Bikepacking the Dales

Bikepacking

Backpacking with a bike.

I’ve had a few adventures over the years which have involved riding somewhere, carrying camping gear, sleeping out, then riding home the next day. The concept appeals, not least because it allows one to explore that bit further than can be done during a day. Or, do a longer “day” route, but at a social and relaxed pace. I’m also a sucker for sleeping outside. Little differences, like the changes in sounds: no creaks and clunks of a cooling down house, no muffled traffic noise. Crinkles of synthetic fabrics, wind, rustling grass, creaking trees, the hollow echo of rain against tent/bivvy bag/tarp fabric.

May will see my longest bikepacking adventure yet. Not huge, but big enough, and with an additional time pressure. It’s an individual time trial, so while no one will be racing, it carries with it an implied goal of completion as quickly as possible. I’ve already mentioned the Highland Trail. I’m sure I will talk about it a lot in the months to come.

In the mean time, I want to be as prepared as possible. This will involve the “usual” training rides, and as much long distance stuff as I can fit in. I also want to make sure my camping routine is completely nailed, and is a “routine”, so when I’m two days in to the Highland Trail, and shattered, I know that my sleeping bag will be warm enough, where my stove is packed, etc. That means a few preparatory rides and nights out. I.e. a perfect excuse for more fun.

1st up will be later this month, with Stu Rider, of Rider’s Cycle Centre in Skipton. Stu is a top bloke – I actually met him on the Cairngorms Loop last year, and we have bumped into each other at CX races and the like since then. He is going to be taking on the Highland Trail too, so is equally keen to get some miles in. He has planned out a route in the Dales, on tarmac and less muddy sections of off-road. We’ll be over-nighting at Aysgarth, before returning home. 50 miles each day, at a social pace. If you fancy joining us, there are more details on the Riders Cycle Centre Facebook page. The route is here:

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Nice news

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The kind of news that has made me feel excitable for a few days.

Kinesis Bikes are kindly giving me a FF29 to race/ride/play on this year. The FF29 is their first foray into the world of big wheels, but looking at the reviews it has received so far, they took their time to make sure they got things right.

Bike Radar
Quest Adventure
Singletrack

I will be building the frame up with Kinesis’ own IX carbon forks initially, although I may swap between them and some suspension forks as and when I feel like it. Other parts will be an eclectic mix of stuff that I already own and a few new bits and pieces. Can’t beat shiny new kit. I’ve decided to keep things super-simple to start, and run the bike single speed. Again, I’ve got a full complement of 2×10 gears to fit should the mood take me. And for some of the events, like the Highland Trail, I’m not sure if one gear will be a compromise too far for me. Riding all day on an SS is ok. Riding all day for days on end might be a bit much. We shall wait and see. Plenty of time to make up my mind on that front.

So, the next few days will be a matter of waiting for the odd parcel to arrive, doing a bit of preparatory fettling, and trying not to get too giddy while I wait for the good stuff to make its way up to Leeds.

Oh, and on a final note, the frame will be “sick green” (Kinesis’ description, not mine). I love the colour. (Un)fortunately, it will clash amazingly with my Garage Bikes race kit. I’m going to spend a year looking like a two wheeled tic-tac. I actually quite like this 🙂

Huge thank you to Dom at Kinesis for the frame. I just hope to do it justice, and have fun while I do so 🙂

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