When you first hear about cross-country biking, you might think, “Does anyone do this?” Well, interestingly this is the most popular discipline of mountain biking. It is not as easily televised as downhill mountain biking, which leads you to believe it is not as common, but it certainly is. It is the only mountain biking discipline practiced in the Olympics. You may not already know that cross-country biking became an official Olympic sport back in 1996, which boosted its popularity even more.
Me and Cross Country Biking
Cross-country biking was never something I thought about doing. Then, a couple of years ago, a few of my friends were planning a long ride that piqued my interest. Although challenging, I have to say the experience was more rewarding than I could have ever imagined it would be.
Preparation is really the key with long distance riding. Even though I was already an avid rider, I trained quite hard to be ready for the adventure. My bicycle touring preparation became a bit of an obsession for me. I am quite glad I did allow myself that prep time because I certainly was not expecting the trip to be so worn mentally and physically.
If you intend to use your road bike, then cross-country biking will surely put a lot of pressure on the bike since it is not made for long-distance trips. If you have a mountain bike then your cross-country trip may still be possible but the bike’s thin frame will give you little space to carry some of your things.
Though mountain bikes can be modified to suit your needs, it will also cost you to make the necessary modifications. Ultimately, the best solution is to have a touring bike when doing a cross-country mountain biking trip. It has the appropriate frame to carry a bunch of your stuff and it is suited for long-distance biking. If you have a year to prepare for this trip then you will be able to save for a touring bike with no problem. However, I have to warn you that it is not cheap and it will set you back around, for the cheapest, one grand. Here are the main features you need for your XC biking trip:
- Frame – Strong aluminum or steel frame
- Gearing – Low end starting gears
- Fork and Stay – The front fork and rear stay are deep and wide enough for touring tires
- Long Chainstay – Provides sufficient clearance for tire seat tube and heel pannier
- Brakes – V-brakes or cantilever brakes are powerful enough for the long haul
- Eyelets – Front and rear eyelets are essential for holding pannier racks
- Handlebars – Enjoy more hand position options and reduced wind resistance with drop handlebars
If you are interested in buying XC Mountain bikes you can always buy them at your local bicycle store, however, there is another alternative: you can buy them online. Take a look at these XC bikes on eBay
Cross-country bicycling is a very daunting task. Going on a cross-country trip requires adequate physical and mental preparation. The first step is to know the distance at which you are to accomplish the trip and to add a few extra miles to that. When you have the distance flat out, train to finish the maximum distance to build up your endurance. Since you will be stopping along the way to rest – you will have trained your body to not tire easily during the trip.
Bicycle training will not stop at the gym – you will have to orient yourself with the busy streets of the urban jungle and the bustling tracks of the forest. This will program your mind and body to be prepared for any type of terrain. You are invited to take a look at us, three friends during our bicycle trip in Japan:
Preparing for the Journey
You may think that taking long rides every day is all the bicycle training you need to do, but it’s not.
Once you decide you are going to embark on an adventure, developing a training plan is essential.
An effective training plan will be well-rounded. Recommended types of training include:
- Long Distance Rides – To get your body used to being in the saddle long distance you need to take lengthy rides. Start with 20 miles, working your way up to 70 miles, or more.
- Tempo Rides – Ride with higher resistance, but at a slower cadence for at least 20 minutes. Your legs will probably burn a little. You are essentially weight-training your legs and building power.
- Interval Rides – Intense intervals help improve endurance. Ride at a normal pace, working in sprints and high-resistance spurts.
- Hill Climbs – When you are cross-country biking there is a good chance you will encounter some hills. Include hills in your training plan, and get comfortable with your gear.
- City Rides – If you generally ride in the country, parks, or quiet towns, you should spend some time riding in a busy city. This way, the fast-paced environment will not come as such a shock.
As cross-country biking gains popularity, there are more and more trails for this kind of sport. You can take a look at the list of my bicycling tours. Here is one great example, our cross country biking trip in Japan, on May 2015
Essentials for Your Journey
If you are like me, you tend to forget something important while packing. Keep this list handy for when you pack for your cross-country biking trip.
- Bicycle repair kit – Be prepared for accidents and repairs with a kit and extra parts.
- Maps – There are mountain biking maps that show trails, bike-friendly motels, bike shops, etc.
- Cycling Backpack – Also called a “hydration pack,” this allows for easy access to your water without reaching for your bicycle water bottle.
- Bicycle Safety Equipment – Safety is a priority on a long distance trip. Even a few cuts from a small fall can slow you down, if not taken care of.
- Money – Have more than what you need. Carry some cash and pack your credit card and/or debit card.
- Cellphone – You will want to check in with folks, so you’ll need a phone. Plus, this will be needed if there is an emergency.
- Solar Power Pack – You will need something to charge your phone, camera, iPad, etc.
- Camera – A quality camera is essential to capture all the natural beauty and exciting things you see along the way. You may even want to buy a helmet video camera. Either pack extra batteries or rechargeable ones.
Books about Cross Country Bicycling
For more information, there are some informative books about cross-country bicycling. Take a look:
Last Word About Cross Country Biking
You may think this is a lot of money and time spent preparing for a cross-country endeavor. It is, but an experience like this comes with no regrets. You may think you will only do it once, but when you get out there and see how empowering the journey is, you will be planning your next ride before you are even done with the first one.