What type of shelter do you use and why?
I use a Tarp made by OSX. It is versatile enough to provide a ground sheet, and has kept me dry in the summer showers, and blustery winds on the Jenn ride.
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 carbon TREK Farley. I use it primarily for bikepacking, and also tow a Bob Yak trailer, when the trails allow. It is an excellent bike to ride, having 4ins 650b tyres, giving a responsive and agile 29er like feel. Having a carbon fork meant I haven’t any mounts for carrying luggage. This was sorted, by bending a bit of electrical conduit (third attempt over a hot kettle), and fixing some female thread inserts into the universally accepted position, so I could fit some cages. A rear axle was sourced from the Robert Axle project in the states so I can tow the BOB trailer.
Are you a sub 24hr, over 24hr or a multi day tour sort of person?
I am still in my early stages of bikepacking at the current time, a couple of nights is as much as I want to do, but as my experience and knowledge grows I can see bigger trips in the not too distant future.
What gadgets do you take with you? Dynamo/GPS/Gaia/Phone etc
A phone is one thing I like to take, as documenting the trip with some photos, and the convenience of size and weight make it an essential item for travelling, A GPS is something I am looking into, as some routes in Scotland, would mean carrying several maps, not ideal when weight and space are at a premium.
Map or GPS device or both?
Having 30 odd years of riding in the Lakes, means I don’t carry either, but when I ride elsewhere I will be carrying both, I think in the wilderness its important to research the journey, as much as you can, as the landscape can change month to month. Deep river crossings, bridges down, locked gates, can be a major issue if your towing a trailer, or just want to stay dry in winter. A map or GPS can’t really illustrate this.
Navigation: can you work a compass, get your bearings etc?
It would be an interesting exercise getting lost, and finding my way again, hopefully yes, I think I could find my way back eventually.
Do you do rides like the #Jennride often?
The Jenn Ride is the first bikepacking social weekend I have done. Rich Monro and Tom Hill did an excellent job of raising an amazing amount of money for St Gemma’s Hospice. I will be back next year to support such a worthy cause.
Do you do other types of riding or just bikepacking?
I usually ride on the higher mountains in the Lakes at weekends, and ride when possible with a local Tuesday night ride group from Keswick, they are a hardy bunch and the worse the weather is, the higher and further they seem to want to ride.
What is the best bit of bikepacking for you?
By far, the best part of bikepacking for me is the people you meet along the way. A recent trip through Glen Kinglass resulted in meeting a Theatrical costume designer from Edinburgh. She had also worked for Endura bike clothing, and a recent project involved the television series Outlander. We pedalled together all day, enjoying blue sky, a warm breeze, and the typical cycle conversations on a ride.
What is the worst bit of bikepacking?
The worst thing about bikepacking, is the midges and of course the British climate.
How long have you been bikepacking for?
I have only really started bikepacking this year and am always on the eternal search for lighter and better kit.
What appeals to you about bikepacking?
I think there is something very therapeutic in having a set goal, without the limitations of time, money and constraints that people have with day-to-day living.
What is your ultimate trip/destination?
The Scottish Highland 550 route has to be up there, and I hope to do it this year.
What is the essential extra gadget/widget or treat that you have to take with you?
I have just got one of those power bank thingies – it’s not too heavy and means I can take more photos.
Choice of tyres (size/width/tread) and why you choose these?
My tyres are 4ins Bontrager TLR Hodags, they haven’t punctured yet and have successfully negotiated Garburn pass fully loaded with 6 psi, I haven’t tried or felt the need to try anything else, they are spot on.
Do you change tyres to suit the destination you expect to ride on?
Fat bike tyres seem amazingly capable, whether mashing along at high pressures on the road, or 6 psi on a Scottish coast (it takes ages to blow them up using a hand pump though!).
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?
Knowing how temperatures can fall dramatically in the Lakes, I would always opt for a good three season sleeping bag, over a bit of extra weight, that said my bag feels noticeably heavier than some others doing the ride and they seemed to sleep ok.
Have you got the art of minimisation down to a fine art or did you pack everything and the kitchen sink?
On the Jenn ride I never really felt I took anything I didn’t need, and the bike still pedalled really well without sacrificing the handling.
Did you take some creature comforts like coffee, a stove a hip flask etc?
I took my jet boil stove, as a good coffee in the morning is something to cherish while looking into an amazing landscape and pondering another long day on the bike.
What are your thoughts on the ride we took the photos at and bikepacking in general?
The Jenn ride was a fantastic opportunity to meet like minded individuals, and raise money for a great cause. I met Tom Hill, Jenn’s husband a year or so earlier on a magazine article featuring the four passes ride in the central Lakes. We all had such a great day it seemed only fitting to support Tom and St Gemma’s Hospice.
Tell us some interesting facts about you?
I have replaced an inner tube on Danny MacAskill’s bike on Nan Bield pass!