Bikepacking To Salisbury Plain

A good bikepacking route map from Bristol to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire

As I crouched under an old piece of corrugated tin that I assume was left as a shelter for pheasants with rain pinging off the roof, I could not help but wonder what I was doing. I guess this is the definition of type two fun. Dirty, smelly, slightly damp, thirsty, and not particularly comfortable with sore legs and a stiff neck, I end up scrolling through Instagram (so much for unplugging) and relish the fact that I am far from alone, figuratively.

A good wildcamping spot near Radstock

What drives us to search for adventure at the expense of comfort? Can the two be combined? Do we just need to adjust our perception of the two? This year has taught me two things, firstly I need much less than I actually have and secondly, everything is relative. I wasn’t cold as I sat there in the late autumn rain because I had expensive and impossibly good Patagonia Capilene and Nano layers on. Jump back 15 years when I was lugging around a heavy backpack with inadequate clothing and kit it is easy to see how much comfort has improved drastically when we look objectively.

Perhaps we all need to adopt this attitude to everyday life. Everyday the media reminds us of our hardships but fails to do so with any sense of objectivity. Relatively we have it fairly good right now, we still have an incredible health service that is doing its best to manage a pandemic. We also have a relative degree of freedom to explore and exercise, we just need adjust our perceptions of what adventure and discomfort really is.

Using my Whyte 901 for Bikepacking with Alpkit bags

Our lifestyles have no-doubtfully changed in 2020 but that doesn’t mean we need to be uncomfortable. Living more frugally need not be uncomfortable. Consuming less does not need to be uncomfortable. We just need to adjust our own parameters of what comfort really is.

Bikepacking 200km and sleeping wild for 2 nights is not as uncomfortable as it sounds.

As George Beesley was told by Lael Wilcoxs in this (really really) comprehensive guide to Bikepacking, “The golden rule for a bikepacking adventure … is to only take what you think you absolutely need. And then only take half of that.” Slowly but surely, I’m getting my kit down to an acceptable minimal but there’s still scope for improvement, especially where I pack things. For this trip, I had ended up with my sleeping bag on my back which felt OK, but not ideal as I essentially had the most thermally efficient Camelbak ever made. I think I’m going to pick up a decent saddle bag for my Whyte 901 to stuff that in; I just don’t like having too much on my bars and prefer the simplicity of the brilliant Outer Shell bag I have for storing my layers and camera.