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Taking a Bike Trip

Taking a Bike Trip


If your family or group of friends loves to bike, then a bike trip makes a perfect vacation.  Seeing the world from the seat of a bike is a wonderful way to experience new terrain, or to get a different view of a place that you've only seen by car.  Because you move more slowly on a bike, you have a chance to really sink into your environment, observing wildlife and views that you might miss otherwise.

Planning Your Mileage
As you plan your trip, the biggest decision to make is how far you'd like to travel each day.  If you have novice bikers or kids in your group, you'll probably all be happiest if you keep your mileage goals fairly modest.  Remember, if you reach your destination earlier than you expected, you can always use the extra time to take little day trips and side jaunts.  A group of more experienced bikers can make more serious mileage goals.  

Knowing how far you can travel each day helps you pick the route for your trip and decide where to stop each night.  Also, keep in mind that if you're carrying a lot of gear, you'll have to go slower than usual, no matter how fit you are.  A good rule of thumb is to plan to go about twice as far as you would on an average day trip.  If you're worried, lower that number a little.  After all, it's better to reach your destination still feeling energized than to be frustrated because you didn't get far enough.

Where to Stay
An easy way to travel is to camp along the way.  You can book campsites ahead of time at RV parks and campgrounds along the way, and ride into camp as late as you like.  Keep in mind that some camping equipment is heavy - if you have lighter backpacking gear, that will keep the load lighter when you're on the bike.  Invest in a lightweight tent, a whisperlite camp stove, and light-weight foam or inflatable pads for under your sleeping bag.  Dehydrated food also helps keep the weight down.  If you aren't a fan of dehydrated food, consider planning a route that will take you past towns and stores, so you can buy fresh food every day.

Prepare Your Bike
If you're going to be traveling on trails at all, you'll want to ride a mountain bike during your trip.  On the other hand, if your whole route is wholly along roads, you can ride a lighter-weight street bike.  Alternately, you can put heavier weight tires on a street bike.  Check in with your local bike shop for suggestions on tire weight and frame.

Length of Trip
Biking is a great way to see the country, and if you have a lot of time, you can cover quite a bit of distance.  Over the course of a multi-week trip, you'll get stronger and you'll be able to go further in one day.  Bear in mind, though, that early in the trip you'll start every day weary from the day before.  If your trip is a long one, you might want to plan a lay-over day or two early on in your travels to give your body some rest.

Biking Gear
You'll want to carry a few different cycling outfits, so you have a clean set to wear each day.  Be sure to take rain gear, plenty of socks and underwear, high-energy snacks, water bottles, and any camping equipment.  Sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses are a must.  A good bike repair kit and other emergency equipment, like a small first aid kit, is smart.  Bring maps that cover the area you'll be traveling through, so you can identify side roads, state parks, and other rest areas.  If you'll be staying at campgrounds along the way, be sure to bring the contact information and directions for each park.
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