Plan B

Bike Packing
Luckily my NS Bikes Surge has a Bear Warning System

B is for BikePacking

We had booked the “Introduction to Bikepacking” trip with MTB Guiding a few months ago and three of us from the relatively flatlands of Wiltshire were really excited to be going on our first over night bike ride.

Meeting Tom Hutton at the Elan Valley Visitor Center at 10am on Saturday we discussed the plan. Along with the ins and outs of a guided ride we had the added complications that camping would bring to the ride and the extra gear and precautions we would need to take.

When bike packing in the mountains you have to carry all your usual gear that you would take on a long bike ride as well as a long list of other items to support an overnight stay.

Continue reading “Plan B”

Wildcat Gear – Bikepacking Kit

Wildcat Gear – Bikepacking Kit
Wildcat Gear - Lion, Tiger and Ocelot
Wildcat Gear L-R : Tiger, Ocelot and Lion

Good bikepacking and camping kit is not cheap. Lets get straight to it. To kit yourself out with enough gear to support you for even one night under the stars (or the drizzle!) can cost you £100s. Seriously this is not for the faint of heart or tight of pocket.

A good sleeping bag and by good I mean light, warm and one that can pack down to a manageable size can cost you £100 or more on its own. Ask around, hit the bike and bivi forums and you will get advice from regular bikepackers on where the best buys are – I recently looked at tents for instance and found that for a 1 man portable tent I could pay  anywhere from £50 to £200 – for a one man tent yes!

Don’t forget your sleeping mat, stove, food, change of clothes and all the usual paraphernalia that we carry on our backs for a long day in the mountains and on the bike. The shopping list is long…

MTB Guiding using Wildcat Gear
Tom Hutton of MTB Guiding

You can take your chances with weight, price and brand of all of this kit and do it on a budget, risking your night of comfort possibly and carrying some extra weight or you can go the other end of the scale and invest some money in good kit that is light. Which ever way you go you need to somehow fix all of this stuff to your bike.

Bar harness, seat post pouches, frame bags, etc – This is an area you should not compromise. Whatever you paid for your sleeping bag, you do not want it falling off the back of your bike in the mountains and getting wet and muddy or worse still it falls out and you don’t notice for a few hours!

And if you bought a super expensive tent or something that is maybe a bit on the heavy side you will want to make sure its fixed firmly to your handle bars (usually where it goes).

On a recent weekend bikepacking with MTB Guiding, myself and 2 friends were provided with a variety of different pieces of kit all securely fixed to our bikes using Wildcat Gear bikepacking harnesses. Once you have figured out the straps (this isn’t quite plug n play) its fantastic and the Lion bar mount and the Tiger for the seat post provide very sturdy platforms for your equipment.

We rode approx 90km through the Cambrian mountains in mid Wales and never lost an item and once secured the Lion in particular just seems to become part of the bike as it is fixed in 4 points to the fork and the bars.

The weekend with MTB Guiding was a taster as you can’t simply spend £100s and £100s on all this equipment to find that you don’t enjoy bikepacking and I certainly enjoyed it. I will be doing this again soon and at the top of my shopping list is this superb kit from Wildcat Gear.

You can buy in a few stores, or try the website:

Retailers –

Web shop –




The Adventure Dispatch – by Specialized


Spring is here (honest it is) and Summer is on the way (it really is you know!) so its time to start thinking about those camping and bothy trips again – this year I WILL do it.

These Adventure Dispatch shorts from Specialized are just the ticket to get you inspired to get out and explore. No MTB action I’m afraid but some Cyclocross and FatBikes.

The first one by Steve “Doom” Fassbinder with the fat bikes is the best film visually I think but perhaps the most unattainable for the majority of us.

Sarah Swallow’s adventure is the most likely experience for us here in the UK – yes it rains throughout her film!  But again its wonderfully shot.


You can find out more about the bikes and some of the cyclists featured at the following URL –

And finally the best of the bunch maybe? Because there’s a real possibility of doing something similar to Ty Hathaway. I love the cyclocross shredding and the bothy visit. This film just sets you up for the weekend nicely I think.

