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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Stove Shield Bargain from Amazon

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You may have seen my little video a few weeks ago featuring the Alpkit Mytimug and Kraku.

Gratuitous plug of previous blog post and YouTube video.

Well it was a little breezy so i set about looking for a cheap and light shield for the stove.

I eventually found this little one on Amazon. I am sure there are a 101 similar ones available but at £5.99 I figured I couldn’t see the point in shopping around.

It flat-packs down, as small as my iPhone 6 and weighs only 120g.

The 9 detachable aluminium panels are very flimsy but this is what makes it so light. As you can see its the perfect height for the Kraku stove and is ideal for keeping the breeze off and letting the stove do its thing unhindered.

You can detach the panels if you wanted to make it smaller – I could take 2 off to make this a snug fit – and the end pins are longer allowing you to fix the shield to the ground.

So for £5.99, barely any weight and no real space needed to carry this is ideal.

Any questions, comments or if you have an experience with a similar piece of kit please let me know below.

On the trail with Alpkit

Before I met up with the rest of the gang for a ride  on Christmas Eve and before going home to begin the festivities I went for some solitude and made a little video with some of my favourite gadgets!

On the trail with Alpikt
Kraku – Cracking!

Alpkit Kraku stove, and 650ml MytiMug, all filmed with a GoPro Session 4.

On the trail with Alpikt
Kraku – Hot Stuff!

Are you getting used to seeing and hearing me on YouTube yet?

Please show some appreciation and subscribe to my channel…

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”

#Microadventure Planning

Alpkit - Airlok XTra 5L
Alpkit – Airlok XTra 5L

If you have been reading my blog recently you will know how much I have been considering a bikepacking trip. I have become a little obsessed with the subject. My twitter feed, facebook likes and web searches have centered around the topic for the last month or two. Brands such as Alpkit have become faves and my wish list of their products is longer than my possible need for most of it! I am also suddenly Alastair Humphreys biggest fan. So I am making small steps in buying kit and putting it to use whenever I can.

Here’s a brief write up of this morning’s dog walk! Yes dog walk…

Breakfast - Kit List
Breakfast – Kit List

Its so easy to just go out and walk around the field with the dog, and don’t get me wrong we do this more than anything else because its convenient and easy and actually Brodie enjoys it as he has a lot of doggy friends in the area. But a couple of times a week we do something a little bigger and more interesting. This morning was one of those times.

I decided to see what I could fit in the Alpkit Airlok bag. At only 5L its not the biggest bag but I was determined to make it work. Here was my kit for breakfast:

  • 650ml MytiMug
  • Kraku Stove
  • 100gm JetBoil Fuel
  • Lighter
  • Tea Spoon
  • Tea Bag
  • Spork
  • Camping Mug
  • SIGG 600ml bottle of water
  • Bag of cereal and some biscuits
  • Milk – in a 250ml Tropicana bottle
  • Travel towel from Mountain Warehouse (I use as a small picnic rug until my Matador Pocket Blanket arrives)

The AirLok is designed for use as a handlebar pack for bikes, but the handy strap means it can be slung over the shoulder duffel bag style.

After an hour or so of walking I picked a spot with a view (and some shelter as it was windy) and unpacked.

I boil enough water for a cup of tea (keeping the tea bag), make that in my mug, then use the MytiMug for cereal. The mug takes up less space than bringing a bowl for cereal and I can’t quite get used to drinking straight from the MytiMug.

Once I have finished my cereal I give the MytiMug a quick rinse and boil the rest of the water. 600ml is just enough so the SIGG is perfect. The Tropicana orange juice bottle holds plenty of milk for two cups of tea and for cereal.

This might seem like a lot of fuss to some, and I have had my share of fun poked at me by a few buddies, but starting the day with a good walk and working up an appetite for breakfast is great. Enjoying that breakfast and fresh cup of tea, while sat on a local hillside away from the TV and the pull of my iPad, email and Facebook is such a great way to start the day.

Calstone Downs
Calstone Downs

Next stop is to purchase a bivvy bag and give it a try over night.

Here’s a quick video of this mornings very microadventure made with footage off my #GoPro Hero using #Magix Video Pro 5.