What type of shelter do you use and why?
An Alpkit Hunka bivi bag if the weather is good but as rain was forecast on the #Jennride this year I bodged a shelter from an old tent flysheet cut in half and stretched over my bike wheels. It worked well in the garden – fortunately I didn’t need to use it on the ride.
Is your bikepacking specific or is it just your usual bike adapted to go bikepacking. What, if any, adaptions have you done?
Not bikepacking specific by a long shot! I used my Specialized Epic 2003 – mainly because my only other bike is an even older 1994 rigid orange P7! The Epic might be 14 years old, 26” wheels, short suspension, outdated geometry, heavy etc… but it’s bombproof, I love riding it and it just keeps going. The only adaptation is a bit of duct tape around the pack attachment points.
Are you a sub 24hr, over 24hr or a multi day tour sort of person?
Over 24hrs is about right for me, any shorter and I cant really justify sleeping out (if the route can be done in a day I would rather get out early and finish before night). I don’t know if I have the ability or stamina for multi day but I would like to aim for that in the near future.
What gadgets do you take with you? Dynamo/GPS/Gaia/Phone etc
iPhone for camera/calls/mapping, a phone battery backup to charge phone and a compass for if the phone fails.
Map or GPS device or both?
Both. 1:25,000 scale map in clear case on top of bar bag (for that old school tourer look!), route marked for quick reference. I also use both the OS maps and ViewRanger apps with the gpx route file uploaded. Yes, I’m paranoid about getting lost!
Navigation: can you work a compass, get your bearings etc?
In theory I can use map and compass having been through MLTB navigation training in the past, but in reality I convince myself I’m somewhere else far too often!
Do you do rides like the #Jennride often?
Nope! I did the first #Jennride last year as a one-off to prove I wasn’t getting old (it was just before my 40th birthday), had so much fun I signed up for this year straight away. I haven’t done any bikepacking other than the #Jennride.
Do you do other types of riding or just bikepacking?
I mainly ride trail centres for the convenience and for family rides, bits of natural trails in the lakes and some road/canal paths near home.
What is the best bit of bikepacking for you?
All the people you meet along the way, both bikers and walkers. To me it’s a bit more relaxed and free of the ‘ego’ that comes with some other types of riding. I find I chat more to other people on these trips as I am not in a race.
What is the worst bit of bikepacking?
When my lack of training is exposed! I set off thinking I’m going to be joining the hardcore guys and girls in every pub on the way when the reality is that I’m just trying to get halfway round before darkness!
How long have you been bikepacking for?
Two weekends! Should get out more. I really should.
What appeals to you about bikepacking?
It feels like true biking, that “using a bike for exploring” type of adventure. A lot of my other riding could be seen as doing the bare minimum to qualify as a mountain biker!
What is your ultimate trip/destination?
I would like to say something like the Tour Divide – having read about the experiences of riders like Jenn Hill and Mike Hall has made me appreciate what is possible on a bike, the distances covered in such little time, the rewards and the risks. More realistically I would like to cross Cuba unsupported.
What is the essential extra gadget/widget or treat that you have to take with you?
I take energy gels with me, they fall in the category of a treat because I probably don’t need them but it does give me a physiological boost more than anything.
Choice of tyres (size/width/tread) and why you choose these?
Specialized S-works Ground Control 2.1. They are tubeless compatible but I still use tubes for convenience. I ran the tyres at 28psi and only got one snakebite puncture the whole way round.
Do you change tyres to suit the destination you expect to ride on?
N ot as a rule but I changed tyres this year (from Richey Shield 2.1s) which had a much lower profile and were perfect in the bone dry conditions of 2016. I knew it was going to be wetter this year so needed better grip from the Ground Controls.
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 am willing to suffer a bit, but its more a case of fitting everything into the bags I have than a weight issue. For example, I would take my heavy 4 season down sleeping bag if it would fit into my bar bag, instead I have a 1 season synthetic that isn’t as warm or comfortable.
I’m getting better at trimming weight – I now have a titanium spork and a toothbrush cut in half so that’s about 3 grams weight saving there.
Have you got the art of minimisation down to a fine art or did you pack everything and the kitchen sink?
I pack, add stuff, panic about the amount of stuff, unpack, have a coffee, pack, relax… and then 5 minutes before the start desperately try to cram the rejected gear into my bags, then don’t use half the stuff!
Did you take some creature comforts like coffee, a stove a hip flask etc?
The first year I didn’t take a hip flask. On the Saturday night several riders converged outside the Kings Arms in Hawkshead and started passing hip flasks around (all with different spirits), it was a moment of generosity and comradeship that only lasted a short time but really summed up what the #Jennride is about.. riding bikes and having fun.
This year I was prepared, got a hip flask for Christmas (check), filled it with quality alcohol (Jura single malt..check). Left it in the car (check… dammmit!)
What are your thoughts on the ride we took the photos at and bikepacking in general?
#Jennride is a really special event, It has made me want to get out on the bike more, I have met some great people along the way and this year the ride raised over £15,000 for charities in the name of Jenn Hill.
Rich Munro does a great job of putting in loads of time and effort to make the event work perfectly – but at the same time manages to be really chilled like it’s just a few mates going for a bit of a ride! The route is great.. sign me up for next year!
Tell us some interesting facts about you?
I have solo hiked up and skied down the highest mountain in Australia (Mount Kosciuszko), using borrowed skis and snow-shoes. 3 days later an avalanche buried the route I took – In hindsight it was a bit risky!