Because the freedom of the open road is a little more complicated when bikes are involved

A road trip with your mountain bike can easily be the highlight of your year—exploring new trails, experiencing a new place and doing it all with your best riding buddies. What could go wrong? Well, based on my experience, quite a few things. Luckily (for you), after spending the last three years living in a van and traveling with my bike full-time, I’ve made the full gamut of possible mistakes (plus a couple seemingly impossible ones) and learned some valuable lessons.

Here are nine classic mistakes, and tips on how to avoid them to ensure your next bike trip is full of singletrack, smiles and high-fives.

1. Planning an Overly Ambitious Schedule and then Sticking to it Relentlessly

You want to cover as much distance as possible so you can ride ALL the trails. Ambition is great and all, but if you build too much driving and too many logistics into your itinerary, you might miss out on the best parts of road tripping with your buddies: enjoying a cold one at the trailhead post-ride or staying up as late swapping stories around the campfire. Okay, maybe the riding is actually the best part, but after a big day on the bike, a 6 a.m. wake-up call to drive to the next destination might be asking a bit much of the crew.

How to Avoid: Build in some leisure time. A ride-free afternoon to hit up the local swimming hole or stroll through a nearby town can go a long way toward keeping morale high. And even with a lighter schedule, make sure you’re staying flexible and open to some spontaneity. Don’t be the person dragging everyone off to the next spot when there’s an unexpected trail to explore or a surreal sunset to pause and enjoy.

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