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How To Plan Your Next Cycling Adventure | GCN’s Bikepacking Tips

How To Plan Your Next Cycling Adventure | GCN’s Bikepacking Tips

(logo thuds) (logo whooshes) (upbeat jazz music) – We’ve done two bikepacking
trips here on GCN in 2018 First we did a four day trip through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and then a two day epic
gravel trip through Iceland. But we want to do more
and I expect you do to. So here is how to plan
your next adventure. (upbeat jazz music) For me the best bit of planning
is actually getting inspired so the daydreaming, the research, the whole world is at your finger tips. You don’t need to go
out and buy paper maps although they are blooming cool everything can be found online. I’m not sure we can tell you
exactly how to get inspired but videos, great place to start. Instagram fantastic source of inspiration and websites generally as well. For this video we are gonna have a bit of a hypothetical
2019 trip going on. And our source of inspiration is a gravel road through
central Patagonia. I’ve actually been down
it many many years ago but not on a bike. So 2019 I’m gonna rectify that. So we have our inspiration and we know roughly where we’re gonna go. The next point is to deal with
a couple of practical issues. (Inspiring music) The first thing to consider is actually how much time you
have available for your trip. So the longer you have the
further afield you can go ’cause you do need to factor in how much time it’s gonna take to get to the start of your adventure versus how much time
you’re actually gonna have for your adventuring. So for example a
hypothetical Patagonian trip we’re gonna need to give
ourselves quite a bit of time. A couple of weeks at least because it’s a long long way from home and it takes a long way to get there. And get home again. (Inspiring music) The next thing to think
about is your budget. So the great news is that bikepacking it can be pretty cheap. Certainly if you set out from home all you really need is a
bike and a bit of luggage. Venture further afield and you’re gonna need to
factor in your travel costs. But you can also bear in
mind the cost of living might be different at
your destination as well. So potentially you might
have to spend more on flights but you can actually save
on food and accomodation when you arrive. For our hypothetical trip flights are gonna be quite costly and the actual cost of living
is gonna be broadly similar perhaps a little bit cheaper. But it’s gonna mean that we’re
having to brace ourselves for quite an expensive trip. (inspiring music) So you’ve got your destination you’ve got your time you’ve got your money. The next bit is another
particularly good bit the actual route planning. Google Maps is a good place to start particularly if street view is available for the area that you’re looking at and it is in a surprisingly
number of places. It will give you a great idea
of what to expect frankly. So everything from the
scenery to the road quality traffic levels, climate even. If we look at our hypothetical
road we can see that it’s not hypothetical it’s a real road on our hypothetical trip, anyway it’s still gravel which is excellent news and not a car in sight. And the weather looks ever
bit as bad as I remembered. Judging from the fact that
it’s a temperate rainforest and there’s a lot of snow
knocking around the place. Once you’ve got a rough
idea of the roads to ride the next step on would be to use a dedicated route planning app. Now there are loads out there. For both the GCN trips this year we’ve used Komoot which is a
outdoor sports specific app. It’s actually the one I use
whenever I’m planning a route but it’s particularly good
for being able to sniff out off road options like gravel
as well as on road options. And it does that in two different ways first it uses open street
maps which I’ve learned is like the Wikipedia of
mapping in that anyone can contribute to it meaning
that you can add new tracks that you find or take away lost ones. Komoot then adds it’s own map over the top with elevation data on there. And it’s also got a way of working out what the road surface is going to be. So particularly useful
for if you’re planning a road bikepacking trip and you find there is a whole
chunk of gravel on there. So in this case in fact it’s mostly unpaved. As well as the maps satellite imagery can
also prove invaluable. Certainly when we were
planning for Morocco we spent a long time scouring the images for details on mystery gravel
sections to try and work out whether or not it was gonna be passable using the equipment that we had. And speaking of Morocco
actually our bikepacking guru Josh Ibbett has a golden
rule which is that the shorter your trip
the more you should plan to make sure you get the
absolute most out of it. Now once you’re happy with your
route the final point to say is you then need to work on
how you’re gonna follow it. So you could simple do it using
your phone or in this case I can sync it up directly
with my wahoo which is great I’ll get turn by turn directions. You’ll probably want some
kind of paper map as a back up if you’re going really
off the beaten track I would’ve thought. (upbeat jazz music) Now it’s all very well
saying plan your route but bikepacking trips can of course take on different formats. You can do a point to point
ride where you fly into one city and then maybe fly out of another one. Or you can base yourself in
one spot and then do a loop which is what we did in Morocco. Now that meant that it
was easy logistically we could stash our bike bags in Marrakesh and it also meant we could make more of the short time we had available. In fact we got to spend
longer in our saddles. Now when you’re looking into
the nitty gritty of the route you’re gonna want to
factor in your ability that’s gonna affect your daily mileage how many days you have available for it and the terrain that
you’re gonna be covering. You can see on this route
on the elevation profile there’s a couple of pretty
big mountains to go over. Now I would personally
err on the side of caution less may well be more in this case because I would imagine for most of you it’s gonna be a holiday so
you’re not gonna be wanting to stress out about missing
your return flight. Or having to pass up
opportunities to explore or relax maybe have a longer
than normal lunch stop. (upbeat jazz music) If you’re planning on
staying in hard accommodation so where you have a roof over your head then you’re probably gonna
wanna plan your schedule a little more closely because
you’re gonna need to factor in whether or not your daily
mileage is actually gonna tally up with the accommodation
options available to you. If you go a little bit more
self sufficient so camping then you will be able to
be more flexible of course but you still need to factor in where you’re gonna be able
to stock up on the essentials like your food and your water. (upbeat jazz music) Now you have planned your
bikepacking trip in its entirety. I have it on good authority that it probably won’t go to plan, yet. I mean it is hard to factor
in things like the weather mechanical problems, illness, injury maybe even something as
simple as a closed road and so it’s important to retain a degree of flexibility in there. It is an adventure after all
so things can and will change but you can also mitigate those risks by building in some contingency. So for example your route
you could make a copy of it and then create a shorter plan B maybe take out the
mountain passes for plan C for if the weather closes in. You should also take note however briefly of where hospitals are. Remember to tell your friends
and family where you’re going so that someone knows where
to come looking for you. Now all those things will add up to help make your bikepacking
trip fun, relaxing and perhaps most importantly safe as well. And those factors definitely
become more and more important the further off the
beaten track you become. So that is how you plan your
next bikepacking adventure. Please let us know in the comment section where you want to go next and hey if enough people
are clamoring for Patagonia maybe we’ll get to go there. Give that one a big thumbs up, please. Anyway talked a little bit in this video about those trips to
Morocco and also Iceland. If you haven’t seen either of those videos click on screen now.

