Bike Packing is certainly the new buzz word in cycling, what is this all about then. It seems to be the next thing, riders wanting to explore at a more leisurely pace.
We done events like the Bikemongers Gravel dash, you are a bit more looked after with food and water and a place to camp.
This was our second outing bike packing, the first a short route in buxton.
What is the difference between bike packing and cycle touring?
Not much really, the bike packing name sounds a bit cooler. The main difference seems to be there is more off road in in bike packing. You aim to try and get off the beaten track and look for more secluded routes. Touring tends to be more on roads and gravel, you can normally get a bit further cycle touring.
Even managed to find a place that isn’t just fish and chips, middle classed it up properly with a street food stall.
Tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag… very important.
A good nights sleep is essential, don’t skimp on a good nights sleep. After a bit of research I ended up with the items below to get that essential kip.
- Tent, as small and as light as you can afford, my tent is this one, it is the size of a coffin but it is light and packs up small.
- Sleeping mat is this OEX mat, I did have a mat from Alpkit which packed up a bit smaller, but only lasted 2 night sleep before the seams split.
- Sleeping bag is a 1 season Vango rated to summer. It was very handy as it packs up small. The packing bag also doubles as a pillow, genius.
The irony of this trip was, I really didn’t need the tent. We are in the midst of the hottest July on record. Easily could have just slept on the mat out in the open. Not to some peoples liking apparently the night monsters are put off by tents. They can’t figure out the zips.
We went for a nice leisurely Norfolk experience. In the hope that it would be flat, yup Norfolk is not as flat as you think.
The route was planned on OS mapping, they are more accurate than using other sites. It is easy to understand what a footpath, bridalway and by-way are making it easier to plot a route.
Where did we ride?
Started at Holme next the sea, Norfolk. The finish was at Oulton Broad, Suffolk.
We were extremely lucky as the weather gods ramped up the sunshine for us. It was pretty easy to pack as we knew we were pretty much guaranteed a rain free ride. Total distance was 117miles which if you add in off road as well was pretty much spot on. We easily finished the day at a campsite in Mundersley. The campsite I picked was purely on where it was, 58miles into the ride. We were spoilt with a bit of luxury, a campsite with rainfall showers – not exactly roughing it.
Day 1 – Bike Packing
was pretty sedate, we didn’t have to rush having time to stop in Sherringham. The route I plotted was completely blind, no route recommendations, I just picked a route that looked like it had a good mix of road and off road. Holkham Hall was a pretty impressive place. The masses are funnelled into the front gate and all park near the house. A few hundred meters away from the main house only the brave seem to venture. We only saw a few walkers and leisure cyclists. It was nice to have the grounds to ourselves. We were treated to a really nice lunch after a bit of a detour to Sherringham to get food. Lesson learned, stop at the first place you find, don’t think I’ll wait for the next village… the pub had stopped serving food.
Day 2 – Bike Packing
After a coffee and some breakfast the day started a bit overcast the riding conditions were pretty perfect, not too hot to cycle in. We had detour through Eccles as Mark spent a lot of time there in his youth. Strange place with no actual tarmac roads they were a mix of a load of rubble thrown down and sand. We stopped at Sea Palling for more coffee and some fresh doughnuts. Winding our way through the roads and bridalways and came in land to bypass yarmouth, The roads round there are extremely busy. We opted to cross the broads at Reedham, via the Reedham Ferry.
Ferry is a loose term, there is no check-in, no terminal and no gift shops. What there is, is a lovely pub. While we waited for our “crossing” we had a spot of lunch. The crossing takes about 2 minutes and cost £1.
Moving in land made it hot, really hot, the final part of the ride was pretty hard going heat wise and terrain. Under the tyres the ground was very sandy and dry combined with the heat it wasn’t easy. Some of this area I know anyway as I have ridden road bikes round the roads of Somerleyton and Camps Heath, but that said the off road route was something new all together. A real surprise considering I’ve ridden this area for at least 10 years but never off road. A eye opener and a lesson to say that even though you think you know an area there is always something new to explore.
Things learned bike packing
- You can’t just pitch up anywhere in England a Wales without prior permission.
- Take food. It is easy to run out, if you run out of fuel you run out of energy… simple.
- Take an evening meal and breakfast.
- If like us you relied on digital devices to follow, not an actual OS map, make sure you have all the cables and batteries to charge them.
- Don’t rely on 1 single device, have a backup. Especially handy if you need to deviate off course.
- Try and find something interesting to look at. I opted for the crossing at Readham. A chain boat crossing with a pub stop. Added a little fun to the experience. A surprise was the grounds at Holkam Hall.
- Check your kit, does it work, save time enjoying the ride instead of trying to fix your kit.