As countries across the world enter what feels like their millionth week of lockdown, right now it might feel like the only ‘adventure’ we’ll be aiming for this year is the Rapha festive 500 at Christmas. While it is important we stay safe and indoors for now, we’ve put together four types of cycling adventure for you to plan for a post-lockdown escape.
Whether this is the light at the end of the tunnel, or a way to keep your mind busy and your imagination inspired, take a look at our advice for planning a gravel, MTB, bikepacking or road cycling trip when it’s finally safe to get back outdoors.
If you want the feeling of exploring new terrain and routes without the technicalities of mountain biking, then a gravel adventure is for you. That’s not to say it won’t be challenging, but the adaptability of a gravel bike means you can ride comfortably on- and off-road, providing you with the best of both worlds.
Not sure where to start or don’t want to go it alone? With the surge in popularity of gravel riding, there has been an increase in brands partnering with bike shops to host local events, helping you to explore local routes without the fear of getting lost. If you’re ready for something abroad, there has been a growth in mass events like Grinduro, who put on races across the world and excel in their ability to turn their unique gravel-meets-enduro race format into a weekend-long party.
Of course, you don’t need to necessarily pay over the odds for the privilege of pre-plotted routes. Alternatively, there are thousands of collections on Komoot, put together by people who have tried and tested routes so you don’t have to, or you could use Ordnance Survey maps (or your national equivalent) which help you to quickly identify rights of way, potential bridleways or bike-friendly by-ways.
Whether you’re a downhill shredder like Loïc Bruni or a multi-day epic adventurer happier out in the wilderness, a mountain bike adventure is a welcome break from the monotony of the roads. Offering exclusive views and vistas you wouldn’t necessarily see by travelling on other bikes, it’s worth the effort to ride the often technical and harsh terrain.
Additionally, mountain biking doesn’t have to be constricted by the seasons. Yes, summer might be your preferred riding time, but riding in the winter offers different challenges to riding in the summer, and this can enhance your riding skills, opening up more routes for you to try.
A mountain bike adventure could be local, or it could be across the globe – plenty of bloggers and YouTubers like GMBN have covered multiple mountain bike hotspots from Portugal to the South Downs in England, demonstrating you don’t have to go far for some gnar. A great place to start building your own epic route is Komoot, but if you’re looking for more technical trail maps, Trailforks is the place to go, with updated trail conditions and notes from the local riding community.
Alternatively, if you’re more into bike parks and uplift days, there are several across the world that are considered mountain bike destinations. One, in particular, is Whistler, British Columbia. Renowned for its expansive trail system, it has something for every level of rider over 80km of trails. Search for on-bike or POV footage on YouTube for extra inspiration.
Photo credit Matthew Grayson
Perhaps the most traditional type of cycling adventure on this list, cycle touring or bikepacking is one of the more accessible. You don’t need a specific type of bike, as your tour can be adapted to your preferred style of riding.
Although there seems to be a surge in bikepacking bags and kit right now, you don’t need the latest and greatest kit to enjoy what cycle touring can offer. The beauty in cycle touring is simplicity and accessibility. You carry everything you need with you on your bike, and you don’t need to have Lachlan Morton levels of endurance fitness to have a successful cycle tour. It could be as short as an overnight break, or a longer touring holiday. Whether you choose to do it alone or with a group, cycle touring, or ‘bikepacking’ can be a great way to explore new areas, or see the world!
There’s lots of advice and reviews available to help you pick out the kit that you need to keep you self-sufficient, and the type of equipment you need depends on how far you plan on going, and where you plan on sleeping. Essentially, you want to make sure you’re comfortable for long days in the saddle (or short!) and have planned far enough ahead to find somewhere to sleep. Equally, there are thousands of routes available to pore over, depending on where you are in the world.
You don’t have to cycle thousands of miles across the Alps to have an adventure, sometimes the best breaks are those taken closer to home.
When you think of road cycling adventures or holidays, what do you think of? The seasoned athletes among us will jump to Mallorca or Calpe for training camps. Sure, they serve a purpose and you get a nice tan, but what if the purpose of your road adventure isn’t just to provide a springboard for an upcoming race season?
If you don’t want to go off the beaten path then a road cycling adventure might be perfect for you. It’s easier than ever to transport your bike on planes, and often tour companies will help you organise airport shuttles to your destination. Adventures abroad are the perfect time to challenge yourself to ride the same climbs seen in the Grand Tours or ride a cross country epic, such as the TransAmerica Trail in the US.
Of course, you don’t need to go abroad to have a road cycling adventure, there are plenty of challenges waiting for you wherever you are in the world. For example, in the UK, there is the coveted Land’s End to John O’Groats, a route that covers the length of the UK. Or, of course, you could book into an Airbnb in one of our gorgeous national parks with a group of riding buddies and set up a base from which to explore as much as you can.
Tour companies can offer peace of mind with luggage transportation and accommodation, but you can also plan an adventure by yourself or with friends. There are plenty of resources available for you to be able to plan a successful road adventure. Naturally, Komoot or Strava will prove useful for plotting routes, but make sure you check for guidelines and possible national cycle routes too, to make your life easier, depending on the country you’re going to.
The beauty of planning your adventure is getting to choose where you go and on your own schedule. You can challenge yourself across a distance, push your limits up a mountain, or pootle along a canal and get back to nature. It’s your adventure, now go plan it!