100 comments on “How To Plan Your Next Cycling Adventure | GCN’s Bikepacking Tips

  1. I bought a scoot addict 10 cf …i want to go bike packing in India now some people are telling me that its not advisable to add panniers to my CF cause CF are not supposed to take that weight of panniers … and it my crack under pressure … i want your expert advise

  2. How about to go to Colombia and give a try to one of the longest climbs possible: Alto de Letras (~80 km at ~4% avg. grade) #Epic #warm #cyclingnation

  3. I'm hoping to do my first bikepacking trip next spring. Catch the train to Macclesfield the cycle through the Peak District home to Birmingham. I love your tips, keep the inspiration coming.

  4. I went on a 7 day bikepacking trip in Italy recently and loved it that I want to do again. Si is right about not everything can go as planned and it happened to me a number of times. I have a few places in Italy that I have planned for the next few years. Besides openstreetmap there is also opencyclemap where you can see bike paths from around the world. Bikemap incorporates both in their pro version.

  5. Im already in the planning phase for my next adventure Noth Cape Norway start and all the way down the coast to the south to Kristandsand aprox 3500km in 3-4 weeks on my gravelbike

  6. Why does Si have a dirty dish scrubber sponge on his wall? Patagonia is awesome. Make sure you get some of the chocolate and drink the mate' tea.

  7. Hi.
    My son and I are planning a trip from Belgium to Denmark in the summer 2019.
    What is the name of the app you use for road planning ? Comute ?

  8. It's amazing what you can find on the interweb. From the Bath Escape sign in the background I could work out you were in the Griffin. 😉

  9. From 2003 when I went on my first trip to 2018 the amount of information available now is mind boggling.
    I`m all for the current available info, it opens up so many more road etc to explore.

  10. Hello guys, I would like to ask you a big favor .. I am 30 years that I would like to show my theories to the world, that the most important thing about cycling is body weight .. ok but how much does it affect? I have always thought that if I were 70 kg I would have been a champion .. 24 years with 84 kg I was very strong even uphill but I was detached for my weight and also because of the ridiculous bike I had from 11 kg! what I ask you is to make a video with a test with 4 different weight cyclists 70,80,90,100 kg the weight that I have now .. the first rounds all with the same heavy bike 7, 3 kg, the 2 round with 9.3 kg bike .. then see the various times and how much longer it takes each one has its second weight .. but the climb must be at least 6 km with an average gradient of 6.5% and maximum of 14 % .. it would be better if the cyclists were all the same age 40 or 45 years. for example between Matt and Simon, there is too much difference in age and it is not good .. there is a climb in Italy in the region called San Leo (RN) which I think is very suitable for the test is 5 km has an average slope of 6 % and maximum of 12%. for the heavy person if you want to be able to make me available, I am 47 years old, youthful appearance, 1.84 meters for 101 kg .. development an average power on slopes of 6 km with an average gradient of 5% 255 watts! My name is Loris Pasini and I live in Italy in San Mauro Pascoli (FC) at 15 km where Marco Pantani lived .. I leave you my phone number if you want to contact me 388/5713192 .. I speak only Italian and some English .. I hope you accept the challenge and you will do this nice video test .. hello guys greetings from the beautiful Italy ..

