Monday, 6 December 2010

JUST ONE GOOD REASON..

JUST ONE GOOD REASON FOR A RETURN TRIP TO FRANCE.
I have not had much chance to get out on the bike over the last week due to the bad weather.
It is really unusual to have snow and ice so early on in the winter and quite rare for us to have any snow down here in this little pocket of the far south anyway. However this is the second time this year that we have had snow so maybe it is something we are going to have to get used to. Anyway most of my bike riding has been indoors on the trainer.

As I am pedalling along indoors my mind wanders thinking about lots of other things (helps with the boredom) and one of the things I started to think about was how varied cycling is.
I mean cycling can be a sport at various levels and disciplines - Racing- Time trials - Track- BMX - Downhill etc etc.. It is also a means of transport in it's own right. You can commute to work on a bike and keep fit at the same time. Not only are you keeping fit but you are also saving money on the cost of fuel or public transport not to mention helping to free up space on the roads.

Cycling can also be a hobby and a leisure activity in whatever way you want to do it- when you start to think about it the bike is an absolutely brilliant invention- almost all things to all people.

One area of cycling that seems to be making a bit of a resurgence in these cash strapped times is cycle camping or cyclepacking as we (backpackers club members) would call it.

It was cycle camping that got me as a kid into both serious sport cycling and into backpacking in the hills and mountains of Britain. It was probably my first real sense of freedom and adventure. Freedom to travel under my own steam wherever I wanted to go and the adventure of camping out each night. To this day it is one of the areas of cycling that I love the most and the planning of a cycle camping trip is almost as much fun as the trip itself.

All you need is a bike with a good set of 'granny' gears with which to winch yourself up the hills. With your fully laden bike loaded with all the equipment you need such as tents - sleeping bag - cooking kit etc you will be glad that you have a bike with a set of gears that look like dinner plates- but those dinner plate rear sprockets make the whole experience a doddle - well almost.

Most of the lessons that you learn in backpacking can be applied to cyclepacking including the ultralight form of lightweight camping. Most of my ultralight equipment can be used when I go cyclepacking and that combined with a good set of gears on my touring bike really does make the whole activity that much easier. I have no problem at all in cycling up a 20% hill on my touring bike fully laden with all the kit.

If you have never tried it then you really should give cyclepacking a trial. It can be a super way to have a low cost holiday and there are so many reasons why it is worth the effort.
You can travel further than you can if you walk- meaning that you can get to a lot more far flung places from home in a shorter time. It's green- which does seem to be important for a lot of people right now. It helps to keep you fit. It is so much fun just cycling along with all the smells and sounds of the countryside- so much better than being cooped up in a metal box. It is a great combination of cycling and camping and the two activities seem to blend together so well.

Yes I firmly believe that cycle camping is going to make a big comeback so give it a go and be part of the boom next year.

Earlier this year I was part of a small group that cycle camped through the Normandy area of  France - we all had a brilliant time and it is our intention to have a return trip to France this coming year. We plan on a slightly different area and there are so many reasons that I could give you why France is such a good destination for a cycle-camping trip but I will give you just one right now and it is shown in the photo at the top.

You really do get some fantastic cakes and pastries there.
 Good enough reason for you...?

12 comments:

Andras said...

love this, yami :)))

J_on_tour@jayzspaze said...

I wondered how you were going to link into the tart. France is always good for this sort of thing.
Just to give you some background, I moved house 5 years ago and always meant to buy a bike for use on a nearby cycle track on an old railway, but with house renovations, electronic and photographic gadgetry, I'm still waiting to do the deed.

Steve A said...

I hope you will tell us more about your cycle-camping adventures and the wisdom gained thereby...

John Romeo Alpha said...

What would your typical load be like for cyclepacking in your area? Also, do you usually ride from your home, or do you drive (or other) to the cyclepacking location?

Trevor Woodford said...

ANDRAS*
Yes - it tasted as good as it looks.

J*
Took a while to link in but I got there.
You must just go ahead and do it - you won't regret it.

STEVE*
I do plan on covering some future trips on a day by day basis- in the meantime you might enjoy these previous posts:-
20th - 28th MAY 2010 Normandy
2nd - 20th JUNE 2009 ACCR (Supported endurance trip)
9th - 21st SEPTEMBER 2008
Lands end to John o'Groats (Supported endurance trip)

JRA*
On an unsupported trip I try to keep all in weight(incl panniers) at about 20 pounds max.
I tend to be a bit of a purist and if I am riding an unsupported cyclepacking trip I will always cycle from my own front door.
During the trip I will use a ferry if needed- but avoid trains and motor vehicles.

cloudbusting2 said...

In France they know how to do their fruit cakes. Enjoy the snow if you can.

Mark said...

I enjoy cycle touring too - have had many excellent adventures. When we first bought a tandem (twenty five years ago) we rode it round Switzerland for try out and then did the Raid Pyrenean!

But if I'm honest I like using hostels and bunkhouses best because it lightens the load and bikes give you more flexibility ton where to stay than say walking odes.

rick is! said...

good post. bikepacking isn't something I see myself doing any time soon but it is on my to-do list.

PaddyAnne said...

My husband and I are actually planning to go camping on bikes next summer! I'm hearing more and more about it and I'm already scouting out small and lightweight pup tents. Normally my camping means staying at a small hotel, so it will be interesting on how our plans develop.

Trevor Woodford said...

CLOUDBUSTING2*
Yeah though French pastries & cakes are out of this world.

MARK*
I will stay in the odd bunkhouse or hostel but I enjoy the camping in itself - and with today's super ultralight gear it ends up as not a big weight saving.
20 pounds is my max weight including tent and panniers.

RICK*
You must give it a go - I am sure that you would enjoy it.

PADDYANNE*
I hope you post news of your adventures - I will look forward to that. You should both enjoy it.
Some of my previous trip postings are mentioned above - might be of interest to you.

MrDaveyGie said...

That looks scrumptious, almost worth making the trip for. :-)

Chandra said...

That's one yummy lookin' tart! Right on!!
Peace :)