Why many trips are better than one

Bikepacking in the Himalayas

I have the urge like many of you - the wanderlust. That special place in my heart where I want to cycle to. Yet this place doesn't come cheap - in terms of time and resources. I know I will spend months planning this multi-month adventure that takes me to this special place thousands of kilometres away. Yet, I'm sure that - you, my fellow cyclist also have such a special place in your heart.

But I also live a real life. My life is not 24x7 about cycling. A life less constrained than most of you, yet with enough real-world compromises. I am sure it is the same with you. We all have to deal with work, hobbies, friends, family, pets, finances or rather lack thereof. Yes, if we did not have all these constraints - life would be so different but then it's not. And I'm also sure this holds for most of you.

Perfect is the enemy of the good.

So in the past year or so, I've been actively seeking out smaller bikepacking tours closer to where I live. As opposed to that one magnum opus tour. It all started when I was scrolling through google earth one night. Looking at my neighbourhood and realising how little I knew of it. If we look, and I mean look hard at as opposed to a cursory look at the places in our neighbourhood. We would be amazed at how many small nooks and crannies in our neighbourhoods we overlook while obsessing over that perfect place a few thousand kilometres away.

In the past year or so, I've done 10s of these 3-5 days' bikepacking tours around my neighbourhood and I want to convince you that short bikepacking tours are not necessarily a bad thing. Now I believe that by freeing me from the constraints of a longer tour, shorter bikepacking trips come with a lot of advantages.

First and foremost, I do not need a tour-ready bike - something that needs to go over 1000s of kilometres over uncharted terrain. This means that any bike I own is a touring bike. A smaller tour does away with the necessity of a specialised bike. A hardtail - no problem, I can ride it for 5 days. A gravel bike - even better. A road bike? Fine, I will look for a tour with more tarmac roads. This is a revelation because I can pick up where I left off without obsessing over the latest and greatest that the cycling world needs to provide.

Second, I do not need to invest in expedition-ready gear. Since most of my tours are smaller in distance I can get away with less than perfect, usually found in the decathlon - gear. No Ortlieb panniers? No problem a budget trek-n-ride bag will do. Smaller duration tours also mean more accurate weather forecasts. This means even less gear to carry. A less than perfect gear setup will hold for a week as opposed to a year. This also means I can beg, borrow and scrounge for gear. Because my friends are happy to lend me their gear for a week but would have a fit if I was to ask for it for a year-long trip.

Third, my life doesn't come to a stop. A week's trip means I have less to explain to my girlfriend, my parents and my friends. They are not obsessed over me getting lost, maimed or killed in some distant part of the world. This means less stress for them and fewer calls for me. Even though I work remotely, most of my work can suffer an internet outage for a couple of days. This again means a shorter hiatus from day-to-day life. Getting back to where I left off and finding my feet is instantaneous. I've been on year-long trips and finding your bearings after such a long trip is not easy. Sometimes it can take months to get back in the zone.

Finally, planning takes a shorter time. A shorter trip closer to home, means I don't have to obsess over breakdowns. I know in the worst-case scenario I can ask a close friend to pick me up or find a taxi back home with a busted me and/or bike in the back. That is a lot of weight off my mind. It also has the effect of pushing me and my bicycle because I am not constantly babying my bike, gear and body because I have to conserve it for the next few months. On shorter trips, I can push myself and my bicycle to the limit much more often.

Now you might be wondering do more of these small trips mean that I've forgotten about my next multi-moth jaunt. No, far from it, Nepal still calls to my soul. Yet, I also know that with more of such short trips under my belt I am better prepared - mentally and physically for my magnum opus, once it beckons.
Yes, the siren's song of faraway places is still strong with me. Yet, short bikepacking trips keep me happy and sane and a sane lama is a happy lama.