Bike Camping 101

You love camping. You love riding your bike. You're dying to go on a little adventure. You're jealous of your friend whose recent vacation consisted of biking from Boston to San Diego.

More: 10 Reasons to Take an Overnight Bike Trip

Whether you've never been on an overnight bicycle trip and you have no idea where to begin or you just can't imagine having the time or expertise to cross the entire continent on two wheels right now, you can still jump into your first one- or two-day bike trip without any worries at all - and the experience will prepare you for a longer trip in the future until you build up to the big one. "It's amazing how a one- or two-night bike trip can feel like a bigger adventure," says Mac McCoy, who's served as tour director, routes and mapping director and general expert in adventure cycling since the '70s and was the national coordinator of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

He reminds us that as far as accommodations go, your options are limitless.

More: Bike Friendly Campgrounds on the Coast

"Credit card" touring, as McCoy calls it can be more relaxing and much easier on your load, since you're not worrying about camping. How fun does biking through the country with your significant other or group of friends sound, treating yourselves to a night an inn or bed and breakfast?

More: Mountain Bike Camping

But if you're the looking for a wilderness adventure, a bike camping overnight is the perfect quick fix for that longing. Besides, as McCoy points out, "for those of us who love to bike tour, but don't always have the time or money, camping on your bike overnight is a great option." He stresses the sense of accomplishment you'll feel when you come home, even after just one or two nights.?

And if you aren't sold already, here are some more of McCoy's reasons to take the plunge and bike overnight:

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You Can Pedal From Home

Whether your destination is to a campground or to some more cushy accommodations, you can either make sure your route is a reasonable distance away but still challenging enough for you, if you're looking for a challenge.

If you're planning on bringing your family or if your neighborhood is a bit too urban or busy to hop on your bike from your front door, remember that taking transit or driving to a more rural location isn't cheating.

Any Bike Will Do

That's the beauty of bike touring - you don't need an ultra-expensive, hi-tech bike, as you would if, say, you were to start road racing. As long as you're comfortable (and don't underestimate the importance of comfort) and you have some low gears to get uphill, you're golden.??

It's Easy to Learn to Pack Your Bike

There are several ways to pack your bike, according to your needs. You can trail your load with a wheelie from the back of your bike, or you can attach and pack panniers or rack trunks to the sides of your bike. If you're not camping, your luggage will be considerably lighter. But there are many ways to pack efficiently for any situation - and if you're traveling with friends, you can share the camping load to make it easier.

Planning and Safety Precautions Are Easy

A route map, basic bike repair tools, some cash and your cell phone are really all you need to make sure that you're en route to the correct path and safe.

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