It has been on the plan for few years now to ride the Welsh Ride Thing and at last in 2014 the stars aligned, the bikes were packed and I arrived in Pennant on Saturday morning. There are plenty of write ups of the WRT on the forums, websites and the blogs of bikepackers so I won't bore you with mine. Instead I wanted to draw some attention to the diversity and inginutity of bike packers. As well as ourselves there are now numerous different companies you can purchase specifically designed luggage from. However it appears bikepackers don't want to be told this is how the kit should be used, you buy it... then mod. I love it!
My first photo shows the cockpit set up I rode with. In the centre the Fuel Pod had my phone, some bars, a knife, money. Stuff I needed close at hand. Either side of this I had 2 Stem Cells (version 2). In one I had a MytiMug, 250ml canister, stove, spork, flnt & steel. This is the first time I have ridden with the Mytimug upfront and I soon realised all that metal rattles if you don't pad it out. In the second Stem Cell I had a windproof stuffed at the bottom, with a feedbag of peanuts, raisins jellybabies etc on top. I wish I had packed the bike before I left as packing it in the field just before the start certainly isn't them time to try and thread velcro stripes and make them look neat. I gave up trying to use the same straps on the Kanga and Stem Cells. In front of the bars I had a Kanga with a 35L Airlok Xtra strapped to it. I had decided not to ride with a seat pack so I needed more space upfront for my sleeping kit and dryclothes than a 13L or 20L dual would have given me. The Roo Pouch on the front doesn't quite line up with the hypalon strap guides and gets pulled in a little, but it was adequate to store my glasses, Buff and warmer gloves in.
The WRT tradtionally starts at relaxed 1pm so once I had finshed pfaffing with my own gear I had time to see how other had set themselves up. There was a lot of nice set ups but a couple really caught my eye. Firstly Nathan Crew had a really neat MYOG bar harness that used simple plumbing pipe to space it from his bars and fork crown. It was solid as a rock and did the job superbly. A few people have asked if we could add a rubber spacer to the Kanga similar to that of Revelate, but I think this simple solution negates the need. Secondly I saw a bike that used wide reusable cable ties rather than velcro loops to attached their luggage to their bike. I think historically because everyone uses velcro loops we have all followed suit and whilst I have no problem with them, threading them through the webbing ladder system I developed for the Alpkit luggage can be fiddly and best done in a warm garage.
Whilst putting stuff away this morning I thought I would mock up a system with stuff lying around the warehouse. The cable ties were really simple to thread and it made it very easy to link the luggage items together. I attached the Stem Cells and Kanga together around the bars. Both stem celsl are fixed together around the stem and they are secured at the base with a cable ties to the bottom of the Kanga. Adding a short length of electrical trunking pipe does lift the Kanga off the bars quite well. It isn't quite as stable with a heavy 35l drybag attached to the Kanga but would work well with a lighter dry bag. I only had thin postage ties available, thicker ones would be better, however I would like to stress I haven't ridden with this system yet so cannot vouch for its strength, longevity etc and would like to re-emphasise to people to check their systems as they ride for wear and tear.
Have fun out there.