Bike packing is loads of fun and it can take you places. It does mean that you are carrying your essentials; where you can you want to save weight without compromising safety or comfort. In this case, less is more! Here are some of my favourite quick tips for women when bike packing.
1. You can do it! Back yourself, commit, do the training and show up.
2. Have a pre-race strategy and be prepared to be adaptable. This is true for both mental and physical aspects of bike packing.
3. Do route research prior to the ride and seek where you can refuel. When you can refuel never miss out on an opportunity to do so! If you can drink, drink and then refill bottles. If you can eat, eat and then purchase more food to take with you.
4. Often bike packing finds you in remote places. It is worth carrying small dominations of cash.
5. Be as safe and as aware as you can be. When you are asked where you are going - be vague.
6. There's safety in numbers. Where you can, ride with a friend and share responsibilities. Although you may be with friends, It is still recommended to carry some form of visual identification with you and to share this information with those who are with you and those tracking you along the way.
7. Empower yourself with the best tools: to navigate your route, be visible at all times, take a GPS tracker and carry your cell phone with a backup charger. There is also no harm in taking an additional emergency backup phone and keeping it in a different compartment.
8. Have some basic bike repair knowledge and carry spares.
9. Maximize your bike storage potential with various different frame bags or pannier racks specific to your bike. Keep it as light as possible, as slipstream as possible and make sure your gear is waterproof and durable! There are three areas where you can load the bike - the front, middle and rear. It is more beneficial to distribute the weight on the rear wheel so as not to affect your steering and bike handling. Avoid loading your back as this puts more pressure on your sit bones, and your upper body and causes more general fatigue. Multiple pockets in your bags or multiple smaller bags make it easier and quicker to find what you may be looking for. Also, make sure you're well versed with your gear.
10. Make sure to invest in a comfortable bike saddle. A saddle varies from person to person based on your body geometry but when you’re spending hours each day, day after day, on your bike you want to make sure you are comfortable. Also, remember to stand while peddling, this will alleviate any discomfort and increase blood flow to your bits and bobs.
11. Invest in good bib shorts! It is worth carrying sanitary wipes and being generous with chamois cream. I like to pre-mix Assos chamois cream for women with Vaseline.
12. Manage your core temperature throughout the ride as weather conditions can change fast. Packing and unpacking layers can be tedious so be smart when scheduling this. Small sufferings can also save you time.
13. Recognize when you need periods of micro rest, take them, and be disciplined to not become stagnant. If you're sleeping, set an alarm. Make sure to carry a space blanket for the cold times.
14. Have fun. Look up and appreciate your surroundings.
Bike packing means unlearning all acquired womanly graces and re-discovering your bigger, larger-than-life self. Get out there, be safe and have some fun!