My Journey into Bikepacking by Emma Connell
Bikepacking can sound like a huge endeavour, but whats neat is that you have so much freedom to make the trip your own! Whether it be a multi-day expedition, an overnight out of town tour, or anything in between!
The first trip I took was a weekend trip to the Liverpool area, at age 16 with my mom. I borrowed a road bike from a friend, making it the first time I had rode anything other than my Walmart Supercycle (which you could totally bikepack on if you put your mind to it). Our first day consisted of a short distance from Summerville Beach to the Bed and Breakfast that would be our home base for the weekend. The following day we went on a 35km round trip to another beach and back to the BnB. On the third day we set out to see how far we could get back to our home in Hampton, NS (If I can remember the goal was to get to Annapolis Royal ~114km). The total trip home would have been 150km.
We ended up making it to Caledonia, when I rode over broken glass in the road. Being the novice “cyclists” that we were, we had a pump but didn’t have a spare tube to fix the tire… So here we were about 80km into the ride and we had to send out the SOS call for a pick up.
For this trip, we both had minimal cargo which included small packs on our backs and handlebar packs, holding a spare change of clothes, bathing suits, towels and snacks, as well as small saddlebags with various items. We stayed in a BnB because a. we didn’t have the right gear to camp, and b. the packing portion of this trip was definitely not the priority! Our goal for the trip was just to try riding longer distances than we ever had before and to enjoy a (kinda) self-propelled weekend away. It is noteworthy to mention that neither of us had trained for this adventure either!
Fast forward 7 years later...
....And I finally had the time to take a second go at the whole bikepacking thing!!! Between the last trip and this one, I had purchased 2 second hand road bikes, learned to ride clipped in, joined a weekly riding group and rode in a couple “for fun” road races. Safe to say I fell in love with cycling after the first adventure!
My partner (Cody) and I were living in Kingston, ON when we set out to Prince Edward County for a weekend of camping at Sandbanks, Provincial Park and brewery hopping! This trip was a 200km round trip, and each day we biked from the park to a local brewery (or 2) and to the beach. Tacking another 50ish kms on the “non-travel” days. The 4 day trip ended up being roughly 300kms. It’s safe to say that I was much more prepared for this trip than the first one - meaning I had a spare tube, a tire tool, and had done a little training, haha.
For this trip we chose to take the scenic route, knowing that it was a commonly travelled bike route with relatively good roads and a continuous view of Lake Ontario. When planning routes I would always recommend taking the most scenic route. Though it may be more challenging or longer, it makes the ride 1000 times more enjoyable when there are sick views to take in!
Cody and I are both proud owners of new to us road bikes and pannier racks, as well as our own cycling shoes and shorts. We borrowed both sets of panniers from friends. We chose to camp with our hammocks, eliminating the need for sleeping pads and a tent, which lightened our loads for sure! Our packs were stuffed with spare clothes, towels, sleeping bags, tarps, hammocks, a camp stove, camp dishes, first aid kit, and food!
We carried dry goods from home with us, and stopped at the grocery store on our way into the park to pick up fresh veggies, fruits and any other food that we didn’t want to carry with us from Kingston. Since we were camping at a provincial park we had access to drinking water.
Overall this trip was a great first attempt at a multi-day bikepacking trip. We were able to have the challenge of lengthier rides on 2/4 days, and still enjoy some relaxing camping, without spending multiple long days in the saddle!
Naturally, I have now purchased my own panniers and want to up my bikepacking game with longer multi-day “thru” trips, and eventually broadening the spectrum of my trips with backcountry mountain bike trails, gravel roads and solo trips! :)