Organising an Offroad Adventure
The success of an epic ride relies on the ability to organise things both in advance and on the move, as plans often need to be changed as problems arise during the ride. Transport is a vital factor, if you are doing an end to end route then you need to arrange some form of transport to get you back to the start, unless you plan to ride back again!
The choice of route is also very important when planning an epic ride, because you will need to arrange accommodation around your route or your route around accommodation and even sources of food if you are in a particularly barren area of the county. This is best done with a full set of OS maps for the area that you are visiting or a dedicated route guide for a route such as the South Downs Way. When planning a route you will need to have a contingency plan in mind just in case the weather is too bad or you suffer mechanical or physical problems and cannot ride the full day. Organising and booking accommodation is something, which must be done early on when planning an epic ride especially if it is high season in a popular tourist area. Booking is not always necessary with Youth Hostels and B & B’s but it helps if you know you have got a place rather than wondering if you are going to get a bed for the night.
Alternatively you could take a tent and camp wherever you decide to stop for the day, although this gives you more freedom you are restricted by the weight of tent, sleeping bag, and other essentials such as cooking equipment. You will also find that you cannot camp anywhere and you will not have the benefits of hot showers, warm rooms and fresh water.What to Take
Travel light is the ultimate goal of every epic mountain bike rider, but I know that it never happens, you always take more than you need just in case. This approach is good but not necessarily the best, you may be prepared for every eventuality but you’ll be so weighed down the ride will take twice as long! I rode the West Highland Way and the Wales Coast to Coast ride using back panniers for luggage, they were a little cumbersome but they did the job and a good make like Karrimor are fairly indestructible. For the South Downs Way I used full 25 litre Rucksack which became a little painful on the back but were generally better than panniers for a shorter epic trip like the South Downs Way.Preparation
Training is important when doing an epic ride however it is up to you how much you do, depending on your current level of fitness. I did relatively little extra training for any of my rides other than a weekly 30 -40 mile ride, but building up distance and frequency of rides allows you to prepare for a whole week of riding. See the February issue of Maximum Mountain Bike for training tips.So what else do I need to take?
Well the essentials are: First Aid Kit, Inner Tube, Puncture Repair Kit, Allen Key / Bike Tool, Lights or Torch, Compass, Snacks (Bananas & Chocolate are good choices), Water, Map, Appropriate Clothing…… The list goes on but these are the essentials.
Bear all of this in mind, with a bit of common sense, and you are well on the way to planning a potentially good Offroad Adventure. If you do need any further advice or help please don’t hesitate getting in touch via e-mail, I may be able to help. Also visit my website ‘Offroad Adventures Online’ for stories of UK adventures and advice on Accommodation, Equipment, Maps, Guides and Preparation tips.