The Adventure Cycling blog covers bicycle-travel news, touring tips and gear, bicycle routes, organizational news, membership highlights, guided tours, and more. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates.
Photo by Adam Coppola
Winter is coming, and that means adjusting our cycling wardrobes to include some slightly warmer apparel. But just because it's winter, doesn't mean you can't keep touring! Chillier temperatures at night require fluffier sleeping bags and warmer fires. Here are equipment tips for staying warm and toasty on your next overnight ride.
Media specialist and BikeOvernights.org editor lists his 10 favorite rail-trails.
On a mountain bike, space is often at a premium. One of the most effective places to cut both space and weight on a bicycle camping trip is your shelter. Even light solo tents usually weigh two to three pounds and take up quite a bit of space. Bivy sacks can feel claustrophobic and don't always provide the best protection from the weather. A great method is to use a SilNylon or polyethylene "tarp," rope, and stakes to construct a barrier from the elements.
Who makes the smallest pack-size solo tent? If you're traveling lightweight and only carrying two pairs of shorts maximum, how do you prevent saddle sores? What's the weather like on the Colorado Trail in August? Find out!
While the Rocky Mountains and West Coast have a greater range of possibilities for long-distance trail rides than other regions, there also are good options for dirt touring with mountain bikes in the Midwest and eastern United States. The following article details five routes to get off the highway and into a new adventure.
It's the end of the year, which seems to me to be a great time to make a list. The following is a list of the top 10 routes on which to take a mountain bike trip in the American West.
I’m just going to admit up front that I think hot camp food is overrated. It’s messy, time-intensive, and often less appetizing than most people are willing to admit (Freeze-dried entrees are not tasty. They’re just not.) Yes, if you have the time, it can be fun to cook up a big elaborate meal on the trail. And yes, hot food does warm the soul after a long day in the saddle (until it’s time to do the dishes.) But sometimes it’s also nice leave the stove, fuel, and mess kit at home and save time, space and arguably weight by packing cold meals (unless you eat only freeze-dried food).
When I’m traveling by bicycle, I like to keep camping as simple as possible. Especially when I’m traveling alone, I try to maximize my time on the bike and minimize the time I spend doing “camp chores.” For this reason, I usually opt to eat sandwiches over cooking an evening meal, don’t usually build fires, and don’t like to spend time constructing elaborate shelters.
There was a time when most bikepackers were literally backpackers with bikes, hoisting top-heavy, backbreaking loads on their shoulders while riding mountain bikes through the woods. These days, mountain bikers have several different options for hauling camping gear, from traditional racks and panniers to trailers. However, racks and panniers are more difficult to adapt to suspension systems on mountain bikes, and also increase the profile of the bike, which can make it more difficult to maneuver through tight singletrack and heavily forested trails. Trailers are more versatile, but also add another layer of difficulty and weight to technical terrain. Also, as with any mechanical component, racks and trailers are just another thing that can break or otherwise fail — a problem you want to avoid when traveling far away from civilization.
For decades, climbers and backpackers have embraced “ultralight” as a strategy for moving faster and farther on difficult terrain. And while cyclists are constantly trying to shave grams, bicycle travelers have been much slower to jump on the lightweight bandwagon. This could be because many of us don’t really care that our extra-large air mattresses and portable espresso makers are slowing us down on the hills when it means a comfy night’s sleep and energized morning. But for others, the image of a loaded cyclist laboring up a hill, face strained beyond recognition beneath the weight of four bulging panniers and a trailer, is daunting enough to discourage the idea of a multi-day ride. Add technical terrain, such as singletrack trails, rocky jeep roads, and muddy logging routes to the mix, and it’s no wonder that mountain biking has long been a single-day affair. That’s all changing with the growing trend of “bikepacking,” whose enthusiasts understand that one can’t clear the gnarly stuff with a trailer swinging from their rear wheel, but they can pare their belongings down to a manageable size.
Adventure Cycling member Bob Youker of Bethesda, Maryland, is a former World Bank employee and current cheerleader of all things rail-trail. He emails me on a fairly regular basis, telling me about trails he's recently ridden and urging me to promote them. I guess his efforts work, because here I go ...