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BellaOnline's Cycling Editor

Bike Overnights

Nothing beats the joy of a bicycle tour. See the world at a manageable pace. Go fast enough to feel like youíre getting somewhere but slow enough to notice the details along the way. Not all of us can get away for even a week or two of pedaling, however, let alone an epic journey. Sometimes, too, we just want to get on our bikes at the spur of the moment and go somewhere, anywhere. Thatís when bike overnights come into play.

Also known as sub-24 hour overnights (S24Os), bike overnights are a growing rage in the bicycle touring community. The concept is simple: you ride somewhere one day, stay overnight and then ride back the next day. The possibilities, however, are endless.

You might choose to ride from your front door to a campground 20 or 30 (or however many) miles away. Alternatively, a trip from your door stoop to a favorite bed and breakfast or inn might be just the ticket. If riding from your home isnít an option, consider using a car, bus or train to get to a reasonable starting point and riding from there. You can follow a favorite route or explore new territory. The choice is all yours.

One nice thing about bike overnights is that theyíre low stress. If the weather turns bad or you have mechanical problems, youíre not far from home. They donít require a lot of planning. Provided you can get a reservation at that cute country inn, you donít have to do much more than get on your bike and go. They provide a great opportunity to learn about bike touring, try out new gear, or work the kinks out of your touring system. Be careful, though. You may find yourself getting hooked and starting to map out longer and longer trips.

The gear you need for a bike overnight, as with a longer tour, will vary depending on the style of touring youíre doing. No matter where youíre going, always carry a few basic tools and the means to repair or replace a flat tire. Unless youíre in the desert, rain gear is usually a good idea, too. If you are in the desert, donít forget your sunscreen. Youíll need a means to carry the gear youíre bringing Ė panniers, a rack bag or a back pack. If youíre planning to ride to a B&B or inn, you may not need anything additional other than a change of clothes, a toothbrush and a credit card. If youíre going camping, youíll need at least minimal camping gear such as a sleeping bag and pad, small tent or bivy sack, food or a source of food, and personal items. For either option, youíre welcome to carry as much as you think you need and want to haul around.

A great resource you should take advantage of is Adventure Cycling Associationís blog site devoted to bike overnights (www.bikeovernights.org). On it youíll find pages with basic information about what bike overnights are and why you should go on one, tips for your first overnight, gear lists and other resources. The best part, however, is the blog itself. The posts are by a variety of people (anyone who wants to submit one, really) who have been on a bike overnight. They tell their stories, share their routes and provide good tips and ideas. Some of these posts are crafted by truly amazing writers who excel at sharing their ride. Be sure to check it out for great inspiration.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get on your bike and head out overnight!

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