Packed and ready to roll.
Bikepacking – it's the same as backpacking but my bike carries the bags not my back. And it’s something I've always wanted to have a go at. I’m comfortable with the camping side of the activity – obviously. But I haven’t had any experience of doing so with a bike.
There are some aspects of the activity that I’d like to have dry run at before peddling off like mad down one the of the many cycle routes this country or further afield has to offer.
The first is mileage. I know that I can comfortably break sections of a Long Distance Foot Path into daily chunks of fifteen or so miles and make my way to the end point. However on a bike I can go further and at a faster rate subject to the weight of the bike and kit that I’m carrying. And how lumpy the terrain I’m crossing is going to be, along with stops and the potential for detours, imposed or self-inflicted. I should also mention that I haven’t spent a lot of time in the saddle either these past few years. With this in mind I’m working on the assumption that fifteen miles will take three hours – for now, as my assumptions are usually conservative.
The second is security. I can’t say I've ever noticed Sheffield Staples at any of the campsites I've visited but then that said I wasn't really looking for them! Some friends I know use folding bikes that take shelter in the porch of their tents presumably with a lock on, which keeps them out of sight of potential pilfering. And there's the added bonus of the ease of taking folding bikes on trains. Arriving at the campsite my concern will no longer about finding the best pitch but also somewhere to secure the bike within view of the same.
The third is shelter. For a number of years my shelters of choice have become ones that pitch with trekking poles. Not something that I’d need on a bike! Luckily I did buy a pair of Hampton Poles to use with one of my shelters, which will be the one I’m planning on using due to its small pack size and its overall internal volume. It’s with this that a bit of an experiment comes into to play… Namely with the front wheel off will my bike fit under the shelter? Another experiment is to see if I can pitch the rear end of the shelter using the bike itself rather than using a pole. This later point is an interesting one as the bike will be part of the shelter, it will have a lock on it all the same. My thinking is that a potential thief will think again about trying to steal my bike if the shelter collapses and wakes me up. It may appear that I’m being a bit over cautious but I grew up and lived in a part of London that, “If it wasn't nailed down it would go for a walk.”