Post by Mary on September 10, 2019
The Ride the Alps summer season is still in full flow. September is often our busiest month of the season as the trails are quiet and the weather is usually warm, dry and sunny. Jamie is just back from guiding our Chamonix to Zermatt tour with a group of American riders who rode the TMB with us in 2017 and were ready for another Ride the Alps adventure. The American group rode the route with van support but as with all of our point-to-point trips there is always the opportunity of riding them as bike packing tours.
The popularity of bike packing is growing as manufacturers come up with more innovative ways of carrying your kit on your bike whilst minimizing the impact of the added weight on the enjoyment of your ride. Panniers work well for road bike tours – so long as you don’t add too much weight! -but they are not a good choice for off-road adventures. We recently invested in a bike trailer for a camping bike packing tour we did with the kids in May. It worked brilliantly for a family adventure on flat, smooth terrain but it wouldn’t be great for an Alpine mountain bike tour. There’s too much weight and instability at the rear of the bike. Jamie likes the combination of a back pack with some kit attached to the frame. The picture above is his preferred way of bike packing when riding technical enduro-style trails. There is hardly any extra weight on the bike so it handles really well on the descents. Some riders prefer to carry little or no weight on their back and spread the weight across their bike with a range of different kinds of frame bags. The photo of Colorado trail racing bike packer, Joe Tonsager, below shows an example of this style.The Colorado Trail Race is unsupported and covers 500 miles and over 21,000m of elevation gain through the Colorado Rocky Mountains between Denver and Durango. It’s a race Jamie has his eye on for the future!
For a camping bike packing trip Jamie would also put a bit more weight on the frame. Below is a picture of his hardtail all set for a bike packing adventure with bivi gear, sleeping bag and a small stove.
One of the best things about bike packing, in my opinion, is that it removes the need for vehicle support on a trip. You can have a carbon-neutral adventure doing no harm to the beautiful environment you are exploring. There are also economic benefits because you don’t have to pay for vehicle support so your trip costs are significantly reduced. And of course the sense of adventure is heightened by the fact that you are travelling unassisted.
Our Monta Rosa trip is bike packing only. One very high altitude hut and both refuges in Italy are inaccessible by motor vehicle so this means that this an exclusively self-supported tour. You can also ride our Tour du Mont Blanc and Eiger Tour as bike packing adventures. We are currently exploring a new point-to-point trip from Chamonix to Briancon for 2020. The recce will definitely be a bike packing adventure and this will also be an option when we launch the trip. If you’re looking for a bike packing adventure in 2020 then contact Mary for further details and availability.