Back in November, some of the Alpkit team went on an excursion to the Peak District to embark on some bike packing training. Led by Hathersage Store Hero and bikepacking aficionado, Rich Seipp, the team were in good hands to find out the good, the bad and the ugly and most of all, why we love it.
The weather made it a truly typical bike packing experience (certainly those who have done the Wet Ride Thing will relate) but the team stuck it out and came back to work with a smile on their wind-battered faces.
Once they’d warmed up with a tea (or beer), we quizzed them on their mini adventure to find out what they learnt. But, first of all, who are we talking to?
S: Hello, my name is Samuel, I’m the assistant manager at the Ambleside store.
He: Hi, I’m Hebe and I work in the factory designing and bringing out new products for us to manufacture here in the UK.
Ha: I’m Hati - Alpkit wordsmith, climber, runner and sometimes cyclist.
R: Hi, I’m Rich - Ambleside Store Hero and aspiring mountain guide, spending the majority of my time climbing and fell running in the Lake District.
A: I’m Amanda - Customer Support / Hathersage Store Hero by day, runner and climber by night.... Certainly not a biker.... Well not until now at least!!
We had Amanda and Rich on Sonder Caminos, Hati and Hebe on Sonder Frontiers and Sam on a Sonder Broken Road.
So guys, how did you find the bike on the Peak District terrain?
R: I definitely had the best bike (Camino) for the ride we did; spending most of our time on back lanes and firetracks.
S: I was lucky enough to ride the Broken Road which was an absolute dream! The titanium frame makes this bike super comfy and responsive on all terrain.
He: My bike at home is a road bike and I’ve never been mountain biking or done any kind of off road biking before so this was a totally new experience for me. I found the thick tyres and wide handle bars of the Frontier super stable on the uneven terrain and was kind of surprised how easy it was to ride!
A: The Camino felt pretty stable and easy to control, I didn't feel as though I was bouncing around too much going over holes and bumps on the path. I seemed to pick up speed pretty fast andit feltlight and easy to handle in and out of the van. I'm perhaps notbest placed to judge the bike against its rivals as my last bike was a 3 gearedRaleigh Racer 25 years ago!
Ha: I usually ride a road bike with slick tires just to get from A to B. I felt really comfy and stable on the Frontier’s 27.5” and it was fun to be able to rag it round and motor over stuff so comfortably (especially compared to my road bike).
How did you find the bike your rode for bikepacking?
S: Even though I was fully loaded up with bike packing gear, the suspension and wider tyre on the Broken Road made me feel at ease on the technical and rough tracks. I’d highly recommend this bike to anyone planning to do an off road bike packing adventure!
He: I thought the Frontier handled the weight from the loaded luggage really well but I found it a little bit annoying that I couldn't fit a seat pack as I didn't have enough clearance between my saddle and back tyre - this is mostly because I'm short (5’2”) rather than there being any issue with the bike though.
A: All the bags I used fit the Camino really well and I was amazed how much kit I could squeeze into such a narrow space.
R: The Camino was fantastic in bike packing mode; the relaxed geometry makes time spent in the saddle very comfortable.
Tell me, what did you enjoy most about the day?
S: Getting cosy under the tarps and cooking up some delicious pudding - the chocolate chip pud was appreciated by everyone after an hour in the cold rain!!
Ha: I always forget how fun cycling off-road is (too distracted by climbing) so I enjoyed playing about a bit: racing Jamie downhill, trying and failing to jump over puddles, and the steady-pedalling uphill bits too
R: Meeting other members of the Alpkitteam, and being able to explore a part of the Peak districtby bike.
A: I really enjoyed the picnic in the rain and wind, food always tastes so much better when I’m cold and wet.
He: My favourite part of the day was seeing how fast I could go on the downhills! The fat tyres make the bike really stable and so I wasn't worried about hitting a pothole or rogue branch and getting thrown off.
Which piece of bike luggage would you not leave home without?
R: Gnaro and Koala 13 - both very goodbikepackingbags which are easy to mount to a bike, keeping my belongingsdry in the foul weather.
S: Big Papa, having 17 litres of storage space means I can bring almost everything with me on my adventures!
He: I love to snack, and a Fuel Pod is the perfect size for a Mars bar and a packet of Hula Hoops (encouragement for the up hills). I always thought it looked like you'd need to take loads of stuff with you if you wanted to go for an overnight camp somewhere, but I was actually really surprised to see that you can fit enough kit for a couple of days and nights in just three or sowell packed pieces of luggage.
Ha: The Koala seat pack - I have one that I use for day-rides round the Peak and when going away for a few days. I like packing light and it’s satisfying to get all your clothes in a compact bag that sits in such an unobtrusive place.
Tell me an interesting fact you learnt.
Ha: Once you’ve filled your dehydrated food sachet with hot water, put it in your jacket to keep you (and it) warm. I’d recommend sealing it first though (lesson learned the hard way).
A: I learned that I actually quite like riding a bike! I like the fact that you can really push it up the hills knowing you will get a bit of a rest on the downhills - although I have since been informed that I should be trying my best on the downhills too!! I also learned that padded bib shorts, whilst very practical, don't feel that great once the padded bum gets a soaking (from the rain !)
Big thanks to Alpkit Hathersage Store Hero, Jessie Leong, for the photos!