Breaking down bikepacking, the hybrid between backpacking and bike-touring

As much as fairly lately, I considered bike packing with a wholesome diploma of scepticism. Bikepacking, also called bike touring, principally entails happening a multi-day, self-supported cycle journey. Meaning you carry in your bike all of your garments, your electronics, your wash bag, every little thing! I used to see folks bikepacking and marvel why would somebody wish to haul all their package on their bike, all day lengthy, day after day?

A couple of weeks in the past, the chance offered itself to go on a bikepacking tour with some mates. Regardless of my aforementioned considerations, I made a decision to present it a go. It was, in spite of everything, nonetheless biking, and I do wish to cycle. It was additionally going to be a cost-effective vacation as we planning on tenting. Lastly, as we had been taking the ferry, it provided the prospect to go on a international vacation whereas avoiding the guilt and stress related to air journey.

After every week of bikepacking, I’m a convert and this actually wouldn’t be my final self-supported bike journey. Sure, the gear might be heavy and also you do discover it on the bike however you simply modify the velocity and the space you cowl accordingly. As for the biking all-day-long conundrum, this took the stress out of the same old ‘what is going to we do right now?’ query. The reply was easy: right now we cycle.

We adopted part of EuroVelo 1, a long-distance cycle route that goes from Norway to Portugal alongside the Atlantic Coast of Europe. The part we cycled was in France the place the route is branded ‘La Vélodyssée’. Life commitments meant I might solely afford every week for the journey so I cycled from the port of Roscoff to the town of Nantes. Round 70% of the route was alongside a towpath subsequent to the Brest-Nantes canal. One other 20% was alongside outdated railway traces transformed to Greenway and the remaining 10% was on quiet nation roads that had been freed from vehicular site visitors. Any time we had been routed right into a city, village, or city space, there was both a cycle lane or a diminished vehicular velocity zone.

I couldn’t suggest this route extra. It’s tremendous protected and appropriate for all ages and experiences. The route was scenic and we actually bought a way of the tradition and historical past of the Brittany area. We met a lot of attention-grabbing folks on the way in which and there was an amazing sense of group. It felt just like the Camino de Santiago however on bikes and with folks getting into each instructions as a substitute of 1.

We shortly bought the sensation that bike touring is an enormous enterprise in France. Campsites appeared to have something as much as a 3rd of their friends arriving on bikes and there was a good quantity of utilization of the route day-after-day. Be ready to say ‘Bonjour’ to folks biking in the wrong way to you each couple of minutes when you bike on one of many busier routes in France. The ‘La Vélodyssée’ web site is a treasure trove of data and we deliberate our routes, lodging, and sightseeing based mostly on all the data offered on this one website.

I’m acutely aware that I’m not precisely an knowledgeable in bike touring by simply going for a one-week journey so I requested mates to place me in contact with somebody with a bit extra expertise. David Butterly is the proprietor of Royal Canal Bike Rent in County Kildare and he has bike toured in Eire, Europe, and Asia. Whereas David has accomplished journeys on all forms of routes, it was on the Through Rhôna cycle route that he noticed the massive potential for bike touring that’s appropriate for households and the place lodging is geared in the direction of folks biking long-distance routes. David’s recommendation for anybody excited about happening their first bike touring journey is to maintain it easy: an excellent hybrid bike with panniers will do the trick and also you solely have to plan a couple of days prematurely.

Right here in Eire, we have already got some well-developed Greenway routes and the Irish part of EuroVelo 1 has been absolutely mapped out. Earlier this 12 months, a session was additionally launched on a Nationwide Cycle Community which goals to hyperlink cities, cities, and locations throughout Eire with a protected, related, and alluring cycle community. The Nationwide Cycle Community would possibly take thirty years to be absolutely developed however, within the meantime wouldn’t it’s nice if our rural highway community was made extra inviting for bike touring in Eire?

David Butterly thinks that EuroVelo 1 might be for biking what the Wild Atlantic Manner did for scenic drives and develop into one other main tourism attraction for the west coast. He’d wish to see extra indicators alerting drivers to the presence of individuals biking on the route. We chatted a bit about how the Rothar Roads rules developed by bike (the Irish Biking Advocacy Community) might be built-in into the EuroVelo path to make it extra enticing and safer. Finally, folks ought to really feel that they’re “anticipated and revered” when biking on nation roads in Eire.

I had a take a look at David’s bike rent web site after our name. I noticed an amazing map of the Greenway alongside the Royal Canal from Maynooth to Longford City. Subsequent summer season as a substitute of Morlaix, I may be going to Mullingar.

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