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It’s not unusual for me to find myself beavering away in the dark recesses of my workshop and this day was no exception. As I busied myself making things … mainly tea, radio 4 chatted away to itself in the background. In time honoured tradition, Jayne Garvey introduced Woman’s Hour just after the news at eleven and I turned the wireless up ‘one louder’ in anticipation of an hour’s lively debate and conversation.

It must have been a hole drilling or maybe grinding day at Bear Bones Towers because I don’t recall hearing much of the first half hour. However, when the lure of the kettle finally got the better of me, I found myself listening to a doctorate of something from the university of somewhere talking about a recent study into sexual satisfaction amongst teenagers – no, really. Anyway, this deeply probing study has apparently revealed that many teenagers are finding themselves dissatisfied with their sex lives when they embark on an ‘adult relationship’. It turns out that the widespread viewing of internet pornography is to blame. Teens are being introduced to sex through that medium and ultimately believing that what they see portrayed on screen will and should resemble their own fumblings when the time eventually comes. I allowed myself a few minutes reminiscing on the strength of it, then went back to whatever I was meant to be doing.

On occasion, it does look like this

I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a story that says much about modern society, teenagers, the internet and wasting money on studies but what has it got to do with us? Bikes weren’t mentioned, I never heard anyone use the word tarp or bivvy and not once did they discuss the merits of a meths stove. You’re right, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with us in our capacity as two wheeled travellers … or so I thought.

or even like this which isn’t too bad

As far as I knew, the memory of listening to that particular interview had simply sunken to the bottom of my mind, never to be seen again. I can only assume that the day it floated back to the surface was the day my brain had run out of other stuff to ponder? I couldn’t shake off the thought that somewhere I’d come across the same phenomenon as outlined in the broadcast; Then it dawned on me, of course I had, I was surrounded by it … it was bikepacking!

The increasing popularity of bikepacking has not only lead to more people doing it but also, more people wanting to or perhaps just thinking about doing it. Across the world, you’ll find bikepacking virgins hunched over computer screens when they think everyone else has gone to bed, their monitors filled with tantilising images carefully crafted to get the juices flowing and blood pumping. Although the world portrayed on screen, is in the main a real one, for most of us the scenes played out are little more than a seductive fantasy. Some films depict the ‘perfect trip’ – the trails, weather, company and scenery are all the stuff of dreams and picked out in glorious HD for our voyeuristic delight. Others adopt a different approach and focus on the ‘struggle’, a seemingly never ending three way between man, terrain and the elements that ends in a triumphant climax for all present.

but usually, it looks much more like this.

Let’s be honest, watching someone ride a bike along a canal tow-path or push one beside the edge of a ploughed field is pretty dull. While the person doing the riding or pushing might be enjoying themselves, you probably don’t want to watch them do it because quite frankly, it’s the bikepacking equivalent of watching your parents ‘at it’ … it’s certainly not a turn-on but in the main, it is reality. With this in mind, I wonder whether bikepacking has now reached a critical point. A point where the collective community should be aiming to educate rather than titillate and perhaps portray a more realistic version of what goes on? If we don’t change tack, I fear there may be a lot of disappointed people out there when they discover, it’s not quite like it is the films.


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