So you want to take a bike trip of your own? This page will hopefully provide you with the basic knowledge of what is important to take with you on a short trip, to an overnighter, to an extended trip. From the bike down to food, here are my tips!
Bicycles and Seats
Bicycles- Perhaps the biggest decision to make, if you have not already, is to choose a bike. Most people will be looking at four choices: Mountain Bike, Road Bike, Hybrid Bike, or a Recumbent Bike. Each bike has its advantages and disadvantages. The main thing to consider is where you plan on riding the bike you are purchasing. The following links give you a breakdown of each bike and what the pros and cons of each.
Seats- Another important decision to make is about a seat. Unfortunately, there is no magic solution. It is kind of a live and learn process. There are a couple things to consider though. First off, just because a seat comes with your bike, does not mean that it is the correct seat for you. Also, the bigger more comfy looking seats sometimes are the most uncomfortable. Too large of a seat may cause unwanted rubbing.
The best advice I can give about a seat is to try the pressure test on it. When you hold a seat in your hand, push down with your thumbs as hard as you can on the seat. If it still feels padded, than it is probably a good seat. If it feels like you are pushing down onto the frame of the seat though, this is what you will feel when sitting on the seat. Probably something you will want to avoid.
One last tidbit, a gentleman at a bike shop once told me to make sure the seat is flat as compared to sloping in the middle. He advised me that the sloping seats make your body sink into the seat, and thus the pressure points of the seats. Seems to make sense.
Bike Tools- Allen Key (for various bolts), Chain Breaker (to fix broken chain), Spoke wrench + Extra Spokes (In case of broken spoke), Chain Lube, Tire Lever + Spare Inner Tubes (To fix the dreaded Flat Tire), Tire Pump.
*These are tools one should carry with them on their bike at all times. They do not take up a lot of space or add much weight. Having them can make the difference between riding or walking.
Bike Accessories- Rear Rack, Front Handlebar Bag, Water Proof Panniers.
*The handlebar bag and panniers only need to be taken when being used.
Camping Essentials (For Overnight and Extended Rides)- Tent, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad, Flashlight, Camping Stove, Metal Pot and/or Pan.
*My advice is keep it simple. The more you bring, the more weight on your bike.
Clothing- Helmet, Padded Riding Shorts, Synthetic Shirts (Dri-Fit Material, Avoid Cotton), Lightweight Shorts/Pants, Waterproof Jacket and Pants (Make sure they are breathable), Fleece Jacket.
*You should only bring enough essentials, such as underwear and socks, as you will absolutely need. An overnight ride only requires one change of socks and underwear.
Food- Granola Bars, Energy Bars, Met-Rx Bars, Water, Gatorade.
*List does not include food for cooking. Much of this can be purchased as needed.
Misc.- Maps, Various Toiletries, Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, Bungee Cords.
*Only take as needed.
The most important thing to remember is that everything extra you take adds weight to your bike, which makes you work harder when riding. When packing for an overnight or extended ride, always ask your self "Is this something I absolutely need?" If there is any hesitation, leave it behind.
Also, when biking for extended periods, make sure to eat something every hour or so. Even if it is something small. Your body will need the energy derived from the food. Try to eat carbohydrate rich food. Sweets are good for a little pick me up, but will not last long. Granola bars and energy bars are your best bet.
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you stay hydrated during your ride. Be sure you have plenty of water and Gatorade on your trip. I always find it best to drink water during your ride and then every two hours or so, drink a Gatorade. Gatorade is a better energy source, but seems to sit in the stomach heavier that water.
This site was last updated 08/06/06