Plan your own bikepacking vacation

Before you delve into the preparations, it is important to map out your route first. The mapped out route, and the choices you make along the way, determine to a large extent the needed preparations. Do you prefer to camp, or rather to sleep in a comfortable bed and breakfast or hostel? Are you fond of small forest paths or do you prefer to ride quickly to the next beautiful spot on the map? Will you cross an entire region every day or will you keep it to short but powerful stages?

“To help you plan the perfect route for your multi-day trip, we have developed a simple but very convenient route builder. You can discover it here.” 

A loop or the through route?

You can set up your bikepacking trip perfectly by yourself. You can choose to make a loop and end up where you started, for example at home of at a parking lot. The loop formula is somewhat easier to plan and is therefore often used for a spontaneous and short bikepacking trip.

It is also perfectly possible to cycle from a chosen point A to point B and the return home using some means of transport (e.g. train, hitchhiking, …). This is sometimes called the through route. For example, you can easily return to your starting point by train and have completed the entire journey is a sustainable ecological manner. The other way around is even easier. Just take the train to your starting point and then ride back home. Be as creative as possible. Everything is possible!

A standard mountainbike with panniers at the back - source - cc

How long should this take?

The duration of the trip is completely free and in your hands. You don’t have to be on the road every day either. A day off in a pleasant city can be very enjoyable and relaxing. One day when you arrive at the coast, isn’t it great to stay a day or two and relax at the beach? If you create separate routes for each day, this can be spontaneously decided.

“During my first bikepacking trip, I had greatly underestimated my cycling speed, which meant that I often cycled for long days to achieve the planned distance. This was all the more striking because I was used to giving it my all during day rides. While bikepacking, your bike simply weighs too much to cycle fast and long. Dosage is key!”

For you first cycling vacation, it is advisable to do an overnighter or a short weekend. You can simply leave from home and stay in your home region, an area that is more of less known by you. This will also keep you comfortable during your first adventurous experience on the bike.

Do not overestimate your speed! Let’s make this clear once more. Because of your heavily loaded bike, you simply can’t ride fast. Of course, you have to take this into account while planning your trip and estimating how for you can travel each day. Speed isn’t important, in this way you can enjoy the surroundings all the more.

A mountainbike is best for rough terrain because of its thicker tires with more profile - source - cc

Altimeters can kill your legs

While planning your route, keep an eye on both the length but also the altimeters of the route. Flanders is fairly flat, but has some few hilly regions, such as the area close to Ypres, the Flemish Ardennes and the Voerstreek. We are not talking about real mountains, but the rapid succession of steep hills means you quickly reach a significant number of altimeters. Moreover, these hills are often very challenging, with serious gradients. When you reach the south part of Belgium, you will quickly be confronted with the Ardennes, where the hills are even more pronounced.

We advise you not to plan too many uphill segments in one day, because climbing can be a serious strain to the legs. Also remember you are heavily packed, and therefore can’t conquer the hills like during your weekend rides. Of course, descending the hills is much easier, but here we recommend lowering your pace for safety reasons.

Why use a map, when you can have a GPS device?

An old-school paper map may seem authentic, but using a GPS device to guide you is much more easy. Nowadays, there are multiple options riding your planned route while using a GPS device or application. You can simply use your smartphone and download one of the many GPS applications. Of course, a great challenge is the use of battery power, and you don’t have charging facilities everywhere if you go camping in more rural areas. If you want to connect with the world every evening, you might want to invest in a GPS device. These are no longer very expensive and are compact, easy to attach to your bike, easy to use, sage in all weather conditions, …