There’s a new trend brewing in bicycle travel. Of course, it’s nothing new to ride bikes on dirt, and adventurous people have been strapping camping gear to bikes since long before the current bikepacking boom. But as roads grow more crowded and our daily lives more hectic, our collective urge to drop it all and ride off into the middle of nowhere seems to be growing stronger.
Whether you call it bikepacking, dirt-road touring, or gravel grinding, the concept is similar: ride your bike on dirt or gravel instead of pavement. It seems almost a technicality at first until you consider the implications. In the U.S. at least, dirt and gravel lead to the kinds of places pavement rarely does: places with very few vehicles, endless free camping options, and wide-open space as far as the eye can see. These are places that offer solitude and self-reliance.
Though touring in populated areas will always have its charms — more conversations with curious strangers, the smooth rhythm of pedaling on pavement, ready access to pizza and beer — riding remote dirt is alluring in its own way. If you’ve never tried it, there’s no better time. The last few years have seen an explosion in bikepacking route development, information, and gear.
The transition from pavement to off-pavement isn’t as complicated as the gear manufacturers would have you think. With just a bit of planning, your very next ride could be your first bikepacking trip. Here are eight tips for bicycle travelers interested in getting into off-pavement touring and bikepacking.
This is an except from an article I wrote for the Adventure Cycling Association blog. Read the rest right here.
More Bikepacking Resources
If you’re interested in hitting the dirt, here are some other posts you might find helpful:
New project! Browse bikepacking and touring blogs from around the world at BikeSleepBike.
Excited about bikepacking but need help getting started?
The Bikepacking Trip Planner Workbook could be the nudge you need to get your wheels rolling.
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