I just got back from an awesome three-day bikepacking trip. Long story short, we rode 110 miles, did a 25-mile trail run the next day, then biked home (another 110 miles) the next day. We didn’t camp–this was hotel bikepacking! We stayed in an awesome little motel in the gorgeous Tobermory, Ontario, and while we packed a bit of ride food, we took advantage of stops along the way to top off (ahem, me with this donut below) and we ate meals out while in town. The weather was crips–down to freezing at night, brisk during the day–and packing everything, including trail running shoes, into a running hydration pack to carry on the bike was a tight squeeze.
(Pssst… Just ask Bikepacking.com editor Joe Cruz how he defines bikepacking! I love that he’s all about whatever type works for you, from full-on backcountry to hotel-to-hotel)
After posting the below photo, I had a few people helpfully suggest that it would be easier if I got panniers and didn’t use a vest, or got XYZ other piece gear.
While I always appreciate well-intentioned advice, this kind of rubbed me the wrong way after a couple of comments. (I wasn’t offended by them at all, just to be clear. But they did get me thinking!)
Yes, there were some gear swaps I would have made (but that’s a whole other article!) but honestly, this was the first bikepacking trip I’ve made with my current bike (I’ve been on bikepacking press trips before but never done one at home) and I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it or want to do it again.
So, I didn’t buy or borrow extra gear.
I could have, of course, but that wasn’t the point.
When we talk about being Consummate Athletes, gear often comes up. It’s super easy to start feeling like in order to try another type of sport, you need to have XYZ specific gear, but often, it’s better to get started with what you have, decide if you enjoy something AT ALL, then think about what you would need to make it more fun, easier, etc. We get so stuck in this trap of not being able to try something new without all the bells and whistles that I think that stops us from trying new things!
Basically, if you already have everything you absolutely must have in order to get through a trip (for me, my hydration vest and a small bar bag), you don’t really need more. Would a set of panniers been more comfortable? Maybe… though with how little we brought, I think they would have been more weight and trouble (especially with 80 kilometers of brutal headwind!) than they were worth.
I wanted to post this article for one simple reason: To remind everyone that being a Consummate Athlete and willing to jump into any adventure means sometimes not having the perfect gear for the job, but going anyway.
Because you know what? It didn’t matter that I wasn’t the coolest looking bikepacker in the world. I had a total blast.