A pack of cycling explorers has launched a brand-new service: guides for three-day bike adventures in the toughest, most uncompromising regions of the world. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration and practical information about off-the-beaten-track riding in say, Morocco, Oman, Norway or Namibia—to name just a few—read on.
Planning a ride through forbidding, roadless, countryside can be too much of a challenge for some of us. Photographer and writer Kati Czak, and her team of two-wheeled adventurers, take away a large amount of the uncertainty with their curated itineraries. If you imagine their information as a kind of Lonely Planet for serious cycling adventures, then you’ll get the idea.
Kati’s report on crossing the Namib Desert, for example, includes a full list of accommodation, a GPX navigation file for your bike computer, plus a host of useful travel and riding tips—such as “make sure you have a carrying capacity for 6-7 litres of water per day.” Also, if you are asking yourself whether gravel bikes are good for touring, we think these pictures speak for themselves!
Not for beginners
You do need to be a professional in order to follow a XPDTN3 itinerary. The Namibia trip, for example, is indeed three days long, but Kati managed to cover around 400 kilometres through the desert. The route she followed (a route, therefore, that you can follow) was primarily on A roads.
Kati: “Looking at the map you might wonder, why ride on a major road? The reality is that Namibia doesn’t even have any A roads… the two main arteries connecting the country are the B1 and B2. Once you leave town, on most C roads, you’ll encounter about a car every hour, which is good for comfort if you are two girls riding unsupported through this forsaken part of Africa. On D roads, you’d be lucky to encounter 1 car a day, and surface conditions can be rather unpredictable.”
A winter ride in Oman
The Al-Hajar mountains of Oman are another unlikely bike-touring destination, but you would do well to pay attention. The three-day XPDTN3 route travels through 285 kilometres of mountain range, with 7,170 metres of climbing(!). So, not for beginners. “Jebel Shams is Oman’s highest mountain, peaking at an imposing 3002m,” writes Kati. “The area is popular with Omanis in the summer months, looking to escape the brutal heat of the lowlands. Ideal conditions for cycling fall within the winter months though (Dec/Jan).”
The travel itineraries shared by the XPDTN3 team are mouth-watering. How about the Super Forest Road on Mount Tsurugi, Japan, on gravel bikes? Or perhaps three days on the roads around Lake Annecy in the Alps? Or is the Negev Desert, in southern Israel, more your thing? Whatever your road/gravel riding fantasy might be, there is chance these guys have an itinerary to suit you. If not, just looking at their photos and reading the inspirational stories is enough to prompt you to hit Google Earth and start fantasising.
As the XPTDN3 team explains: “We enjoy these trips so much that we would love for you to experience them too. So we will make info packages of each trip, offering you additional photo galleries, GPX files, information on how to get to the starting point and leave the finishing point, the best lodging along the way, etc. This makes it super simple for people with little time to go on their own adventures. When we say simple, we mean the organizing will be simple, not the riding!”
So, get training, and then get in touch with these guys next time you are looking for a three-day adventure.