I'm currently sat on a train, returning to Verona to then ride back to the car and begin the long drive home after four thoroughly pleasant days in northern Italy.
Disclaimer: even writing this I'm still not sure I'll post it as what I just did may or may not be considered bikepacking™ depending on your definition.
The idea was simple, pack light, ride all day, find a nice pub in the evening and eat lovely food along the way.
We carried full bikepacking gear BUT were under no illusions about the probability that we'd end up grabbing a cheap room somewhere if it was available.
At daft o'clock on Sunday morning I got up and drove six hours from Chamonix to Verona. I met my buddy Alan and after lunch we set off riding the 2017 Veneto Gravel event route (in reverse, starting from half way round).
That first afternoon was the hilliest section of the route and it was still very gentle going (750m alt gain in 70km).
We passed vinyards, castles and pretty villages a-plenty in the baking heat (was above 30°c every day!) before rolling into Vicenza in time to wash and pop out to a lively burger/craft beer pub that I visited last year - yum!!!
The youth hostel we stayed in was crap, not particularly cheap and seemed to have gone out its way to make all previous continental 'breakfasts' seem amazing by comparison - truly pushing the boundaries on what can be considered 'includes breakfast'.
Day two saw our intrepid explorers head back out into the scorching heat and we did a leisurely 110km up into grappa country.
Lovely riverside trails and long white gravel roads were passed with gentle ease and the evening saw us once again thinking about a place to lay our heads.
We decided that we'd rather bivi than spend another night in a crap-hole but luckily we stumbled upon the find of the century!
An amazing agritourismo place which was cheap (only a tenner more than the miserable hostel), beautiful, had a pool and who directed us to one of the nicest restaurants I've eaten in in a long time (also cheap - win!).
We were not in the slightest unhappy with how this beerpacking malarkey was panning out
Day three was supposed to be a short day followed by an afternoon wandering around Venice being proper tourists but Alan decided he'd rather eat his own head than wade through a sea of selfie-stick weilding idiots and so we pushed on and made it the 120km to Padova just as we were losing the light.
Another city meant either another damp hostel experience or paying a bit more so we got the cheapest twin we could find and set off into the night to find the White Pony micro-brewery and bar (there's a pattern emerging, no?).
That night Alan decided he was going to jump on the train home in the morning. Various reasons were cited, among them that he'd brought his single speed and the ratio was a bit too spinny to get anywhere fast on the flat.
So I had a decision to make.....
Have a big (160km) last day to get back to Verona or.....retrace my steps, have a short day and pop into Venice to soak up the sights.
45 short, fast kilometers later I found a cheap room, dumped my bike, showered and went into the craziness that is Venice!!!
I walked, I took photos, I ate amazing food at a big old brewery, I walked some more, ate some more, visited a lovely craft beer pub I'd found last year, walked some more and then went back and got an early night - smashing!
I covered about 350 of the nicest, easiest and least climby kilometres imaginable in 3.5 days and now that it's all over I'm feeling great.....I de-scrunched, ate well, drank well and slept well - what's not to like???
I'll let you be the judge on whether or not you consider this bikepacking, touring or just dicking around on a bike.
I named it 'beerpacking' and I bloody loved it