My first Bike and Bivvy

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Silbury Hill Bivi Spot

I have been threatening to do this for ages and I eventually plucked up the courage to get out and do a solo bivvy camp out.

I didn’t go far, about an hour from home and had a return home plan via the A4 if need be, which I think would take me about 30 mins.  I had no bike lights but a pretty decent torch and gorilla tape that I could use to strap it to my bike helmet or bars.

My original plan was to head for the West Woods, but my disliking of strange noises in the night got the better of me and I thought the fewer rustling trees the better. This spot in a field next to Silbury Hill was sheltered from the rain that looked likely by a large tree and was low enough to be out of the wind.  At least I thought it was!

I made the shelter by using the top of the barbed wire as support and tied the corners with guy rope.  I pinned the other end to the ground with 2 tent pegs and laid my bike on it for good measure.

Shelter Kit List:

  • Tarpaulin – approx 3m by 2m from Amazon £8.00
  • Bivvy Bag – Mountain Warehouse approx £20-25
  • Paracord/guy rope – £5
  • Tent pegs x 4 (only used 2)

The long grass provided some cushion from the remarkably bumpy ground, but also scraped and scratched against the tarp all night spooking me every few minutes.

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Cosy – Tarp Shelter

I had bivvy bag and a 2 season sleeping bag from Mountain Warehouse and was plenty warm enough at night.

My bike bag was loaded with every usual spare, tools and first aid, as well as some extra layers and clothes in case I got wet and a variety of last minute food snatched from the cupboards at home.  Baked Beans, cuppa soup, tinned soup, few biscuits, cereal and tea bags.

I had 2 litres of water specifically for boiling for tea (on top of 2 that was in my hydration bladder) and about a half a pint of milk.

My cooking set up consisted of my Alpkit Jackal Brukit and smaller Kraku stove – the idea was to have the two so I didn’t have to worry about cleaning out the cooking one to boil water in for tea.  I’ve previously done a short review of the Kraku – check the link on my Youtube channel.  The Brukit might need some treatment also soon.

Thoughts and conclusions

This was my first bivvy and by default my first solo bivvy too – so what did I think? What would I do different next time?  Would there be a next time?

In the whole I enjoyed it once I settled (or got too tired to worry about the noises), and I’d love to do this again. I am now hoping for a warm September and looking for some other spots within an hours or so from home.

Sleep – I was perfectly comfortable and warm enough maybe by the end of September I’d need a warmer sleeping bag, but for a coolish August night this was perfect.

Shelter – The tarp fixed over the fence was ideal.  Maybe I could use something to protect it from the barbed wire (some old inner tube or something), but otherwise this was perfect.  I need to try some sort of free standing shelter next, maybe some poles are required.

Food – One night is easy. I took a tin of soup, a crusty roll, some biscuits and tea for the evening. And took a portion of cereal (mixed up some granola, choco pillows and raisens) and more tea and biscuits for breakfast.  I also had a couple of bananas and cereal bars.

Clothing – As it was August and I wasn’t far from home I had my riding shorts and jersey on. And i took a spare jersey, socks and a water proof – as well as a woolly hat.

Lighting – I could do with recommendations for a night light / lamp of some sort. I had a pretty decent mini torch with me and spare battery, but could have done with some sort of lantern.

Time for some research.

I’d be keen to hear any advice on your set up.

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Proper Mountain Bike Adventures

Many people will have been inspired by Steve Jones and Doddy’s e-bike adventure in the Black Mountains, including me and I was only there a few weeks ago. Go and watch it now if you haven’t – I guarantee it will make you want to go out and ride!

But before you head off to the hills its worth checking the rights of way along your “planned” route.

Unfortunately much of our beloved countryside is not open to mountain biking. We have a bad reputation of supposedly ruining the footpaths, scaring walkers and a multitude of other sins that simply just aren’t true.

British Cycling, Open MTB and numerous other organisations are on a constant campaign to convince the organisations like the Welsh Government to grant sensible access to the countryside in England and Wales much like they have in Scotland where the Access Code says:

Access rights extend to cycling. Cycling on hard surfaces, such as wide paths and tracks, causes few problems. On narrow routes, cycling may cause problems for other people, such as walkers and horse riders. If this occurs, dismount and walk until the path becomes suitable again. Do not endanger walkers and horse riders: give other users advance warning of your presence and give way to them on a narrow path. Take care not to alarm farm animals, horses and wildlife.

I’m a qualified British Cycling Level 2 MTB Leader and like many other guides I cannot legally take rides in some of these amazing landscapes or we will not be covered by the terms of the Leadership Agreement, which includes liability insurance.

So, my advice:

If you want to enjoy adventures like the one that Jonesy and Doddy had in the video above, check very carefully if you are allowed to ride there. Many national trails look very appealing but are restricted walkers.

