The guided bikepacking experience
We want you to have the best possible experience, and come away from it with new bikepacking skills and the confidence to take on new bikepacking routes, whether with TDA or on your own. For this reason, it’s important that you know what to expect on the tour, and that you’re properly prepared.
Whether you are brand new to bikepacking, or are more experienced, our Toronto office team as well as the lead guide will provide everything you need to know to prepare for this adventure. In the months leading up to the tour you’ll be provided with expert guidance on bike handling skills, bike selection, what gear to bring, and more. We will check out your setup before the tour and give you tips and feedback, and you will have the opportunity to ask us any other questions. We’ll also be sending a series of pre-tour information bulletins to help you get ready.
Though there is no firm fitness level requirement, it is very important to keep in mind that this tour requires you to complete each cycling day from start to finish. We believe that with the proper amount of pre-tour cycling training, and general fitness work, almost everyone is capable of completing each cycling day and enjoying themselves along the way.
A knowledgeable and instructive guide is the key support of the tour. Our guides have experience on bikepacking trips as well as other bicycle expeditions. The lead guide will be instructing during the tour on bike set-up, packing, food preparation, tent set-up, dealing with mechanical issues and other areas. The lead guide will cycle along the route each day with the cyclists, supporting them along the way. The assistant guide will also cycle with the group, and an emergency support vehicle will be on standby.
Our TDA guides are also trained in wilderness first aid, and have bicycle mechanic skills to help you set up your bike on arrival, and pack it for your trip home at the end of the tour, as well as to deal with issues on route.
Emergency Support Vehicle
TDA’s bikepacking tours have an emergency support vehicle, which is in the vicinity of the tour each day (not all portions of route are accessible by vehicle). This vehicle does some food drops along the route, gets ahead of the cyclists to prepare accommodation logistics, and can respond in the case of any health or safety issues. Unlike TDA’s classic bicycle tours, the support vehicle does not carry luggage or cyclists from point to point. This is because the aim of the tour is to learn about, and enjoy, bikepacking.
GPS Tracks and Navigation Info
In advance of the tour, you will receive the GPS tracks, turn by turn navigation notes, and the elevation profile for each stage of the tour. We’ll be using the application Ride With GPS. These navigation tools, as well as daily expert advice from our guides, will give you the ability to cycle at your own pace throughout the day, and feel confident you are on the right track.
In the start and finish locales of the tour, as well as in Mont-Tremblant, the group will stay in clean, comfortable, budget-oriented hotels. Before the tour, this will be your chance to get organized. And during the tour this will be a time to relax, as well as to prepare for the next stretch of cycling days.
For the rest of the tour we’ll be camping along the route. This can be in forestry service camping sites, provincial parks or a “wild camp”. As routes are far off the beaten track, some of the campsites are rustic, with limited infrastructure.
Being able to communicate with the rest of the group and guide while bikepacking on remote roads, paths and trails is a key part of keeping everyone safe and on track. As the group can be spread out along the route each day, and cellular signal is most often not available, it is highly recommended for each rider to carry a SPOT or inReach device. The guides will also be equipped with these devices. This will allow the guides and the group to share their location during the ride and communicate if assistance is required.
TDA provides the food for cycling days. This will consist of breakfast, calorie rich foods to eat during the cycling day, and dinner. Food on rest days and on the night before rest days is not included, giving you the opportunity to eat at local restaurants.
As this is a backcountry experience, the focus is on lightweight, easy to transport foods, that will be carried by the cyclists each day. Typically, the cyclists will be carrying about two days’ worth of food on their bicycles.
Nutritious and tasty dehydrated meals will be used for breakfasts and dinners. Each cyclist will be using their own small cooking stove to prepare these. We will also provide fresh fruits, veggies and other treats at camps where we are able to arrange food drops with our emergency support vehicle to add a layer of luxury to the backcountry experience.
The lead guide on tour will give all participants an outline of the meal plan in the pre-tour briefing, and demonstrate how to use their stoves as effectively as possible.
For bikepacking tours on dirt roads of varying surface quality, we suggest a hardtail mountain bike. This can be with either a rigid or suspension fork, and tires at least 2.2 inches (55mm) wide. For example, our Bikepacking Quebec route was scouted on a Kona Unit with 29×2.6 tires, and this made the hardest sections much easier and more enjoyable than they would be on a less capable bike. Only the toughest and most experienced riders should use a bike with narrower tires. Note that the tire width is more important than the specific type of bike – a drop bar ‘gravel’ or ‘adventure’ bike could also be suitable, as long as it can fit these wider tires. And of course, you want to consider what bags you will be using to make sure your bike has the right attachments for them.
During the pre-tour preparation, you will learn about the correct bikepacking gear to bring with you on the tour. The TDA team will be available to answer questions regarding your gear choices. In general, this will include bags, sleeping gear, cooking gear, food and water, repair equipment, navigation and communication devices, and clothes.
Click here for an example gear list. A pre-tour information bulletin will be sent to registered riders with the exact gear list.
Cyclists will wake at a time set by the guide. They’ll set up their individual cook stove and begin warming up their coffee, tea, and breakfast meal. After eating, cyclists will clean their own cooking and eating gear.
After everyone has eaten and cleaned up, the cyclists will pack up their gear and stock up their water. When the bikes are all loaded up, the group will depart camp together. At that point, each cyclist is welcome to cycle at their own pace. On some days most people may wish to cycle together, on other days, perhaps with a rougher road surface, or more climbing, the group may spread out with most people on their own.
The lead guide will be riding with the first cyclists, but may drop back at times to check in with cyclists behind. A second guide will be riding at the back of the group with the last few cyclists.
As there is no set lunch point on the route, everyone will be stopping to eat and drink wherever they choose, with the food supplies that they are carrying. The guide will also alert the cyclists to some of the best areas for shade and rest, or to refill water using a filter when necessary.
The day’s experience will vary depending on the surface of the road, path or trail, as well as the elevation to be gained. How technical the day’s riding is will also vary, as will the weather. All these factors will impact the time it takes each cyclist to reach the next campsite.
Once the cyclists arrive to the next camp, they will first be focused on setting up their sleeping gear. Then it will be time to relax, enjoy some of the snacks they’ve been carrying, rehydrate, and talk about the day with fellow riders. If you had any mechanical issues, or packing & organization challenges, this would also be the time to work on those, with the assistance of the guide if required.
Then the lead guide will gather everyone for a rider briefing. This is the time when the guide will review the day that has been ridden, and discuss the key details for the next day. This includes navigation & terrain info, highlights or hazards on route, food planning, accommodation info, and any other topics that may arise.
After the briefing, the cyclists will set up their cooking gear and prepare their meal. All the cyclists can eat together and clean up afterwards, then get their gear organized for the morning.
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