I’ve been creating several routes in Strava for some epic bike adventures planned for this summer and fall, and tried the first planned route today. Strava has some great tools to create well-thought-out routes for cycling, and that part went without a hitch. It was also easy to sync the route with my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt bike computer. My Insta360 camera was perched on the handlebars to take sweeping views of rolling hills and puffy white clouds in the sky, and it did take some good video. However, things didn’t go as I had envisioned, and here’s why.

Bring the Right Glasses

It didn’t take long before I realized a fatal flaw in my plan. My prescription sunglasses I use for driving are great for seeing far away, but lousy for reading a small bike computer screen. The GPS navigation was useless to me, because I couldn’t see the screen! So, Lesson #1, get prescription sunglasses with progressive lenses.

So, right off the bat, I had to abandon my planned route, and wing it. Luckily, I’d been on the trails before, and knew what to expect, sort of. It was just 4.25 miles of trails winding through a former golf course. Eventually, I’d find my way back to the parking lot, but if I’d been somewhere unfamiliar, I would have been riding blind.

Make Sure Your Bike Is Working Properly

The bike I chose to use on the trail was my 2020 Liv Amiti. It’s a mid-drive gravel bike that I thought would do well on the steep climbs, and it did do very well. It had plenty of torque to handle the toughest hills, though I had to contribute some oomph, too. That’s okay, because I wanted a workout.

However, I did discover that the low gears were not shifting smoothly, and I couldn’t use the two lowest gears, at all. So, Lesson #2 before heading out on a bike adventure, make sure your bike’s gears are shifting properly. I always check the brakes, but I didn’t check the derailleur. It’s also a good idea to check the chain and tires.

Take Only What You Need

Something else I discovered right away was that the bag I chose to attach to the rear rack was too bulky. I kept hitting my leg on it whenever I mounted the bike. It added unnecessary weight and just got in the way. That leads to Lesson #3, go as minimalistic as you can. With an ebike, weight really isn’t so much of a concern, but cumbersome bags and unnecessary accessories, can be left off the bike. It’s also less things to keep track of.

Water, Water, Water!

Another lesson I learned the hard way was choosing the right water bottle. I packed one in my trunk bag, but discovered later that the lid had somehow unscrewed itself and spilled all the water inside the bag. I’m not sure how that happened, though I was going over lots of hard bumps.

So, I found myself with no water. Luckily, it was at the end of the ride, but if I had been out in the middle of nowhere, I’d gone thirsty and risk dehydration or overheating. So, Lesson #4 is make sure water bottle lids are screwed on right, and bring an extra bottle, if you can.

It’s also a good idea to bring a cooler and extra water to leave in the car, so you’ll at least have that when you make it back. Even if you don’t spill your water, like I did, you may realize that you need more after your ride.

Know Your Electronics

I had recorded the ride with my Insta360 camera, or at least I thought I had recorded all of it. Turns out, only half of what I thought was recording, actually did. So, some of the best moments to share, were lost.

It was the first time I’d really used the camera for a longer ride. I’ve used GoPro’s in the past, so I may not have pressed the right buttons every time. I’m not sure, but that leads to Lesson #5. Get to know your electronics. Practice with them, before heading out on an epic bike adventure. You don’t want to get home and find out footage is no good or missing. This goes for bike computers and GPS apps, too. You need to know how to use them well, before you need to rely on them.

Bugs, Sunburns and Weather

The last time I had visited this trail was during the winter when vegetation wasn’t an issue. Bugs were also not an issue. So, I didn’t consider either before embarking on my route.

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Tall weeds lined the trail and were growing in the cracks. Luckily, they weren’t poison hemlock, though I bet there was some out there. Riding bare legged through poison hemlock would have resulted in a lot of misery! Long pants, or really just completely avoiding such plants, would be a good idea.

I also didn’t consider bugs, namely ticks. I should have sprayed myself with repellent before beginning the trail. Keeping a bottle in the car would be a good idea.

It was a sunshiny beautiful day, so I didn’t have to worry about rain, cold or excessive heat, but I should have worn sunscreen. So, overall Lesson #6 is to be prepared for conditions to protect yourself, even if close to home.

Bring at least a few band-aids and wet wipes. They don’t take up space, and you may need them, even on short rides.

After my first planned bike adventure, I really feel like I should have my mom card revoked. I was so woefully unprepared. It reminds me of when I forgot to pack underwear for my young son on a trip to Jamaica, years ago. He had to go a week in the same pair he wore on the plane, and I had to wash them every day in a sink.

Well, you live and learn. Probably the most important that I’ve learned is to take several shorter rides, close to home, using all the gear I plan to take and use, before heading out on longer planned routes. That way, I’ll have plenty of practice with apps, bike computers, camera gear, and other electronic devices before I am truly relying on them.

I hope these tips help you avoid some mistakes when planning your bike routes and bike adventures. I’m sure I’ll be learning more lessons, as I go, but practice makes perfect.

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How-to & Tips,

Last Update: July 6, 2024