A First Timer’s Guide to Bikepacking for Beginners.

I am both an avid biker and backpacker but I never thought to combine the two into one experience until recently. This summer I came into possession of a fuji touring bike and decided to give bike packing a shot, and I thought I would write this post with some suggestions about bikepacking for beginners.

For my first trip I wanted to do a simple one night out and back trip, and after consulting an incredibly helpful Willamette Week article about bikeable campsites in the Portland area, I settled on taking a trip to the gorge and staying at Ainsworth state park. This was ideal as the park provided specific bike camping spaces with bike racks right next to the sites. while hilly, this route is both route scenic and do-able for the semi-experienced rider. I rarely felt unsafe even when on unprotected roads.

My Campsite at Ainsworth State Park’s bike packing area.

 

Preparing:

Food:

As someone who has been avidly backpacking for the last 10 years, the most crucial information I can pass along is that the bulk foods section at WinCo is your friend. For this trip I grabbed some of the bulk falafel mix. The falafel can be a bit dry, so I would recommend grabbing some hummus ( which you can get away with not refrigerating for a couple days if you keep it sealed), and pita bread.

For breakfast I went with the old standby of instant oatmeal with peanut butter; easy and quick but also great for a full day of biking. for lunch I would personally recommend something simple like apples and cliffbars.

Gear:

If you bike regularly in the city you probably have much of the needed gear already, such as panniers and bungie cords. However, I did have to go grab some gear from REI, Like a 2 L water bag (I used it to refill my small bike water bottle that I out in my down tube cage), and para-cord for hanging up my food bag.

For just a one or two night trip you can get away with a small gas canister for your stove, but if your traveling with more than one person it never  hurts to go with something a bit larger. I also found that the REI half dome is great for camping as it comfortably fits 2 and is light weight enough for solo trips as well. For further gear info I would recommend checking out an article one of our staff wrote about packing for touring on our website.

Getting There:

There are several ways to make your way to the town of Troutdale, the start of the historic gorge highway. Personally I recommend making your way down Marine drive as it is the flattest, most scenic, and most protected pathway there. However, East Burnside is also a very viable option.

My Route from Cycle Portland to Troutdale

The Ride:

To be perfectly honest the ride is not easy. There is about a 900 foot elevation gain to vista house, the halfway point, and no bike lane. With that said if you are in decent shape and bike regularly it is certainly doable, the drivers are pretty good about giving you space, and the shoulder of the road for the most part is close to bike lane sized. Also, the view from vista house and the subsequent downhill  makes the climb well worth it.

Suggestions:

Personally I would recommend turning this into a multi day trip instead of a one night out and back. Starting in Warrendale the historic gorge highway turns into a walk and bike only path, that runs through most of the gorge. Next time I am planning on spending a night at Ainsworth, popping into hood river for a beer and an afternoon on the beach, then continuing on and camping in the Dalles.

 

Conclusion:

While just a short trip, I’d my trial bike packing run a success. I am looking forward to getting back out and I hope to see you on the road!

 

Cycle Portland tour gets two thumbs up from the UK!

A recent visit from UK-based radio presenters on Gaydio.co.uk, Emma Goswell and John Ryan, had them raving about our Portland Essential tour which features some of the best of Portland’s car-free cycling infrastructure while explaining a bit about how Portland evolved into the city it is today. Top of their list of things to do when visiting Portland, their experience on out Essentials tour illustrated for them the ease of navigating Portland by bike, where they felt at ease on two wheels here in a way you just can’t get across the pond!

“It’s quite therapeutic when you aren’t filming on your phone with your other hand!”

Read here: https://www.gaydio.co.uk/life/travel1/once-upon-a-portland/

Podcast (45mins): https://www.gaydio.co.uk/on-air/podcasts/gaydio-replay/

Touring Checklist: What to Bring on a Bike Tour Pt. 1

When planning what to bring on a bike tour, gear is not the least of your concerns. Luggage may not be as exciting as your choice of route or companions. However, preparing thoughtfully for your trip can make the difference between comfort and a grueling slog, or between a minor hiccup or a total breakdown. With our combined touring experience here at the shop, we’ve learned what works for us. It can be incredibly valuable to make a checklist in order to help prepare for your tour. Ultimately what you decide to bring will depend on the style and length of your trip, as well as your personal traveling preferences.

