What type of shelter do you use and why?
An ENO hammock and tarp. Because hammocks rock.
Is your bikepacking specific or is it just your usual bike adapted to go bikepacking. What, if any, adaptions have you done?
My bike is a very battered, scuffed Cotic Simple singlespeed that I picked up on eBay. It’s been my faithful winter hardtail for a few years, and the only thing I’ve changed for bikepacking are the wheels, rigid forks and a longer stem.
Are you a sub 24hr, over 24hr or a multi day tour sort of person?
Definitely multi-day tour. I can do longer distances but only at a steady plod.
What gadgets do you take with you? Dynamo/GPS/Gaia/Phone etc
GPS, phone, decent camera if the weather looks ok. My road bike has a dynamo hub and it was a complete “where has this been all my life?!” upgrade, so I’ve added one to my bikepacking bike. There’s a bit of a problem though, as I’m hardly ever going fast enough for it to work.
Map or GPS device or both?
I don’t usually bother with paper maps, but I do make sure I’ve got the maps and route loaded on to a phone and a GPS, in case one device conks out.
Navigation: can you work a compass, get your bearings etc?
I’m getting better at reading maps but I hardly ever use old skool navigation these days.
Do you do rides like the #Jennride often?
It’s the second or third organised bikepacking event I’ve done.
Do you do other types of riding or just bikepacking?
I do a fair bit of “regular” mountain biking too, as well a bit of road and cyclo-cross.
What is the best bit of bikepacking for you?
What is the worst bit of bikepacking?
Picking up your nice light bike when you’ve just strapped all your cumbersome heavy gear to it.
How long have you been bikepacking for?
In the purist sense of mountain biking with a lightweight setup, about three years now.
What appeals to you about bikepacking?
It’s a return to a time when mountain biking was a bit less about timing yourself and looking for incremental performance gains, and more about having an adventure and enjoying the experience. We get a bit fixated on making bikes perform better and go faster, and strapping a few kilos of kit to your bike forces you to reassess the whole thing in a delightfully absurd way.
What is your ultimate trip/destination?
It’s not a trip as such, it’s more the vision of epic adventure and endless horizons portrayed by writers and photographers like Cass from While Out Riding, Ultraromance et al. I know there’s some highly selective presentation going on, but it’s still a very alluring fantasy.
What is the essential extra gadget/widget or treat that you have to take with you?
A whole salami which I was fully intending to consume en route, but didn’t actually get round to eating any of.
Choice of tyres (size/width/tread) and why you choose these?
I’m on 2.2 Bontrager XR2s, but they’re bigger than that as they’re mounted on 35 mm Velocity rims (the last 26” pair I could find, hence the incongruous colour). After a couple of initial trips with a 5” travel coil fork on my bike, I decided that going rigid with some fat but fast-rolling tyres made much more sense.
Do you change tyres to suit the destination you expect to ride on?
No. The last thing the world needs right now is more mithering over mountain bike tyres.
Do you opt for gram counting over comfort? i.e. did you pack the sub 400g wafer light sleeping bag despite it’s gonna be freezing just to save 250g?
I try and take just enough kit to be comfortable. Cooking stuff adds a lot of weight and faff so I tend to leave that out if possible.
Have you got the art of minimisation down to a fine art or did you pack everything and the kitchen sink?
My full setup (bike and kit) weighed about 35 lbs last time I got the unreliable luggage scales out. I can live with that.
Did you take some creature comforts like coffee, a stove a hip flask etc?
If you’re sleeping in a rustling nylon bag in a midge-infested wood, a hip flask isn’t a creature comfort, it’s an essential prerequisite for getting a decent night’s sleep.
What are your thoughts on the ride and bikepacking in general?
The ride was absolutely cracking. There’s no way I’d go out and do two back-to-back 50 mile rides in the Lakes under normal circumstances, but as a bikepacking event it works. Hats off to Rich for putting it together and raising a load of money in the process. Bikepacking can be a bit trainspottery, but I think it’s putting something back into mountain biking that was in danger of being obscured by the endless images of garish fluoro kit and dudes spraying loam. It’s also added a bit of finesse to traditional touring. You don’t have to slog around on a Dawes Galaxy with four panniers, you can have fun too.
Tell us some interesting facts about you?
I’m a bearded thirtysomething white male with a fondness for coffee and craft beer – there’s absolutely nothing interesting about me!