  11. I wanted fly to the U.S. and ride from Boston to Montreal, but the overpopulation of black bears seems to be a show stopper 😀

  12. First Multi-day trip next May, train up to Inverness, following the Caledonia way down the west coast cutting across to the Isle of Arran, back to the mainland then back to Edinburgh. Excited !!

  13. If you’re flying to your destination what do you do with your bike bag/boxes, particularly if you don’t start and end at the same place ?

  14. the bikepacking stuff and epic cycling trips are by far the best videos you've done on here, the effort you put into them definitely pays when you watch it

  15. leave from my door. gotland and fårö coastal route. gravel paradise. easy to get to and no difficult route finding. and gotland 360 if you're road only inclined. kom till sverige!🇸🇪

  16. This is great, excactly the video I asked for in the comments of the marokko bikepacking video! 😀
    I think the planning is much harder than the trip itself 😉

  17. What di you guys do with your actual bike-packing material? I figure you have some professional grade cases, not just cardbord boxes as I did 😉 So where do you leave them after arriving? What if you leave from another airport you arrived at?

  18. Google street view is certainly a very useful tool for exploring a new route. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to indicate gradient as I discovered exploring a new road (ex goat track) in the Pyrénées where I live. The 1.5 kms of 17% was a bit of a shock.

  19. I did a 2 week credit card tour of the Pacific Northwest last summer. It was the best vacation of my life. I recommend a nice bike computer with navigation, use to plan routes)a nice seat bag (Ortlieb)and staying in Airbnbs.

  20. Did LEJOG this year. After seeing your adventures. Kipped in hedges too. Ate and drank well though. The simplicity of only thinking about food, turning the pedals, sleeping and following the little black line was bliss. So Friday 18.30 the registration for the TCRNo.7 is open !
    If you fancy helping me plan that I'd be very grateful…..oh hold on ….at what point does the self supported rule kick in ?

  21. I want to do a 5 week tour through New Zealand in febuary. It's the first time I'm really on a tour that is longer than a week, so it's going to be an adventure.

  22. The Google maps app has a neat feature built in enabling you to share your location with a select group of people (provided you are in a location with a connection I imagine).
    I used it on a bikepacking trip through Sweden this year and shared my location with a few family members so they always knew where I was. It didn't seem to have much effect on either battery life nor data usage.

  23. Keep one eye on the weather. Always have a plan B/contingency/safe port of call should things go pear shaped. Plan for the weakest rider in a group and how to get help if needed

  24. – I cycled that exact stretch of road you are researching in Patagonia just near Coyhaique. I would suggest turning this hypothetical trip into reality – it was epic! Check the blog on the 1600km ride from Esquel to El Chalten –

  25. I'd like to do my first trip next summer. Probably a round trip through Somerset and Devon on a road bike, or maybe Bristol to Cornwall and return via train

  26. I've traveled the carretera austral in patagonia and the buses that travel that road do so at high speed and force anything in their way over. They barely slow down to drop off passengers, having the porter give the bum's rush to people and luggage. The dialect of Spanish spoken there is barely understood by fluent Spanish speakers and very few people speak English, and why would they, they're 2000 miles from the nearest English speakers. It is a rainforest, and the rain there is not the constant drizzle of the UK but comes down in buckets. The countyside is spectacular and the people are generous and friendly.
    Try to find a local resource anywhere you travel to fill you in on the particulars . Have fun!

  27. Come to Japan, when I moved here I realised how much cycling out here is underrated. There are so many mountains and amazing climbs!

  28. We went with my friend from north-western Transilvania to the Croatian coast (about 1100 km) without any sort of real planning. We had very few issues.

  29. When are you going to start leading this trips so that us mere mortals can join. I’m in!! And if you’re not going to lead it, any companies you would recommend?

  30. 2018 was my first actual bike camping trip over 3 nights, 290 km in the western carpathians. Next year I wanna explore the east and north of Transylvania, 7 days, about 600 km. And 2020 the south and west.

