A summer-long — or even weeklong — bike tour isn't in the cards for everyone, but a one or two-night trip is doable even if you have a busy life. And Bike Travel Weekend, during the first weekend in June, when thousands of others ride to a campground, B&B, hotel, cabin, or friend's house, is the perfect time to go. All you need is one night, any type of bike, and Adventure Cycling will help with the rest.
As a Bike Travel Weekend newbie, you might feel more comfortable joining a Bike Travel Weekend trip being led by someone else. Check out the Find a Bike Overnight page for a list of trips being held during Bike Travel Weekend. Some are open to the public and others are not, but all are listed by geographic area so you can find one in your area. The email addresses of organizers of public trips are listed, and you can feel free to contact them if you have questions about their trip or want to join them. More trips are being added all of the time, so keep checking back if you don't see one that works for you.
If you want to plan your own route, decide how far you want to go and what kind of riding you'll do. It's still an adventure even if you don't go more than 10 miles. Keep in mind how long the ride will take you. If you're doing a mountain bike ride, it will likely take you longer than if you're riding on a paved bike path or road. Consider bringing your bike aboard a bus, train, or boat to supplement your ride and get a little further from home. Check out Plan Your Route resources on Adventure Cycling's bikeovernights.org and the Bike Travel Weekend Ideas page for other route planning resources, including Adventure Cycling's Route Network and the U. S. Bicycle Route System.
Bike travel experts in your area are at your fingertips on the Connect with an Advisor page. Contact one for help planning your trip and other Bike Travel Weekend advice. You'll also make a new friend and may even be invited to join his or her Bike Travel Weekend trip.
Sleep under the stars or splurge on a fancy hotel or B&B. How much you have to carry will depend on where you sleep. Camping may require a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, and your food while you may not need as much stuff if you stay indoors and eat at a restaurant. Affordable indoor options could include a hostel, yurt, tipi, cabin, or even a friend's house or Warm Showers host.
If you don't have panniers to carry your gear, make your own or use a bike trailer or backpack (not recommended for heavy loads). You could also ask a friend who doesn't want to ride to be part of your adventure and be your SAG (support and gear) wagon and join you for the night with your belongings.
Once you have a general idea about your trip, register it for free at BikeTravelWeekend.org. The first 250 people to register will receive a three-ounce package of Black Coffee Roasting Co. coffee to enjoy before, during, or after Bike Travel Weekend. You can always go back later and edit your trip if you don't know all of the details now, and everyone who registers by May 27 will also get a Bike Travel Weekend sticker in the mail and will be entered to win a Co-op Cycles Adv 1.1 bicycle.
Registration is free and once you register, your trip will appear on the Find Your Bike Overnight page to help inspire others to do a similar trip. Plus, you'll be part of the Bike Travel Weekend community and ride with thousands of people throughout the world on the same weekend.
Some Bike Travel Weekend participants like to ride by themselves for some much-needed solitude. Others go with friends or family or a big, organized group. Even the little ones in your life will be inspired after experiencing their first Bike Travel Weekend.
Whether you go with friends or not, be sure to tell the adventurous souls in your life about Bike Travel Weekend. The resources of the Promote Your Bike Overnight page make it easy for you to share your Bike Travel Weekend trip with others through social media or in person. The Bike Travel Weekend Toolkit walks you through how to plan and promote a trip — or just invite friends to learn about it generally. They will thank you for sharing the joy of bicycle travel with them.
As you pack your gear and food (the important part!) be sure to include a properly fitted helmet and clothing for inclement weather that's also visible to other road users. Include the necessities of your trip without over packing, but bring some little treats like your favorite snack for a reward. Before you go, fill your tires with air, make sure your brakes work, and look for loose straps or clothing that could get caught in your spokes. A few weeks before you leave, it's also a good idea to get your bike checked out by a mechanic if you haven't had it done in a while.
Now it's time to enjoy your five-to-nine weekend adventure! Imagine how good Monday morning will feel after resetting and de-stressing during Bike Travel Weekend.
This story has been updated and was originally published on February 13, 2019.