Mike Stephenson

What type of shelter do you use and why?

A lightweight tent because I haven’t got round to buying a bivi yet.

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 my regular MTB, a Specialized Camber Comp 29, with Blackburn Outpost cages zipped tied to my forks to carry 5L dry bags and with my tent & sleepmat carried on my bars.

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

I’m an over 24 hour person but open to do longer trips whenever time allows.

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

Just my phone but it’s usually flat after a few hours!

Map or GPS device or both?

Just a map so far but I would use a GPS if in an area I didn’t know too well.

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

I’m fine with a compass for navigation.

Do you do rides like the #Jennride often?

No, this was first time at an organised bikepacking event.

Do you do other types of riding or just bikepacking?

I enjoy mountain biking, road cycling and touring.

What is the best bit of bikepacking for you?

The fact you can have a mini adventure and escape normality for a short time plus you can access some great places too.

What is the worst bit of bikepacking?

Haven’t found it yet.

How long have you been bikepacking for?

30 years, since my first adventure in the Lakes on my MTB with a rucksack on my back.

What appeals to you about bikepacking?

The self sufficiency and freedom to go where you want coupled with the escape from the reality of our 24 hour society.

What is your ultimate trip/destination?

To bikepack a circuit around Western Europe.

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

Don’t have widgets really but I wouldn’t go anywhere without my multi tool or my sleepmat.

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

As wide as I can fit, which is 2.3” at the moment but I would prefer 3”.

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

No.

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 go as light as I think I can get away with but it has led to some uncomfortable nights out.

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

I’m pretty minimalist. Most things I carry I use.

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

Depends on the trip but usually have a stove, mug and coffee with me.

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

The JennRide was excellent. A superb route over varied terrain. I do however think that bikepacking is a sport that is hard to organise events for, as part of the appeal to me is not having a set route or time limit. The bonus on the JennRide was meeting like-minded individuals.

Tell us some interesting facts about you?

Married 50+ father of two lads. Living in South Cumbria who has cycle toured in Europe and also ridden the Fred Whitton Challenge, NEMBA MTB races in the 90’s, the Man vs Horse race in Wales and the Passport du Soleil event in the Alps a number of times.

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