Posts

Showing posts from 2020

7 Tips – Lightweight Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking

Image
These are some insights into planning and executing a lightweight unsupported bikepacking or bicycle touring trip. How should you plan? What do you use for mapping? What kit do you take? Where do you camp? What are the pitfalls to avoid?

My '7 Tips' for bikepacking and cycle touring...


1 – Use Modern Mapping Technology I love maps. The contour lines, roads, paths, and rivers paint a picture on paper. When it comes to route planning for a bicycle tour though, make use of the incredible resources from online mapping tools.
Komoot.com is my preferred service—it utilises crowd-sourced data of the most-ridden roads and trails to optimise a route between two pin points. It makes route planning dead easy, because you know that the roads and paths the software is taking you on are the best of the bunch in the area.
Online software will also tell you the elevation profile, and Komoot will even give you a breakdown of the road / trail surfaces that you will encounter on a route. This i…

Review – BTR Waterproof Bicycle Handlebar Bike Bag

Image
Keep it simple. That would be a good strapline for the BTR Waterproof Bicycle Handlebar Bag. This compact handlebar bag is designed to be a completely waterproof capsule that easily attaches to the handlebars of any road or mountain bike — to safely house your valuables and ride essentials.

For bikepacking trips, gravel adventures, and long road rides a small waterproof handlebar bag is a great idea — read my post 'What Is in Your Gravel Adventure Handlebar Bag?' to see what comes in mine. The BTR Waterproof Handlebar Bag is as simple, but as effective as they come; with an exceptionally fair price tag too.

The design is straightforward. The bag is 20 centimetres wide and made from durable waterproof fabric, with a classic roll-top closure to ensure that even the worst weather conditions cannot infiltrate the interior.

The bag attaches to the handlebars with three hook-and-loop (Velcro style) straps; two over the handlebars, and an extra strap that can go around the headtube of…

Bikepacking Tips – Brewing in the Wild : 5 Adventure Coffee Tips

Image
Lightweight bicycle touring and bikepacking is a unique way to discover new countries and meet new people. It comes with its own challenges though; a personal challenge I often encounter is the need to find quality 'fuel' in the form of good food and drink.

At home, I strive to make the perfect cup of coffee to kick-start my day's adventures. Camping in back-and-beyond locations does make that more of a challenge. It is still possible though, and with my experience of trying to create a good coffee in many wild locations, these are my five top tips…


1. Water Storage Water quality is a key component of good coffee. When you are touring or bikepacking I suggest making at least one of your water bottles a stainless steel carrier.

Plastic bicycle bottles are easier to drink from on-the-go, but they will leave water tainted—especially if you are collecting it the night before a camp. I recommend the Elite Deboyo Stainless Steel Vacuum Thermal Bottle—as it can also be used as …

Fuelled by Oats – The Natural Energy Super-Food for Endurance Cyclists

Image
If tasked to select one true super-fuel, I would undoubtedly pick the humble oat. The ancient wholegrain has fuelled more rides and more adventures than I can possibly count. Whether in the form of porridge, muesli, flapjack, or oatcakes; oats really are the ultimate endurance fuel.


In Praise of Porridge When I think back to past challenges, there is one common factor... porridge. It was porridge I ate at 4am when I started the 'St Boniface Down Everesting'. Porridge was my fuel of choice at midnight, in the pouring rain, midway through the 300-mile Trafalgar Way ride. Even in the south of France, on the final day of the #7Countries7Passes, it was porridge that kick-started the epic ride.

Porridge is the without question the king of breakfasts.

Wholegrain oats are the key to porridge's 'super-fuel' status. Oats are high in soluble fibre, which helps fill you up and release energy slowly. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, and they are a source of beta-g…

Good Reads – 'Mountains : Epic Cycling Climbs' by Michael Blann

Image
I have always had a love of mountains. I grew up by the coast but take me into the majestic land of peaks and valleys and I suddenly feel at home. 'Mountains' by Michael Blann is the only book I have discovered that seems to be able to articulate this deep-seated emotional connection through print; it is a literal and pictographic window into the hidden beauty of the mountains of Europe.

Good Reads – 'Really Wild Cycling' by Chris Sidwells

Image
As someone that loves off-the-beaten-track adventures, just the title of Chris Sidwell's new book got me excited. 'Really Wild Cycling' is a pocket handbook to extraordinary 'road less travelled' cycling adventures around the United Kingdom. From Devon Tors to Yorkshire Moors; from the South Downs Way to the Pennine Way; the little book has everything from one day rides to multi-day epics, and something from almost every county across the land.

