Bikepacking has always seemed this method of travel that was just a little bit inaccessible to me. I don’t have a bike that could go off road, so there goes a large section of fun. I don’t have any bikepacking bags and after working as a bike courier for a summer I know how crap it is to carry a rucksack on a bike all day. And I didn’t really have any drive to try. As a long term follower of Bikepacking.com and loads of different sick Instagram accounts (Lael Wilcox is definitely one of the best ones) I always thought that it looked cool but I never really tried. Until now.
Me and my pal Jasper are soon to be making a film about bikepacking across Dartmoor and we realised it would be a good idea to actually try it before we head off on a four day trip. So last week we filled up our backpacks, bungee-tied some dry bags to our frames and wheeled our bikes out of obscurity. We were planning on just a short 13 mile ride over the rolling hills around the Helford to have a one-night rest at Tremayne Quay. We were by no means the fastest cyclists to cover this distance. For one, my bungee cord kept getting misplaced from my dry bag and for two, it turns out we are not exactly hill-climbers. With an extra 7 or 8 kilos on our bikes we got to enjoy hair-raising downhills and excruciating uphills. Did we walk? Yes. Do we care? No. We still managed to have a great time.
This part of Cornwall is incredibly quiet and we found that once we were out of Falmouth, the roads were very calm. This was good for two reasons, one is that it meant that it was way more chilled out and two, it meant that we could descend like maniacs a bit. I found that bikepacking is a great way to travel larger distances than hiking (even though we didn’t really cover a full days worth of hiking). It just seemed a bit more natural. Sure we were speeding through landscapes we would have spent longer in had we walked, but I feel as if we got to see more of the landscape. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be doing all of this off-road and somewhere truly wild.
Tremayne Quay is a great spot owned by the National Trust (read more here) and required a bit of dirt track riding to get to. In skinny race tires we got to practice both our wheelspins and our completely uncontrolled decent techniques. We had a last minute run to the pub before coming back to the quay-side and slipping into our sleeping bags/sleep around eight pm, setting us up for the easy ride back to Falmouth.
It’s quite a good thing that we tried out a wee trip before the big trip, because boy did we learn a thing or two. One is that your ass will get sore. Your ass will get especially sore if, in my case, a weird lump has formed in your saddle exactly where your ass wants to go. Number two is that it seems that if you’re bikepacking, any time is a reasonable time for a pint at a pub. We stopped at the Trengilly Wartha Inn at around midday and had a swift pint before continuing on our journey. And three, if it’s been raining for over a week then your chance of finding dry firewood is absolutely and completely zero.
Returning home I had a weird feeling. It felt like I’d been on quite the adventure, even though all we had done was spent a night bivvying and a couple of hours riding. Hey, maybe bikepacking is the future.