16 Things To Do When Traveling With Your Mountain Bike

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July 25th, 2017

Traveling with your mountain bike can be  stressful, exhilarating  and  adventurous . With 21 years of experience designing, planning, guiding and delivering mountain bike adventures around the world, we guarantee you'll learn a whole lot... about yourself and the world around you when traveling with your bike.  To help you prepare for your next mountain bike trip, we've put together a  list of 16 things you should do  before  packing your bags, boxing up your bike and  hitting the road or the air.  


1. go local 

We strongly believe that we can (and have!) changed the world through mountain bike travel,  and if we can do it.. so can you!  When planning your mountain bike trip, think about ways to give back to the local community  and small businesses.  Stay away from large box stores,  chain hotels and think local when choosing restaurants ,  activities and shopping. When spending money while traveling, think about where it's going to end up  and where it is going to have the biggest impact. 

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2. check your airline

Don't get caught off guard when you check in for your flight and the lovely  airline employee  tacks another $50 - $150  onto your  credit card. Each airline will have a specific fee to check a bike as baggage , and it's best to research this ahead of time so you can budget accordingly.  Smaller airlines  that operate internal domestic flights (ie. Star Peru) will often charge excess baggage fees by weight, so pack light! 

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3. plan your route

It's nice to plan a general itinerary  that can be tweaked and updated as you  settle into your destination  and find out  the local secrets.  When traveling with your mountain bike, it's important to understand the terrain, elevation and weather patterns so you can  plan your rides accordingly and be prepared on the trail with the right clothing, snacks, and tools. You should put together a list of trails you'd like to ride, with the number of KMs, elevation gain/loss,  trail head location and ending point.  Gradually increase your distance and elevation  as the trip goes on, especially if you're riding on unfamiliar trails . 

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4. get insurance

This might be the most important  take-away from the entire list. If you're a couragous risk-taker, and you're putting money on not getting injured, stranded, or delayed  before or during your  adventure - then I'd say  STILL BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE :)  When you're spending thousands of dollars on your dream mountain bike trip,  what's another $100-$200  for travel medical insurance and trip cancellation/interruption insurance to ensure your butt is covered?!  The unexpected happens -  injuries, delayed flights,  a sick family member - all scenarios we don't like to think about,  but still very important to be preapred for.  Make some coffee, put on some music and check out our  list of recommendations for travel insurance HERE. 

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5. embrace the unexpected

This point goes along well with #4. Adventure travel is  a wonderful thing. It gets you off the beaten track,  opens your eyes to new cultures,  lifestyles and trails,  and it can also test your adaptability,  patience  and resourcefulness. 

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6. connect with a local bike shop

Staff at local bikes shops are a wealth of knowledge.  Prior to leaving for your trip,  search for bike shops in the area you'll be visiting  and let them know when you'll be in the area.  They'll be able to  recommend trails suited to your skill level and might even be able to ride with you or suggest a group ride for you to join. 

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7. give back 

This point goes along with the #1, Go Local.  There are many ways to give back to local communities when traveling - you could:

- volunteer your time  (trail building, perhaps?) or be a marshall at a local race

- donate a few bucks to the local trail building association or mountain bike club 

- support local artists  and businesses if you're  purchasing souvenirs 

- bring donations, find out what the local community needs 

- be an  ambassador for your country -  be kind, gracious, generous and loving to the  people you meet! 

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8. respect the environment 

If you pack it in, pack it out! Don't leave garbage  on the trails or at the trailhead - hopefully you don't need to be reminded of this! When mountain biking in wilderness areas,  respect the wildlife that call it home.  Check out our article on  "How to Prepare for Wildlife Encounters  On Your Mountain Bike Trips."

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9. going remote?

If you're biking in the backcountry, it's best to bike at 80% of your maximum speed  and be conservative when approaching obstacles and trail features.  This minimizes the risk of injury  (in the middle of nowhere!) and  also limits the risk of startling wildlife... if you're mountain biking in an area known for  bears, moose, elk, cougars (like Canada, eh?). 

