Every year the Bikearea Association organises a series of bike tours in the Bulgarian mountains. The highlight of these events is the 10 days and 440 km long trip in the Rhodopi mountains known as Rudopia (Рудопия). Last year I, my brother Dave and my friend Niki participated for the first time in this tour and enjoyed it very much.
The special thing about 2007 trip, at least for me and Niki, was that we decided to carry all of our hiking gear with us. Bikearea provides accompanying transport for these tours and you only need to take your daily luggage with you – a bottle of water, some food for the day and basic bike repair parts and tools. In case of more severe bike break down you just have to get your bike to the nearest road that is accessible by the accompanying bus and that’s usually less than 10 kilometers.
However we thought that this is the perfect way to test whether it is feasible to go on a week long, self-sustained mountain bike tour carrying all of our equipment including:
- Bike parts, tools and accessories;
- Hiking gear like tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag;
- Clothes, personal hygiene items and med pack;
- Two days worth of food and 2 liters of water.
Overall my luggage weighted 14 kg just as much as my bike weights. 9 kg in a backpack and 5 kg on a rack mounted on my bike’s the saddle stem. If anything went wrong we would have simply fallen back to the Bikearea’s bus services.
You’d be amazed how much do these 14 kg weight when you are on a 440 km trans mountain journey. Especially as we’ve participated in the 100 km around Vitosha MTB marathon just the previous week. We were consistently riding behind the main group and that’s how we become close friends with George. He had recently returned from the US, where he was studying in MIT, and bought a bike just one month before Rudopia. He was kinda newbie and was riding slower so our speed matched well 🙂
The Rudopia route is selected for light bikers and it was quite a struggle for us to keep up with the speed of the rest of the group. Nevertheless I succeeded to ride in full gear for five days before giving up. I decided I will go light for the day we were crossing from western into the eastern Rhodopi mountain.
Overall this was very useful experience. Now I know much better what my capabilities are. I know what constitutes good bike hiking pack list as well.