Bike Packing Preparation by Jason Lewis

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This was submitted to us by Jason Lewis. Jason is a personal trainer and a cyclist. He recently set out on his first bike packing trip without any real-world experience on what to expect. He took lots of field notes and wrote this up when he returned to better prepare you for your first overnight trip.

Thank you, Jason for forwarding this along to us. If you have any tip and pointers you would like to share with your cycling community, send it to and we’ll post it on our blog.


Is a Major Biking Expedition or Marathon Right Around the Corner? Know What to Pack, How to Eat, and How to Prepare Mentally and Strategically


Photo Credit: pcdazero, Pixabay


Whether you prefer to tackle tough terrain on a mountain bike or try your endurance on the paved roads, any form of cycling takes preparation. When you’re heading to the trails or adorning a jersey for a race, there’s a lot to do in order to prepare. Being well prepared ensures the major expedition or marathon is less stressful and helps you to be calm, confident, and ready to focus.

Make sure your bike is working correctly two or three weeks before you leave. Tires should be checked for wear and damage. Replace any tire that raises a concern. Check brake pads as well, especially if you’re mountain biking. Top off the sealant in your tubeless tires, and inspect your chainring and cleat bolts. Racers should also ensure their bikes are properly cleaned before the big day. Lastly, have a local bike shop check your chain, cassette, cables, and everything else that keeps your bike running smoothly.

Racers should check out the course beforehand if possible. If it’s not possible to view the entire course, at least scope out the last leg so that you can prepare your sprint. Take note of potholes, off-camber corners, and wind direction at various points of the course. Mountain bikers should know as much about the trail as possible, including terrain, length, elevation gain, and exposure.

When you wake up on the big day, eat a balanced breakfast that includes some complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and antioxidant-rich fruits. Until two to four hours before your event, continue to eat a good, balanced meal every two to four hours. An hour before, eat an easily digestible snack, such as an energy bar, banana, and/or energy drink. Upon arriving, ensure your tires are properly pumped and that your water bottles are all full.

If you’re completing a bike race or marathon, plan your day with enough time to arrive at the start line early in order to get a good position.

“Getting a bad start position can be the end of your day before the race even starts, so it never hurts to make it a habit of getting a good start position,” recommends TrainingPeaks. You also want to have enough time for a good warm up of 30 minutes to an hour.

Obviously you’ll need to bring your bike, helmet, shoes, socks, and gloves. You’ll also need sunglasses, inclement weather gear (winter/rain clothing), bottles for water, food, electrolyte drink, and plenty of water. Don’t forget to pack your spare wheels, spare tube, tire levers, CO2, bike floor pump, cycling computer, heart rate strap, and basic tools, such as a multi-tool, screwdrivers, and electrical tape. Bring a change of clothes and a recovery drink and snack with a 4:1 ratio of carbs versus protein. Racers will also need their racing licenses, jerseys, and bibs/shorts.

The last thing you want to worry about is the safety of your home while you’re away. To put your mind at ease, prepare your home before leaving. Put your car in the garage, make sure all windows and doors are locked, and ensure smoke detectors work and have new batteries. You should also adjust the thermostat and unplug all electronics and appliances.

No matter which form of cycling you prefer, being unprepared can result in an unpleasant ride, inability to complete the course or trail, or even injury. Ensuring your bike is in working order, packing all essentials, eating properly the day of your event, and managing your time wisely are all important parts of being well prepared. Creating a plan and checklist helps to maximize the chance for success.

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