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Bikepacking is the mountain bike go anywhere version of cycle touring, although not a particularly new idea the reason it has become more popular in recent years, is the emergence of the lightweight and small equipment that is now available.

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The attraction of bikepacking is the ability to go for longer journeys on your off-road bike and be able to ride everything from byways and bridleways to dirt roads and singletracks and still not have to be home by teatime. With a suitable bike and the lightweight bags and equipment and with a minimalist approach, you can access and enjoy the excitement of riding technical routes over long distances and over many days riding.

Over the years touring has generally been on roads and hard tracks with the favoured approach of using racks and panniers for your equipment. But on off-road terrain, racks and panniers can often add unnecessary extra weight in one position on the bike. With the use of soft frame, handlebar and seat packs often with a lower centre of gravity the weight can be better distributed across the bike, making for a much more responsive and controllable bike, suitable for the terrain.

Although please don't be put off by the talk of new lightweight equipment, I started in a very basic form, with just a few drybags strapped to my bike and some old small panniers (which I didn't fill up too much). I've experimented with homemade stoves, converted trailer bikes to carry equipment for that longer get away. Just get what you can, shop around, beg borrow and scrounge if you have to, but just get out there and give it a go.

Bikepacking's appeal for me is it's shear feeling of freedom, not being restricted and bound to that black tarmac strip with everyone else, but with the freedom to get away from it all, miles from anywhere and anyone. Stopping and brewing a cuppa while you enjoy the view, and then when you have had enough for the day, bivvy down for the night (If there are no restrictions) and then start it all again the next day.

If this is something that is really getting you excited and you want to know more, you want to talk to people that have done it, tried things, experienced what it's like to bivvy down in a field. But you don't know where to start, you'd like to see some different styles of kit, some different ideas and approaches, then look no further.

James Bamford of Love Biking has teamed up with Ian Henderson of Forest Owl Adventures to bring you some fantastic courses.

Bikepacking Basics - Have you ever thought what it would be like to do some bikepacking? You've seen others getting out there, getting closer to nature, enjoying the thrill of the country side, stopping in the wilds and camping in a basic fun environment enjoying their very own micro-adventures.

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But you have no idea how to get started, what kit to buy and possibly nobody to go with. It can all seem a bit daunting with what sleeping bag to get and which stove works best. What bike do I need and how much is it all going to cost? Well look no further, our Bikepacking Basics course is designed for you. In an easy going friendly environment, you will get the chance to see and try out different types of kit, be shown the best way to put up a tarp shelter, look at different cooking systems, learn different ways to load your bike, and generally find out what you do and don't need....

Ride and overnighter - These rides are invaluable to those of you who are new to bikepacking. James and Ian have an abundance of advice and knowledge to share with you and help you get the most out of the experience.

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Meeting at a local venue to Grafham water in Cambridgeshire for lunch, after a gear check and safety briefing we will head out with all our gear loaded up for a local multi terrain ride in the region of 25 miles, stopping for a coffee on route. We will then arrive at our destination (a remote wood), where we will put up our shelters, cook some food, possibly make a fire and spend a fantastic and magical night in the woods bedding down with nature under the stars. In the morning, cook some breakfast, load back up and head out on the trails again for another good ride, before arriving back at the start for lunch before going our separate ways.

Lead Rides - Come along for the ride and experience the joy of doing some bikepacking with other like minded souls. James and Ian will plan the route, organise café and food stops along the way, plan somewhere to camp for the night and give you a great experience.


For all the forthcoming events, check out our events page.