Travel Tips

7 Frequently Asked Questions About Guided Mountain Bike Trips

October 1, 2016

At Sacred Rides, we take pride in help­ing clients plan stress-free and unfor­get­table moun­tain bike trips around the world. Over the past 20 years, we have answered many ques­tions about how to best pre­pare for these types of adven­tures — What should I pack? What skill lev­el is nec­es­sary for each des­ti­na­tion? What is a typ­i­cal day like on a trip? Answer­ing these impor­tant pre-trip ques­tions are vital to ensure you have a suc­cess­ful trip.

Here are 7 Frequently Asked Questions about Guided Mountain Bike Trips

1. How fit should i be to participate in a multi-day mountain bike trip?

Our trips vary in dif­fi­cul­ty, but in gen­er­al they are suit­ed for inter­me­di­ate to expert rid­ers. An inter­me­di­ate rid­er is some­one who can ride 4 to 5 hours per day, for sev­er­al days in a row. There will always be slow­er and faster rid­ers on every trip; in gen­er­al we try to cul­ti­vate a strong group dynam­ic so that peo­ple under­stand it’s not about log­ging as many miles as pos­si­ble, but it is about enjoy­ing the spec­tac­u­lar rid­ing and scenery in the com­pa­ny of new friends. That may require wait­ing every now and then for the rest of the group. If there is a sub­stan­tial enough split in the group that it will affect Rid­ers’ enjoy­ment of the trip, we may split up the group if pos­si­ble. What­ev­er your lev­el, you’ll get the best pos­si­ble enjoy­ment out of your trip by get­ting in shape before the trip and we’ll offer train­ing sug­ges­tions in our post-book­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions to help you prepare.

Fitness and Skill Requirements

Ensur­ing you are on a Ride that’s right for you, and ensur­ing you are ready for the phys­i­cal and tech­ni­cal demands of a Ride, is of utmost impor­tance to us. It helps ensure that you will be rid­ing with peo­ple of sim­i­lar skill lev­el and won’t be hold­ing up the group or be held up by oth­ers. With the best client:guide ratio in the indus­try (4:1), Rid­ers can more eas­i­ly ride at their pre­ferred pace. Here are a few ways we ensure you book the trip that’s right for you.

1. We’ve devel­oped a 9‑point Skill and Fit­ness Rat­ing Sys­tem, with the help of one of our senior coach­es and guides. Our team will walk you through the rat­ing sys­tem to help deter­mine your expe­ri­ence level.

2. When book­ing, each Rid­er com­plete a sur­vey detail­ing their moun­tain bik­ing expe­ri­ence. The answers are reviewed by our team and pro­vide valu­able insight as to whether or not the desired trip is a good fit.

3. We fol­low up with each client. If we think a rid­er might not be quite up to the chal­lenge (or might be ‘over qual­i­fied’) for cer­tain rides. We dis­cuss their skill and fit­ness lev­el in detail to dis­cov­er whether they are indeed a good fit, or if anoth­er Ride might be more suitable 

Pay atten­tion to the skill and fit­ness rat­ings for the Ride(s) you’re inter­est­ed in, and be hon­est in your self-assessment.

2. What is a typical day like on a Sacred Rides trip?

You’ll typ­i­cal­ly start your day with a group break­fast between 7:30am — 8:00 am, have a morn­ing stretch ses­sion if fea­si­ble, then either hop on the bikes or in the sup­port van to get to the trail­head. After a 2‑to-3-hour ride, we’ll head back to the lodge or a local restau­rant for a relax­ing lunch, with a bit of time to digest before head­ing out on the trails again. In the after­noon we’ll log anoth­er 2 to 3 hours on the bike, then hit the lodge for a show­er, din­ner, and a few drinks to cel­e­brate a great day of rid­ing. We try to incor­po­rate as much local cul­ture and explor­ing as we can while rid­ing, so there will often be stops to check out local points of interest.

3. Should I buy medical insurance and/or trip cancellation insurance for my mountain bike trip?

All Sacred Rides par­tic­i­pants are required to have valid trav­el med­ical insur­ance — and we def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend pur­chas­ing trip can­cel­la­tion and inter­rup­tion insur­ance. We will ask you to fill out a med­ical release form with your med­ical insur­ance pol­i­cy infor­ma­tion and include gen­er­al med­ical infor­ma­tion before each trip. This infor­ma­tion will be kept strict­ly con­fi­den­tial. Can­cel­la­tion insur­ance is very strong­ly advised. With it, you will avoid los­ing the funds you have invest­ed in your trip and air­fare due to a per­son­al emer­gency or ill­ness, or ill­ness of an imme­di­ate fam­i­ly mem­ber. Some can­cel­la­tion poli­cies also pro­vide bag­gage loss pro­tec­tion and oth­er protection.

