Mountain Bike Overnight in the Backcountry
Get on your bike, ride far away, sleep in a yurt and party with your posse
Ever dreamed of riding all day long and sleeping under the stars? Make it a reality this summer by planning your first singletrack overnight adventure. There are several ways to bike pack and overnight via mountain bike, you can opt for carrying all of your gear or relying on guides to help get you there. Accommodations range from sleeping in a bivy sack, to resting in a cozy yurt with all the amenities of home.
Given the proximity and travel distance to backcountry campsites and yurts it's recommended to consider a shuttle to cut out the mundane road transfers and get straight to the action. Many cycling destinations offer shuttle services to common trails that can help you get further faster. The van is a great place to make new friends and engage in technical conversation about whether a single ring is better or whether 27" wheels are worth the investment.
If you want to rip trail and ride light, you may want to consider a guided trip from the likes of Sun Valley Trekking or Western Spirit. When you choose this option, your have someone running logistics for you so you have someone to help pack in your stuff. After all, a half rack of beer weighs a lot and tastes delicious when shared with friends at the end of a ride. Overnights are still attainable without a guide, it's just that your pack may be heavy if you want to eat or drink well in the backcountry. There are few places to stow gear on your average trail bike so you end up carrying it on your backs or on the bike. This radically changes the attitude of your bike and your suspension sag usually needs tuning to accommodate your increased rider weight and weight distribution.
If bringing it all with you is more up your alley, consider a Bike Packing singletrack masterpiece like the Moots Mountaineer YBB. A bike that is purpose driven for this kind of use doesn't usually have much suspension. It's sort of owns up to the fact you're not going to be "getting rad" with 25lbs of stuff and focuses on the loaded ride quality. You can get rad still when you shed the gear, these bikes are extremely fun it's just a different experience. If you pack like a back packer, using minimalist gear, you really can be self sufficient. Lite camp stove, military rations, filtering creek water, it's a real life Survivor episode, complete with wild animals and nasty insects. I highly recommend it.
As the day draws to a close you may find yourself nipping whiskey around the campfire, telling stories and concentrating on fueling up with some quality calories. Yurts have wood stoves, kitchen supplies, outhouses and even saunas. I've stayed in some that are arguably more well equipped than my house and certainly better than your college dorm room. Thick mattress pads, bunk beds that remind you of childhood sleepovers, the ability to prepare an insane meal. Relying on the guides to pack in the meal means you're not chewing on energy bars and gels when the the sun goes down. Nothing reinvigorates the climbing legs like a hot meal and sport beer.
What is it about eating in the backcountry that makes everything taste so good? It's the effort of getting there coupled with the fact you really have nothing else to eat initiating some primal olfactory experience that cannot be put into words. Meals can be super simple and easy to pack, yet yield delicious results if preperations are made ahead of time.
If you're looking for a new adventure, or a way to add dimension to your cycling experience, consider planning an overnight in the backcountry. There's nothing but good that will come of it and every day you wait is just another day you didn't make a dream come true.