Let's get the convo started... I did my first solo bikepacking trip in August of 2020. An 80 mile round trip two day(ride), one night(camp) at a relative's (BIL) land in Alleghany county. It was wonderful! It was actually an experiment in preparedness for longer outings. I think I did OK. My bike was HEAVY though and I learned that I didn't need all that I had packed. Luckily, my BIL allowed me to "stash" some gear under a wood pile so I would be lighter on the return trip and he brought it back to me at a later date. I have posted some pics. So, conversation around packing necessities and leaving unnecessary items behind would be a good start... don't you think? For instance, I brought a folding wood saw... not light and completely unnecessary as I was able to break up any wood I needed for my small campfire by hand. I have built up a new bikepacking rig since then and will share pics of it on my next post... stay tuned.
Beginning bikepacking was easy for me as I already had a settled backpacking rig -- simply a matter of using panniers instead of a pack. Either back or bike packing, i find that I much prefer a canister stove to a campfire - les impacting and a tad safer. Additional gear were items for keeping the bike rolling - count on at least a flat tire or two.
Obtaining items today, I would get a bike light that could easily bee used off cycle - perhaps a small solar panel and power pack to keep batteries charged? ithr that or a bike powered generator....
Looking at your photos, you could save some weight with a smaller tent. From time to time, you might be camping y the side of the road, and a smaller tent is definitely a good idea....
Best wishes for some great rides!!
I actually did have some of the items you mentioned. I packed a JetBoil compact stove and some camp food, my headlight for the bike doubles as a flashlight, had a solar panel to charge devices, and the campfire was more for security during the dark hours within bear country 🙂
Smaller tent? Perhaps... But I'm 6'2', 210lbs and move around a lot during sleep. I prefer a 2p tent for room for me and some gear. Saving for a lighter bikepacking tent.
Great topic! I know that @HankG is planning his first bikepacking trip, I'm sure he'll appreciate this thread!
My first bikepacking trip was over Resurrection Pass on the Kenai Pennisula in Alaska om 2017. A friend of mine and I drove 8 hours from Fairbanks, loaded up our bikes and headed out. The trail is basically 20 miles up and 20 miles down of incredible backcountry singletrack. We, foolishly, thought we could ride 20 miles up, make camp, and then finish with a nice day of downhill. I made it maybe 8 miles before my quads cramped so bad I was reduced to a pile of tears and shame on the side of the trail, cursing my poor hydration and the mosquitos. We ran into two mountain bikers on their way down, who graciously offered the use of their cabin reservation that they no longer needed. We slept peacefully on bunks with a fire in the woodstove keeping us warm and dry. The next day was a long but amazing ride and made me forget the suffering of the day before (so much so I came back the next year and did it again!). After that I was totally hooked and have done several other trips around Alaska. Now that I've moved to Washington I'm looking forward to discovering all the bikepacking routes it has to offer as well!
These are great stories and great photos. Very inspiring and I’m still on the sideline thinking about it and very curious. Thanks, people , for sharing!
My first bikepacking experience was a short one. I joined my nephew and a couple of his friends in 2014 when they were cycling the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and C & O Towpath from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC. I camped with them the night before I rode with them and the following day cycled 44 miles from West Newton, PA to Ohiopyle, PA. At that point I was hooked. I saw bikepacking as an extension or adaptation of Backpacking. Since I had been an avid backpacker for years, I had all the gear I need except for panniers, so it did not incur a big expense or have a sharp learning curve.
Since then, I bikepacked the entire C & O towpath and GAP from DC to Pittsburgh in 2019 with a friend That same friend and bikepacked the GAP and Montour Trail to ride in Pittsburgh and then return to our starting point along its southern suburbs.
Most of the later two trips involved camping, but we did spend one night in a hostel midway each trip so we could shower and clean our gear.
In 2018 I also participated in a weeklong American Cycling Association Introduction to Road Touring trip in which we cycled with all our gear and camped in a different commercial campground or county park or state park each night. If you are new to bikepacking, the ACA Intro to Road Touring trip is a great way to learn in the company of others.
That's awesome John. I will be interested in visiting the ACA Intro to Road Touring URL to find out more about that. I love to do group tours (Cycle the Erie Canal & Cycle ADK) but unfortunately the past year and this year they are few and far between or have been postponed again. Still intend to plan a trip on the GAP and C&O as well. 👍🚲
The weeklong ACA Intro to Road Touring trip was around Williamsburg, VA. There is also one in the Florida Keys. I think they move the trip around every other year, but COVID may have thrown a wrench in that. In the Intro to Road Touring trip I participated in, we ate breakfast together and then left each morning after breakfast whenever ready. We were on our own for lunch. We then met up at our designated campsite late in the afternoon and ate together and camped together each night. We generally followed the same route, with some options for side trips, but we were not compelled to ride together. Some rode solo. I tended to ride every day with the same group of two to three other cyclists similarly experienced and tempered.
First trip was back in "72". 4 high school seniors looking for a way to get in shape for football season decide to ride from Detroit to The Pinery Prov. Park on Lake Huron, Ontario Canada. 110 miles with one border crossing. Tossed the frisbee with customs guys. What a relief! Gear included 2 Schwinn's, 1 Raleigh. 1 Sears Special, 2 tubes per bike, 4 large blue tarps, 200 ft. of clothesline and 4 WW2 era sleeping bags. Depart 4 AM/ Arrive 5PM. Last 20 miles took 4 hours. We became the orphans/ celebrities of this large campground, with fellow campers coming by taking pictures of the Crazy Yanks, not to mention bringing food, beer and shelter. Highlight, riding across The Blue Water Bridge, which we were informed was not allowed. oops. The 1st of many but still the best.