Professional cyclist and former Amy D. rider Ayesha McGowan joins us this week to give us helpful advice on how to jump into bikepacking. ??

Author Ayesha McGowan’s bike ready to roll for a bikepacking adventure.

US Bike racing is so 2019. Perhaps it’ll be cool again in 2021? Until then, we’ve got to occupy ourselves with new adventures. Or at least new-to-us adventures. Bikepacking might seem a bit out of reach to some folks, but it doesn’t have to be. For the most part, you can start with a lot of the things you already own, and set a level of comfort that works for you. 

I had the fortune of embarking on my first backpacking trip last summer with my very experienced friend Sam Scipio. We traveled by bike for 10 days through the state of Montana with everything we needed strapped to our frames. You might not have Sam to guide you the whole way, but thanks to the WTF Bike Explorers, you do have access to this illustrated packing list and chart she designed in collaboration with Sarah SwallowMary Lytle & Molly Sugar! I also highly recommend grabbing a copy of the zine!

Here are my preferences for what to bring:

Route and a system of navigation

Pick a place to go. Feel free to start with a nearby park or campground, or even your own backyard! It’s okay to test your mettle in known territory before taking this show on the road! Most bike computers have the ability to dictate turn by turn instructions. You can map a route in Ride with GPS, Komoot, or even Strava! For more detailed instructions on planning, check out this article on route planning from fellow Black Fox Alexa Everson!  


We’re entering sweater weather! Layers will be your friend. Merino wool will be your best friend. For my ten day trip I had a pair of bib-less shorts, some merino undies, merino shirt, merino long sleeved pullover, a packable puffy jacket, a rain jacket, rain pants, merino tights, and a cap to block the sun!

Somewhere to Sleep

For premium social distancing, I recommend camping. That will require you to bring the necessary gear. I carry a one-person tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and a headlamp to see what’s going on in the darkness. 


In the before times, you could stop freely at restaurants along the route, or grab ingredients at gas stations. Chili Mac is just a blue box and a red can away! These days, I highly recommend investing in a small camping stove and some just add water ready to eat camping meals!


Bring more than you need. You want to stay hydrated, but also you’ll need some for cooking. There are also water filtration systems that are small enough to stash in a pack for collecting water from rivers and streams along the route. 


Snacks are thee most important thing. They are sunshine on a cloudy day, fuel the going gets tough, you get the point. My favorite snacks are a funky “trail mix” of peanut butter pretzels, sour worms, and banana chips. The perfect combo of sugar and salt!

Regardless of where you go, or what you bring, remember to take a bit of time to acknowledge the land you are passing through. All of these places
have a history and people who are directly connected to that history. 

And last but certainly not least. Have fun!

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