Bikepacking

Lessons learned.
Full kit list including reviews.
Route – Derby to Skeggy and back.

Recently me and my mate Simon decided it was a good idea to cycle from Derby to Skegness and back again in 2 days which is about 160 miles.

We had never “bike packed” before but loved the idea of the independence and self-reliance that gave the trip a sense of adventure.

My training for this was poor at best and we realised as we left home that neither of us had cycled a single mile with all of our kit attached to the bike!

My kit weighed in at about 10kg which doubled the weight of my bike and I have included a kit list and kit review as part of this post.

We set off at about 8 am thinking it would take between 6 and 9 hours.
We guessed this because we had previously both completed the same route (without kit) in about 5 hours 30 minutes (when we were younger).

This was a big miscalculation and it ended up being a 10-hour slog! Mainly due to my lack of cycling fitness the extra weight and the terrible aerodynamic upgrades we gave our bikes.

It was a beautiful day but in the mid-20’s which did not help with the distance but added to the challenge.

Proof we made it to the beach before sunset

Once we pitched up our tiny tent we got a quick shower, donned our “civilian kit” and headed off for fish chips and beer whilst we still had time.

Top tip; if you rock up unannounced at a “Caravan Club” campsite as a backpacker then can give you a space at a reduced rate (£8) in our case.

Thanks to the team at our site for making us aware of this. They do not seem to advertise it.

The tiny “2 man” tent weighs less than 2kg. My favourite piece of kit is in the foreground the “Alpkit Brukit” well worth it!

After leaving Debbie and the team at the “Dunes” we turned in for the night at about 10 pm well aware that tomorrow would be another 10+ hour day and we needed to hit the road early to get home for our pre-ordered pizza and a celebratory beer.

Before going to sleep we each had protein bars and ibuprofen to help with recovery, any muscle pains and in an attempt to prevent a hangover.

Day 2 was much cooler and overcast.
After a brew (using my amazing “Alpkit Brukit” I love that thing) and a protein bar for breakfast we packed up and got on the road by about 9 am which was too late really but we both needed the lie in.

Less than 4 miles in I got our first and only puncture! This set us back another 20-30mins with 20 less psi in my rear tyre.

It was nice to get cooled off by drizzle as we crossed the Wolds with a series of 100m climbs taking us 135m above Sea level on the highest summit.

Simon waiting for me again at the top of our highest summit.
Great view at the top of the Wolds

After the Wolds and not much breakfast we stopped off at the “School house coffee bar” in Horncastle for the best bacon cob ever and a big mug of tea.

25 miles later in Sleaford, I gave up. My body was done and I was holding Simon up a lot, ridding slower and needing more breaks.
My lack of training caught up with me.
I figured out that at my pace and with 60 miles still to go I would be getting back home at 8 pm or later (with work the next day).
So I decided to bail and caught the train to Derby but Simon stoically carried on without me arriving back in Repton, at around 8 pm in the rain and expectedly exhausted (big effort mate and huge respect).

Mask on and tail between my legs bailing out on the trip and catching the train home.

Once back in Derby I had the short ride of 10 miles to our finish and meeting point in Repton.
I arrived at about 7 pm got a shower and waited in the rain to congratulate Simon home before enjoying some well-deserved pizza and beer with our wives (thanks for putting up with us and getting the beers in girls).

Will I do it again. Yes, but I would add and extra day to break up the journey.
My advice would be make sure you ride for a max of 6-8 hours per day. That way you can stop for lunch or at a pub and have enough time in the evening to relax and recover before the next day.
We always felt like we were against the clock and did not have enough time which took the fun out of the adventure and made it more of a challenge to endure rather than a couple of mates having a laugh together whilst escaping our home and work lives. However, it is amazing what you can do in 36 hours. So get on with it and plan your own micro-adventure.

It’s all your fault Alastair!

For those who are interested here is my kit list.
I used every single bit of it so nothing was carried pointlessly which I think is pretty good for my first attempt.

Sleeping kit. 

Sleeping mat:  

I bought this one Berghaus Peak “Compact” Self-Inflating Mat for £35 in the sale.

Rolls up to 30cm long and about 15cm thick.

