Tyax Lodge and the South Chilcotins has been attracting mountain bikers for as long as we can remember. The sheer vastness of the area and epic trail network means this place is on the bucket list of riders all over the world. For a lot of riders, the trails here are all about speed and fast, flowing trails. However, year on year, we find more riders coming here to go bikepacking.
What is bikepacking?
Bikepacking, in it’s simplest form, is combining cycling and camping in one. Everything that you need to go camping is loaded on you and your bike and you set out into the wilderness for an overnighter.
Bikepacking differs from regular mountain biking and hiking as it allows you to go on long bike adventures out into the backcountry for days on end. You’ll experience a connection with nature and a much more substantial journey than a regular day of riding. Not many bike rides end with sleeping under the stars and waking up to the sunrise over epic mountain ranges. And most camping trips don’t venture so far into the wilderness so quickly. Bikepacking lets you access remote places to camp that would take much longer to reach otherwise.
Where can I go bikepacking at Tyax Lodge
The bikepacking route around Tyax Lodge is a 130km long loop that crosses Tyaughton Creek and loops around Eldorado Mountain and Cardtable Mountain. The singletrack trails in the South Chilcotins are generally quite flowy, open and fast. The loop can be ridden in either direction – clockwise for those who want the long and tricky climbs and anti-clockwise for those wanting a more balanced ride. The trail is unpaved in all parts and over half of it is singletrack. There’s a good amount of climbing on this route. The ride will have an elevation gain of almost 2,900m with the highest point being 2,225m. The trail usually takes about 3 days to complete.
What do I need to go bikepacking?
In truth, the best bike for bikepacking is the bike that you already have. In saying that, there are some bikes that are better suited to bikepacking than others. There are dedicated bikepacking bikes, but most mountain bikes, and even some gravel and cyclocross bikes, are perfect for a bikepacking trip around Tyax Lodge.
This Whistler made bike is ideal for bike packing at Tyax Lodge. This hardtail frame is made from steel, which soaks up trail vibrations much better than aluminium, it’s also incredibly durable. The Surface has front suspension so when the trail points downhill, you’re able to ride any line you want. The trails around us at Tyax Lodge are fast and flowy, perfect for the Chromag Surface.
Surly makes a wide range of bikes. They have city commuters, cargo bikes and rigid bikes. Their fully rigid Surly Ogre is a great choice for bikepacking. Because it has no suspension at all, the frame is very efficient, which is great for long days pedalling out in the backcountry. Surly also design their bikes with lots of handy mounts for racks, bottle mounts and frame bags.
Marin Four Corners
You don’t need a mountain bike or something that looks like one, to go bike packing. Marin has been making off-road bikes for a while now and their Four Corners is their most adventurous off-road bike. Again, it’s made from steel and is designed with a much more relaxed geometry than most road and cyclocross bikes. It is much more efficient and quicker on the climbs than other bikes mentioned here, but will need more care and guidance on the descents.
Racks & Bags
Bikepacking rigs are usually outfitted with racks and bags to help carry all the equipment. Frame bags fit inside the frame of the bike and are attached with straps. These bags are great for storing clothes and camping equipment. Saddlebags attach to the rear of the saddle and extend backwards. Saddlebags come in a range of sizes and are great for carrying a tent, extra clothing, or any other larger structures. Handlebar bags attach to the handlebars in front of the bike. Most riders use these bags for carrying sleeping mats or sleeping bags. Finally, you might want a top tube bag. This bag sits just behind the handlebars and is easily accessible at all times. This is the ideal place to keep some snacks, maps and other things that you will be using often.
Bikepackers tend to run a light or ultra-light camping setup. Instead of large, spacious tents, most riders opt for a lightweight one-person tent or even a bivvy bag. A bivvy bag is basically a more robust sleeping bag that is suitable for outdoor use without a tent. On a multi-day trip into the backcountry, you’ll need to pack your own food. Freeze dried food has come a long way in the past number of years, these will tide you over until you get back to Tyax Lodge and treat yourself to a fantastic, well-earned, meal. Don’t forget to pack your coffee though, there’s no Starbucks out here!