Whether 50 or 850 miles and whether a 1-day ride or a multi-day tour–a cycling adventure is defined by how we handle “encounters with the unexpected” (see How to Make Your Next Ride a Cycling Adventure). Successfully handling the “unexpecteds” that inevitably arise keep you in the realm of adventure and out of the category of misadventure.
And it’s planning and preparation that increase the likelihood you’ll be able to successfully handle whatever comes your way. These two ingredients are essential regardless of the length, intensity, or style of cycling adventure. In this article and the two that follow we’ll look at three radically different adventures to illustrate how essential planning and preparation are.
A Cycling Adventure in a Day
Akshay and Kishore had a day off and relatively new gravel bikes they were looking to put to the test. So on short notice Comova put together a trip that entailed an overnight in the Cazita followed by “Best of West County Gravel”–a 50-mile route highlighted by the Willow Creek and Old Caz gravel segments with a bit of singletrack thrown in for good measure.
A number of “unexpecteds” made this single-day ride a proper adventure: How would the new bikes perform? How would Akshay and Kishore handle some of the moderately technical sections of the ride? And how would we manage a long stretch without options for food or water?
In the end, the bikes performed great, Akshay and Kishore handled the technical sections with ease, and we made a slight detour off route to refuel at Baked on the River in Guerneville.
To top off the adventure, Kishore and Akshay decided to spin down to Goat Rock Beach and back to round up their numbers: 100km and 6,000’ of climbing. Best of all, the ride wrapped up back at Comova’s Bike Barn where we washed bikes on the new deck, enjoyed a beer or two, shared highlights of the adventure, and talked bikes and bike culture.
How Planning and Preparation Keep Cycling Adventures from Becoming Misadventures
Route planning is our passion at Comova Cycling. In anticipating and managing the unexpecteds of a cycling adventure, there is simply no substitution for thorough route planning. In future posts we’ll describe our route planning philosophy and the tools we use to develop routes.
Our single-day Best of West County Gravel adventure is a route we ride fairly regularly. But Akshay and Kishore were new to the route, so knowing where there would be gates to pass through or single track connectors that could be easily missed were important in ensuring a successful adventure. Having a heads up about a tricky washout to navigate through or warnings about loose switchbacks covered in dry leaves also helped make the adventure safe and fun.
Preparation is another key element to a successful adventure. Are the bikes you’ll be riding well maintained? Have you checked tires and brake pads for wear that could introduce an unexpected problem? And, of course, there’s also preparation of the riders. Being realistic about fitness level and understanding your body’s need for water, food and rest mid-ride are crucial in pre-ride planning and mid-ride decision making. For more tips read Take These 3 Steps to Achieve Your Long Distance Cycling Goals.
What to focus on in planning and preparation includes the obvious concerns like your route, a well maintained bike, and your fitness. And in future articles we’ll dive deeper into route planning and cover other considerations like weather, planning bailout options and re-routing, field repairs, and more. Getting out there and taking on an adventure, however, is the best way to gain firsthand experience in the types of unexpecteds that can pop up.
All of the pieces and moving parts of a cycling adventure can be overwhelming. Whether you’re new to the challenge of a more remote ride or a multi-day tour, or you have experience with epic rides but don’t have the time to plan them, Comova is here to help.
Check out our Upcoming Trips to see if there’s one that fits your style of adventure. Our local events are another great way to get to know Comova. Or contact us to start planning your custom adventure on the dates that work for you and your private group. Our Trip Ideas page will provide some inspiration if you’re not sure where to start.