“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
We all have our reasons we love riding our bikes. It’s fun. Makes you feel like a kid again. If you ride enough you can eat (and drink) more of things you enjoy. It cleanses the stresses of the day. Exercise. Transportation. Community. And many more. And when you combine biking with an adventure like riding to a new place your brain reacts by rewarding you with dopamine. Dopamine produces a feeling of enjoyment, bliss, and even euphoria. With this basic understanding of your body’s chemistry it is easy to understand why bikepacking is one of the hottest growth segments in the cycling community. When you allow yourself to explore, you start to break the cycle of routine in your life. Everything is new like when you were young and your body rewards you with a happy pill with the added benefit of better health and well-being.
|South Eastern South Dakota|
Once winter had finally loosened its grip, I embarked on my first 2016 mini adventure loading my Garmin with a back road route to Ponca State Park just across the South Dakota border into Nebraska. This being my first adventure in these conditions, I spent a lot of time analyzing and over-analyzing what extra gear to pack on my Salsa Spearfish to stay comfortable along the way. I wanted to make sure to pack the right clothes to keep warm during the cold night along with the proper sleeping bag and tent to be nice and cozy overnight. Of course I have read about what gear works for others, but I consider that just a starting point. I need to know what works for me. My super-light setup was probably heavier than others’, but I wanted to be safe and somewhat comfortable. Finally, with the bike all loaded it was time to get started.
|Freshly grated gravel south of Sioux Falls, SD|
|Unexpected paths with a bridge out during the journey.|
|Riding gravel selfie|
|Ponca State Park entrance|
|Ponca State Park map|
|Ponca State Park primitive camp site.|
|Food experiment trying freeze dried food to see if I liked the taste and consistency.|
|Ready for bed.|
After getting a whopping 8 hours of sleep (That doesn’t even happen most nights at home in my bed!) I was well rested and ready to pack up for my journey home. My Ponca mini-adventure had taught me what I needed to know to plan for my next adventure, the Black Hill Expedition, a 430-mile bike packing route in the Black Hills of South Dakota. More on that adventure soon!
|Enjoying a cup of morning coffee in my favorite titanium mug.|
- A heavily-packed bike will make negotiating my next trek of single-track trails in the Black Hills very difficult. Need to pack as light as possible but stay safe.
- I don’t need a tent if I’m racing or needing to go fast.
- Jetboil is nice but not needed unless it’s a winter race.
- Pack real food but items that don’t need to be cooked.
- Put as much of your pack weight on the back or center of the bike so controlling the bike is easier, especially in very windy conditions.
- Plan lots of convenience stores on your route so you can carry less. • Practice, practice, practice.
- Adventure by Bike = Routine buster
- Push yourself. Be Epic.