Setting off into the wilderness with everything you need strapped to your bike can be an exhilarating experience. But equally a daunting one, depending on the type of adventure you've got in mind.
The list of things to consider is extensive, and a failure to prepare can at best set you up for a miserable time and, at worst, place you in potentially unsafe situations.
How many layers of clothing do I need? What food and snacks should I take? How much water will I need and are there places to refill along the way?
On top of the basic packing issues, there are other questions to ponder and some that can only be properly answered once you're out on the road.
Will that niggle in my knee flare up after a half-day of pedalling with a fully loaded bike? Do I have the mechanical know-how to get out of a sticky situation? Will my bags and gear endure all that backcountry bumping and grinding?
At the end of the day, you can only prepare so much and at some point you need to take the leap. But before you do, have you considered a fully supported bike tour that allows you to go through many of the motions without as many of the headaches?
Bikepacking and touring is all about challenging yourself while enjoying nature on two wheels, and these are boxes the Great Vic Bike Ride can tick in a great big way.
This year, the full nine-day route takes riders from Orbost on the Snowy River, through majestic Gippsland to the finish line in Wonthaggi. Shorter three- and five-day options are also available.
Folks taking part in the rolling bike festival travel from one town to the next, while organisers transport all their luggage, keep them fed and hydrated at rest stops and are on hand to provide mechanical and medical support if needed.
Riders only need to pack their belongings into a truck each morning, then get on with the business of enjoying the ride.
A Great Vic experience offers answers to many of the questions raised above. You will learn how your body holds up after a day in the saddle, how to stay comfortable by losing (or adding) layers, and how much help you need if (or when!) the puncture fairies derail your journey.
Supported events like the Great Vic Bike Ride are an excellent way to build confidence on the bike and resilience off it. Completing three, five or nine days of the adventure won't necessarily set you on a path to becoming a hardcore bikepacker, but you will finish knowing whether that is the life for you. And chances are you will have a lot of fun along the way.
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.