Bikepacking 101: What to Know for Your First Ride

Most people start with the bike. There are many different bikes and lots of different prices. And even more opinions!

The best bike to use for your very first ride is the one you have or can borrow. Even renting a bike can tell you a lot about the bike and what you might want to buy later on.

There are few basics that will make your very first pedal much more comfortable:

  • Check Your Tires and Brakes — No matter what bike you get, you need to check and make sure your tires are pumped up and that the brakes work.
  • Set your seat at the right height — If your seat is too high you can find it a stretch to reach the pedals and it’s not easy to stop the bike and hop off. So, stand astride the seat, put your hands on the handlebars and make sure you can stand tippy toe style with your toes easily reaching the ground. If you are very new to cycling, you might prefer to have your feet flat on the ground to start with. Once you get more comfortable you will want to raise the seat. It’s better for the knees!
  • Practice on your bike in a quiet place — If you have not ridden since you were a kid, it’s time to start with a simple step. Hop on your bike, ride forward, and stop. Hop off and get back on. Do this a few times while you test your brakes and how you use them. Remember to press on your brakes firmly and evenly.
  • Practice changing gears — Gears are your friends. They let you ride at a reasonable level of effort and go fast downhill and slowly uphill. If you are about to go up a hill change gears early. Gears don’t like to change under stress. Play around using your gears and don’t be afraid of them. They make riding a joy.
  • Oil your bike — Remember to oil your chain and your gears. Nothing works well on a bike if it is not oiled. Buy oil from your bike shop. Trust me – olive oil does not work 😊
  • Safety First — Wear your helmet, bright clothes, and put lights on your bike.
  • Buy Cycle Shorts — If you are thinking you will want to get out and pedal lots, then I recommend you invest in some quality, padded cycle shorts. Or Lycra as they are known. They will save your bum.
  • Choose your first ride on a path near you — Rail Trails are great fun and away from the traffic. There are many paths in our beautiful cities and country towns to enjoy.
  • Lastly — Find a coffee shop – all good cyclists find one of those and stops to enjoy their fix for the day. After all, you’ve earned it!