Bikepacking to Work
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, being a slave to such social media hash-tagging, I decided to plan my first microadventure, by bikepacking to work. To ride out one night for a wild camp and then carry on to work the next morning.
British adventurer and author Alistair Humphreys possibly started the microadventure hype. Pushing the hastag for a “short, simple, local and cheap” adventure. Adventure for all. Simple ways of 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. My inspiration was from photos of a friend’s bikepacking trip, taking overnight shelter in a bird hide. Someone also recently posted similarly on a Facebook microadventures group. I finally decided to go for it.
In order to fit as much adventure as possible in to a Wednesday evening, I packed most of my kit into the Alpkit luggage on Tuesday. Leaving only a few last minute preparations when I got home from work on Wednesday. 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.
On arriving at my destination I was glad to see the area deserted. I quickly made my way into my home for the night. There are no bothys or similar in Norfolk. Even if they do not strictly permit overnight accomodation, the bird hide is the closest we have. I made myself comfortable on a bench and set about making some dinner of pasta, pesto, pine nuts and parmesan. There was no worrying about storing normally refrigerated foods. The joy of cool temperatures and only leaving home an hour ago. 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.
Having consumed my simple 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.
A car rolling up the gravel drive towards the shelter heightened this ill-ease. I put together an excuse for my presence in my head and prepared for someone asking me to move on. 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 started to release the tension of my first wild camp and started to think about bed. I unfurled and inflated my camp mat and was soon tucked up in my sleeping bag upon it.
I woke regularly through the night. I’m unsure whether it was paranoia of being caught, or in fact just the cold temperatures in the hut. 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. 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.
Waking well before my alarm in the morning, I did not rush to get out of the, by then, comfortably warm sleeping bag. Eventually I 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?
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. Who would of thought bikepacking to work could be so fun. 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. Wider handlebars 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,
- Fuel Pod:
- Tub of premixed coffee and sugar (perfect for black with one),
- Tub of pesto, pine-nuts and parmesan,
- Energy bar,
- Frame bag (Alpkit Possum):
- Sleeping mat (Alpkit Numo),
- Stove (MSR Pocket Rocket),
- Spare sock (just one),
- Spare pants.
- Seat bag (Alpkit Koala):
- Sleeping Bag (Alpkit Pipedream 400),
- Down Jacket (Alpkit Filoment Hoody)
- Backpack (ideally I didn’t want to use a backpack, but it’s the only thing my work laptop will fit in):
- Titanium Mug (Alpkit MytiMug 650):
- Gas bottle,
- 1cm worth of the end of a kitchen sponge,
- 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.
- Titanium Mug (Alpkit MytiMug 650):