NOTE: if you have your own trav­el med­ical insur­ance pol­i­cy (e.g. through your work), be sure that it cov­ers adven­ture trav­el, specif­i­cal­ly moun­tain bike trips — some poli­cies exclude what they deem to be ‘extreme’ sports, and often moun­tain bik­ing falls into that category.

Your travel insurance policy should cover the following:

1.  cov­er evac­u­a­tion (e.g. air evac­u­a­tion) and hos­pi­tal costs while in oth­er countries 

2.  cov­er moun­tain bik­ing trips (some poli­cies include moun­tain bik­ing in their list of ‘extreme’ sports that are not covered).

We strong­ly rec­om­mend also get­ting insur­ance that   cov­ers the fol­low­ing:
• Trip can­cel­la­tion up to 100% of your trip cost 

• Equip­ment pro­tec­tion for delay, loss, theft and dam­age (if trav­el­ing with your bike/expensive equipment) 

• Trip inter­rup­tion up to 100% of trip cost 

• Med­ical expens­es up to $50,000

• Emer­gency med­ical trans­porta­tion up to $1,000,000

For trav­ellers from the US, we rec­om­mend get­ting your insur­ance with Trav­elex.
For Cana­di­an and inter­na­tion­al trav­ellers, we rec­om­mend get­ting your insur­ance with  Allianz.

4. Do I need vaccinations for the destination I am visiting?

The best option to find out if you need vac­ci­na­tions for an upcom­ing trip is to vis­it the MD Trav­el Health web­site  and nav­i­gate to the coun­try you are vis­it­ing. You may wish to vis­it your local trav­el clin­ic to get the most updat­ed information.

Since we’re not doc­tors, and we don’t always have the most up-to-date infor­ma­tion — it’s best to seek out pro­fes­sion­al advice!

We’re not just writers, we’re riders too!

In addi­tion to writ­ing about moun­tain bik­ing and adven­ture, we also oper­ate award-win­ning* moun­tain bike adven­tures all over the world (actu­al­ly that’s our main thing). Check ’em out:

SINGLETRACK RIDES: for pas­sion­ate moun­tain bik­ers and adven­tur­ers

WOMEN’S RIDES: no dudes allowed!

EXPLORER RIDES: for begin­ner moun­tain bik­ers

BRING-YOUR-PARTNER RIDES: for pas­sion­ate moun­tain bik­ers with part­ners who don’t ride

*No. 1 Moun­tain Bike Tour Com­pa­ny on Earth   — Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Adventure

5. What if I’ve never travelled with my mountain bike?

If you’ve nev­er trav­elled with your bike, don’t wor­ry — it’s much eas­i­er than you think. If you don’t have a case for your bike, we rec­om­mend  pick­ing up a card­board bike trav­el box  at your local store. Some stores will also pack your bike up for you for a fee.

Alter­nate­ly, if you want a high­er lev­el of pro­tec­tion, and/or are plan­ning on trav­el­ling with your bike more than just once, we rec­om­mend invest­ing in a qual­i­ty bike bag or case. Our guides and past clients have rec­om­mend­ed the fol­low­ing products:

EVOC bike bag  DAKINE bike bag  THULE bike case

For tips on pack­ing your bike, watch this handy video we made just for you.

6. What are some general items I should pack for a guided mountain bike trip?

Below is a com­pre­hen­sive list for you to use as a guide only, in efforts to make your trip safe, mem­o­rable and enjoy­able. These are items we sug­gest you con­sid­er bring­ing regard­less of the Ride you are on — each des­ti­na­tion will also have a ride spe­cif­ic pack­ing list. In efforts to pack appro­pri­ate­ly, we encour­age you to under­stand your des­ti­na­tions cli­mate dur­ing the month you are vis­it­ing and the activ­i­ties you will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in, oth­er than moun­tain biking.

on the bike:

● jer­sey tops
● cycling shorts with a qual­i­ty chamois (padding)
● bike gloves with padding under the palm
● cycling socks (syn­thet­ic or light­weight wool)
● arm warm­ers
● leg warm­ers
● hel­met
● cycling shoes
● ener­gy bars and electrolytes

on/off the bike:

