The one-way bikepacking trip is a fantastic way cover a large distance and experience a vast array of landscapes and cultures. It can take you across a mountain range, connect 2 cities or if you pedalled for long enough could cross continents. But how would you go about planning such an adventure? Read on for some top tips on taking on a one-way trip.
Where should I go?
The first step in planning your journey is to figure out where to go. Time will be a factor in this so first figure out how much time you have and roughly how far you think you can ride each day. Always be a bit cautious when working out the distance… it sounds easy on a map but 4 days into a ride you may realise that you have been a bit over ambitious so always err on the side of caution.
Once you have your time and distance limits in place then work out a route. You may want to cycle across a country, or on a particular route or just reach somewhere. I find the best option for your first one way ride is to cycle home. This gives you the added motivation and simplicity of finishing at your home, but also has the benefit of familiar terrain and roads towards the end of the journey when you may be getting fatigued.
How do I get there?
Once you have decided on a start destination you then need to get there. Now this may vary depending on how far away the start is but most often it will involve a train journey or a flight so your bike will most likely need to be boxed up.
When packing your bike you should use a cardboard bike box, often available from your local bike shop. Try and pack the bike as tightly as possible inside the box to ensure it doesn’t move and get damaged and remember to remove the pedals and the rear mech. If you are using frame bags then fit them to the bike to protect it and always remember to tape up the bottom of the box! Before you leave make sure all your gear will fit onto the bike, including the clothes you intend to wear for the journey to the start. Or if you don’t need casual clothes for your trip you can wear your cycling kit on the plane (and get funny looks!) or wear some old clothes to dispose of at the other end.
Once you arrive at your destination you can re assemble your bike and dispose of the cardboard box, although its often best to ask station or airport staff for the best place to do this.
Where should I stay?
There are a number of options when it comes to accommodation on a long ride and that is partially down to you. You could live a life of luxury and stay in a hotel every night, but generally this would be more expensive. If this is the case then you may wish to plan your route accordingly, ensuring that you finish near a town with accommodation each night. Camping is a great option and allows much more flexibility, however in certain countries wild camping is frowned upon so a degree of planning is required to ensure you reach a suitable camp ground each night. The downside is that carrying camping gear can add a lot of weight to your setup. The most flexible option is the bivvi bag. You can pretty much sleep anywhere and it’s a light weight setup, however it’s not always the most comfortable.
How do I plan my route?
Route planning can be one of the most enjoyable elements of the trip. There are plenty of brilliant route planning apps and websites available such as Komoot and Ridewithgps.com. These allow you to drag and drop the route to your desired destinations and quickly upload it to your gps device. However you may wish to do it the old fashioned way with paper maps and a list of town names. This requires a bit more preparation and mind power but is also quite liberating from the modern world of screens and devices.
How do I get home?
So now all you planning has paid off and your journey is complete… so what’s the next step? Well if your journey finishes at home then the next step is easy, just open the front door, pop the kettle on and put your feet up with a cup of tea.
However, if your final destination finishes away from home then you will probably require another flight or train journey home. This means packing the bike up again and finding a box. The best way to find a bike box is to find the local bike shop and ask, however this doesn’t always work. Sometimes you can buy a box at an airport by either asking at left luggage or the airport information desk. Normally airports served by SwissPort are able to provide a bike box for around 20Euro and some airlines may also provide them. However sometimes you might just have to get creative and build a bike box! The trick is to ensure that the bike is really well secured and there are no loose parts. To do this buy a ball of string and tie the front wheel to the side of the bike and make sure the handlebars are removed and also secured with string so the bike a fully contained unit. This now means that essentially you just need to cover the bike with cardboard rather than build a box to hold everything. You can normally find some cardboard boxes to use, buy a roll of parcel tape and apply liberally to create a box. You are now ready to travel home and plan your next adventure.
Check out the video below to see how it is done…