Video. Front or Back - Where's Best to Carry Bikepacking Kit?

I've seen loads of different bikepacking rigs.

I've used different pannier systems and different types of bar bags.

But I've never really known where, given the choice, the bulk of the kit should go.  Is it better at the back or the front?

The answer is probably "the middle" judging by the number of frame packs I've noticed on Bikepacking.com.  That's not an option (yet) because I don't have a frame bag.

So I rode the same route twice, once with all my kit in the back and once with it all (almost all) at the front.
Tivaro 13 by Alpkit
I say almost all because the front bag, being just 13L as opposed to the 17L for the rear, didn't hold as much stuff.  AlpKit do make a 20L front bag but that best fits straight bars.  As it was, it's a bit of a squeeze to get this between my regular road drop bars.

This is the route I rode.  If you like the video please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel. Thanks!

Komoot - Is It Any Good? Video

Komoot is a relatively new mapping app for hikers and cyclists.

It hails from Austria/Germany, was started around 2010, and boasts 8m users worldwide.

I've had an account for a while - I post my most interesting adventures on it here.  

So decided to test its ability to map a touring route in a busy part of England and you can watch the video of that test below.  Incidentally, if you'd like to read the background media briefing for Komoot, you can download a copy from their website.

Bikepacking - What's It Like & What Kit To Use. Video.

Bikepacking has been around for a few years now and the equipment involved has matured, so I thought I'd give it a try.  

Scroll down to watch the video of my ride.

I didn't head off into the wilds of Scotland.  For me that would be too easy, because they're my playground, like a second home for many decades.  

Instead I rode a route between London's commuter-land and the holiday resorts of the south west.  I planned it using the (fairly new) mapping service Komoot which I shall review soon.  I made a couple of films while riding so I could share my equipment choice and my first experiences of bikepacking.  I paid full price for everything I used.

Swim to the Saint's Island, Video

There is an ancient Scottish belief that evil Spirits cannot cross water.

That's why so many important burial places are on islands.

The islands in Loch Leven, the Glencoe Islands, may be the best known.

But the Island of St Finan in Loch Shiel is surely one of the most beautiful, if only for its location.

It also gives Glenfinnan it's name.  I doubt that's realised by many of the thousands of visitors to the National Trust's Glenfinnan Monument and nearby Glenfinnan 'Harry Potter' Viaduct.

Grinduro - What's It Really Like? Video.

Grinduro is not a bike race.  Not just a bike race, anyway.

Think of it as a long weekend break with decent food, travel to a gorgeous Scottish island, camping, lots of nice people, a bit of a knees-up, a few freebies and some excellent off-road riding.

Best of all, it's a social get together.

One you start thinking of Grinduro in these terms the £150 entry fee doesn't seem too steep.  Expensive but not ridiculous.

"Scotland in miniature" is the usual cliche applied to the Isle of Arran.  Easily accessible by train (which takes bikes) from Glasgow, it's a holiday island.

Safety Preparations for a Recent Solo Swim

I recently posted this photo on Instagram.   I made the (slightly flippant) comment that a ferry ride to Holy Isle off Arran, then a 3.2km solo swim back, probably wasn't ideal preparation for the next day's cycle race.

More on the Grinduro event later.

After the swim a few folk were a surprised I did it by myself with apparently no safety measures.

Might it tempt others to 'have a go'?

So I felt I should quickly explain this wasn't a spur of the moment thing and I had contingencies.

Video, Ardnamurchan's Forgotten Road

Owning a gravel bike has brough a whole new dimension to my cycling.

I still enjoy road riding and events like last weekend's Ride to the Sun.

But the Sonder Camino Ti has allowed me to look at tracks and trails with fresh eyes.

I've been on Scotland's west coast for fourteen years and had a mountain bike for all that time, so previously I could have tackled those trails.  Yet there's something about the gravel bike that just makes me want to explore.