Max Cousins

What type of shelter do you use and why?

For this ride I didn’t aim to stop so my shelter was an emergency bivvy bag, and I plotted on a map the places with a roof – caves, huts, etc – where there was natural shelter if the weather crapped out.

Is your bikepacking specific or is it just your usual bike adapted to go bikepacking. What, if any, adaptions have you done?

The Kona Process 153 is my usual bike. The only adaption was to put on a semi slick rear tyre to help cover the distance more efficiently.

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

All of the above.

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

Just a phone with an OS map loaded.

Map or GPS device or both?

A combination of both. Generally map but if navigation is trickier then the combination is faster.

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

Yes, it makes a big difference in the hills once you’re happy with orientating yourself on a map using what you can see, with help from a compass if necessary.

Do you do rides like the #Jennride often?

Not very often. I did couple of Polaris challenges a few years ago – 7 hours mountain biking + navigation carrying all your gear, then overnight camp, then 5 hours the next day – and have had some big days out but rides as long as the 200km loop have been rare. I’m keen for more. Oh yes, also, there’s the Man of Porage which if you know, you know.

Do you do other types of riding or just bikepacking?

Ha ha! What types of riding am I into. I guess, ‘attempting to stay feet-up wheels-down on terrain that scares me’ is my niche. I’m also happy to suffer uphill.

What is the best bit of bikepacking for you?

Any journey that spreads over more than one day is an adventure.

What is the worst bit of bikepacking?

The label.

How long have you been bikepacking for?

The first time I went camping with a bike was in 1991. It was called camping then.

What appeals to you about bikepacking?

What’s not to like? You get to ride your bike for ages then sleep out in the stuff you carried, and there’s nothing else to have to think about.

What is your ultimate trip/destination?

The Mediterranean coast of France and northern Italy is a great place to ride a mountain bike. So many great downhills then cocktails at the beach. In terms of touring and camping though, the west coast of Ireland and Scotland looks hard to beat. I suppose a good blend of downhills and touring would be lift-assisted multi day hut to hut in the Alps. Is that ‘bikepacking’? I don’t make the rules, however I do have a friend who enforces them, so I’ll likely ask him for advice.

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

Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes containing pure butter – mmmn, de-licious

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

I’m glad you asked. I’ve tried a lot of tyres and the evidence is in our shed as I have a mountain of tyres left over from the great 26” to 650b marketing triumph / manufacturer coup d’etat / consumer tragedy. Compound, tread and carcass are key. Up to recently in the Lakes I have generally been using the Maxxis Minion DHF 3c 2.3 Exo on the front, and the Maxxis High Roller 60a 2.4 DPC on the back. Maxxis rubber grips well on Lakes rock. For the last few months I have had a Mavic Crossmax Charge XL 2.4 on the front and have found this rolls faster and grips better than the Minion. For the Jenn ride I put a Schwalbe Rock Razor Trailstar 2.35 Super Gravity on the rear – this was super fast and efficient and I was happy to compromise on braking grip for this loop. Generally I have to run a thick carcass for the rear tyre as I can’t ride around every bit of pointy Lakes rock, and thin rear tyres slash fast. Both front and rear are tubeless and 650b.

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

I prefer not to change tyres if I can help it as the one drawback of tubeless is tyre changing faff. Charge XL front + High Roller rear seems to work in most situations.

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?

This time I opted for gram counting and continuous movement over sleep. I took a thin bivi bag and a thin liner sleeping bag only for emergencies, and kept going through the night. We rode the lions share of the loop as a four and two of us packed to sleep, two didn’t – so we split in the night but all of us had fun.

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

This time I took my day rucksack and a top tube mounted food bag. If I do camp then minimal is better.

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

No. However. I did pack a debit card and we stopped for several drinks/food at pubs and takeaways. Due to the timing of pit stops, my food supply for the night was half a take-away pizza and a chip butty. Turns out chips are surprisingly tasty eaten cold on top of a hill.

I guess a creature comfort was full suspension. I was agonising over hardtail vs full suspension for this ride and am glad I chose full suspension with it’s extra weight because the increase in comfort and decrease in having to think helped, especially when tired.

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

Thanks and well done to Rich Munro for encouraging people to gather and ride bikes to raise money for a good cause in the memory of Jenn. The 200km loop was great fun, a grand day out covering much of the Lakes and combining classic pedally trails with equally classic carrying sections with long and technical and/or fast descents.

In general, camping with a bike is to be encouraged. bikepacking is so hot right now.

Tell us some interesting facts about you

I once lit fireworks for Blue Peter

Our Duke of Edinburgh expedition was the first on mountain bikes

I helped invent mass-start welly whanging golf

Did I mention I obsess about tyres?

2 Responses to Max Cousins

  1. Jamie August 16, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    Didn’t think he’d have much to say and I was right.

  2. Trixie August 16, 2017 at 8:54 pm #

    Isn’t he handsome though

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