The Power of the Overnighter
We all dream about the Big Trip. And dream we should – or better still, turn dreams into reality. But the truth of the matter is, the Little Trip can be just as rewarding, in its own small but perfectly formed way. A meditative solo outing. A local adventure with friends. A chance to spend undiluted time with family.
In fact, I’d say that we owe it to ourselves. Even, that we need it. 21st century life is so crammed with commitments, diaries filled weeks or months in advance, that it’s all to easy to let the days wash by in a blur… In our downtime, we’re tethered to electronic devices; umbilical cords feeding us a ceaseless supply of social updates and distraction.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve fractured our connection with the great outdoors.
Micro Adventures, S24Os (Sub 24 Overnighters)… call them what you will. Extricating ourselves even briefly from our day to day, urban existence is sure to bring a disproportionate measure of happiness to our lives. A week off grid may be a wonderful experience, but one night is a whole lot better than none.
After all, there’s no better way to recharge our simian batteries than reconnecting with the Simple Life. Finding a place to camp. Crouching around the heat of a fire. Sleeping on dirt, under the stars.
It’s grounding and restorative. It resets our body clock. Dare I say it, it’s soul food…
Tips for making it happen
- Call upon the experiences of others. Take full advantage of the proliferation of ready-to-roll bikepacking routes. But some of the most satisfying rides are those conjured up with a spread of maps around your own kitchen table… Planning is a fun part of the process.
- Otherwise, keep it simple and easy to organise. Think of places you know and love. That remote meadow you always want to linger in. The hilltop you thought would make for a great sunrise. Forget distance, think experience. After all, bikepacking’s not just about racing; it’s also about slowing down and appreciating what’s around you.
- Long day rides often make great overnighters. Check out IMBA’s Epic Rides and see if there’s a good place to camp midway. Or dig into the Adventure Cycling Association’s Bike Overnights for ideas.
- Want to experience your local area in a new light? Try linking up all your favourite trails, and riding them in one fell swoop, without the need to rush home.
- Similarly, use it as a chance to dig deeper into your area’s past. Make your overnighter an insightful historical adventure.
- Get familiar with Google Earth, and dig around for backcountry roads close to your doorstep. Have a smart phone? Gaia’s Topo Map App turns it into a powerful GPS, with all the maps you could want at your fingertips.
- Keep your adventures close close to home, or within range of a short train journey or drive out of the city. Journey time eats into riding time.
- Pack light and don’t overthink things. You don’t need much – it’s just a night out.
- Keep your core gear in a ‘grab box’. That way it’s ready, whenever you are. Stash a few treats/incentives in there too, like a nice slab of dark chocolate with almond and sea salt (my personal favourite).
- Want to save on cooking? Treat ourself to a take out – burritos are packable and perfect!
- Use overnighters as a chance to hone your setup; they’re great stepping stones for taking on bigger challenges.
- Worried you don’t have the gear? Don’t let that get in the way – just check out our Hobo Kit, over in Bikepacking 101.
In case you were wondering, the shots in this post were taken during an overnighter in northern New Mexico, between Abiquiu and Española.
New in plan/tips
- Oct 17, 2016A Bikepacker’s Guide to Mountain Weather Preparation
- Aug 15, 2016A Guide to Bikefishing, by Hansi Johnson
- Jul 20, 2016Big Bike, Little Person: Touring on the 29+ platform.
- Apr 12, 2016A Guide to Traveling Tubeless
- Mar 28, 20167 Great Weekend Bikepacking Rides in the Southwest