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Thinking about bikepacking

Posted <2020-07-06 Mon 22:32> by Aaron S. Jackson.

A year or two back I stumbled across Phil on Twitter who was posting photos of his tour around Europe by bike, working remotely wherever he happens to stop off. Admittedly it was a bit of a thirst follow, but I also felt strangely drawn to the same idea. Phil tweets a lot about minimising your carbon footprint and eco-friendly living. More recently (just a couple of months ago), I came across another tweet about Steven Roberts, who cycled all around the US while working as a tech writer. He documented his journey in a great book called Computing Across America. The book does a great job of expressing the highs and lows of travelling by recumbent bicycle, the friends he met along the way, and the all important freedom earned by selling his house and almost all possessions. For reference, check out this amazing photo:

Admittedly, both these epic journeys are a bit of a stretch for me - I can barely go on holiday, but since the COVID-19 lockdown, I've cycled 2000km, the longest journey of which was yesterday, clocking in at 74km, and the idea of doing something even slightly similar is growing very tantalising. Perhaps later you will understand why I am tempted to write tent-alising.

In parallel to my desire to cycle longer distances, I've also been keen to go camping again. Of course, I've been as a kid, but not on my own in the peace and quiet. Sadly "wild camping" is not legal in much (or most) of the UK, but I came across a nice list of campsites which don't allow caravans. Caravans are terrible. So, what am I going to do about it?

Well, I'm going to spend some money and go camping. That's the plan anyway. My brother has done lots of camping, and this year also started cycling quite a bit. He's consulted with his camping friends and they have decided that the tent I should buy is the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1 Bikepacking Tent. I don't know what the HV means but the UL means "Ultra Light" and the one just after that means it's for one person. The bikepacking model includes a few additional extras for those who cycle, such as straps to keep your helmet out of the way and a nice bag which straps to your handle bars. I'm sure it's not much different to the non bikepacking version, but whatever. Here's a photo of this tent:

It's out of stock at the moment, but they are going to notify me once it becomes available again. Of course, I will also need a sleeping bag and mat, a chunky battery to charge my phone, bike lights and cycling computer, and some bags, to stash away a few things, such as a handheld radio, socks and toothbrush.

Once I get to this point of the planning I start to feel quite nervous. I'm a very anxious person in general so the thought of cycling anywhere has always scared me. I've been overcoming this a little over the past few months, mostly aided by the purchase of a Garmin cycling computer which can tell me where to go. One less thing to worry about. There's still lots more to be worried about though, but from reading about the journeys of others and contrary to increasingly popular beliefs, I'm beginning to realise that there are people everywhere who are wanting to help others. If my whole bike breaks down, what's the worse that could happen? Realistically, I'd call a taxi and take myself to a hotel. So, now that we've tried to find some logic, let's move onto where I would go.

As I mentioned, I found a nice list of tent only camp sites. So, my first trip would certainly be to one of those. One of which is called "Little Oak Campsite" and is in north Nottinghamshire, but this is only 50km away or so. Keep heading north and there is another nice looking campsite called "Orchard Camping" (I hope there are free apples). So, really, it doesn't matter much. I can just open up that web page and find the next destination. Perhaps eventually I can consider working remotely while going on longer cycling expeditions - to be fair almost all of my work is through an SSH session.

Let's hope something actually comes of this! I'll post updates once I go on my first mini expedition :)

<2020-07-09 Thu 18:47> I bought a bag for my bike! It's really nicely built, great quality. Made by Restrap in the UK. It looks small but it can actually store a huge amount. It has a zip on both sides but one side is larger than the other. The last photo shows the small side.

<2020-07-29 Wed 12:33> The tent arrived this morning. I've put it up but it doesn't look too good because I have a concrete garden with no where to put in the pegs! However, here it is on my bike :)

The quality feels really good, although I'm certainly not an expert. It's roomy enough for one. Happy with it!

<2020-08-03 Mon 15:17> My sleeping bag and mat arrived today. Yesterday I got my bits for the stove. Here are a few pictures.

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