Gil Conroy

What type of shelter do you use and why?

I used an Alpkit tarp rigged up over the bike frame at one end and front wheel at the other. I had not idea what I was doing but thankfully those I was riding with did. Like my whole luggage system it was lent to me by the friend who signed me up for the Jenn ride but subsequently broke her leg and couldn’t take part.

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 an old hardtail which I owned years ago then sold to a friend and bought back when he was getting rid of it earlier this year. I rebuilt it from the frame up which was a whole new experience for me, involved blood, sweat, tears and a fair amount of swearing. It was a huge surprise that it survived the 100 miles.

Are you a sub 24hr, over 24hr or a multi day tour sort of person?

I enjoy multi day bike touring and now, after this ride, bikepacking, I’ve done a 24 hour event in the past but decided I need sleep too much to be able to enjoy a 24 hour ride – plus a beer stop always helps.

What gadgets do you take with you? Dynamo/GPS/Gaia/Phone etc

I was pretty much gadget free.

Map or GPS device or both?

A friend with both map and GPS hence my ability to be gadget free!

Navigation: can you work a compass, get your bearings etc?

Contrary to a lot of people’s belief, yes I can use a compass.

Do you do rides like the #Jennride often?

I’ve never done a bikepacking ride before but will definitely be doing more. I ride around the area of the Jenn ride regularly on shorter rides and had ridden a lot of the trails before.

Do you do other types of riding or just bikepacking?

I ride a full sus mtb, a road bike, and a cross bike, both as a crosser and as a touring bike with panniers.

What is the best bit of bikepacking for you?

I love the freedom of being able to go anywhere and stop anywhere.

What is the worst bit of bikepacking?

The worst bit is going back to work and being confined to an office afterwards – I have to leave the door to outside open to feel like I’m not completely trapped.

How long have you been bikepacking for?

This was my first move from bike touring to bikepacking but certainly won’t be my last trip – I just need to buy my own kit.

What appeals to you about bikepacking?

The freedom.

What is your ultimate trip/destination?

I’ve got my eye on a Mongolia route at the moment.

What is the essential extra gadget/widget or treat that you have to take with you?

Chocolate – you can do anything if you’ve got enough chocolate.

Choice of tyres (size/width/tread) and why you choose these?

I’m not that techy, the 26” wheels came off the old bike I stripped down and had whatever tyres were on there, Nevegals I think.

Do you change tyres to suit the destination you expect to ride on?

No – you have to have something to blame for poor riding!

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?

The lighter the better but I make do with what I’ve got and if something needs replacing get the best/lightest I can.

Have you got the art of minimisation down to a fine art or did you pack everything and the kitchen sink?

I’m very minimalist – if Thomas Corda-Stanley has answered these questions I hope he’s confessed to the citronella candle he was carrying!!

Did you take some creature comforts like coffee, a stove a hip flask etc?

No – nothing extra

What are your thoughts on the ride we took the photos at and bikepacking in general?

Fantastic event in a beautiful area, I love the fact the event is so low key, no signs, no marshals etc. So many events are over-organised which puts me off completely. It is great to raise so much money but I really hope this event stays small and simple. It introduced me to bikepacking which I definitely want to do more of I just need more time and more money to be able to do all the trips I want to do.

Tell us some interesting facts about you?

Not much to tell, I’m a simple soul who loves biking of all sorts. I moved to the Lake District 9.5 years ago in order to mountain bike more and haven’t looked back. It’s fantastic to be in such an amazing place with so many opportunities for riding and so many great people to ride with.

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