What is gravel?
To ride gravel is to ride mostly unpaved, all-terrain roads. It’s about mixing your passion of cycling, nature and adventure. Sometimes it is also combined with some racing, but in general it is not about „winning“. Gravel bikes are robust, versatile and fast. They usually have bigger tires (38mm or more), I’ve seen mostly disc-brakes and tubeless, they do not have suspensions like MTBs do, they come with a dropbar, they often have mounts for all kinds of equipment like racks or bottle holders etc., so you’re always ready for some bikepacking. Compared to cyclocross bikes they have a more comfortable geometry since they are build for endurance and long days in the saddle. Overall, it is more about exploring the wild nature on a reliable bike and less about performance & speed. It’s a really fun and new kind of cycling to me, totally different to what I have done before.
What else interests you? Just let me know 🤩
„What the heck? Why am I doing this?“
One of the most important questions (or maybe the most important one?) to anything is – “why?” What’s the reason why we put effort, time and energy into something? What’s our true motivation? What is our desire or wish or dream behind our actions?
We tend to find a simple answer like “because it is fun.” Or “because I am good at it.” But what if traveling by bike is not so fun sometimes, it is exhausting and maybe painful. And what if I really don’t know if I am good at it? I mean there are a lot of people that are way better*. (*add anything here like: better bikepackers, better photographers, better adventurers than me). I want to look at these two answer more closely.
“Because it is fun!”
Fun can be anything. Going to an amusement parc is fun or eating lots of chocolate and watching movies is fun. So, is traveling by bike really fun?
Jenny Tough says there are two types of fun. “Type one fun is the kind of activity that’s fun all the time, like maybe skiing or something when you’ve got a grin permanently on your face.” Okay. So for me, it is clear that I am not going to travel by bike for type one fun. Biketouring can make you cry and scream. It can be hard. It is definitely challenging.
But Jenny says “Type two fun is different – it’s the kind of fun which can be very miserable at the time but literally the moment you stop it, you love it and you want to do it again.”
I feel this. Type two fun describes exactly the kind of fun I found on my bike. And then there are the rough days, without sun, with rain and wind, without lots of smiling. But during these days (especially looking back afterwards) I felt like I became stronger. And more independent. I learned to be in charge of myself. And I learned that it will pass. Clouds come and go – and so do hard days. When you realize this, you realize you can do it. You don’t let that control you. And of course, there are fun days in the sun where everything is amazing. These days are part of it, too 😊
“Because I am good at it!”
We are not born as professionals. I had to learn to ride a bike when I was young. And it’s the same for bikepacking. I had to learn to travel by bike, too. Just because you are not good at something now, does not mean you become good in it. And comparison does not help anyone here. Who defines what’s good and what’s not good?
Why the heck am I doing this?
I travel by bike to feel free. That is my reason. And to feel free is not always to feel happy. But to feel alive and to learn. I can learn to be independent, strong but also vulnerable. I learn to be responsible for my actions and in the moment. Traveling by bike is pure, unique and for me, the best way to move freely. Without having to be the best at it.
Buuuuut there are a billion reasons to travel by bike. After going into some detail, here is a list of more reasons why to travel by bike that is relevant to me:
- you can expand your social cirle and meet amazing people
- you are flexible
- you get fitter and exercise all day
- you are outdoors the whole time
- you don’t have to rely on public transport
- you don’t have to rely on gas stations
- you can go solo or you can pair up with somebody
- you safe money
- you get to enjoy the most wonderful scenery
- you can eat more
- you appreciate small things a lot more
- you discover something new everyday
To be continued.
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First things first: How do you even start planning a bikepacking tour?
Here are a few „to do“ lists to get started. Planning is just as individual as traveling. I want to give you some ideas and inspiration. One thing I know for sure: if I can do this, you can do this, too!
In the beginning I only wrote for friends and family. I documented my trip on Instagram, loved to take photos and let my peeps at home take part in my travel through my stories. More and more people started engaging and following me. I realized what I was doing was something inspirational for others. I began to write more regularly, answer questions and give more details about my life on the bike. Some followers started to plan similar trips and asking me for advice. With this blog I hope to give more ideas, insights and advice for anyone interested. My goal is to spread the word about bikepacking. It’s a wonderful way of traveling, because it combines keeping fit and getting to know other countries and people. Also, it is a sustainable and healthy way of traveling – for you and mother nature.