The whole concept of riding a bike really far is nothing new. Freedom, that feeling of the limitless possibilities that lie in front of me when I’m on my bike is something I have cherished since I was a child roaming the neighbourhood. Some of my fondest memories of riding my early 80’s black, steel Raleigh “10-Speed” with its brake cables arching high above the Cinelli bars wrapped in pink ribbon tape and its down-tube shifters were setting off on an 800km trip with paniers, a tent, sleeping bag a bit of pocket money. I had no mobile phone or credit card but either a worry, I just set off and let the adventures come.
In my opinion, one of the greatest aspects of cycling is how it can represent so many different things to so many different people. For some its simply a way to get to work, for others in developing countries it is fundamental in providing a livelihood as a form of transportation either for themselves or their wares. For others, its sport and even to the point of earning a living providing entertainment in the form of professional racing.
Personally, I’ve been through many of these phases. From childhood play to elite level racing to hobby racing and fitness. My essential love for simply riding my bike has been the thread that has held the story together. Now it seems that a new phase is starting: the era of riding really far, really slow. My first proper “bikepacking” trip was in 2010. I rode 800km north along the coast-line of Norway from the city of Trondheim to the incredible Lofoten archipelago. I call it “bikepacking” because I rode my normal road bike and carried a small back-pack with 3kg of baggage; mostly extra clothes, a pair of flip-flops and a phone charger.