I was asked in an interview a few years ago if I’d ever try bike packing, or long distance races. Up until that moment, I hadn’t really considered it. Bike packing was just something that existed, but hadn’t really made it to my attention. Suddenly, I was seeing bike packing adventures everywhere. From Scotland to New Zealand. From around the world trips to Lands End John O’Groats.
The seeds were planted.
Last summer I decided that I wanted to try to ride Jotunheimstien; a singletrack created by hikers from Oslo to Gjendesheim in the Jotumheimen mountains. It’s a 322.4km trek, passing few civilisations on the way. It would be an entirely self supported trip. And one not attempted by bike before (as it would turn out, there’s a good reason for that!).
August 2016 was decided upon to be the month to try it. A few weeks before we settled on a date to start, and we were limited in that we had to be back at home by Tuesday evening. 4 days. That’s all. Do some quick math and it’s roughly 80km per day. On singletrack. Rocky, rooty, technical, physical singletrack.
A few days before our planned departure, we filled the spare room with kit and tools. Raiding the local sports shop, we topped up the room with compact sleeping bags, air mattresses, food, and waterproof kit.
The first task was setting aside the ‘essentials’, the ‘maybe’ and the ‘unnecessary pieces of kit. I detest being cold, so naturally 4 wool thermals made it to my essential pile. One change of bike kit, spare socks (times 4), undies, warm clothes, waterproofs for riding, and waterproofs for not riding, thermals to sleep in and a down jacket were also added.
Our sleeping bags were compact; mine filled with down and comfortable down to 0c. The air mattresses were very small when folded down, but immensely comfy when blown up. Most of all, I looked forward to eating the dehydrated food: reindeer stew, chicken tikka masala, pasta bolgnese.
We put the heaviest items into the frame bag. Our clothes went into the large saddle bag. My bike then held the tent and sleeping bags on the front, while HJ used a handlebar bag filled with food.
And we had alot of food! 2x warm meals per day, porridge, dried fruit, cake, chocolate, bread, cheese, ham, jam, nutella. The list was endless. But then again, HJ eats a lot. Neither of us wanted to get hangry and snappy. We wanted to enjoy the trip and take pleasure in the forests we pedalled through, rather than deal with rumbling stomachs and low blood sugar. On the downside, it did make the bikes rather heavy.
With bikes packed, the weather forecast still looking mighty fine and alarms set for 4am, we were ready and excited for our trip to begin…