● rain jack­et (Gor­tex with pit-zips)
● wind jack­et (light­weight and form fit­ting)
● sweater (fleece and form fit­ting mid lay­er)
● top and bot­tom base lay­er (syn­thet­ic or light­weight wool)
● sun­glass­es (clear lens and polar­ized lens)
● back­pack with hydra­tion sys­tem (2–3L water capac­i­ty)
● cycling water bot­tle (with squirt lid)
● cam­era (phone, GoPro, point and shoot)
● ear warmer (toque or headband)

chill time:

● swimwear
● flip flops
● small camp tow­el (to use for swim­ming etc.)
● com­fort­able, casu­al clothes for relax­ing in (cot­ton attire, such as jeans, t‑shirt, hood­ed sweater will be wel­comed after a day in syn­thet­ics or wool)
● down-filled coat
● trail shoes or hik­ing boots
● back­pack (for day hikes)
● flash­light or headlamp

personal items and first aid:

● toi­letries i.e. tooth­brush and tooth­paste, sham­poo and con­di­tion­er, soap, fem­i­nine hygiene prod­ucts etc.
● sun­screen (oil-free for sport)
● insect repel­lent (with Deet)
● anti-bac­te­r­i­al wipes
● anti-bac­te­r­i­al gel
● toi­let paper (depend­ing on the coun­try you are vis­it­ing, this could be hard to find!)
● chamois crème
● first-aid kit (ibupro­fen, band aids, Poly­sporin, tweezers)

random items you don’t realize you need, until it’s too late:

● elec­tri­cal tape (tape your bike tube or pump to your bike, with­out leav­ing a stick­yresidue)
● duct tape (tape up holes in a bug net and/or every­thing else duct tape fix­es!)
● solar pan­el bat­tery charg­er with USB adapter
● inter­na­tion­al trav­el pow­er adapter and con­vert­er (check out Lone­ly Plan­et for this des­ti­na­tion to find out more about cur­ren­cy and plugs)
● zip-lock bags
● gro­cery bags
● zip ties
● foam roller (trav­el size)
● ten­nis ball (for rolling out knots in your worked mus­cles)
● elas­tic bands

tools to bring:

We rec­om­mend bring­ing the fol­low­ing tools with you. Rest assured your guides will have a full tool kit, but it’s a good idea to have the fol­low­ing items with you in case of trail­side breakdowns:

● mul­ti-tool (prefer­ably with chain break­er)
● tire levers
● small bot­tle of chain lube
● small tire pump

spare parts for your bike:

Although there may be some parts avail­able local­ly, we rec­om­mend you bring the fol­low­ing parts with you to avoid avail­abil­i­ty prob­lems in case of bro­ken parts:

● Rear dérailleur hang­er (at least 1, prefer­ably 2)
● Front and rear brake pads (1 set of each is suf­fi­cient)
● Extra chain if your chain is more than 6 months old
● 2–4 spare tubes (our guides can’t real­is­ti­cal­ly car­ry enough 26″, 27.5″, and 29″ tubes for every­one)
● 2 extra spokes
● Any rare parts that might be hard to find local­ly (Shi­mano and SRAM are gen­er­al­ly avail­able in most loca­tions, but Magu­ra levers, for instance, might not be avail­able everywhere).

7. What if I need to cancel my trip?

At Sacred Rides, we under­stand life hap­pens and plans change… that’s why we have the fol­low­ing policies…

Lifetime Deposits

Our Life­time Deposit allows any of our Rid­ers (i.e. clients) forced to delay a depar­ture or want­i­ng to switch des­ti­na­tions alto­geth­er the abil­i­ty to apply their ini­tial deposit towards a lat­er sched­uled date or anoth­er Ride at no extra charge. A Life­time Deposit has no expi­ra­tion date and can be used for any depar­ture — pro­vid­ed room is still avail­able. Sim­ply put, we want to ensure you can enjoy the Sacred Rides expe­ri­ence you want, at a time that works best for you.

A Life­time Deposit is also trans­fer­able, mean­ing that you can trans­fer your deposit to anoth­er Rid­er as a gift. You can even choose to donate your deposit to our sis­ter non-prof­it, Bikes With­out Bor­ders. We’ll then match the val­ue of your donation!

14-Day Risk-Free Booking Window

After putting down a deposit, you can can­cel at any point dur­ing the first 14 days after book­ing and get a 100% refund. This buys you 2 weeks to sort out flights, vaca­tion time, etc. and not have to wor­ry about some­one else tak­ing your spot(s).

Have a question we didn’t answer? Let us know!