Editor’s note: This post is brought to you by the gear experts at evo
For many mountain bikers, half the fun comes from traveling to new places to ride your bike. There’s something magical about new trails, different climates, and making riding buddies. But this summer, international travel for mountain biking is out of the question for most folks. We won’t be packing our bikes and flying to Europe any time soon. That’s ok, though, because it leaves time for another pillar of riding: the mountain bike road trip. Pick a destination, plan a rough itinerary, throw the bikes on the rack, pack the cooler, and hit the road.
But, while road-tripping to ride is less logistically challenging than flying with your mountain bike, there’s still an art to packing for a mountain bike trip. Here’s our guide to making sure you have everything you need to make the most of riding new trails. There are a few simple rules to follow that make it much easier to keep everything organized and make sure you don’t find yourself stranded without something important.
Bring extra parts
Right now, bike shops are dealing with a weird combination of economic uncertainty, and high, but inconsistent demand. As a result, many shops don’t have the spare parts inventory they usually would. Many shops are also operating on limited hours. That means that even a small equipment failure, like a broken spoke or a torn tire, can be much harder to fix than usual. Shops may not be open, and if they are, they may not have the parts you need. So bring all the spare parts you have. Sure, space in your car may be limited, but you’ve still got room for a few extra tires, a spare derailleur hanger, some brake pads, your toolbox, and any other ride essentials.
Having that gear with you, ready to swap out, will help maximize your riding time, and keep you from getting skunked by something that should have been an easy fix. Sure, you can over-pack, you probably don’t need those old handlebars or extra pedals, but think about the parts that are most likely to fail or wear out, and bring any spares that you have. Worst case scenario: that spare rear wheel takes up extra space and you don’t end up needing it. Best case: it saves your trip.
Pack for any riding scenario
Often folks get caught up over-planning their trips, they work out an itinerary of what trails they want to ride each day, and bring gear that they think will be appropriate. And that’s fine, but just remember that it doesn’t take to force you onto plan B. A quick rainstorm can turn some trail systems into a muddy mess, while nearby bike parks are still completely rideable. So bring gear that works for a wide range of riding. Even if you don’t think you’ll be riding at a bike park, bring a full face mtb helmet and any mountain bike pads you usually ride gravity in. That way you’ll be ready if someone offers to shuttle you up some gnarly local descent, or you decide to snag a couple of surprise days at the bike park. Just having that gear in the car helps you prepare for anything your adventure might bring.
Bring extras of the stuff that gets smelly
The one downside of a free-flowing road trip is the potential lack of access to laundry services. The car can get real stinky after a few days of hard riding. To help combat this, bring extras of the stuff that gets smelly fast. Having a few pairs of mountain bike shorts with you means that you can wear a fresh pair while you let the pair that got soaked riding in the rain dry out. The same goes for gloves. Gloves are often one of the smelliest pieces of bike kit, but so many people don’t prepare with extras. Bring an extra pair of mountain bike gloves, if you don’t end up needing them, it’s not like they took up much space anyway. Finally, bike socks. It’s impossible to bring too many pairs of bike socks. The key to keeping your shoes from smelling is to make sure you’re keeping your socks clean. If you have a fresh pair for every ride of the trip your feet, and your friends will thank you.
Pack like you’re camping, even if you’re not
While the classic mountain bike road trip revolves around camping in the woods after long days riding new trails, some folks like to jump from hotel to hotel. And that’s fine, just be prepared. The pandemic has shut down many hotels in smaller towns, and bike destinations aren’t set up to handle visitors right now. So it’s not a bad idea to have some camping gear with you. That includes a sleeping bag, lots of food and water, and extra toilet paper. Again, even if you don’t end up needing it, it doesn’t hurt you to be prepared. Plans change, cars break down, that sleeping bag can make waiting for a tow truck a lot more comfortable, the only cure for the aftermath of questionable tacos is extra toilet paper, and there’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at the trailhead only to realize that your hydration pack is empty.
So let’s hit the road—with proper precautions
Having the essentials, especially extra food and water, will also help you have less of an impact on small mountain towns with less robust medical infrastructure. While these towns appreciate and rely on the business visitors bring, they’re also worried about the impact an influx of potentially sick tourists could have. Being as self-sufficient as possible makes you more prepared, and helps them out too. With this in mind, always make sure to follow any restrictions that are in place, and ride within your limits. This is a tough time for many, and while we’re thankful that mountain biking can bring some normalcy, it’s important to prioritize the safety of you and those around you.
We are evo – a ski, snowboard, mountain bike, surf, wake, skate, camp, and lifestyle retailer based in Seattle, Washington, USA, with stores located in Seattle, Portland, Denver, Whistler, and Salt Lake City (coming soon). We also offer trips to remote locations across the globe in search of world-class powder turns, epic waves, and legendary mountain biking through our evoTrip Adventure Travel Trips.
evo explores the collaboration between culture and sport by seamlessly joining art, music, streetwear, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking , and wakeboarding. Our aim is to bring all things relevant to the urban, action sports lifestyle into one creative space. Whether it is on the website, on the phone or in our stores, our aim is to make all who come into contact with evo feel welcome and excited about their experience.