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How to have a ‘great’ multi-day mountain biking adventure

By Jo 7 months agoNo Comments

A multi-day biking adventure – have you ever had a go at one or thought that this could be you? There are many tracks (& the network of trails is growing) that offer fantastic multi-day mountain biking trails that you  could enjoy. Trails that take you through the back country, are off road, some offer flexibility on the number of biking days, the distance biked each day and are of varying difficulty. As the popularity of these trails grow many have good support services like return transport, or transferring of bags and bikes. There are also many companies that provide a fully supported trip if this is what you may prefer.

There is a biking adventure to suit you, suit your riding capability and your fitness. There will be challenges at times but by working through our guide we are confident that you will choose a ride that is manageable.  One that you will be well prepared for so you can find your riding SMILE.

Is it doable?

How far is the biking journey and how far can you ride each day? How many kms is the biking journey? How many days do you have available to do the ride… and thus how many kms do you need to cover or do you think you are capable of covering each day. Can you complete the whole journey or do you need to consider just doing a section of the journey – is it doable?

Remember how far you can travel will be affected by the terrain. If it is gradual uphill or you will be biking up one or more hills it will take longer to ride and require more strength and stamina. So these day/s will need to be shorter – is it doable? 

Do you have the services that you require at those distances? The services that are available or you choose will effect the amount of gear you need to carry. Depending on where you are riding there may be different options for accommodation. If you want to limit your gear you will need fully serviced accommodation compared to being completely independent which may mean carrying tents, sleeping bags and cooking and eating equipment or maybe you need’s will lie somewhere in between. Availability and access to food and water will effect how much gear you need to carry – is it doable? 

What skills will you need to do this ride? Consider the surface, the terrain, the hills, the descents, the types and likelihood of obstacles (tree roots, rocks, streams, rivers) that you could find challenging or could slow you down. Talk to people, or read stories from people who have done it before, read thoroughly the official information provided on the trail, understand the skill level required – is it doable? 

What level of fitness will you need to do this ride? Consider the endurance required to complete the ride, the strength needed to get up that hill or that long gradual hill, down the sustained long descending downhill, or the numerous repetitive uphill climbs. Will you be capable. What training will you need to do so that you can comfortably complete the ride? – is it doable? 

How could the weather effect the success of your journey?  Weather can play a large part in the success of a multi-day adventure. Unfortunately you can’t control this one so it is about making sure that you have the right clothing and equipment to make you comfortable in all weather conditions, the hot, the cold, the wet, the windy. Or do you have the option of sitting out a day or changing the look of the biking trip if the weather doesn’t play its part and give you the ideal weather for biking –  is it doable?

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Accommodation Heaphy Track- Gas is supplied. No cooking equipment. What facilities will your accommodation have on offer?

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Riding in the rain. You need to be prepared for all weather conditions

Feeling Comfortable

You will have a more enjoyable experience if you are comfortable on your back country biking trip. Comfortable in the weather conditions, when riding your bike, carrying gear and having access to the food and water that you will need.

Comfortable in the weather conditions

Make sure your clothing matches the riding conditions.  Clothing needs to stretch and not restrict movement (What to Wear on a Bike).  It also needs to protect you and regulate your temperature (Women’s Riding Clothing – Fabric Choice).

Think about your choices in the;

Hot – If it’s warm think breathable, sun protection and air circulation – like zippers.

Cold – You will need layers that are breathable. An outer that will protect you from the wind. You will need to keep fingers and toes warm.

Wet – If it’s raining you will need a waterproof jacket.

Last point about clothing…if the worst happens and you do fall off…always more scary to think about than actually do…your clothing provides a barrier between you and the ground so take this into consideration especially if you are riding off road (mountain biking) or at a reasonable speed.

Comfortable on the bike

The right type of bike. You are going to be riding on undulating terrain with many obstacles, you will need to ride a mountain bike to suit the riding conditions.   (How to Buy the Right Bike)

Comfortable at the contact points on the bike

When you are riding consecutive days, on bumpy surface, being comfortable on the bike is a MUST. The soreness or areas of discomfort will only build up over days and begin to make time on the bike miserable.

When you ride a bike you make contact with the bike in 3 different places.

  1. Your bottom on the seat. You will need to consider your saddle, Bike seat “Sweet Spot” and padded cycling pants, Fancy pants – why wear padded bike shorts? Shop Padded Bike Pants and Women’s Bike Saddles 
  2. Hands on the handlebars.  You will need  bike brake levers set up in the correct position and cushioning for your hands, shop womens bike gloves
  3. Feet on the pedals.  Think about your correct seat height and have socks and appropriate footwear

You need to be comfortable at each point of contact.

Also consider how your body works on the bike, your body position between these points of contact (Chi Riding – Tip 1 – Riding Position, Tip 2 – Core control, Tip 4- Breathing). You can work on and improve your riding in this relaxed and efficient riding position.

