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Bikepacking - 5 Expectations vs. Reality from my First Adventure

Charles Luiting

Mikah Meyer

Schwinn partner Mikah Meyer, along with his friend and bike guru Cole, recently went on a bike packing trip along the coast of Oregon.

They packed up their bikepacking gear and their Schwinn bikes and started their beautiful, 354-mile journey down the Oregon coast. What is bikepacking? To put it simply, bikepacking is an all-terrain cycling and self-supported backpacking. It’s all about venturing to further places via trails, dirt roads or a paved path on a bike while carrying the essential gear and not much more.

We caught up with Mikah to learn more about his expectations vs. reality from his recent bikepacking trip along the Oregon coast.

In the words of Mikah Meyer.

REI recently called me a “professional road tripper,” but this summer I tackled a new type of road trip for the first time: Bikepacking.

After watching my friend Cole’s bikepacking adventures on Instagram for a year, I asked him to join me on my first bike expedition. He suggested a route that many cyclists dream about: biking down the entire Oregon Coast.

While the scenery of our 500-mile journey was beautiful, the ride past jagged cliffs and dramatic vistas also taught me 5 Bikepacking Lessons I’m here to share with you now:

1. Bikepacking Is For All Ages

    At age 35, I’m already feeling my age compared to how I adventured in my 20s, so I expected to be one of the older riders along Highway 101. But I met everyone from college students to retirees in their 70s, all pedaling along the same hills and I wondered if I’d be able to handle at my age.

    So no matter your age, bikepacking is possible for you!

    Mikah Meyer

    At Oregon’s “Proposal Rock” asking my bike my carry me the rest of the way!

    2. You Really Don’t Need Many Clothes

      “Remove that, get rid of this, you don’t need two of these…” were all very common phrases my Bike Guru friend, Cole, told me as we packed the night before our journey. Because even after weeks of him telling me otherwise, I still brought extras of many items. With the exception of a dry outfit to wear at night, I really didn’t need anything beyond what I’d wear on my bike daily.

      If we needed to wash our bike clothes after a muddy day, I could wear my dry bed clothes at the laundromat.

      Mikah Meyer

      3. The Right Gear Helps…A Lot

        Fortunately, my Cole had tons of experience living on two wheels. This led us to use the most streamlined gear, perfected from his years of experience (see that whole list of items here in my First Time Bikepacker’s Gear Guide). But not everyone we met was doing the same. Some had giant panniers with gear hanging off every direction. One man said, “Wow, if my wife had that set up, she might be willing to go on more bikepacking trips with me!”

        4. I’m More Capable Than I Thought

        I live in Minnesota, which is very flat! I was worried that my experience biking in the prairie wouldn’t translate to the hills of Oregon. But the great thing about bikepacking is that you aren’t on an airline’s, car rental’s, or anyone else’s schedule, so you can take breaks up hills or more frequent stops as you please.

        Even with that attitude, I was very proud on my final day of the ride when I climbed the coast’s steepest hill without having to stop once! On our first day, I stopped 3 – 4 times up each hill for a break (which is totally OK!). I was so proud of myself by the end of our two-week journey, for learning how to better shift, balance myself, and prepare for hills that I didn’t have to stop at all.

        So much can be learned in a short amount of time!

        Mikah Meyers

        5. Having The Right Bikes Helps

        “Whoah, is that a Schwinn?” every bikepacker we met would ask with excitement. Whether it was their first bike, or their parent’s prized possession from decades past, everyone had a Schwinn story and was excited to see us riding down the coast in two, all-carbon Schwinn road bikes. (The result of Schwinn making bikes since 1895!)

        Having the correct bike designed for the paved roads of Highway 101 was super helpful in keeping our bikes light and perfect for the conditions. But there’s lots of different bikepacking trails, from paved routes to mountain bike journeys, so it’s important to have the correct bike for the terrain you’re traveling.

        Fortunately, Schwinn makes a diverse assortment of bikes. So whether you’re tackling a journey down a highway or a backcountry trail, you can ride with the perfect bike for a bikepacking adventure!

        Mikah Meyer

        Want to learn more? Visit the Bike Across Oregon homepage here.

        Follow @mikahmey on Instagram to follow along on all Mikah's adventures!

        Mikah is riding the Schwinn Fastback Carbon 105 and Cole is riding the 2020 Limited Edition Schwinn Paramount. Check out all of Schwinn’s road bikes to begin your next great adventure today!

        Schwinn Fastback Carbon 105Paramount Force

        Click to Shop Mikah's (Left) and Cole's (Right) Bikes!


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