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Beginning Bikepacking

I love camping. That feeling of being outside, having only what you need. It’s a great way of escaping and feeling like there’s an adventure regardless of how far away the campsite is. Combining camping and cycling is something I’ve wanted to do for a while but have never got round to until very recently.

Scott – The Average Bikepacker to anyone online – was the perfect chap to show me the ropes. He’s had a few bike packing adventures since he got his first bike last year. When I introduced him to mountain biking during the first lockdown, it was clear he’d been bit by the bug. It didn’t take long for him to get a second bike and use it to start touring. After he’d cycled the Trans Pennine Trail last year, he started planting the seeds of bike packing trips.

A local loop to a campsite with an overnight stay before returning seemed to be a sensible way of introducing me to the idea of bikepacking. I got hold of some bike packing bags and, after much faff and difficulty, crammed in everything I’d need (and more, so it turned out). We left from my back door on a Monday night at around 5pm, setting off on a route that I’d been left to plan.

The bike certainly felt very different. It was much slower with the added weight of a tent, sleeping bag, water, and all the changes of clothes and spares I’d taken. It didn’t take too long to get used to the handling though and before very long we were heading on the familiar route of the disused railway line. We linked in with a local town, popped out the other side and headed down some more quiet country roads. Everything was going to plan until we hit a problem with the route. In my haste, I’d not looked carefully enough at the map and we found ourselves stood on the edge of a riverbank staring at the road on the other side. Where I’d expected a bridge, there was none.

With the river too wide and deep to just wade through, we ended up turning round and heading on a 10-15km detour around the edge of Hull. A McDonalds stop seemed to make sense on the way past and thankfully this seemed to make up for my mistake of poor route planning. It wasn’t long before we were back on track and linked in with part of the Trans Pennine Trail. The rest of the evening went without further problems. Watching a glorious sunset over the fields and almost dropping a flip-flop from the webbing on my saddle bag was as interesting as the trail seemed to get. However, a good laugh with a mate helped it to pass quickly and we arrived at the campsite for the evening.

Sea mist and cooler temperatures started off the second day. By the time I was up, Scott had already taken down his tent and re-packed his bags. Eager to catch up, I sorted myself out too and we set back off on the cycleway, finishing the final stretch into Hornsea. We were greeted with the usual seaside traffic which we were able to shoot past on the cycle path before reaching the first stop only 20 minutes after leaving the campsite. Breakfast.

The Yorkshire Wolds on the return journey were a real joy. Once the sun had burned through the mist and the temperatures came back up, it seemed like the perfect day. A gentle pace was set for the day and, aside from a scurry through a farmyard which wasn’t part of the plan, the second day seemed to be a pleasant bimble back towards home. Ice lollies and cold cans of pop from local shops, views over the hills, amazing little churches, rivers and ponds. Often we’d pass through places I’ve driven through but not had the pleasure of actually looking at. I think that’s perhaps why I enjoyed the ride; an opportunity to take time to see what was around.

Just over 100km later and less than 24 hours since leaving, we arrived back. With bike secured and bags unpacked, I immediately started looking for other cheap campsites that would be suitable spots to have another local micro-adventure to soon. If I had to guess, I’d say there’ll be more things about bike packing on this blog in the not too distant future.

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