And if you do decide to ride them, you do so at your own risk and please ride sensibly and considerably – maybe adopt that Scottish way of thinking above.

If you have any questions or would like some route planning advice I am happy to help and even guide you there if you fancy having someone else take on the navigation duties

https://www.facebook.com/GuideWiltshire – I’m based in Wiltshire but travel all over.

References:

  1. http://www.breconbeacons.org/mountain-biking-routes
  2. https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/blog/2011/08/rights-of-way/
  3. https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/campaigning/article/20160420-campaigning-Countryside-access-for-mountain-biking-0?c=EN
  4. http://openmtb.org.uk/news/trails-for-wales-its-bad-news/
  5. https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/Practical-guide/public/cycling

I’ve been Vlogging // Youtube

Don’t listen to them.  That’s what I tell myself.

Now is always a good time. That’s another saying I like.

Done is better than perfect. Not one of mine, but I like it and its my new blogging/vlogging moto.

Don’t wait until you have perfected it, just get the content out there and be yourself. Sometimes too polished and fancy can seem fake.  Sure I’m doing some intro’s, adding music etc but you have to make it a little interesting, there’s just no need to spend days making a slick edit, unless thats what people want. Mountain bike videos don’t have to be all from behind the bars or on top of your helmet.

Anyway – i might do a “guide to mountain bike vlogging” post at some point, but for now please head over to my YouTube channel and subscribe.

I’d love the support and encouragement and if you could hit the Like button and leaev comments that would be awesome!

Thanks

Tim

Ard Rock Festival 2018 in Photos

In no particular order, some pics I snapped with my Canon EOS M around the event village and I believe all of these are with the 35mm manual lens.

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Mountain Rescue – all raffle ticket proceedings went to this bunch looking after the rest of us fools on the hills
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First starting line up of the day. Jono Jones in the middle snapped a few chains and got lost but still managed a respectable finish and went on to win the Pump Track Challenge again!

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Danny won his category but was beaten in the overall times by 4 seconds by none other than Peaty himself

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I looked after myself with a few hot drinks #alpkit
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Dales Bike Centre did a grand job of bacon sarnies and cooked breakfasts everyday

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The clouds threatened, but no rain fell (well a few spots!

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My First 100km Ride

Ok it wasn’t on a mountain bike but it was on a cyclocross/gravel bike and was hard work in yesterday’s heat.

I didn’t have much of a plan. I’d loosely mapped out a 100km route and I had 3 main check points.

Solsbury Hill (From the Peter Gabriel song)
The Bath Two Tunnels
and getting home via the Caen Hill Locks by 9pm

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Somewhere between Bath and Devizes – my bike carried 1 bottle of water, my tools and puncture kit and also my DJI Spark drone.

I set off after 1pm with a sort of plan that it would begin to cool as my ride went on rather than get hotter, and because I’d had a few beers the night before and didn’t feel like riding in the AM.

My journey took me along probably 50km of cycle paths (40km of which were rough – the Kennet and Avon tow path sounds lovely but its bumpy and rough for a 30km stretch).   And 50km or roads and paved tracks.

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View of Bath from “little” Solsbury Hill – take with DJI Spark

The Bike

My bike is a Genesis CDF – a few years old, and is a steal cyclocross machine weighing around 12kg I think – haven’t weighed it. And I currently have fitted some Specialized Borough tyres – these are great for the smoother surfaces but don’t hide the bumps of the Kennet and Avon Canal tow path!

Nutrition

I didn’t really plan this very well and though I thought I did OK, it shows that with some better planning I would have had plenty of energy

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I had a 500ml bottle on the bike and another in a bum bag, waist pack along with my snacks.  When I stopped at a corner shop these three fitted perfectly between the rack and seat post. I love a Strawberry Yazoo!

I carried 2 x 500ml bottles that I refilled in a pub, a camp site and with a bottle purchased from a shop.  So I drank around 4 litres as well as a milk shake and a bottle of coke.

Before I left I’d had some eggs for breakfast and bacon sandwich for lunch.

Food en route consisted of 3 basic cereal bars, and half a pack of Haribos.

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Caen Hill Lock Flight – about 14km from home.  I’d have been home an hour earlier if I hadn’t flown the DJI Spark for these photos here and on to of Solsbury Hill.

Journey details

Distance 101.7km
Elapsed time 7 hrs 55 min
Moving time 5 hrs 57 min
Elevation 1070m
Max speed 64kmph

https://www.strava.com/activities/1721130902

Whats next?

The bike needs some new brake pads, bottom bracket, cassette and chain. I’m also thinking of changing up the front chain rings to give some more climbing and less top speed if possible.

And another ride as soon as i can make the time.