I’ve heard it said that nothing should be considered a sport if you can be beaten at it by a fat old man. Obviously, that rules out golf, darts and snooker but what about bikepacking? Should bikepacking ever be considered a sport? Even within the world of ITT things are rarely ‘that’ competitive and the ultimate goal for many is simply finishing rather finishing first. Was it not Errol Brown who sang ‘Everyone’s a winner baby’? Well, that’s the truth more often than not when it comes to the bikepacking Individual Time Trial, where finishing is undoubtedly winning.
Once you move away from the Ibuprofen and SPOT trackers of the ITT, then the notion of bikepacking as a ‘sport’ becomes even more bizarre, or does it? Maybe it’s time we dug a little deeper and looked beyond the obvious? … Who will be the one make it through the farmyard and safely past that dog with the odd coloured eyes? How many shooting stars will you see in the next ten minutes, more than the person in the bivvy next to you? Can you charm the girl in the cafe into giving you a bigger piece of cake than your companion? Will today be the day all those years of training finally pay-off and see you sat triumphantly on the bothy toilet before anyone else? Does your detailed and superior knowledge of the average Coop give you a head start in the race to secure the last sausage roll in the chiller isle?
Bikepacking has many facets and all provide a degree or element of competition. We may not be aware of it at the time but reaching the Costa machine in the Spar first is just as big an achievement as returning from the Olympics clutching a gold medal. I can only assume that anyone who argues that bikepacking is simply a hobby or pastime has never bikepacked amongst those top-flight players from the premier league. However, I feel that it is worth pointing out that in many of these competitions, youth and vigor will only get you so far and are often no match for age and treachery, so as good as you might be, you may still find yourself relegated to second place by a fat old man.