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10 things to know when planning a bike trip

10 things to know when planning a bike trip
Explore your parks and public lands by bicycle with thousands of others throughout the country on the same day — Bike Your Park Day on September 30, 2017. (Matt Wild / Matt Wild)

A bike trip requires planning, conditioning and organization, said Lisa McKinney, a spokeswoman for Missoula, Mont.-based Adventure Cycling, which helps thousands of riders each year with trips around the country.

If you have limited time or desire to coordinate all the details, however, you might want to sign on with a bicycle tour company. All you have to do is show up, in shape, with your riding clothes and toothbrush, said Mark Thomsen of Madison, Wisc.-based Trek Travel.

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These firms take care of food; lodging, which can be luxurious; guides, routes, repairs, shuttles and even provide the bikes, said Liz Einbinder of Berkeley-based Backroads.

Here are 10 things to consider when planning a bike trip:

1. Where do you want to go? How far? A cross-country tour or simple overnight trip?

2. Are you cycling with a friend, your family or on your own?

3. What type of road conditions will you experience? Will you use digital maps, paper maps or both?

Camping somewhere along the Oodnadatta Track in South Australia during an 18-month tandem ride through South America, China, and Australia.
Camping somewhere along the Oodnadatta Track in South Australia during an 18-month tandem ride through South America, China, and Australia. (Niko Kroeger / Niko Kroeger)

4. Will you camp, which means carrying more gear, or need accommodations each night?

5. What type of bike? The type of touring you intend to do will determine the type of bike you'll need.

6. What gear will you need? Tools and parts, clothing, electronics, maps, first-aid items, panniers, lock, etc.

7. Are you in shape? If not, you should start getting in shape one to two months before your trip, working up to biking five, 10, 20 or more miles a day. And take a simple bike repair class.

Turn your mountain bike ride into a bikepacking adventure. Make sure that biking is allowed on the trails before you ride them.
Turn your mountain bike ride into a bikepacking adventure. Make sure that biking is allowed on the trails before you ride them. (Tom Robertson / Tom Robertson)

8. Take a test ride. Gear up and head out for an overnight bike ride or just ride, fully loaded with your gear, for a full day.

9. Get inspired: Read Adventure Cyclist magazine, which is dedicated to bicycle travel. Check out the blog and books by Willie Weir of Seattle, who has pedaled more than 60,000 miles around the globe.

10. If planning your tour is overwhelming, sign up with a company such as Trek Travel, Backroads, Bicycle Adventures or Adventure Cycling, which offers inn-to-inn trips as well as more bare-bones guided tours.

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