishing the course, you’ll be ready to hit the trail on a loaded off-road tour, whether it’s a solo outing, a trip with friends, or an Adventure Cycling group tour.

Start Date: Jul 20, 2014 End Date: Jul 25, 2014
Start Location: Whitefish, MT End Location: Whitefish, MT
Total Days: 6 Riding Days: 4
Rest Days: 2 Miles: 90
Average Daily Mileage: 22.5 Surface: Dirt
Riders: 14 Airport: Glacier International
Tour Leader: Sid Voss, John Weyhrich Meals: Shared cooking
Accommodations: Camping/Indoor Type: Education
Technical Difficulty: Easy to moderate Physical Difficulty: Beginner
Level of Support: Education Cost: $599.00

Day 1

We’ll begin our class with an orientation meeting to introduce you to your course advisors and the classmates with whom you’ll share your six-day adventure. There will be a discussion of the course schedule and general housekeeping rules. Once we are all acquainted and have a general idea of the course framework, we’ll prepare dinner and begin learning how to live on the trail in comfort and style. After sharing our first meal, we’ll cover the week’s daily schedule, cooking rotations, group gear, and budgeting, among other topics essential to off-road touring. Once we know the basics, it will be time to hit the hay.

Day 2

7 a.m. sharp, it's up and at ’em! Your advisors will cook up breakfast before we all delve into discussions about equipment and what a savvy off-pavement bike traveler should pack. Then we'll address how one should best carry all this critical stuff. We'll talk about the classic trailer vs. pannier debate, which has become even more complicated with the advent of an array of creative frame-mounted packs, which many bikepackers favor. After we sort out the gear issues, it will be time for a well-deserved hearty lunch.

Following the lunch break, we will discuss what it's like to live off the road, exploring topics of safety, backcountry touring skills, attitude and etiquette, and general touring rules. Then we'll put some of this newly acquired knowledge to work on a short ride — a warm-up for our multi-day adventure that begins tomorrow. We'll also stop at the market and buy food for the next day. Learning what food to purchase and pack will be an important lesson; there's almost nothing worse than a hungry cyclist who isn’t fed enough food! Returning to camp, we'll enjoy an evening meal before settling in for discussions about the crucial skills of map reading, trip preparation, and preparing for inclement weather and roadside repairs. After another full day, it's time to catch a few winks before we head out on tour tomorrow.

Days 3 - 6

As we embark on four days and three nights of field work, we’ll not only have a chance to learn more about the theories and skills specific to off-road bicycle travel, but we’ll also apply all that we've learned in a practical way. We will travel and live as a group would on an Adventure Cycling tour on the Great Divide route: sharing meals, campsites, and friendship. Our chosen route promises to ease us into the experience as well as offer spectacular scenery. After field-testing all that you have learned on this four-day loop, you will arrive back at the starting point a seasoned off-pavement bicycle-touring veteran.

This is a new tour, or one we have not offered in awhile. Sign up and be one of the first cyclists to contribute to this testimonials page! For now read what past tour participants have said about some of our other trips.

"Our tour leader was excellent+." 

2008 Tour Participant

"My favorite thing about the event was the other cyclists on the ride.  Cyclists are great folks and so supportive..."

2007 Tour Participant

"Great experience, looking forward to my next tour!"

2012 Tour Participant

"All of the staff on these rides make these events.  From the director to the caterer, it's obvious they love what they do.  It's always a great experience."

2009 Tour Participant

Photo by Chuck Haney