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7 Ways to Prepare for a Guided Mountain Bike Trip

Three mountain bikers standing and looking around with their bikes lying on the ground, surrounded by snow covered mountains in Nepal

So, you’ve decid­ed to plan an epic moun­tain bike hol­i­day  and escape the real world for a  lit­tle sin­gle­track ther­a­py. You’re ready to turn your phone off,  ramp up your ped­al strokes and  hit the road.  As a moun­tain bike tour com­pa­ny, we get asked sim­i­lar ques­tions before the start of each ride and  we’d love to  shine some light on how you can best pre­pare for  your next moun­tain bike adven­ture, whether it’s with us or not!  To start, let’s review some ques­tions you should ask  before you com­mit to booking…

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU BOOK:

WHAT’S THE MAKE-UP OF THE GROUP? 

You might be inter­est­ed in know­ing who is already booked on the ride, where they are from and  their spe­cif­ic rid­ing ability. 

HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR THE RIDE? 

If the trip includes longer dis­tances and  high­er ele­va­tion gains than what you’re used to, ask how you can pre­pare for the ride to ensure you get the most out of the experience. 

HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE FOR THIS RIDE? 

We’ve cre­at­ed a  9‑point Skill and Fit­ness Rat­ing  Sys­tem to ensure Rid­ers are matched with an appro­pri­ate ride.  You don’t want to be con­stant­ly  wait­ing  for the rest of the group, nor do you want to be  the Rid­er at the back of the trip the entire time.  It is of utmost impor­tant to us to ensure  Rid­ers are matched with moun­tain bike adven­tures appro­pri­ate for their expe­ri­ence, skill lev­el, fit­ness lev­el, and interests. 

HOW MANY KMS DO WE RIDE EACH DAY? 

Moun­tain bike tour com­pa­nies  should be able to present a dai­ly itin­er­ary of dis­tances, ele­va­tion gain/loss and  oth­er activies you’ll be par­tic­i­pat­ing in (besides biking!).

WHAT’S YOUR CANCELLATION POLICY? 

Life can get busy and the unex­pect­ed can hap­pen. It’s impor­tant to know the com­pa­ny’s can­cel­la­tion pol­i­cy and always pur­chase  trip inter­rup­tion and can­cel­la­tion insur­ance. This will ensure your costs are cov­ered if you need to can­cel last minute due to an emer­gency.  Check out this  page we put togeth­er out­lin­ing the impor­tance of  trav­el insurance. 

Once you’ve book your spot,  you’ll want to focus on prepar­ing  for your upcom­ing adventure…

7 WAYS TO PREPARE FOR A GUIDED MOUNTAIN BIKE TRIP

1. REVIEW THE ITINERARY AND RIDE DATA

It’s impor­tant to ful­ly under­stand the itin­er­ary and review  the ride data for your trip so you can pre­pare men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly for the jour­ney ahead.  Remem­ber that moun­tain bik­ing 25km/day  might sound easy, but if you’re not used  big gains in ele­va­tion, you’ll want to account  for the extra work you’ll be putting in for those big climbs. 

Screenshot of a table showing Mountain Bike Tour Data, including daily hours of riding, elevation, and riding distances
Mountain Biker going down a steep hill with snow-covered mountain in the background

2. CHECK YOUR PASSPORT, VISAS AND PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE 

Most coun­tries require your pass­port to be valid at least six months aftet your depar­ture date. If you’ve booked your guid­ed moun­tain bike hol­i­day a year in advance, keep note if you’ll need to renew your pass­port  in time for your depar­ture date.  Depend­ing on what coun­try you’re trav­el­ing from, you may be required to pur­chase a trav­eller’s VISA pri­or to enter­ing  your des­ti­na­tion.  For exam­ple, when trav­el­ing to Nepal you need to pur­chase a  Tourist Visa  at the air­port  and the cost will vary depend­ing on your length of stay. 

As men­tioned pre­vi­ous­ly, I can’t express the impor­tance of pur­chas­ing trav­el insur­ance.  I know,  your eyes have glazed over — who wants to talk about insur­ance!  In the end, spend­ing $150  on a trav­el insur­ance pol­i­cy could mean sav­ing $10,000  if you need to can­cel your trip or if you get injured and need to be evacuated.

