If I could give one single piece of advice to the would-be bikepacker, it would simply be – don’t bother. Life’s too short, the pain too real and the sacrifices just too great. Contrary to what the glossy adverts and articles would have you believe, becoming a bikepacker will negatively impact every facet of your life … it’s a high price to pay.
Riding a mountain bike can be taxing. Up, down and even the flat bits will all take their tole on your body and gradually tire you out; It’s the reason cyclists prefer light, efficient bikes. However, the bikepacker will take their lightweight and highly efficient bicycle and systematically begin to attach things to it, which results in more weight and less efficiency. Now they’ve handicapped themselves, they will continue the downward spiral by looking for the least appropriate place possible to ride their bike – in this instance, ‘ride’ must be taken to mean any type of forward movement because the nature of the chosen trail will usually require pushing and carrying alongside a small amount of actual riding.
As a would be bikepacker, you may have noticed that those beyond help and already committed to the ‘lifestyle’, don’t tend to go for normal two and three hour rides. The onset of ‘extended ride syndrome’ is something that sneaks up on you and once you’re in its grasp, there’s no going back. The physical effects of these long rides aren’t always obvious – you’d have to be on very good terms with someone to know that they’ve got a dose of ‘Leather arse’ or a case of ‘Wonky bollock’ and in today’s society, many people appear to sport a blank, vague expression anyway, so the thousand yard stare so often associated with bikepackers, can be hard to spot.
|Is this really the life you want for yourself – I mean, is it really?|
Obviously, as ride duration increases, the chances of encountering bad weather also increase. Most cyclists encounter a frosty morning or occasional shower from time to time but it almost seems like bikepackers live beneath a permanently grey drizzly sky. Knowing that you’ll be stood under a warm shower in less than two hours is one thing but knowing that there’ll be very little respite for days rather than hours, is altogether quite different. Believe me when I say, keeping a cheery perspective when your fingers feel like frozen bananas and your penis resembles a soggy, half eaten chipolata is nigh on impossible … do you really want the indignity of not being able to find your own penis with both marigold clad hands?
Aside from the detrimental physical effects bikepacking can have, there’s also the social aspect to consider. The first thing to suffer will be what could be described as, your cycling social circle. At first, your riding buddies will simply dismiss your new-found interest as a fad but by the time you’ve bought your second sleeping bag, it’ll be too late. Their world revolves around pseudo ‘Duro, trail centres, unrequired energy drinks and getting gnarly on the blue run. It’s a very different place to your world of ITT’s, remote glens, mountain streams and wearing bin-bags. They won’t understand you, you’ll seem alien to them and before very long, the only people you’ll feel sociably comfortable with are others wearing bin-bags and drinking water that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle from Waitrose.
|Either these are bikepackers or the circus is in town.|
Your home life won’t escape unscathed either. Sitting in bed with Explorer 188 sprawled across the duvet and a packet of highlighters may not be your partners idea of an ‘early night’ and imagine the next social engagement you attend – conversation will likely revolve around peoples jobs, their kids and where they’re planning to take the family on holiday. It’s all normal everyday stuff but the only contribution you’ll be able to make is to tell them how many calories are in a mini pork pie, what time the shop closes in Poolewe and that AlpKit are launching a new tent peg … trust me, they won’t be impressed and they certainly won’t be arsed. Over time you’ll become a social outcast. You’ll be seen sitting in bus shelters dressed in ragged clothes, gently rocking backwards and forwards trying to dislodge any last remnants of a Steak-bake from your beard. It’s a sad waste of human potential brought about by the seemingly innocent portrayal of a more adventurous life. I implore you – turn your back on the temptress, sell the bivvy bag on ebay, use your meth’s for cleaning paint brushes, live a happy, fulfilled life and never, ever look back.