Fast Packing: Taking the Everyday Ride Further
For many of us, bikepacking is something we squeeze into holiday allowances and fit around families and responsibilities. We spend months dreaming about the big trip for the year, riding with single-minded focus beforehand and end up feeling lost afterwards when we realise the next adventure is months away. Filling in the gaps between bikepacking trips doesn’t have to mean less adventure. Packing a little less and heading off for a weekend – or ‘Fast Packing’ – can be just as satisfying as a longer tour.
Whether your target event is an ultra-distance race or a bikepacking trip of your own design, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of training before the event and the feeling a little lost after. It’s a well-known pattern, where a large adventure defines your life for so long and is so intense when it finally happens that afterwards you get the ‘post-adventure blues’. Suddenly every ride no longer serves a purpose, there are no numbers to be followed or achievements to unlock. Everyday life and everyday cycling lose their shine for a while.
By focusing on adventures on an ‘epic’ scale, we sometimes forget that the same sense of adventure can be found on a smaller, more straight-forward excursion. Escaping the structure of training and riding with less focus opens you up to new experiences and can transform familiar training routes into voyages of discovery.
‘Epic’ bikepacking adventures require planning, packing lists and laden bikes. Fast Packing can be as simple as strapping a single pack to your handlebars and heading off in search of a sunset with just a credit card and a spare layer – think of it as minipacking! It’s no more complicated than the everyday ride, it just lasts a little longer and takes in a whole lot more.
You can go fast and far if you want, but equally, you might just want to head out for the afternoon, catch the sunset on your favourite hill before putting on a jacket and riding home on quiet, dark lanes. You don’t need a carefully obsessed-over pack list and you can even aim to finish your ride at a nice hotel. It’s about carrying and experiencing just the things that matter.
It’s an excuse to take a better camera on your ride or pack a more interesting lunch. To carry whatever you want, without burdening yourself. If you’re riding with friends, it’s all the excuse you need to ride to a pub and spend the evening sharing tales before heading off to a bothy, campsite or hotel.
It’s an outlook our Creative Content Lead, Chris, embraced after completing the Transcontinental Race this year. “After the TCR, I barely rode my bike for anything longer than my commute. After nearly two weeks of living on the bike and riding in new and exciting places, the roads around my home just didn’t inspire me to get out and ride. I needed an extra incentive to get out of the door.”
The solution was simple; an easy weekend of gravel grinding close to home with friends and an overnight stay in a remote bothy. No preparation or planning, just a route borrowed from the internet, a Racing Series Handlebar Pack containing a camera and some extra layers, and a saddle pack for my sleeping bag for the unheated bothy.
It’s amazing how weather that just a week ago would have seen you decide not to ride suddenly becomes trivial when you’re surrounded by friends. How much easier it is to endure being soaked to the skin and freezing cold when there’s the promise of a fire, shared stories, and whisky. How the simplicity of just riding can reset your expectations and remind you just how great it is to be on a bicycle, with no regard for speed, distance or time.
This is bikepacking stripped back to just the most straightforward, fun bits. Long rides made more enjoyable by carrying just the essentials.