Bikepacking 101: Lessons for Long Distance Cycling

long distance cycling

We all know that long distance cycling is not the same as going to a nearby store or just wandering around locally on your bicycle. Besides travelling and exploring, it is nothing less than an adventure sport. You need a solid zeal to travel and explore and be headstrong about not succumbing to adverse circumstances.

However, along with a strong determination, you need a proper plan, training and preparation. If you can accumulate all these, then your journey will be rewarding and fulfilling beyond the expectation.

For a beginner, it is always helpful to do some research before setting off for your first ever long distance cycling trip, and when it comes to how to prepare for long distance cycling, certainly there are some dos and don’ts to be followed.

The following tips will guide you through becoming a bikepacking enthusiast and travel the world.

Tips For Long Distance Cycling

man in blue and white plaid shirt and black shorts riding yellow bicycle, long distance cycling

Train Yourself Appropriately

Only a strong will won’t do. Training your muscles and the respiratory system should be the foremost goal. Starting your training three to four months before your actual trip would yield great results.

For the long rides on rough terrains, you need a good amount of stamina and endurance. Often beginners face back pain and muscle cramps while riding the bike for long hours. To eliminate these, you need to build up your core strength.

Functional training and resistance training are vital to strengthening your muscles to endure the wild ride. Join a gym or a club of bikepackers if you fall short of motivation.

The best you can do is hit the gym or work out at home throughout the year so that your body is not surprised by the sudden fitness training. Yoga is a great option to keep your mind and body in harmony. However, do not overtrain as it may cause injury, which can spill water over all your efforts and plans.

Go For Trial Run

Before indulging in the actual tour, it is important to do at least one trial run. If you are up for hilly terrain, try to go for a trial run to the hills. It will help you understand your potential and limits and scope of improvement and aid you in the proper planning of the trip.

Moreover, you get accustomed to the roads and get more familiar with your bike. One who has done the training in the hills will seamlessly ride through flats.

black and white hardtail bike on brown road between trees and long distance cycling

Plan a Route Before Leaving

Though things don’t go accurately according to plan, it is always necessary to do basic planning about the route you are taking, the destination you want to reach, and the time you will be gone for.

First of all, you have to pack food, water and essential gear according to the number of days. Secondly, plan a route knowing your capacity and the training you have taken. For the beginning, start with shorter distances for one or two nights, then gradually increase as you get more and more used to it.

A regular long distance cyclist can ride up to 40 to 60 miles a day on average, but that may not be the case with you. Take the help of maps and GPS, plan your route carefully, and choose the terrain you want to explore. After all, it’s all about enjoying your ride.

Pack Wisely

Bikepacking for long distance cycling is partly art and science. Packing wisely can bring you closer to an experience worth all the hard work.

biker holding mountain bike on top of mountain with green grass

long distance cycling

Here are some tips for packing for long distance cycling:

  • Pack only the gear that you will definitely need.
  • Choose a bike where you can pack strategically.
  • Pack according to the number of days.
  • Try to avoid cooking and carry dry food instead.
  • Carry plenty of water.
  • Don’t forget to pack the bike repair kit, light clothes, your sleeping gear, essential toiletries and of course, a first aid kit.

Be Careful About Your Pacing

man standing near shore, long distance cycling

Pace yourself rightly. Going at high speed from the beginning when you are highly enthusiastic will only make you weary after a while. Start at a slow pace. If you feel you can increase the speed, then do it gradually.

Do not go fast or too slow—pedal in a gear that suits you. Stretch your body for 10 minutes before starting. Cycling often makes the muscles stiff. Stretching would eliminate the chances of getting muscle cramps and let you ride for long hours. Go slow but go steady and win the world. After all, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination, right?

Eat Often, Drink a lot

Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the journey is one thing you should never compromise on it. Carry as much water as you can. If the weather is sunny, drink water more frequently. Refill your bottles when you cross a town.

Nutrition is another crucial aspect for keeping up a healthy body that can outdo the hurdles. I feel it is good to avoid cooking on this kind of trip. However, it is always your choice how you want to plan it.

Even if you plan to cook, carry snacks and dry food with you. When you are riding, refuel yourself with a light amount of food every 30 minutes. Carry nutrition bars, cookies and healthy snacks. It is good to avoid oily food or junk or something that your stomach is not used to having.

Also Read: What Makes Travelling Solo, Fun?

Listen to your body

Your brain might tell you to push yourself a bit harder, but your body might not be able to put up with it. So, never overdo this. When you feel that your body is telling you to stop, just stop. We often ignore minor injuries, cuts, sunburns, pains when things are in our favour and boiling with high spirits.

Surprisingly, these minor injuries can have a lasting effect on your physical as well as mental health. Moving forward with an injury can damage your health permanently and bar you from getting its immense health benefits.

So, it is crucial to know where to pause. Pause, and just feel the surroundings. Wherever you are, admire the beauty of nature. That is the ultimate goal, I believe, is to enjoy every moment of the process.

man in black jacket and black backpack riding on green bicycle
long distance cycling

Don’t Do Tips For Long Distance Cycling


As mentioned earlier, pack only those essential things, and bikepacking cannot be done away without them. Keep your bike as lightweight as possible. Distribute the weight through your bike to not lose balance, enabling you to have a smooth ride.

Wear Heavy Clothes

Don’t wear anything that increases your body weight. Wear comfortable, lightweight t-shirts and padded cycling shorts. If it is winter, try thermals. Don’t leave without your cycling gloves and helmet. Wear appropriate shoes.

Also Read: Beginner’s Guide To Bikepacking

Buy a tent For Just Yourself

Always be ready for the weather’s mood swings. It may rain in the evening after a bright and sunny day. If you have more room in your tent, you can save your gear from getting drenched in the rain. In that way, your bike will have a more durable life.

bikepacking through terrain, long distance cycling

Let Difficulties Put You Off

It is often stressful. We often lose our mental strength while facing challenges on the road. Don’t let stress engulf you. Be prepared for anything. Slowly build your mentality towards it. The roads are full of surprises, and you never know what is coming next. It may not always be pleasant.

Don’t let those incidents let your morale down. Once you end up the whole journey, let the sense of accomplishment engulf you. We all know that  “fortune favours the brave.”

Those were the quick tips for long distance cycling. In India, this particular sport has an abundance of scope, with the country’s diverse natural regions to be explored. People from all over the globe have been exploring the endless number of travel destinations in India.

Travellers are exploring the world on their bikes. So, what are you waiting for? Get up and get going.

Be prepared psychologically and physically, give up your inhibitions, whatever comes, welcome with open arms. Follow the plan but don’t ignore your gut feeling, pause, stare, meet people, ask questions, give answers, admire every bit of nature, see the horizon, feel the air and ride the world.