Everyone needs a little break from reality once in a while, no matter what line of work you are in. Maybe you work a 9 to 5 gig, wait tables or bartend at the local dive, or just need a break from everyday life. A short overnight trip is the perfect escape from reality and is extremely refreshing. If you are new to bikpeacking or mountain biking in general, this is certainly a great way to familiarize yourself with the planing and the mental and physical hurdles that are involved with the sport. Below is a simple guide to get you out on the trail. While planning your quick trip may not be as simple as just heading out your door and riding, it is a very important step to insure a good time. A 24 hour overnight (24O) or a sub 24 hour overnight (S24O) at the very least will be a great mental and physical reset for your life.
Pick A Time
Probably the easiest step is to pick a time and ask a crew if they want to join, or fly solo. A typical time that works for us is a Friday after work or a Saturday morning. That way you can be home the following day to feed the dog, take over baby duties, or have time to mow the lawn. Be sure to give yourself a solid buffer of time on the return end before any planned obligations to account for accidents or mechanical issues.
Set A Realistic Goal
The next and maybe most important step is to set goals and communicate with your group if you don’t plan on going alone. There is nothing worse than going into a bikepacking trip and not understanding the ability of the others in the group. Like any day ride, knowing what terrain each rider is capable of will help you determine the proper route together. If you are by yourself things can be more simple, but don’t let that get you too comfortable with you plans.
Pick A Route
Determining the route can be fun yet tricky. Like we mentioned above, know your ability and pick something that you can get done within your planned period of time. Things such as trail difficulty, elevation, time you plan on stopping and how early you will start the next morning should all be factors in deciding the length of your route. A loop is a great way to start, and it makes logistics easy, but sometimes the better experience is a point to point route. It is very important to know your route as well. If it is your first time on the route you choose, you should study it prior to leaving, and carry a small map with you. A good mileage would be 15-75 miles depending on the ability and make up of the group.
Half the fun of bikepacking is the rest and relaxation after your ride. along with your route logistics planning a stopping point before you head out is a good idea, if just a general area. Be prepared to stop ahead of that point or make sure you bring proper bike lights. You don’t want to be stuck in a bad spot when the sun goes down without lights.
What to bring
There is a lot to consider when packing for a 24HO, but don’t overpack. If traveling with a group, divide and conquer. One person carries the stove while the other carries the gas – or better yet, stuff a few burritos in your frame bag and call it a day. Check out our guide on 11 ways to lighten your load for more packing advice.
While you may have a large variety of bike bags, do you actually need them all? Many times I find myself adding bags to my bike, in-turn I end up filling them up which in turn causes a heavier rig. The best way to figure out how to pack your bags is to add the essential bags such as frame, saddle, and handlebar and see if you cant fit everything you need in them. If you can ditch a bag great, but maybe you will need to add your top tube bag or stem bag for extra water or snacks.
On a short S24O or 24O you can pack more food and be a bit more creative if you want. I like to think of it as delicious short term weight. Whether you leave late on a Friday or early on Saturday it is rare that a refrigerated meal will go bad in that time span, unless you are riding in extreme heat. Pre cooked meals are simple, and you can leave the stove at home. Other options include freeze dried meals which require very little water. Or if you want, you can bring a full on meal with a casserole dish, kitchen wear and spices. That is the beauty of packing for just one night.
Staying hydrated should be a big priority during your ride. Although water is heavy, bulky and sometimes hard to pack, it is the key to keeping you moving forward. After choosing your route, study the area on a map for possible natural water sources. Do not count on these sources unless you are positive that the creek is running, the spigot is on, or that you will be able to access it without obstacles from the trail. If you know that the water source is legitimate, bring your choice of water purifier (we prefer tablets.) This will help you from having to carry too much water from the beginning.
You are going to be gone for 24 hours or less. It is one thing to overpack on food as it can be consumed, but don’t overpack on clothing. Check the weather pattern diligently before leaving and prepare for the forecast. It is typical to bring a pair of long underwear for sleeping, one long sleeve, a lightweight down jacket, rain jacket (if rain or wind are in the forecast), a pair of lightweight gloves and a lightweight hat depending on overnight temperature. The most important thing here is to plan for the weather and anticipate what you may want to keep you comfortable.
In the end you are out there to have a fun and a memorable time. You are bound to have some down moments, but don’t beat yourself up, it is not a race. You should enjoy your surroundings and embrace the feeling of solitude.