Comfortable carrying gear

You are going into the back country away from support – so you need to be independent and self-reliant. You will need to carry gear to keep you comfortable and safe. The amount of gear will depend on how many days you are riding for, the facilities at your accommodation, the season, water available along the track, the number in your riding group (you can share items that only require one per group as long as you stay together as a group at all times) eg, Some bike tools, first aid kit, Personal Locator Beacon.  See gear list for multiday mountain biking.

How will you carry your gear. To help with balance and control of your bike on challenging terrain, you want to keep your gear within the width of your bike- (so panniers that sit wider than your bike are not an ideal option) and to keep the centre of mass low – try and keep your gear low on the bike.

  • You the rider carrying gear – backpacks (What sized backpack can I comfortably carry? and What can I fit in it?) . You want to keep the amount of gear on your back to a minimum
  • Have gear attached to the bike –  handlebar bags, frame bags, saddle bags.
  • Having a carrier –dry bag attached to a carrier.

Access to water & foodYou will need food and water. How much will depend on the number of days and access to water along the way. How will you carry your water. See water carrying options on the bike. Depending where you are biking you may also need to consider the quality of water. You need food that is nutritious and lightweight. Dehydrated meals make for a good option. We take 4 meals per day when riding back country – breakfast, lunch 1 and 2, dinner and snacks for each day of riding.

Hydration reservoir and backpack biking goRide

You will need to carry water. Will you choose on the bike or a backpack with a hydration reservoir?

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Gear set up on the bike for a 2 day mountain biking adventure.

Being Safe

There is a lot of crossover between feeling comfortable and being safe – being comfortable will also support being safe. The main thing is we need you to consider both comfort and safety.

Your bike and safety

If something goes wrong with your bike, would you know how to fix it?  When you are riding in the backcountry it is likely to take you away from supported environments, further away from roads, further away from the nearest bike shop. Are you carrying what you need to fix your bikes and do you know how to use your tools?.

What tools will you need to take and carry? Check out our backcountry bike touring adventure or touring kit.

Before you head out on the trail each day you will need to do a pre-ride bike safety check – is it safe?  A checklist to complete pre-ride so that you know your bike is in working order, and you can solve any issues before you start the day.

You and safety

You are in the backcountry you need to tell someone when and where you are going, how long you are going for and when you expect to be back. Carrying a cellphone is always a good idea but there any many areas of the New Zealand backcountry that do not have cell phone coverage. If you are in a remote area it is suggested that you carry a personal locator beacon. PLB.

You have checked your bike now we need to know that YOU are safe. Do you have a helmet that is not damaged, fits and is adjusted correctly so it will stay on and over your head in an impact?

See Am I safe to Bike Tour?  A checklist to complete that ensures you are safe to ride in a bike touring environment over multiple days.

Safety in the environment

Carry a Map You are in the backcountry you should be carrying a map. Can you read your map?  Having access to a good map and being aware of signs is a basic way to eliminate any confusion over which way to go.  Gather together as much information as you can about the route you will be taking.

Carry a First Aid KitAccidents can and will happen. You need to be prepared. You will need a first aid kit that is compact and will help you deal with any minor injuries that can easily happen anytime, grazed knees and grit in the eyes.  See First Aid Kit for Bike Touring.

Multi day mountain bike tool kit

Mountain Biking Tool Kit

Compact First Aid Kit for Bikers

Compact Mountain Biking First Aid Kit

Having Fun

If you have worked through the points above then you will be more likely to enjoy and have fun on your ride.

Remember you are on an adventure that you want to enjoy. Don’t make the days so long that you can’t stop and enjoy the environment that you are in. Remember that the biking is the journey , the experience don’t rush to your destination.  There is so much to take in and see, be inspired by while on your bike, enjoy and feel at peace in the environment.

There will be things to discover along the way.

  • Get off your bike, give that butt a rest and walk up a side walk, or up a hill.
  • You may have access to a swim in a river, a lake or a beach
  • Find a new and beautiful place to relax, think, or if you had room and were willing to carry a book.. read a chapter of your book.
  • Take time to enjoy the views and absorb the environment

Don’t just ‘do’ the ride, ‘be’ in the ride and I wonder what you will discover? (see Chi Riding – Tip 3 – Engaging the Senses )

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Take time to enjoy lunch in a special place.

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Take time to take in the views, the changing light, nature.

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Take time to enjoy a swim…even in the coldest of waters.

Does it fit?

Last but not least – Does the ride ‘fit’ with what you want to achieve? A biking adventure in the back country. An adventure that means staying overnight and carrying gear on your bike. You might be discovering a new area, or challenging yourself to ride a trail where in the past you have walked it. Time to get away and connect with nature, get some fresh air, sunshine, feel healthier, regain some perspective…  Or maybe it is to have wonderful feelings of accomplishment/acheivement – YOU DID IT!  Whatever it is – find a ride that suits you and your capabilities and goRide it.

get Inspired and goRide – How to have a ‘great’ multi-day back country biking adventure

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Heaphy Track – a great multi-day mountain biking adventure

The Old Ghost Road- a great multi-day mountain biking adventure

goRide helps you find your riding SMILE.  Now it’s your turn….Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback will make us SMILE.

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