What to Bring on a Bike Tour

Riding Gear

The first decision to make is how much you are willing to “rough it”. If you will be biking from hotel to hotel and eating in restaurants, a credit card will be your most important piece of equipment. If you’re riding farther afield and camping, you’ll need carry everything you’ll need. Keep things you’ll need during your ride in smaller bags or in jersey pockets. Otherwise you’ll be digging through your panniers looking for your squished banana.

Bike tour riding gear

And last but certainly not least…

Tools

Unless you are doing a supported ride with a follow car to pick you up, you’ll need to be self-reliant. At the minimum, you will need to be able to fix flat tires and tighten/loosen all bolts on your bike. If riding with others, you will probably only need one set of tools between you, with the exception of tubes.

Bike tour tools

For longer or more remote riding, consider bringing extra tools. Hopefully you won’t need them often, or at all, but the little extra weight can pay off when stranded in the middle of nowhere.

What else?

Is this all I should bring on my bike tour? No… But, these are just the most bike-specific things you’ll need to pack. You’ll find our checklist for other supplies including camping gear, clothing, and more in our soon to come post Touring Checklist: What to Bring on a Bike Tour Pt. 2.

Bike Food Part 1 : How to Make Your Ride Delicious

If you’ve ridden a bike much, you may have noticed there are few kitchens on the side of the road. You also may have noticed you are hungry. You are not alone. But with a some preparation, a positive spirit and burritos, you’ll find there is bike food out there suitable for all cyclists.

Bike Food

I always carry at least a granola bar in my saddle bag. “Bonking,” or running out of energy on a bike ride, is at best an avoidable bummer. At worst, it can be a health hazard, especially if you are far from civilization or riding in cold weather. Fueling your ride can be either a chore or a delicious picnic. It’s easy to find a place to get food in a city like Portland where food trucks are around every corner! But when traveling longer distances, a little planning and attitude makes all the difference.

Your body does require more calories and electrolytes while exercising, but don’t be intimidated by sports food marketing. “Electrolytes” is basically just another way to say “salt”. Calories and electrolytes exist in literally all food. This is what makes it food. Over my experience on longer rides and tours, I’ve found a few favorite foods that fit well in a jersey pocket or saddle bag and add to the pleasure of riding a bike. Then again, everything tastes better after a long bike ride.

Burrito!

A perfect pocket-sized sandwich. I used to have a shirt that said “53 miles per burrito,” which is pretty accurate. The real advantage of this food is the near ubiquity of taco trucks in some parts.  Many times have I been saved from hunger by some middle-of-nowhere taqueria. Remember to bring some cash when you ride, if you dream of burritos.

Trail Mix!

I guess on a bike it would technically be a “road mix,” but the principle remains the same. You can make it as fancy or cheap as you’d like, but I like to buy a bunch of ingredients in bulk and mix them into bags to take with me. Here is a rough recipe I like:

Harmonious Pairs

Snacks don’t have to be complex. Some of the most satisfying road foods I kept going back to were pairs of things that go together. This is partly because its easier to find just two things at a random convenience store in the middle of nowhere. But also you don’t want to spend all your time planning food when you could be riding. Here are a few of the pairs I kept going back to on longer rides:Apple and Nut ButterHummus and chips

Beverage

Water is the best beverage, but sometimes you want something else. You can get fancy powders that magic your water into a smoothie or a sports drink. I prefer to use a little lemon juice or hibiscus mixed with honey, or even coconut water. On long trips with friends, I like to hide a bottle of beer in my pannier. When you arrive at your destination everyone is tired, but a little surprise at the end can turn “ugh, what a ride…” into “wow, what a ride!”