 We strong­ly rec­om­mend that for any trip (moun­tain bik­ing relat­ed or not), that you  obtain  the fol­low­ing coverage: 

  • Trip can­cel­la­tion up to 100% of your trip cost
  • Equip­ment pro­tec­tion for delay, loss, theft and dam­age (if trav­el­ing with your bike/expensive equip­ment). This can be cov­ered through renter’s or home insur­ance. Check your policy.
  • Trip inter­rup­tion up to 100% of trip cost
  • Med­ical expens­es up to $50,000
  • Emer­gency med­ical trans­porta­tion up to $1,000,000

3. REVIEW THE WEATHER AND PACKING LIST 

Under­stand the des­ti­na­tion’s cli­mate  when you’ll be vis­it­ing and  put togeth­er a gen­er­al pack­ing list based on your indi­vid­ual needs.  Here is a gen­er­al pack­ing list the we’ve put togeth­er , which can be used as a help­ful start­ing point! 

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 AND 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 (maybe not if your des­ti­na­tion is Cos­ta Rica!)
  • trail shoes or hik­ing boots
  • back­pack (for day hikes)
  • flash­light or headlamp

PERSONAL 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 creme
  • first-aid kit (ibupro­fen, band aids, Poly­sporin, tweezers)

RANDOM STUFF YOU DON’T REALIZE YOU NEED, WELL, UNTIL YOU NEED IT:

  • 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
Overhead view of items for mountain bike trip laid out on the floor, including things like mountain bike helmet, backpacks, flashlight, etc.

4. TUNE UP YOUR BIKE 

If you’ve decid­ed to take your own bike on your moun­tain bike hol­i­day (instead of rent­ing), make sure you vis­it your local bike shop  and  get a thor­ough tune up — or do it your­self if you’re mechan­i­cal­ly savvy!  Also ensure that you pack spare parts and tools  if required.  At the bare min­i­mum pack the following: 

  • 2–4 spare tubes 
  • mul­ti­tool  and tire lever
  • front and rear brake pads 
  • extra chain  (if yours is more than 6 months old)
  • extra derailleur hanger 
  • any rare parts spe­cif­ic to your bike, that might be dif­fi­cult to find in the coun­try your visiting 
Man on mountain bike riding quickly through a trail in the forest

5. DO YOUR RESEARCH 

It’s always a great idea to do a lit­tle research on the coun­try you’re vis­it­ing to ensure  you under­stand the cul­ture and what to expect  when you arrive.  Lone­ly Plan­et is a great resource  for read­ing about cus­toms,  tra­di­tions,  cui­sine and adven­tures in for­eign lands.  Also, ask the moun­tain bike tour com­pa­ny that you’re trav­el­ing with  for local insights on the des­ti­na­tion.  You may think about arriv­ing ear­ly or extend­ing your trip to take in non-moun­tain bike relat­ed places and attrac­tions that aren’t includ­ed in the  guid­ed trip expe­ri­ence.  After all, if you’re going all the way to Peru — per­haps you should take a few extra days to explore the Amazon!

View from above of Machu Picchu mountain in Peru

6. HAVE AN EMERGENCY CONTACT 

It’s impor­tant to  leave your trav­el plans, itin­er­ary, pass­port num­ber and  per­son­al details with  a friend or famiy mem­ber at home.  Leave a copy of your pass­port with them, and take a pho­to­copy of your pass­port  in your suit­case — in case it gets  lost or stolen. You may also like to reg­is­ter your trav­el plans with your embassy. If you’re a Cana­di­an trav­el­ing abroad you can reg­is­ter HERE.   In case there is a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter,  or oth­er type of emer­gency, the  gov­ern­ment will know where you are  and be able to pro­vide instruc­tions for  remain­ing safe. 

Notebooks, compass, small toy plane, camera, and letters spelling "Travel" laid out on dark wood table

7. GET OUT AND RIDE! 

Prob­a­bly the most impor­tant thing to do when prepar­ing for a guid­ed moun­tain bike trip is to get out and ride as much as pos­si­ble! You don’t want to be show­ing up on Day 1 with  legs that haven’t  felt a ped­al stroke  in awhile!  While rid­ing your local trails, grad­u­al­ly start increas­ing your dis­tance and inten­si­ty  in the months pri­or to your adven­ture.  Also keep in mind that the week before  your trip, you’re going to want to drop the inten­si­ty of your bike rides and work-outs so  your body is  at 100%  for your trip. 

Three people motion blurred as they ride on a trail through bright green forest

Ready to plan your mountain bike adventure?