The rides each have their own collection of pages—with graded difficulty, elevation profiles, OS map references, and an annotated pocket map. Colour photography helps to show the variety of landscapes that you can expect to find on one of the adventures.

Chris has adopted a personal approach with this guidebook. Each ride narrative supplies insight into everything from tea stops to local history; giving context and knowledge to be processed and enjoyed as you ride. The photography is also clearly genuine 'first-hand' m…

Review – Altura Dryline 2 Rackpack Waterproof Rack Bag

Image
A rack-top waterproof trunk bag is the ideal place to stash ride essentials when bicycle touring or on a cycle commute. The Altura Dryline 2 Rackpack 7L is a superb example and offers a safe and watertight carry.

Whether you a commuting, brevet event riding, or on a trans-continental bike tour; a rack top trunk bag is a great luggage solution. 
Hopefully, you have read my post 'What Is in Your Gravel Adventure Bar Bag?'—well, on my touring bike that has a pannier rack permanently fitted, I opt to carry the same selection of products (plus a lightweight windproof jacket), but in the Altura Dryline Rackpack instead of a handlebar bag.

The Altura Dryline 2.0 Rackpack is designed to be a simple but sturdy, and highly functional rack-top pannier pack.

Mounting the Altura Dryline Rackpack is easy. A base plate attaches to the pannier rack using two strong Velcro straps. The rack bag then attaches to a base plate using Velcro strips and three quick-release buckles; to allow for its qu…

Review – Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Waterproof Cycling Backpack

Image
Chrome Industries are an icon in the world of bicycle courier luggage. More than twenty years ago, in the city of Boulder (Colorado) the brand created the sling messenger bag out of seatbelt buckles and straps, five bar webbing, and a double-lined waterproof truck tarpaulin interior. Their tag-line reads 'Building Indestructible Gear Since 1995'—a claim they reliably hold true to.

The Chrome Barrage Cargo Backpack is a new leading light in their indestructible messenger bag waterproof backpack line-up—created to be the ultimate roll-top bike messenger rucksack. Capable of carry your daily cycle commute load or your weekend adventure kit—this backpack is as versatile and hardcore as they come.

The Barrage Cargo is made from abrasion resistant 1050D Nylon, with a welded waterproof truck tarpaulin liner, and a classic waterproof roll-top closure. The design makes it a watertight load carrier—with the cavernous main compartment safely accommodating 22 litres of gear, including a 1…

Review – BTR All-Weather Waterproof Wedge Bicycle Saddlebag

Image
The BTR All-Weather Waterproof Wedge Style Bicycle Saddlebag can certainly go the distance—it came with me on last year's #CelticCrossTrail bikepacking adventure—a 1875-kilometre ride that featured some of the worst riding conditions I have ever experienced. The compact waterproof saddlebag kept its contents dry and secure throughout that journey and has remained on the bike to this day.

As with the earlier reviewed BTR Waterproof Handlebar Bag, this waterproof wedge saddlebag is as simple but as effective as they come. Made from 100 percent waterproof fabric with a large easy opening roll-down closure—it seals out the elements in all conditions.

The saddlebag has a universal fit design, with three hook-and-loop fastening straps attaching it to the saddle rails and seat post. It should fit any bike, and it has great adjustability while remaining securely in place. Note: I recommend knotting the saddle rail straps when you have set them to the right length, as they can slip in the qu…

Personal Care – Skincare for Cyclists and Endurance Athletes

Image
We put our bodies through a tough time when we are out on the bike or head out into the wild. Our muscles might feel the strain, but you should also consider what the wind-burn, abrasion, UV-rays, and cold temperatures can do to your skin.
Here are some top tips for looking after your skin when you are enjoying an active outdoor lifestyle.
My featured brand in this piece is Weleda—who make by far the nicest and most effective range of natural skincare products that I have found to date. They are sustainably sourced, feature organic ingredients, and hold zero micro-plastics or petrochemicals.


Lip Balms and Barrier Creams  Throughout the year I apply Weleda Skin Food Lip Balm before a ride. This natural balm helps to avoid painful chapped lips caused by windburn and sunshine.
In the wintertime, I use Weleda's Weather Protection Cream—it creates a unique natural protective barrier from the drying effects of the winter elements. In the summer, I compliment this with the Edelweiss Sunsc…