  31. One of the popular things in the USA right now is doing a sub 48 hour trip locally. Many shops and clubs organize these. I've done a couple for the shop I work for, great way to introduce folks to the sport and show that you don't have to do something epic to have a good time. Would love to see you guys do something like this.

  32. Thanks GCN for really nice video, definitely got me inspired.
    Can you also share some of the logistic tips? For example how to find accommodation that accepts you with your bike, so you don't have to leave it in the open for the night. Also when you fly and then go from point A to point B, what do you do with your bike case?

  33. Just booked my tickets for a cycling adventure across America. Starting in San Francisco and finishing in New York. It will be more than 6000 km so I can't plan it all and it's more adventurous. The budget is a hard point in cycling adventures especially when it takes a long time. Also the route planning is harder for such a long trip. Hope it will all work out. I do have 8 months to plan it all.

  34. A big adventure like you guys have done would be awesome – flying with my bike and gear is something I haven't done yet. I love the simplicity of simply riding out my door and going on a trip. There is a certain satisfaction of your bike being the only form of transportation. I did do one this summer through Pennsylvania where we took a train one way – it was nice to not have to backtrack.

  35. Just about to leave for a trans Papua (Sorong to Enarotali) cycling adventure on local bikes after having cycled and rowed here from Belgium. Big unknown place, but the local cycling community is very helpful. Will be quite an adventure, let's hope there are decent roads. The first part is 400 km with +8000 ascent according to komoot, the second part is not available online…

  36. Please Gcn would you guide me which gears to use while climbing because I am a beginner
    P.S I use a retro road bike
    Love from Pakistan

  37. If you go really exotic, tattoo blood type / allergies inside wrist. Bracelets get stolen while you're lying in a heap. Just like army.

    Plan to Not Plan.
    Entry point. Good.
    Civil or political strife? Knowing unguarded border opportunities to safe countries is a must.
    Take a few hundred US dollars or UK pounds depending on region.
    A small bottle of hard local booze if questioned. And a bog of one for when guns come out and you just want them to be friends.
    Also a gun. But hide it really well, and, I understand…. If you're willing to pull it out,be willing to use it.
    Ive heard.

    Play it safe kids. You know the countries to stay in! Seriously. Doesn't matter if you're purple green or indigo

  38. I've been going cycle camping since the early 1990s. I've toured quite a bit around both England and Ireland (a must-do destination IMHO) although I've had a bit of hiatus the last few years. I do have a couple of trips planned for next year. The first one will be a simple over-nighter to test out my new one-person tent. I've discovered a country pub about 25 miles away which does good food and has a small campsite attached – perfect for a trial run. I'm also planning to take the train up to York then take several days to ride back home camping each night. Daily mileage will be a modest 30-40 miles per day and to be honest that will probably about my limit at my age (late 60s). IMHO touring is about the places you visit and the people you meet on the way rather than a contest to see who can ride the fastest, furthest or over the most extreme terrain.

  39. Happy to route for Patagonia! Also have a question – how do you know what distance you can do in a day? Obviously, you can take more time than on a normal ride but on the other hand, it'd be back-to-back days… Any tipps?

  40. I would recommend the Android application OSMAnd it's openstreetmap map offline, many options like finding next cemetery to get water :D, great.
    Use it for my Paris-Nice this summer.

  41. Myself and Angie are doing way of the roses, Trans Cambrian way and LEJOG next year on fat bikes kitted out with Topeak bags front loader, frame loader, back loader and top loader … can't wait guys … great show to GCN.. ps where's your white ceramic mugs on website gone ? Need two for our Fat Bike challenge 👍😉

  42. Hi there,just wondered if you guys might be interested in making a video about canal tow path rides. I've done a couple so far and they've been great fun!I live in Bedfordshire and caught the train into London. Picking up the Grand Union canal at Paddington Basin I then cycled the 86Km back to Slapton (took around 6 hours). The condition of the paths vary considerably along the route from well paved asphalt through to unmade dirt paths. Time of year is also important because in winter the mud can make it difficult and in high summer the vegetation can be overgrown.Whilst a mountain bike is not necessary it is not really suitable for a road bike so a gravel/adventure bike would be ideal. There are plenty of pubs along the way for Lloydy to enjoy!I'm sure a number of your viewers would be interested and I would guess some may have already done some.Keep up the great work, love the content!Geoff Govey.

  43. Hi guys thanks for this video! Great inspiration for my first bikepacking experience climbing the hardests mountains in Colombia (Alto de la Línea and Alto de letras) riding in total 700K /13000 mts/ 7 days. Pease visit our Strava profile and YouTube channel , maybe your next bikepacking / race / Sportive could be here in Colombia. Best!

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