The forecast was for a little bit of everything: sunny with a bit of breeze on Saturday then rain early Sunday becoming sunny again. I hoped to get away on Sunday morning before the rain arrived as putting wet bivvy kit away is neither nice nor easy.
I took the following, with the exception of the spare cycle top and the rear light I used everything but just as importantly I didn't require anything extra. If the weather hadn't been so bad then I wouldn't have used the baggy trousers, the jacket and the waterproof.
(H) = goes in handlebar bag
(F) = goes in frame bag
(S) = goes in saddle bag
(B) = goes in camelbak.
(H) tarp + lines and (F) pegs
(H) sleeping mat
(H) sleeping bag
(H) travel towel
(B) Hope Vision 2 light with battery and extension lead
(B) Moon rear light
(F) Anker backup batttery + cable for Garmin
Gopro + 2 spare batteries and card and chest harness.
(B) spare brake pads
(B) Tubeless solution
(B) Inner tube.
(S) Spare socks
(B) waterproof top
(S) airtex top
(S) spare cycling top
(S) Long baggy trousers as waterproof
(F) chamois cream
(F) Wet wipes
(F) first aid kit
(F) Phone - turned off!
(B) cash and debit card.
(F) marzipan, 1 block is 500g and 2200Kcal
(F) energy bars
All that, other than the Camelbak, went on a Cotic Solaris, here it is all ready to go. I'm not sure of the total weight, probably in the 16Kg range
In addition to the kit above I wore a pair of bib shorts, cycling top (both in Skipton CC colours), helmet, long fingered MTB gloves and photochromatic sunglasses.
The bike performed brilliantly, the only mechanical (if you can call it that) was the cadence sensor coming loose, I think a stone flying up had cut one of the bands that hold it to the crank. I noticed it when leaving the cafe on Sunday morning.
Speaking of cafes (and food).Part of the strategy in doing something like this is where to refuel, you use a lot of energy - the Strava estimated some 12,000 Kcals for the ride, depending on how fast you are riding then you have to aim to get to a particular location and grab what you can. This being a rural area there are no 24hr shops. The first aim was to get to Dales Bike Centre and their cafe before 5pm, after that it was a case of find the pub furthest along the route that was still serving food, a bit of a game of chance especially since I wasn't sure where all the pubs were. Sunday would just be a case of grab things as I found them which would become easier throughout the day as everything opened up. There was still a big section from Bainbridge to Horton in Ribblesdale with no chance of supply.
A few of us grabbed an evening meal at the pub in Gunnerside - I'd last visited this pub in 1976 (as a slightly underage teenager!) when doing the coast to coast walk. I got there at 1905 and wasn't sure if I could make it over Buttertubs and down to Bainbridge before that pub stopped serving food - a strategic decision: carry on, risk bonking and then missing last orders or grab food now and lose daylight. I chose the latter. The food was good but took nearly an hour to arrive so in retrospect it might have been better to grab some snacks and head on.
All that said, the cafe in Feizor serves a mighty fine breakfast
A word of praise here: both the Penygent Cafe in Horton and the Feizor cafe opened early when riders turned up on their doorstep.
I took a Camelbak rather than use frame mounted bottles for two reasons:
- With the frame bag in place I can't fit a cage and bottle.
- There were significant stretches across dry areas and I felt that I needed more water than one or two water bottles could provide.
The Solaris only has mountings for one bottle cage - it's not really designed as a bikepacking bike.
SleepingThe other main strategy is where to kip. It seems that most, the leading two riders excepted, chose somewhere around Dentdale, this was just over halfway distance wise but it was less time wise. Other than Stuart and myself who chose the same spot it seems that everyone else was spread along the dale.
There's a choice between bivvy bag and tarp. Both have their advantages: a sleeping bag inside a bivvy bag can be stored as is and is very quick to set up and put away and even if it's raining you are unlikely to get the bag wet. Not much room for anything else though. A tarp takes a bit longer to put up but gives you room to have your kit to hand without it getting in the way.
With the night being forecast and turning out very warm it might well have been possible to just use a silk sleeping bag liner inside a bivvy bag. This would have been a very light and compact system but you would be very exposed if anything went wrong.
What would I have done differently?
In the circumstances, not much really. If I'd felt that I stood a chance of a quick time I would have perhaps gone with silk sleeping bag liner and bivvy bag. I had ten hours of stopped time out of my total of 35hrs50, some of which might have been opening gates and the like. But I also had the following stops:
Askrigg: 15 mins
Dales Bike Centre: 30mins
I'm surprised at the bivvy time actually since it felt like we were there for much less time. The real timewasters were at the pub in Gunnerside and extending the breakfast at Feizor. The first might be better done by carrying the evening meal and cooking it at an appropriate time. The breakfast was just me faffing and timing - if I'd left a couple of minutes sooner I wouldn't have seen Simon and the other rider come in.