3 Bike-Packing Routes in North America

Peter Glassford
by Peter Glassford
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3 Bike-Packing Routes in North America

Bikepacking is undergoing a revolution as the cycling industry rediscovers the unrushed pursuit of going for multi-day adventures on a bike. The surge in gravel cycling bikes and bike-packing specific bags and equipment has helped get more cyclists out enjoying their bikes on varied, predominantly off-road routes. Many people use bike packing to get away from work and even as a break from traditional bike racing — and as we navigate through this pandemic, biking and taking vacation via your bike is even more relevant.

Whether you opt to make your own adventure with a DIY journey, or do an organized trip on your own (since all events are canceled), you have options.

DIY YOUR OWN BIKE-PACKING EVENT

The spirit of bike-packing encourages any adventure on your bike. A simple point-to-point to meet your family or a ride to camp overnight all count and can give you a sense of escape and adventure without much preparation or gear requirements. Your goal is to explore areas your normal riding wouldn’t take you and to get just far enough away from home for an adventure. In the long term, these mini sojourns can serve as training for bigger adventures on your bucket list. You can also use MapMyRide to create your own routes.


READ MORE > GETTING PREPARED FOR YOUR FIRST BIKE-PACKING ADVENTURE


The Trans Virginia leaves from Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Memorial and spends much of the 550 miles in the country on gravel, double-track trail and rail-trail as it works its way to the finish in Damascus, Virginia. There is also a shorter 220-mile version that ends in Harrisonburg if you want to check out the route but have less time for adventure.


READ MORE > WHAT EVERY CYCLIST SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE GREAT AMERICAN RAIL TRAIL


CRATERS AND CINDERS, ARIZONA

For those in the west, there is an assortment of events and routes to choose from, such as the Arizona Trail Race, and the Tour Divide, which sends riders down the length of the Rocky Mountains. For a relatively smaller outing, consider the 185-mile Craters and Cinders Loop that starts and finishes in Flagstaff, Arizona. This accessible route, but it has limited water, so planning a hydration strategy is essential.

The BT700 is a 478-mile loop designed by Matthew Kadey that is approximately 85% unpaved and features southern Ontario’s finest terrain ranging from escarpment views to country roads and micro-brewery stops. There is a yearly ‘grand depart’ in July from St. Jacob’s, Ontario, however, like many bike-packing routes, it’s available year-round and can be done on whatever schedule you like.

In line with many bike-packing events, it is free to use the route but also self-supported, so make sure to plan out navigation, accommodations and fueling strategies before you go. The route is never more than a couple of hours drive from Toronto, so modified weekend versions of the trip are possible for newer riders.

About the Author

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford

Peter is a cycling coach and registered kinesiologist from Ontario, Canada. He travels frequently to work with athletes at races, camps and clinics. He also races mountain bikes for Trek Canada and pursues adventure in all types of movement. Follow @peterglassford on Twitter, or check out his online and in-person coaching at www.smartathlete.ca.

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