Adventure Cycle Festival 2017: Inspiration and expanding possibilities

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Over the past few months we have been getting out into the wild, taking overnight trips with our bikes and purchasing lots of exciting new gear suited to this style of riding. Naturally the Adventure Cycle Festival piqued our interest. The Inaugural Adventure cycle festival is ‘a not-for-profit festival with an event village based at The Lake District’s Brathay Hall. Featuring demo bikes and equipment, workshops, rides, challenges and talks from key speakers.’

We decided that in fitting with the Adventure Cycle festival’s ethos, we would ride to the event and camp along the way. Thursday evening after work we left home, climbing steeply out of the valley and out across the moors. After 25km of riding we arrived at Weets Hill, just off The Pennine Bridleway and we spent a calm Spring evening camping in a field of what looked and felt like cotton? Botanists feel free to correct us. 

On Friday morning we woke up and despite the weather forecast, it wasn’t raining. We took this as a sign that we should get up and get moving sharpish. It turned out to be a long, mostly dry and sunny day –  92km riding on backroads until we reached Staveley. We were staying with our first WarmShowers host (think a free place to stay similar to Couchsurfing but specifically for touring cyclists) and after a hearty meal cooked for us and a beautiful walk into the surrounding farmland to watch the sunset, it was the perfect end to a long day in the saddle. Thanks again Helen!

We took a quiet gated road to the Windermere ferry the next day and then rode a lakeside path to event HQ, Brathay Hall. The festival had a very chilled vibe to it as we pitched up the tent and explored for much of the first day. There were a multitude of different bikes to demo and luggage to look at but as we already had much of this gear, we decided to focus on the workshops and speakers. There were lots of people speaking about doing awesome things and this was really inspiring to say the least! (Google: Jossy’s Journeys (Pedals to Pinnacles) – This is an incredible story, Mark Beaumont’s round the world in 80 days attempt (Begins 2nd July 2017), We Love Mountains (some epic cycle tours and transition from cycle touring to bike packing) to name but a few. Check out this year’s festival details here: Adventure Cycle Festival

The surprise highlight of weekend was a talk about Rackless luggage with The Adventure Syndicate’s Emily Chappell and Lee Craigie. This was not because of the content but because we had settled on the fact that we had to take rear panniers to take everything we needed for an extended trip in all seasons. Or so we thought!

We caught the tail end of Saturday’s talk and seeing everything that these women could pack in their small bikepacking bags, we went back when they presented their talk again on Sunday. This got us thinking…

Can we travel for an extended period of time and across different seasons without panniers? 

We like the idea of having a bikepacking set up as it would make the bike more aerodynamic and handle off-road riding better (definitely what we’ll be looking for).

Emily and Lee pack wayyyy less (because they are racing) but in the same way, do we need both windproof  trousers and light, summer ones? Do we need a jumper if we have Icebreaker layers, shirts, down jacket and a waterproof jacket? Why not layer up and thus, take less?

When we got home we ordered the accessory pack for our Ortleib handlebar roll and Ortleib seatpack. There’s only one way to know for sure and that is try it!

So keep following our blog to see how this develops and we will post pictures and packing lists when we figure it all out. Either way I don’t see us taking four full panniers and the kitchen sink, unlike when Ben raced the loaded hill climb at the festival (awesome photo below!)

Steph and Ben

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