Posted in Cycle and tagged bikepacking, travel

Meet Karl Booth... he's riding a fat bike from the UK, to the most northern point of Norway. That's a bit bonkers...

In this blog post, he provides some bikepacking tips!


Karl's Bikepacking Tip #1 - Time efficient endurance training

I struggled for many months, not being able to ride at the weekends. It can become quite depressing. 

To overcome this, I started to use the time I had in the morning and evenings. Instead of sitting in a traffic jam for 3 hours a day, I rode to work and back a couple of times a week. 

My commute is a 66 mile round trip, so doing this twice a week covered the missed weekends.  If I rode at the weekend ride as well, bonus!


Karl's Bikepacking Tip #2 - Don't be overwhelmed by adventure. Take a break.

Bikepacking rides are long, very long.  I sometimes crunched the numbers to estimate the required average speed to complete a ride in the time I have set myself. Bad idea - I start to panic when my average speed didn't reach it.

I now break the ride down in to manageable sections, and set smaller easier to achieve targets. 

No one ever felt good about missing a goal, but constantly achieving perceived milestones keeps you positive.  It’s not one long ride, it is many short rides - with breaks in between. Easy! 

I use these breaks to have a bite to eat, take a picture, or just enjoy the moment.  You'll be surprised how far you can go when you're distracted.


Karl's Bikepacking Tip #3 - Beat the weather with positive thinking

Weather can be sole destroying.  My kryptonite is wind - a very strong headwind really gets me down, in more ways than one.

Shouting "Is that all you got?" at the wind, as it tries to sweep me away, gives me some underlining gritted teeth gladiator strength. I'm not a fan of the wind. 

Another one to remember (especially if you live in the UK), is that rain doesn't actually exist! It is in fact liquid sunshine; bet you feel warmer and less wet thinking about that now? 

The power of positive thinking.


Karl's Bikepacking Tip #4 - Conquer the hills

I've never been a good climber on a mountain bike, and sometimes hills just seem be never ending parabolic curves; getting steeper and steeper the further you go.

Gradually my legs would wind down to the speed of the hour hand on a clock, whilst my finger rapidly fires down to the easiest gear.

I would plod on at a snail's pace, never really making progress.  I never felt like I made progress on the hills. 

I solved this problem in 2 ways. 

  • On events when this happened I would quickly get off and walk at the same pace, giving my legs a good stretch and conserving some energy for the remainder of the ride. 
  • Next to solve the actual problem of riding up hills, I challenged my friend to see who could be the first to climb 10,000m each month. I wasn't going to walk up the climbs quicker than him riding, so I had to grind away. I quickly realised that if I put a bit more effort in, and got to the top quicker, I could rest a bit longer on the down hills, making my overall riding faster. 


Karl's Bikepacking Tip #5 - Fighting Fatigue

I have come to live with fatigue, we are like friends now. 

After many long days in the saddle, it is something normal to expect to be overly tired and generally worn out.

The aim of the game is to keep it at bay for as long as possible, and when it does set in, control it. 

Fuelling my body and not pushing it too hard allows me to keep going for a lot longer than riding hard and fast.

I now as a matter of course eat and drink at 15 minute intervals on the bike all day long, keeping myself fuelled (I also like eating which helps). 

As well as keeping myself fuelled, I ride at a steady pace all day, keeping my stationary time to a minimum.

Then when I'm done for the day, I settle in for a good long rest usually sleeping for a minimum of 4 hours, before getting up and cracking on with the eating and riding again. 

Not as heroic as pressing on against the body, whilst your head drops onto the handle bars like a nodding dog fighting against the evil darkness of sleep.  But it works for me.