Plus, points it does keep you warm, inflates itself and to a certain extent deflates itself.
I also rolled it up with my Bivi and sleeping bag liner.   

However, it does not roll away as small as I wanted it to and it did not give me enough padding (I’m a “side sleeper”) so I found myself waking up and having to move every couple of hours. Not great after 100+ miles.
You also have to either take a pillow or improvise with your spare bags etc.  

I genuinely thought I’d just pass out and sleep like a zombie, so I was surprised and annoyed about this. 

My mate used this Deeplee Ultralight Back Packing Mat from Amazon for £27

Plus points. It rolls away very small. Has its own pillow (major bonus) and it quite a bit thicker.  

Downsides. Definitely not as well made so I’m not sure if it would last you as long as the Berghaus and does not breathe as well but I’d still go with the Deeplee option.  

Other sleep stuff:  

I did not take a sleeping bag. Mainly due to weight and bulk. Also, because the cost of a warm, micro bag is too high for the sake of 1 or 2 nights.  

Instead, I used my Karrimore bivi with a sleeping bag liner (Rab) and my base layers.  

During a summer night, this was just enough along with my clothing.  

I wore a long sleeve merino base layer and Rab flux pants and my Injinji socks (just because I love them) and a light Beanie hat pulled over my eyes to block out the morning sun.  

All in all, it was fine for 1 night maybe 2 nights. My main complaint was the mat thickness followed by the fact that the liner and Bivi have no zip so you can feel a bit restricted and getting in and out in a tiny tent is like trying to put on a fullbody condom.  

Kit bags: 

I went with a handlebar bag and rear saddle bag (large 11 liter).  

I managed to get a deal via Planet X for these pod sacs.  

hwww.planetx.co.uk/i/q/BAPODWHBB/podsacs-waterproof-handlebar-barrel-bag – £20

http://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/CCPDWSB/podsacs-waterproof-saddle-pack – £30

Pros – easy to fit (although no instructions), waterproof and tough.  

Cons – due to how waterproof and well-made they are they are stiff so there is no give if you are trying to cram them full. 
The rear bag can swing left to right when you first start moving or get out of the saddle on a hill.  

Watch out – wherever you find a rub point between the bike, the saddle or the bags put a piece of duct tape on the bag and on your frame or bars.
I did not do this at every point, and it has caused some chaff on the bag but worse rubbed the paint through to the metal on some points on my bike.  

Tip – prevent swing with an extra bungee cord around the bag and down on to frame.  

Tent: 

We used an OEX Phoxx 2 which is v small, light, well designed for bike packing (the stuff bag even has loops to attach to handlebars) I think we may have had the outer skin touch the inner at some point (our fault) as we did have some condensation inside in the morning. Other than being a bit cramped (to be expected) it was perfect for the job.  

We got it from blacks at a bit of a bargain price (£60) so look out for deals.

Personal kit and clothing:  

I travelled light and took 1 of everything + a t-shirt and shorts for bar life in the evening.  

When we finished making camp, I simply rinsed my cycling kit in the sink with some soap then left it to dry on a makeshift washing line to use again the next day.  

  • Mid-length socks  
  • Trainers (not clip-ins so I could use them in the evening too)  
  • Cycling bib  
  • Cycling jersey  
  • Shorts  
  • Sunglasses  
  • Helmet 
  • Wind buff
  • Light beanie hat (rolled down to double as an eye-mask for sleeping)  
  • Civvies (t-shirt n shorts)  
  • Travel toothpaste, shower gel 
  • Manual toothbrush  
  • Ibuprofen, paracetamol, rehydration tablets  
  • 3x water bottles  
  • Brukit 

My Alpkit Brukit at £45 was my only excessive / not really needed item, but I love it and being able to stop along the way and brew up is great. Especially when you wake up in the morning and need your tea fix. It’s so good and adds to the adventure feel and your ability to be self-sufficient.
It’s super compact (but slightly bigger than its jet boil rival which has obvious pros and cons) and brews up in about 8mins for 2 glorious mugs of tea.
I love it. It’s easily my favourite purchase for this trip and will be getting a lot of use.  

So there you have it bike packing trip number 1 done and documented.
I hope this is useful if you are planning something similar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: