Bikepacking to Work – A midweek #microadventure

The term ‘microadventure’ is, very possibly, another marketing buzz-word dream for outdoor equipment companies, eager to catch a ride on a wave being driven on by it’s own social media hype. So it was, being a slave to such social media hash-tagging, that I decided to plan my first bikepacking microadventure. To ride out one night for a wild camp and then carry on to work the next morning.The microadventure hype was possibly started by the British adventurer and author Alistair Humphreys who coined the hastag for a “short, simple, local and cheap” adventure, ideally suited to getting away from the pressures of every day life, without needing to interrupt it, too much.

My work-night trip surely follows the mantra of the microadventure perfectly, fitting an outdoor overnight experience into my normal routine. In testing my Thompson R9300 (see here) I had found a gravel path that led to a fishing spot and bird spotting hide. Having originally been inspired by a friends bikepacking trip with photos of a bird hide having been used for overnight shelter and someone having recently done the same on a Facebook microadventures group, I finally decided to go for it.

In order to fit all the adventure in to a Wednesday evening, I had actually packed much of the kit into the Alpkit luggage on Tuesday night, leaving only a few last minute preparations when I got home from work on Wednesday (theres a full kit list at the bottom of the page). I packed the last few bits onto the bike and rode off into the cool dark night, a light drizzle not dampening my mood as I set off for my first microadventure. I took the quietest route possible, choosing cycle paths and quiet lanes rather than the direct route, I was in no rush.

Thompson R9300 fully loaded in the night in black and white
Arrival at my camp for the night

On arriving at my destination I was glad to see the area deserted and quickly made my way into my home for the night. There are no bothys or similar in Norfolk, so the bird hide is the closest we have, even if overnight accomodation is not strictly permitted. I made myself comfortable on a bench and set about making some dinner of pasta, pesto, pine nuts and parmesan. The joy of the cool temperatures and having only left home around an hour ago meant there was no worrying about storing normally refrigerated foods. I was pleased with my new Alpkit MytiMug titanium mug, paired with an old MSR pocket rocket stove. The MytiMug is very lightweight and perfect size for the solo traveller, my only gripe being that the lid handle is a bit fiddly to grab once the contents are up to temperature.

Alpkit MytiMug on MSR Pocket Rocket
Cooking dinner in the Alpkit MytiMug

Having consumed my simple but tasty meal, I relaxed with a book and hip-flask of rum. The infrequent rumble of the nearby railway line making me worry that a car was coming along to usher me along from my planned resting place. When all else is quiet, it is suprising how loud a train line can be, even half a mile away. All other noises, a bird passing nearby and waves lapping against the river bank, were also an unwelcome intrusion into my relaxation.

This ill-ease was heightened when a car did in fact roll up the gravel drive towards my shelter, I prepared myself to be moved on, putting together in my head an excuse for my presence. But it was just a group out to relax by the river for a half hour or so, I assume they stayed in their car, they didn’t bother me so I left them to themselves. Once they had moved on, and possibly due to the consumed rum by this point, I was starting to release the tension of my first wild camp and started to think about bed. I unfurled and set about blowing up my camp mat and was soon tucked up in my sleeping bag upon it.

Bike and gear including bed setup in the bird hide
Bed setup in the bird hide

I’m unsure whether it was the paranoia of being caught on my first wild camp, or in fact just the cold temperatures in the hut, but I woke regularly through the night. My Garmin reported a temperature of 2°C when I woke at one point during the night,  the Alpkit sleeping bag not keeping me quite as warm as I had expected. A 2 a.m. reshuffle of clothing options however meant the remainder of the night in the sleeping bag was far more comfortable and less interrupted. I also wonder if actually a tent may have been a better shelter, the smaller volume maybe holding in warmth better than the large open space of the bird hide,  not helped by the walls actually having a 1 inch gap all around the bottom.

I woke well before my alarm in the morning, but did not rush to  get out of the, by then, comfortably warm sleeping bag. I eventually got up and boiled some water for a morning coffee and wandered round outside the hut, peering into the cold dark waters of the River Yare and guessing now wasn’t the time for a quick dip. My workday starting at 7.30 a.m. meaning I was up well before the sun, though the birds on the marshes were already making a huge amount of noise. Who would of guessed that they would build a bird hide where a large number of birds congregate?

Thompson R9300 with Alpkit luggage
Arriving at work with all the gear

As I packed my kit back onto the bike and headed off to work in the darkness, a feeling of jubilation washed over me at the success of my first microadventure. Why not go for your own and make your midweek a bit less mundane? I’ve also gained a bit more bikepacking experience that will help with choices for future adventuring, what to pack where is something I’m learning by experience and wider handlebars need to be put back on for loaded up trips to stop my knees bashing the bar ends. I’ve included a kit list for my work-night microadveture below. Further reviews of some of the kit will come along as I use them more.

  • Thompson R9300
  • Blackburn Outpost cargo cage holding 1l Nalgene water bottle,
  • Regular cycling bidon water bottle and cage,
  • Alpkit Fuel Pod (on top of the top tube):
    • Tub of premixed coffee and sugar (perfect for black with one),
    • Tub of pesto, pine-nuts and parmesan,
    • Petzl headtorch,
    • Gerber multitool,
    • Phone,
    • Energy bar,
  • Alpkit Possum Medium frame bag:
    • Alpkit Numo sleeping mat,
    • MSR Pocket Rocket stove,
    • Spare sock (just one),
    • Spare pants,
  • Alpkit Koala seat bag:
    • Alpkit Pipedream 400 Sleeping Bag,
    • Alpkit Filoment Down Hoody,
  • Osprey Venom 13 backpack (ideally I didn’t want to use a backpack, but it’s the only thing my work laptop will fit in):
    • Alpkit MytiMug 650 (with bits stored inside):
      • Gas bottle,
      • 1cm worth of the end of a kitchen sponge,
      • Igniter,
      • The other sock (to stop it all rattling around),
    • Half a packet of fresh pasta,
    • Hip-flask – Bacardi Carta Fuego Rum,
    • Book – Terry Pratchett’s Colour of Magic,
    • Sandwiches for lunch the next day,
    • Work laptop.