Where is the line drawn in the sand? Or gravel? Or dirt? Maybe that question is part of the answer. Bike touring had been around as long as there have been bikes. The gear has changed and evolved over time, but essentially stayed pretty much the same. Some sort of road bike, skinny high pressure tires, with racks and panniers to carry everything. And I mean everything. It really does amaze me how numerous and full all the bags often are. What the hell are they carrying in there?! Maybe that’s why I’ve never done a traditional tour. Uncomfortable (to me) bikes, overloaded for the tiny tires, down the side of the road, cars wizzing by… No thanks….
But wait, didn’t i just do a typical bike tour?! Ummm…sorta? I guess? Maybe?
But not really. The principals of bikepacking make sense to me where traditional touring doesn’t. Starting out with a much more capable bike, big meaty tires, disk brakes, I’m essentially using a cyclecross bike with mustache bars. Pavement, gravel, grass, dirt, it does it all.
And the kit is totally different. No racks, just soft bags. And minimal gear. Fast and light, just like me (nope, more like slow and lumpy…). Just the essentials, everything does double and triple duty. Flat pedals and a single pair of shoes. Baggy shorts so i can go straight from the bike to the pub. Think reallllllly hard about it, do I actually need that, or just be slightly more comfortable.
But really, it’s the attitude. I often went waaaay out of my way to find the backroads, the gravel, the dirt. Definitely not the most direct route, or most efficient, or easiest. But getting lost and working your way back is almost par for the course. Mandatory in fact. It’s about the unknown adventure, an curious attitude, and above all, consciously choosing a path that is intentionally contrived. Just because…