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10. capture it 

 If you're going on an epic mountain bike adventure, you're probably going to want to capture  it!  Check out "How to Film  Mountain Bike Adventure Travel Videos" for tips and tricks and getting the best footage.  

https://sacredrides.com/blog/how-to-make-mountain-bike-travel-videos/2016/11

11. emergency contact

Leave  a photocopy of your passport and general trip itinerary  with a friend or family member at home. While traveling  keep  the contact information of your embassy in your wallet in case of emergency. 

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12. do a bike check 

Before every ride , you should do a quick check of your bike to make sure it's in proper working order!

 

1. Let your bike fall. Pick your bike up 5-6 inches off the ground and let it drop. Investigate any rattling or odd noises when it hits the ground. They could be signs of loose parts.

2. Test the brakes. Engage the brake levers to make sure they are functioning properly. They should snap back into position after letting go. Test out your lever-reach (how far you need to squeeze your brakes before then engage with the brake pads), and adjust them if needed. This is usually done through a dial on the lever body, or on older models, with a small Allen key.

3. Tires OK? Make sure the tires are inflated according to the specifications on the side wall of each tire. Check for cuts, tears, and rips and replace if necessary. This step only takes a minute, but it is one of the most important steps you should take to ensure safety and efficiency before every ride.

4. Spin the wheel. It should spin freely without wobbling and there should be no contact between with the brake pads.

5. Secure the wheel. Most mountain bikes have quick release levers, which are levers located at the hub (center of the wheel) that allow for easy removal or adjustment of the wheel without using a tool. These should be securely tightened.

6. Secure the headset. The headset is the set of bearings within the headtube (short tube located at the front of the bike connecting the forks and the bike frame). Your handlebars slip into this tube, which pivots to allow steering. To test if the headset is secure, apply the front brakes while gently tilting the bike forward and back (your rear tire should raise up and down). Listen for clicking, which is a sign of a loose headset. Tighten if necessary.

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13. try going guided

Hiring a local guide to show you the best trails and  local hot spots is  always a great idea to get the best out of your trip, especially if you only have a couple days in each destination. Find local guides that will be able to :

- speak the local language

-  recommend  local  restaurants and cuisine that  tourists wouldn't normally frequent

-  guide you on trails appropriate to your skill level 

- provide instruction and guidance for obstacles and difficult sections of trail 

-  stop along the trail to teach you about interesting flora and fauna

- provide history of the local area 

Thinking about going on a guided mountain bike trip?  Check out our line of Singletrack Rides, as  well as our 1-2 Day Getaways!

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14. keep a ride journal 

When you return home from your  mountain bike trip, and time quickly starts to pass by,  you may wish you'd kept a journal from your mountain bike adventure.  The fine details of your trip might slowly start to  fade from memory!!  Here are some suggestions on what  to include in your journal:

- Trip Participants /Guide Names

-  Places Visited - Historic Sites,  Cultural Centres, Unique towns 

- Ride Details -  # of kms,  elevation,  routes, # of hours riding , best part of each ride 

- when you arrive home print out your favourite photos from your trip and include them in your journal 

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15. try something new

It's time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!  Eating guinea pig in Peru ?  Heli-biking in New Zealand?  Horseback riding in Costa Rica?  While you're traveling, try to plan one thing everyday  that you've never done before - it could be something small... like... waking up before dawn for no reason other than to  just to take it all in! 

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16. respect the trails 

Be a responsible mountain biker and treat trails as if they were in your own backyard. Respect trail closures,  don't take shortcuts and  do minor trail maintenance along your ride if needed.  Take notice if you're riding on a shared trail system and  be alert for horseback riders, hikers and trail runners - remember to pull over if you meet anyone on the trail, say hello and be friendly! 

What else do you  do when planning  to travel with your mountain bike?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 
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