Last week I had the absolute pleasure of attending 1085 Adventures’ introductory bikepacking course in the Bedgelart Forest in North Wales.
If you’re new to the term “bikepacking,” let me explain.
Bikepacking is traveling by bike, strapping everything you need to yourself or your bike, including things you plan on sleeping with and, of course, your sense of adventure!
Bikepacking isn’t really about cycling from A to B, it’s about travel and excitement. Plan your route, research your destination, check your gear, get lost or found, camp under the stars, get closer to nature, get off the beaten path, or beat the crowds. It’s about escaping from something.
The concept of bikepacking has always intrigued me.
Bicycle travel + backpacking + adventure. What is not to love!?
But I wasn’t quite sure how that was logically possible.
I’m a traditional backpacker and was seriously struggling to travel with a backpack smaller than 50L. That meant staying in a hostel!
So how do you do it?
That’s what I was there to find out….
An introduction to bikepacking with 1085 Adventures
My adventure was part of a fun campaign we’re working on with Curious Cymru to find all the great AirBnb experiences in North Wales with 1085 Adventures.
This is just one of the experiences, and there are many unique and interesting activities.
Other tours I’ve already tried include beekeeping on Anglesey and a historical cycling tour. There’s plenty of everything from learning to crochet to exploring old mines. Hire a guide to take you to Snowdon, go rock climbing, walk with donkeys, meet alpacas, experience glassblowing or take a sunset walk with a husky!
Snowdonia offers an amazing variety of activities. Let’s take a look at some of the experiences you might want to try on Airbnb.
1085 Adventures offers activities around Snowdonia (in case you’re wondering about the name, Mount Snowdon is 1085 meters high!)
They are based at Bezgelert Campsite, a magical woodland where tents and huts are hidden among giant pine trees. Its mossy rocks and babbling streams make it an adventure playground for outdoor enthusiasts, and it’s where I’ve camped and caravanned many times!
Read more: Camping in Bedogellert Forest
Well, I came here to try something new. With a rush of excited adrenaline, I hopped on my bike and headed into the woods.
I was following the expert guidance of Conair, a local bikepacking guide with a lot of cycling experience here in Wales and around the world.
Connaire can be found on Instagram @Wheel_Good_Times
My first experience bikepacking
Trying a new adventure sport can be scary, but Conair and the team at 1085 Adventures were so wonderful, calm and encouraging. I’m used to riding stationary spin bikes, so this was a very different experience for me. I can climb hills, but rock, gravel, tree branches, and small uneven paths through the woods were completely new to me. However, with Conair’s guidance, I freely navigated the rockiest path (even though I was much slower than the rest of the group!)
However, the question on everyone’s mind was, “How on earth can you run far with a tent on your back!?’
This is the point where Conair points to a small pack on the front of the bike. When I say small, I mean it. I thought it was a waterproof jacket!
But inside this bag was what I needed to sleep that night!
The team set up a sample camp to check out some sleeping options while bikepacking.
There are simple hammocks, tents that defy logic and fold up, bivvies (sleeping bag and camping shelter in one), and Conair’s personal favorite, a combination tarpaulin and sleeping bag tied to a bike had bag and inflatable mat. It may be simple, but it has everything you need for a good night’s sleep!
I had a chance to chat with Nick, the owner of 1085 Adventures, over a steaming cup of Pine Needle Tea. Nick clearly shares my passion for the woods and the outdoors and has told me how great it is to see people go out into the woods on their bikes and come back hours later looking like different people. Ta.
They return looking happy and relaxed, with beaming faces and sweaty eyebrows, shoulders visibly slumped as they excitedly talk about their adventures. And they chat with each other instead of silently typing on their phones!
I loved hearing Nick say this because I know that feeling. After getting energized by endorphins and getting an adventure high, I promise myself I’ll do it more often. Because I had forgotten how good it felt to be immersed in nature and had so much fun that I completely forgot to reach for my phone take a picture.
My introduction to bikepacking was an exciting glimpse into an adventurous new hobby. It was nice to slowly get used to it and be reassured that even a beginner bike could manage a bikepacking trip.
The great thing about bikepacking is that it can be as gentle or as extreme as you want. Cook your own meals at a luxurious campsite and enjoy a leisurely bike ride while enjoying a pub lunch. Or you could head into the mountains for weeks on end with just a map.
Bikepacking is different for everyone, but all bikepackers share a love of freedom.
Nothing compares to the freedom that a bicycle brings. Bikepacking takes this to the extreme. No matter how old you are, you can’t help but feel the childlike joy you felt when riding your bike around your neighborhood as a child. Being able to go anywhere with just your feet, the exhilarating speed and close proximity to trees, rivers and lakes is the epitome of childhood freedom and joy!
So if you want to feel that feeling again, you know what to do by bicycle!