One weekend last 'summer' (England didn't really have one this year unfortunately) Jonny, Rob and I went for an overnight bikepacking trip in the Oxfordshire countryside. Here's the story in twelve images...
We gathered together a hotch-potch collection of backpacks, panniers, borrowed mountain bikes, bivvy bags and a hammock (!) and set off to have some fun. (Spot the David Bowie 'Labyrinth' t-shirt)
The rough plan was to explore some tracks and paths on an OS map, find somewhere to camp out, then head back home the following morning.
Straight away it was ace - who knew there could be so many great tracks hidden away in the woods, invisible from the roads we usually cycle on? Descents were the obvious highlight - 30 terrifying seconds spent bouncing down a rocky path on the verge of losing control, before bursting out laughing at the bottom all high on adrealine. I really need to do more mountain biking!
Navigation wasn't too hard either thanks to a detailed map. We connected up various trails to take us on a loop away from town.
Despite only riding for a few hours we were plagued by mechanicals. The final tally for day one was five punctures and two broken chains!
I'm not sure what went wrong but at least the previously unused chain breaker on my multi tool got a good workout.
After a full afternoon of trail riding (and associated repairs) we made our way up a hill and looked for a decent place to sleep.
Satisfied with the view, we cracked open the liquid refreshment we'd sourced in the last village. Ideal rehydration after a day on the bike...
Next task: cook up a traditional campstove slurry.
Unfortunately the wind and rain started lashing down horizontally, making our exposed hill a poor choice of camp spot! We moved under this tree which gave us pretty good cover and made a fire for warmth. We were no more than fifteen miles from our nice and dry homes, but it was getting dark and after carting our sleeping stuff around all day we had to use it...
With the fire blazing, it was almost cosy under the tree so we settled in for an evening of melting marshmallows before rolling our bivvy bags out, nearly oblivious to the raging rain passing either side of our natural shelter! (Some more oblivious than others after the wine…)
A good few months have passed since this trip - digging out the photos and writing this post has reminded me how much fun this mini-adventure was despite involving pretty much no effort, planning or money. Time for another!