Bikepacking can be challenging, but only if you choose it to be. You might at first think that fitness plays the most important part. Although fitness counts to a certain extent when bikepacking, other elements are often overlooked that are just as important as fitness if not more.
"Here is my point of view on what to consider other than training before you start endurance training"
Before you start your training consider this:
What I have learned on my bikepacking travels is that no amount of training can beat a comfortable saddle. Upgrade to a travel saddle such as the Brooks Cambium C17 and a BIG first challenge is won!
Although nothing to do with fitness the correct saddle will go a long way to ensure a successful journey. I have seen first hand how a tender behind made riders quit their adventure.
image courtesy of cyclingabout.com
Before I share training preparation information it is worth mentioning again that bikepacking is not a race and the pace you ride will be determined by your mindset, planning and things out of your control such as the weather. Accept these factors, make peace with it and your ride will be so much more enjoyable.
Determine your HAPPY Zone:
Most cyclists know what their limits are when it comes to prolonged speed. Mine is an average of 21.5 km/h on my rigid single speed mountain bike. I can sustain this for 140 km before I am drained.
My happy zone is 15 km/h and I can do this all day long. What is your happy zone? Find your's and you have your bikepacking speed that will get you to your destination with enough energy to continue the next day and beyond.
"the biggest mistake you can make is to push too hard and long on the first day when bikepacking.
- fact, most people that quit do so within the first three days of bikepacking. This is due to too much for too long. Plan short beginning days as you ease into longer distances.
Break the daily distance up into short sections and stop for breaks after each section.
Being prepared for a bikepacking trip requires you to first think about the ride that you’d like to complete. The terrain, miles covered, and even weather will affect how you prepare for the ride. One of the most important aspects to training for a multi-day bike trip is volume. Day after day of riding, combined with often times challenging terrain, can take its toll on your body.
To properly prepare you’ll want to mimic this wear and tear by simulating the stress on your body. Gradually add back-to-back days as well as mileage to each ride to increase muscular endurance and your body’s ability to recover. Unlike training for road and mountain bike racing, the focus should not be on top end speed, but rather maintaining endurance over several days or weeks. Train your body’s aerobic system by staying in zone 2 for the majority of your rides.
Traditionally, bikepacking routes cover mountainous terrain, so you’ll want to also develop the leg strength necessary for climbing. Keep in mind that your bike will be weighted, so it’s a good idea to gradually add weight to your bike as you increase your mileage to help your body adapt to carrying the extra weight. The addition of weight will also help you to adjust your riding style, as both climbing and descending are different with the added weight. Your gear will affect the way the bike handles, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with your bike in a variety of conditions. Remain focused on endurance, leg strength, and bike handling for best results. Read more
"The 5 km/h difference.... I often see how riders push the pace when legs are still fresh, it will take some discipline to maintain a set speed during a long ride. Watch your speed and maintain it regardless of what the other riders do.
5 km/h less than your top maintainable speed is a good general measure of what is sustainable over long distances.
Just adding 1 km/h to an average speed over distance could make the difference between enjoyment and endless suffering."
Share your experience while riding long distances, we love to hear from you.