The New Belgium Ramble Rides are semi-supported bike packing trips in amazing locations with meticulous organization. Being new to bike packing, I thought what better way to experience this adventurous way of travel with a group and some help.
Not knowing what to expect, carrying items on my bike was a bit scary. The Ramble Rides crew allows you one small duffel bag that gets schlepped from camp to camp each night, offering the creature comforts without having to carry it all.
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Ramble Ride Locations:
Asheville hosted the last of 3 Ramble Rides this year with the other locations being Steamboat Springs and Fort Collins, CO.
Asheville was touted to be “possibly the hardest route.” Great! But, Pisgah is my backyard and I’ve been training on this gravel for months, so how hard can it be – right? For a ride going from Asheville to Asheville, it was tough. Clocking in at just over 170 miles and 16, 200 ft of climbing in 3 days, this would be the most time I had spent on the bike all year. Starting and ending at New Belgium Brewery took a bit of the sting out of it.
The good news is we had great weather. Being the middle of October in the mountains of Western North Carolina and just having narrowly missed two Hurricanes, it could have been pretty miserable (translation “epic”.) The fall colors had not yet popped out, even up high; but there was still some amazing scenery.Great Crew:
The people were awesome. Not just Peter, who organizes the whole thing, but the entire support crew, folks from New Belgium Brewery and the participants too. Let’s just say, no one was ever thirsty!
There was a crew from Buffalo, NY that was a massive 38 strong! They had all gotten together for one of their friends 50th birthday. What a great way to celebrate. Being mostly mountain bikers, they all came ready to suffer.
The Appalachian tropical rainforest that surrounds Asheville and Brevard is not at all hard to look at. The lush green moss, Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurels beauty is only surpassed by all of the flowing streams and waterfalls. And we got to ride past all of it. We even had a little time on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Asheville New Belgium Ramble Ride was a great first look into bike packing. Being semi-supported, it really gave me a look into how hard packing all of the gear you might need and carrying it on your bike. Waterproof packs strategically placed, carrying weight as low as possible to improve bike handling and packing light is key.
Riding steep windy gravel on a fully loaded bike is probably better with wider tires, flat bars and a dropper. I was lucky enough to have the 9point8 FallLine 75 mm dropper on my Ibis Hakka MX- I know, spoiled right! This prevented me from running my seat bag as it would get in the way of dropping my saddle all the way down. Lucky for me I was able to put extra items in my duffle, being a supported ride.
By day 3, everyone pretty much took all the extra gear off their bike. With tired legs and rest-stops with fluids, lunch and more the extra weight was just not necessary. A lightweight wind-protecting jacket and some lip balm were pretty much all I needed on the final day, and some Chamois Butt’r.
Check out the whole ride in 2 minutes here:
Newbie testing out bike packing gear:
Ortlieb Waterproof Bike Packing Bags- coming soon :}