What type of shelter do you use and why?
I already had a relatively unused Goretex bivvy bag which has been pressed into bikepacking use. It packs down pretty small but does feel a bit uncomfortably claustrophobic (and unnervingly like a body bag) if you have to do it all the way up.
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 completely standard – for a Jones! Fortunately this means it’s already well suited to bikepacking as its relatively simple with no suspension to faff with and loads of handlebar real estate for the bar bag(s). The only custom adaption is a frame bag made by Alpkit and the new Ortlieb bikepacking bags – on their maiden voyage for this event.
Are you a sub 24hr, over 24hr or a multi day tour sort of person?
Mostly it’s sub 24hr due to the usual life impositions but given the opportunity I’ll happily sit in the multi-day camp. Usually for (tamer) multi-day tours I have an old BOB trailer attached to the back of my bike rather than just the bag set-up, although that definitely wouldn’t be possible on the 200 route!
What gadgets do you take with you? Dynamo/GPS/Gaia/Phone etc
I love the OS mapping on my Garmin and that’s rarely off my bike these days, but bringing that on events over 10 hours does come at the price of lugging an extra external battery. Phone for emergency use and both my old battery lights for this event – just in case we did lots of night riding. I talked myself out of bringing the jet boil stove in an attempt to keep the weight down (fail) but it felt like I still had too much stuff.
Map or GPS device or both?
The GPS is really convenient and quick for navigating but usually I’ll also have a map stashed away. Also, you can’t beat a real map for poring over and plotting a new route.
Navigation: can you work a compass, get your bearings etc?
Yep, it just makes sense when you’re in a mountain environment to have those skills.
Do you do rides like the #Jennride often?
No, this was a bit of a departure for my friends and I – normally it’d be long days out rather than spilling into multi days. In the end half of us treated it like a (very) long day and pushed on and rode the 200 in a ‘oner’ the other half grabbed 3 hours kip – seeing as how we’d lugged all the sleeping kit around with us!
Do you do other types of riding or just bikepacking?
Normal mountain biking is actually the norm, with necessary lane/road riding for convenience and bikepacking normally for ‘occasions’ although maybe I need to review that.
What is the best bit of bikepacking for you?
Waking up and already being in the middle of an adventure.
What is the worst bit of bikepacking?
Does needing a poo whilst zipped into an expensive body bag, soaking wet at 2AM on a wet cold night qualify?
How long have you been bikepacking for?
Can we count Polaris events, before it was called bikepacking? In which case about 15 years!
What appeals to you about bikepacking?
Being self-contained and self-reliant and wondering what would happen if I just kept on going instead of turning for home (other than divorce obviously).
What is your ultimate trip/destination?
The Great Divide trail, Canada to Mexico I’ve been eyeing it up for about 10 years now.
What is the essential extra gadget/widget or treat that you have to take with you?
Next time – more chamois cream. And cake, preferably Jamie’s Pope cake.
Choice of tyres (size/width/tread) and why you choose these?
It’s rocky. For the 200 ride I’d recommend the biggest rim/tyre combo your frame can accommodate, run tubeless with plenty of sealant and possibly a double wall rear tyre. I ran a 650b plus front wheel (52mm Stans Hugo with a 3” SBC Ground Control) over my usual 2.4” Maxxis 29er for extra cushion for my rigid front end and I’d have done the same at the back if it would’ve fitted.
Do you change tyres to suit the destination you expect to ride on?
If it’s very different terrain to the usual riding conditions yes. I do for the Lakes!
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?
If it’s not a race then comfort definitely wins out.
Have you got the art of minimisation down to a fine art or did you pack everything and the kitchen sink?
Carrying my bike over some of those fells and the resultant back ache for the next 3 days meant that clearly some work is still required here.
Did you take some creature comforts like coffee, a stove a hip flask etc?
I wanted to, I really did but I got talked out of the coffee maker – it was probably for the best (this time).
What are your thoughts on the ride we took the photos at and bikepacking in general?
I think the ride means lots of different things to lots of different people. For me the build up to the ride meant reflecting on the lives of others, people who’d used their bikes to connect, share their stories and inspire others, like Jenn, or who encapsulated what it is to be self-reliant, determined and always pushing their limits like Mike Hall. I knew the ride would be hard and would demand a lot from me but I knew that I’d get something back from that experience as well. What I got was the perfect excuse to ride for hours in the company of good friends (that I don’t see as much as I’d like), in a stunning, punishing, visceral and sublime landscape and a thorough re-kindling of a decades old love affair with mountain biking that had begun to diminish due to lack of geography and the pressures of the daily grind. That, and a really sore arse.
Tell us some interesting facts about you?
I once worked in the bike industry – it’s smaller than you think and a degree in animal behaviour was only partially helpful.