Bike food is important for the mind, body and spirit. As important as it is to take care of your bike, it’s probably more important to take care of yourself! Put the right things in your body and you’ll get the best out of your bike and yourself! Stay tuned for more bike food tips in part 2 and part 3.

Keep Hope Alive in Winter: Plan Your Next Tour

If you moved to Portland a few months ago, you may have thought you were moving to a land of eternal summer. Just look at all the yards growing banana plants and the abundance of patio seating! Now that the weight of your misunderstanding is sinking in, you may be looking for ways to keep  hope alive through the long drizzle season. A cyclist does not run on burritos alone, after all. Here we will encourage you through the winter time by planning for your next tour.

Banana Plant

Step 1: Believe Summer Will Return

Don’t get your head in the clouds, summer doesn’t have clouds. Instead, spend your indoor-time dreaming of all the bike tours you will embark on next year. Weekend tours can be planned fairly spur of the moment.  Maybe a jaunt to L.L.Stub Steward State Park (The Banks-Veronia Trail goes straight through it)? Or perhaps a loop around the Columbia Gorge (Ainsworth State Park has a spacious bike-camping field)? Longer tours might require a winter of planning.

I did not plan much for my tour into California. While it mostly worked out in the end, you might benefit from spending your pent-up energy planning more obsessively than I did. I left Olympia, WA with no destination except “South.” I took the carbon road bike I raced in college, since that was the only bike I had. As I pulled into the campground I intended to stay on the first evening of my tour, I went over a speed bump and my rack fell off. Don’t try to tour with a carbon seatpost and a clamp-on rack! I was then told the campground was closed. So I carried all my gear on my head while I looked for a bridge to sleep under until it was light enough to hitchhike to the nearest town. The next day I bought an aluminum seatpost.

So Plan Your Tour

You can spend a whole winter deciding on a destination, but the journey itself is really the important part. Highway 101 is an ideal touring route. It has abundant views, quaint seaside towns and world-class parks. Some 800 miles later, I ended up in Yolo County in a town of about 150 people. I spent the winter on a family farm/goat dairy and eating the most delicious oranges and pomegranates I ever had.

Welcome to Yolo

If you’d like some help dreaming up your next bike tour, why not stop by the shop for some tea? From our combined wealth of experience, we can suggest routes through the San Juan Islands, Glacier National Park, across India, and beyond. You might just keep the drizzle from seeping into your spleen (well known organ of hope).

 

Coming next: “Step 2: Actually Prepare for Winter.”

New Portland Guide Book – Featuring Cycle PDX!

Cycle Portland featured again! – in Portland Family Adventures! Looking for a handy guide book to find your way around Portland? Jen Stevenson’s Portland Family Adventures is the perfect companion for traveling families looking for museums, hikes, tours, and more. With all the guides and recommendations available for visiting Portland, it’s hard to figure out which ones have done the research and exploration necessary to really know our multi-layered city. Stevenson has clearly done that hard work. You can trust her recommendations to steer you to the very best family friendly attractions and activities!

 

Our city tours are another great way to get your bearings and see some of the businesses, monuments, and neighborhoods that make Portland so special. Our guides are always happy to answer questions and give you their advice on their favorite spots around town. You can set up a reservation anytime on our website, or give us a call at 844-PDX-BIKE (844-739-2453) if you have any questions!

“What to do in Portland,” put Cycle Portland Bike Tours and Rental on your list!

Here at Cycle Portland, we love to share a local’s perspective with Portland’s visitors. But even more than that, we love to get people on bikes and out riding! Laura Chubb’s article, “What to do in Portland, From Microbreweries to Third Wave Coffee,” covers all of your Portland essentials. From taking a bike tour around downtown, to window shopping, to the food cart scene, Laura’s list featured on the Independent is an excellent place to start when planning your trip to the Pacific Northwest!

Cycle Portland Bike Tours & Rentals specializes in putting together fun, creative rides that are great for people looking to explore Portland, OR by bike!

Sign up for Laura’s Essential Portland Tour here! Happy riding!