Monthly Archives: September 2014

More sabbatical plans

I’ve been experimenting with possible Sabbatical plans a little based on the April 2015 dates for St Beunos and the Welsh Ride Thing on 2/3/4 May. I’m still waiting for the Iona Abbey dates to come out and the St Beunos dates for May.

One possibility itinerary is:

  • Stage 1: Syston to St Beuno’s 2 days 136 miles
  • 8 day Individually guided retreat at St Beuno’s
  • Stage 2: St Beunos to Bristol 3 days 175 miles
  • 1 day to visit the Bespoked: The UK Handmade Bicycle Show – arriving on my UK Handmade Bicycle 🙂
  • Stage 3: Bristol to Cardiff 2 days a minimum of 50 miles
  • Spend some time with Son, Daughter-in-law and grandson
  • Stage 4: Cardiff to start of the Welsh Ride Thing at Forest Freeride 3 days 100 miles
  • Do the Welsh Ride Thing 3 days and no idea how many miles, I guess I’d be aiming for about 150?
  • Stage 5: Forest Freeride to Iona via Arran 11 days about 430 miles (4 ferrys)
  • Iona Abbey for 7 day course
  • Stage 6: Iona to Lindisfarne 6 days 265 miles (2 ferrys)
  • Quiet camp at Lindisfarne 7 day
  • Stage 7: Lindisfarne to Syston 5 days 290 miles

To give maximum flexibility I now plan to wildcamp where I can on the various stages. Otherwise I’ll use camp site stops (after all wildcamping is not officially allowed in England).

So far this looks like about 1,500 miles of cylcing although once I tweak the routes to be on quieter roads I expect that to increase a bit (which is why I have allowed so much time for the stages).

All this will be on my Bike for Life which will need to undergo a bit of a transformation part way through in order to be used off road for the Welsh Ride Thing. I’ll need to sort out off road tyres and remove the racks & mudguards just for that.

Bikepacking for on road riding and flexibility

My understanding is the Bikepacking is a new(ish) term for Mountain Bike touring without racks. Generally kit is carried in frame bags and in dry bags hung from the saddle and from the handlebar. Some people use a rucksack as well.

In recent months I have been getting a number of British Made Bike packing bags. I used some on the Epworth Pilgrimage and others on my long ride last weekend to and from Synod in Milton Keynes. My full collection of Bikepacking bags is now:

When touring in bikepacking style the expectation is that you will be doing very lightweight camping due to the limited volume of the bags. That means a Bivvy Bag and/or Tarp or a very lightweight tent. It means minimal cooking and accepting being very smelly 😉

However, I’m using the bags in other ways too.

I have not fitted racks to my Whyte Road Bike (and do not want to) and despite these bags being originally conceived for Mountain Bikes they work really well on my road bike. They make the bike fast and convenient for long rides where I need to carry a change of clothing (such as to Synod) or more food (eg long rides when you won’t pass many open shops). Also they will allow me to use the road bike for lightweight overnight stops, a road bike version of Bikepacking.

I’m also looking at using them for my sabbatical. That is now looking at about 1,500 miles in 7 segments totalling 32 days. Plus 30 days on retreats, visiting etc. Also I’m hoping to add the Welsh Ride Thing. As the ride will include The Welsh Ride Thing I will need this bags for their originally designed purpose. However, the rest of the time they will be useful combined with my panniers as a neat way taking bulky stuff (tent, sleeping bag) leaving more space for the extra clothing I’ll need for the retreats etc. They also make stuff like food easily accessible while riding.

New and crazier sabbatical bike ride idea

Some, who may not know me well, might have thought my existing Sabbatical plans were crazy enough (Leicester to Lindisfarne for a week, then Iona for a week, onward to St Beuno’s in North Wales for an 8 day individually guided retreat and then back to Leicester).

But now I have had an idea that will make it even more crazy.

It starts with a growing interest in Bikepacking (more later) and lightweight, wild camping (in a Bivvy Bag). Initially that was about new ways of carrying stuff and alternatives to luxury (and expensive) campsites that are widely spaced.

Then I discovered The Welsh Ride Thing (WRT)

Next year The Welsh Ride Thing is 2/3/4 May. So now I am wondering whether to do my Sabbatical route in reverse order fitting in the WRT after St Beuno’s. It would mean finding a place close to the start of the WRT to stash my full touring kit (including mudguards, front and rear racks) and switch to off-road tyres. Sounds like fun though. I love the non elitist, non competitive nature of it which after all is particularly suited to slow and overweight 50 year olds like I’ll be 🙂

Saturday will be my longest ride

So on Saturday I have my longest ride ever at just over 125 miles in total. That is 62.6 miles from home to the Northampton Methodist District Synod in Milton Keynes and then the same home again after.

The route is on Strava if you want a look.

As I need to be at Synod by 10am it will mean a pretty early start!!! 🙁

While it promises to be a lovely ride I do have to admit it will not reduce my carbon footprint as I could have easily got a lift in a car that is going anyway.

I think my previous longest ride was a smidgeon under 120 miles so this is not a lot longer, although it will include about 5 hours of Synod as a long lunch break.

I’ll be riding my Whyte RD7 Suffolk with various Bike Packing style luggage:

It shows how much has changed over the last few years that 125 miles with 6,000 ft of climbing does not seem particularly daunting or anything to worry about 🙂

I don’t know why cycling to day meetings does not get more coverage, it makes them so much more fun and healthier!

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