Nothing called Brian was going to stop me

Want some inspiration for a little adventure, a big adventure or even just to get out and about see some of the world? Well here it is.

I am not much of a reader of books. I like my reading in bite size chunks ideally, and while I’m a big user of social media I can cope with a little more than Twitters 140 characters and Facebook updates about what people had for dinner!

For Father’s Day my son bought me a book “One Man and His Bike” by Mike Carter, I read the first chapter or 2 and really enjoyed it, but decided to leave it for my summer holiday. Then I started reading about Alastair Humphreys and his microadventures, and discovered he had written a bunch of books and spent 4 years cycling around the world. Now I had a few books ready for by the pool and on the plane.

Nothing called Brian was going to stop me.

One Man and His Bike by Mike Carter is the true account of a newspaper (Guardian) journalist who wondered what it would be like to one day, that instead of cycling to work he would just continue, until he reached the sea. He would then follow a simple plan and circumnavigate Britain on his trusty steel framed Ridgeback Panorama.

Ever packed for a holiday and realised you took too much? Now imagine over-packing for a bike packing trip. You can’t simply leave your heavy suitcase in your hotel room for the week and then put it back on the plane a week or two later. You have to pedal it for dozens of miles every day, push it up hills, balance it at traffic lights and pack it strategically for easy access.

Mike left home one morning with a plan to cycle anticlockwise around Britain starting from his home in London, with so much gear. Included in his equipment list alongside his tent and sleeping bag, were smart clothes and shoes!

But no map!

As the journey and ‘story’ unfolds he slowly sends more stuff back ‘home’ and lightens his load, learning as he goes how he actually should have packed to start with.

The book paints a humorous and romantic account of the people and places of Britain’s 5000 miles of coastline. Along his journey Mike is constantly learning how to adapt to life on the road and is repeatedly reminded how Great and generous the people of Britain truly are.

From prearranged meetings at strategic points in the journey (such as waterways) to complete random drunken evenings with priests and scrap hoarders, Mike reminds us that the people of Great Britain generally have good hearts and are willing to help someone who is doing something special for no particular reason other than to satisfy his curiosity.

His writing is fantastic and as someone who has travelled a little myself it was not difficult to picture the pokey bed and breakfast accommodations, cantankerous land owners, fishing villages, rolling hills and stunning coastal views.

And with a recent interest in bike packing and road biking, I could picture myself on his journey. As a cyclist I could feel his pain on many climbs, share in the misery of being soaked through from relentless rain and also appreciate the thrill of the many descents and the welcome sight of a pub, or smell of a fish and chip shop. The latter has nothing to do with cycling, just a love of chips!

The account of his journey is excellent and not just for cyclists. Anyone with an interest in Britain, it’s people and places should read this great book. It will restore your faith in human nature, and if you didn’t already know how amazing this country is, I guarantee you will compile a long list of places you want to visit in Britain (a future blog post for me I think).

The book is very light hearted. You often feel sorry for Mike, perhaps in the way you might pity Mr Bean or some other unfortunate movie character. But this isn’t because Mike is clumsy, it’s because of the funny way he recounts the events and scrapes of his adventure.

The book will teach you a thing or two about our history as Mike tells stories of how Britain’s coastal communities have been shaped by politics, religion, industry and tourism.

As you can tell, for ‘not much of a reader’ I loved this book and will no doubt be thumbing through it again to compile that list. By the way, I am not going to tell you who Brian is, for that you will have to read the book yourself.

There is a great interview with the author here on Wanderlust Travel Magazine website. In it he recalls some of his favourite locations and of the people he met on the trip.

And here’s a great piece by Nick Hand, a fellow cyclist who actually set out to meet with Mike on his journey – and someone who writes a far greater review than I do!

And finally a nice blog post / slash review of the Ridgeback Panorama touring bike similar to the one Mike used.

Next up….

Moods of Future Joys (around the world by bike part 1) – Alastair Humphreys