As we head into fall, the leaves begin to change and the air starts to acquire a coolness to it, and there seems to me no better way to spend the day than in the saddle. But why not take that up a notch and spend a whole weekend on the bike relaxing with friends, family, or a loved one in a mini-vacation before school starts, the work days get long, and the weather turns south?
That is exactly what I thought when I started planning my own petite bicycle retreat with my mom this past month.
Now you may be thinking that a mini vacation would be more of a hassle than it is worth, but a petite retreat doesn’t have to be too expensive or too time consuming to plan. In fact, it can be rather simple, easy, and fun!
Here are a few tips that I learned from planning my own petite retreat:
1. You don’t have to travel too far.
With many cities beginning to adapt their town to include more bike paths and bike friendly layouts a weekend bike getaway can be a fun way to explore nearby areas, a change of scenery, new food, and local shops, without spending too much money on traveling expenses.
The city I planned on going to, Dubuque, Iowa, intrigued me because of its historical background, closeness to the Mississippi River, and its interesting bike paths of course!
A simple Google search of either the best cities for a vacation or bike routes in your state or surrounding region can help you narrow down your options too.
2. Stay the night or plan for a day.
Staying a night or two and making it a whole weekend trip would make your mini-vacation actually feel like a true getaway, and with new online apps for cheaper hotel pricing you can keep it rather affordable (after all you just need a place to clean up and lay your head at night since there is so much to do!).
If you can’t stay the night you can still make it a full day by simply packing a change of clothes and something to freshen up with, so that after your ride you can explore the town.
3. Do a bit of research.
Since you only have the weekend, make sure to check out the town you are going to before you go. This way you will already know what trails are offered, the distance of each of them, and you can plan which you want to ride.
You can also check out what else the town has to offer before you go; you can then make sure to see and do the highlights off your list. (Especially research the food, you can never go wrong with a highly-rated, local restaurant and after your bike ride you are going to be hungry!)
4. Pack what you already have.
Now in my case I felt it was necessary to get my mom some bike shorts, anyone who has experienced long distance biking with and without these wonderful padded shorts would know why, but really you don’t need to buy too much when heading out on your petite retreat (unless of course you don’t already have a bike… that could be an issue).
The trick is to use what you have and make it work.
If like us your bike rack isn’t on the vehicle you are taking or you don’t have one, you can simply remove the front tire and lay blankets between the bikes to prevent scratching. (This may require more maneuvering, but where there is a will…)
As far as clothing goes, wear what you normally wear when you bike, unless of course you see this as a good excuse to get that new kit you have been looking at all Summer (Not that I did that or anything… but there were owls on it and it supported breast cancer. How could I say no?).
5. Buy what you will need.
I suggest first and foremost having some form of a water bottle to rehydrate you. If you haven’t experienced it, I cannot even begin to explain how awful dehydration can be and how quickly that can set in without you realizing it when you are biking.
I also would highly suggest bringing tools for your tires in case you should need to fix a flat. We are bringing a patch kit, a spare tire, and a frame pump, because I am not taking any chances!
You may also need snacks, sunscreen, or other items depending on where you are riding, how far you are going, and what your individual needs are. Check out our article Top Ten: Energizing Snacks for Those “Longer” Rides for a few snack tips.
So like a Boy Scout; be prepared!
6. Ready the bike!
Finally, make sure that your bike is in good condition before you take it out on any ride. The tires should be inflated at the appropriate psi for the type of bike it is and be sure your brakes are in good working order. Having a bike that is tuned up for your ride makes all the difference between a nice relaxing and enjoyable experience and one that is not so great, so don’t neglect to check!
With that, get out, explore your surrounding areas, relax a little, enjoy the September weather, HAVE FUN, and ride!