By Katelyn Davis
If you love to hop on your bike and hit the open road with nothing in your way other than your own legs’ stamina and your body’s determination to go further, then a long-haul cycling trip may be the perfect next vacation for you. Whether it is across the state or across the country, a few days’ worth of rewarding exercise paired with relaxing nights of camping along your route will be totally worth all the hard work. There’s no better way to see (and appreciate) nature than from your bicycle!
The most important part of any bike ride—or any adventure for that matter—is making sure you are adequately prepared. You have to have the right equipment and the right training. Once you have those things out of the way you’re ready to get going! So besides the necessities like your bike, helmet, cycling gear, and water, here are five other essentials you may want to consider packing to get the most out of your next trip!
1. Lightweight and Versatile Shoes
When you can only take with you what will fit on your bike, you have to pack light! And since wearing your clip-in cycling shoes all day, every day isn’t an option, you need to bring other shoes with you. Vibrams Five Finger shoes are lightweight and are great for walking, running, hiking, or for wear in the water—perfect for wherever your adventure takes you!
You may be surprised at where your travels will take you, which is why you should be prepared to set up camp at any moment or location. Since packing a tent on your bike may be a little difficult, try an ENO hammock! The hammock comes in a stuff sack which keeps it from taking up too much space, plus it’s made of a heavy duty and quick drying material that makes camping a breeze. With an ENO hammock you won’t need to worry about finding a campsite, all you need is two trees and you’re ready to relax! Kick it up a notch by adding a rain cover or a bug net for an undisturbed and restful slumber.
3. Solar Panels
Whether you need to juice up your cell phone, GPS, or camera, it may be helpful to bring along some solar panels and charging equipment in case you don’t find yourself near an outlet anytime soon. The solar products from Voltaic Systems are great to just strap to your bicycle’s paniers and keep riding while your solar panel does all the hard work!
Hope for the best, but plan for the worst by wearing some form of identification just in case you become injured or sick during your journey. Make sure your identification is easily noticeable by emergency personnel and good samaritans by wearing something on your wrist like a Road I.D. bracelet. Road I.D.s come in a bunch of styles and sizes and allow you to customize the metal plate with your personal health information as well as emergency contact information. Another option is to place bright colored luggage tags, labeled “In Case of Emergency,” on the outside of all your bike bags as well as on the bike frame itself.
5. A Connected and Supportive Community
It’s great to ride with someone or a group of people but if that isn’t possible for you’re more of a solo adventurer, stay in contact with a like-minded support group through Strava, a social fitness tracker and community. Strava lets you track your rides (and runs) through your smartphone or dedicated GPS device and helps you analyze and quantify your performance. It lets you connect and compete with each other via mobile and online apps while providing motivation and camaraderie through its social community. It’s also a great way to keep your friends in family in the loop on both where you have been and where you are going!
Long-haul bike rides are not only strenuous work, but they also require a lot of training and planning beforehand. You need to make sure you are mentally and physically ready for whatever happens out on the road. Make sure you adequately prepare before setting off on your next journey!
Are you planning on a long-haul trip soon? Share with us in the comments where you’re going and what you’re bringing with you!