Bikepacking on a wee bike

I’ve been working in London since January, and recognising the negative effect it would have on my training I decided to get another bike (as good an excuse as any). I figured that Boris bikes, while utilitarian modes of transport, are a bit rubbish for training on.

Security is a concern, so I needed something that could live in my office over the weekend when I’m home. This is where the idea of a folder came in. I’ve looked at Bromptons, and their fold is truly ingenious, but the quality of ride was my main concern. 

Enter the Tern. It’s kitted out like a fast hybrid, with MTB shifter, cassette and mech, and a road chainset. This gives an equivalent range to a 2×10 road setup, so was exactly what I was looking for.

It doesn’t flex too badly in use and is surprisingly comfortable.

Back to the point of the post: Easter. It’s about time I took a week off work, and given that my bike is in London and I live in Edinburgh, why not ride home?

As usual, my route planning was haphazard at best (Google Maps), but I reasoned that I could get some miles in after work on the Thursday, then just ride back over the next few days.

Never before in any of my bikepacking trips had I considered my kit carrying as much as this one. I needed to travel to London with all my work stuff, plus bikepacking, limited to hand luggage, and then return with as much of it as possible.

I opted for a new Revelate Viscacha saddlebag, somewhat larger than my Wildcat one but also more convenient to unpack on the go. Into this, I put my sleeping kit including my omnipresent Montane Prism jacket. I’ve opted for a very lightweight sleep system, this time a SOL Escape bivi, a Klymit X Frame pad and a sleeping bag liner. It’s stupidly light, about 600g all in.

Sadly on this trip I didn’t get to try it out, but that’s an excuse for a midweek micro adventure.

On my back, a 33l Osprey pack, chosen only because I took it down to London and needed to return it. It had minimal kit in it, just a change of clothes and some light tools.

The bike as it stands looked like this:

I think if I’d taken a Stem Cell I could have gone without the rucksack completely.

Leaving work at 4:30, I headed for Cambridge. Darkness fell around 7pm, just as I’d finally escaped London traffic. The ride up was nice, dark, flat and surprisingly quiet on the road. I’d expected some dodgy road conditions as I was following an A road up, but it was surprisingly deserted. Villages came and went, and I hit Cambridge around 9pm, in time for food service at the hostel. 

Day 2, I rode 165 miles to York. This was a long day, with Google Maps sending me along grassy muddy paths, making progress difficult on the small tyres. I arrived in York around 11:30pm, not tired but happy to have gone the distance.

Day 3, 110 miles to Newcastle. Rain started about 5pm, so the last miles on the Sustrans were rubbish. The NCN1 is pretty poor in places, a boggy mess and not the flagship national cycle route it makes out to be. I still made it to Newcastle, but the punishment meted out on my hands and the back wheel made a train ride home a nicer option. 


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