Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BikePacking 101

It is Bike Month here in our great city and ten hardy individuals weren't going to let a little rain stop them from attending BikePacking 101. The instructor was an old codger with seemingly lots of BikePacking experience and next to him he had his bike with all the gear a person would need for a unsupported trip.

The audience was equally divided between the sexes and the ages ranged from those in their early twenties to retired individuals. One person rides every day as a bike courier and another is planning to ride across the country. The suggestions they made to the teacher showed that some of them had quite a lot of BikePacking experience and in fact one of them asked where the term "BikePacking" originated?

The tutor explained that BikePacking is simply backpacking on a bike. (The bike wears the pack silly!). Except for the pump, patches, bike tools, cycling shoes, padded shorts and helmet, the equipment is pretty much the same and the gear is stowed in a similar manner to filling a packsac. Pack heavy stuff at the bottom and close to the frame and put items you constantly need in the external pockets.

Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the BikePacking coach kept pulling out an limitless amount of interesting provisions from his panniers but the thing I liked best was the elastic netting that could be placed over all the accessories. The strong spider web elastic bands would ensure that nothing falls out. The leader described how his cycling partner lost his tent on a trip and had to squeeze into someone else's two man tent for the rest of the trip. I could then understand the value of having a midget sized one man tent.

Everybody gets their own tent

At the end of the demonstration, the trainer handed out bike themed stickers and it reminded me of a prize my brother and I received for belonging to our church choir. Choir members were rewarded for being the best soloist or best tenor or best harmonist. What do you give two boys who can't sing or hold their attention to the song sheet in front of them? You award them stickers for best attendance.

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