By ambassador Trevor Browne

This is the first in our series called #KonaUnpack, which will show what riders carry on their rigs.

It wasn’t epic. It was never supposed to be epic. It was a break. Some silence to temporarily forget all the troubles and stresses in the world for just a few days. I didn’t go far or do anything super impressive or crazy. I just felt the wind in my hair and dirt under my nails for a brief escape. Hitting the refresh button on my bike for a few days to recharge my soul’s batteries.
I had been landlocked (along with everyone else, on the island of Montreal. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were asked not to leave the island to respect the health and safety of ourselves and others. Solo cyclists began to explore Montreal’s local urban trails that we had forgotten or maybe rediscovered and tried to get creative with what we had. After a while, I was beginning to feel like Robinson Crusoe. I felt alone on a deserted island with no real sense of what the future would hold. So, with my time I was pouring over maps, planning new and more efficient ways to pack my bike bags, and dream up some new trail recipes and waiting for that day to come when I was safely allowed to disembark away from my area code.
The day came and we were allowed to leave our city and travel (not too far) around Quebec. But it was still awkward, and I was feeling apprehensive to venture out. I was second-guessing this new freedom. So, I decided to wait and make a really good plan to take on a small and responsible bikepacking adventure that wouldn’t put myself or others at risk. I started to do some research on local and Canadian recommendations and get a little guidance on how to stay safe and #RecreateResponsibly.
The guidelines found at offer a starting point for getting outside to keep healthy and to maintain access to parks and trails. Following these new guidelines will help avoid further outbreaks and keep our trails and public spaces open. As you get back out there, the #RecreateResponsibly guidelines will also help you be prepared in any situation you may encounter.

The group recommends three steps to take at home:

  1. Know Before You Go: Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a plan B. 
  2. Plan Ahead: Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer, a face covering and gloves
  3. Stay Close to Home: This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Most places are only open for day use.

And there are three steps when once outside:

  1. Practice Physical Distancing: Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
  2. Play It Safe: Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
  3. Leave No TraceRespect public lands and communities and take all your garbage out with you.
After doing some research I scoped out some areas northwest of where I live in an area that I was familiar with yet still has some room for exploring, just far enough away from home. I used the ridewithgps app to choose less busy areas away from traffic and stay away from most towns and still enjoy some great gravel roads, trails, and paths. I had four days to do an approximate 300km loop and get a break from work, family, screens, and zoom meetings. I was prepared to take things slow, take long breaks, and just enjoy a slower pace, which I desperately needed anyways. The trip didn’t need to be epic to be good.
Luckily, I had friends who owned land in the area I was riding through, so I had places to camp safely and legally. I also packed enough food for 4 days to be self-sufficient and not need to stop at any local stores. Skipping local cafes and bakeries was going to be tough, but I was up for the challenge, #solocoffeeoutside was in full effect! The area is abounding in water sources, so filtering wouldn’t be a challenge and would let me take out my Tenkara fly fishing rod! I also packed a mask, hand sanitizer, gloves, and soap and kept plenty of distance if I ever came across another person, which I never really did.
In the end, I have to say that this bikepacking trip was one of the best trips I’ve had in a long time. After taking all the proper precautions, using common sense, and not forgetting to enjoy my newly found freedom on my Kona NRB DL I felt a sense of relief. All my planning paid off and I felt a big weight lift off my shoulders with my soul’s batteries recharged. I will never take advantage of freedoms as simple as riding a bike.

Remember that we can all do our part to take care of ourselves, each other, and public lands and ensure they remain safe for future generations to enjoy. Join me and help lead by example and learn how to #RecreateResponsibly.