At 22:10 on Friday night, I rolled out of the driveway and into the unknown. Thirteen hours twenty six minutes later, after one hundred and two kilometres
, I rolled back up the driveway after my first bikepacking bivvy adventure. I've written a blog about it -> January BaM
. Here's a condensed version:
I’d picked an on-road route to the spot I’d picked for my first bivvy. While it would have been quicker and more direct to utilise some of the local bridleways and byways, I’d been suffering from a spate of rear wheel punctures, so thought that staying on-road, would be less risky. The spot I’d picked did require a short walk down a country footpath and then over a field. So it was with much anguish I felt my rear tyre deflate just as I was arriving at the point where the hike-a-bike was about to start.
Rather than fixing the puncture there and then, I decided to get to the bivvy spot and get set-up. I would then be able to fix the puncture immediately, or leave it till morning. I should have had a look at my potential bivvy spot during the day though, as in the pitch black, without using my head torch, I walked passed it, twice. I knew roughly where it was, I’ve cycled in the general vicinity many times before, I’ve just never gone to have a look at the actual site.
I decided not to use my head torch while walking across the field, as it turned out there was at least one abode that was much closer than I was expecting. So I ended up walking in slightly the wrong direction, following what I thought was a track that would lead me to the site. I knew something wasn’t quite right when I go to the other end of the field and a tarmac road. I could also see some flashing red lights on the other side of the road, which I decided not to investigate.
I backtracked across the field again, trying to stay close to the edge, as I knew this should take me to the site. I couldn’t follow the edge of the field for long though, as there was a fenced off section that forced me out into the middle. I still didn’t want to use my torch, as I could clearly see some sort of structure that was light up quite brightly. I wasn’t sure if this was a house, or someone else at the bivvy site. It was at this point I decided to stop aimlessly wandering around a field in the dark and head for Plan B, one of the bird hides at Wicken Fen. I still had to fix my puncture though, so headed to some picnic tables I’d seen about a mile away. I whipped the inner tube out of the rear tyre, but couldn’t find any holes, so swapped it for my spare and headed off into the night again.
I arrived at the bird hide without further incident and quickly got myself inside and set up. Off came the cycling kit, on went some old thermals, then into the sleeping bag. I’d decided to take a couple of luxuries with me on this trip, so read my Kindle for a bit while drinking a can of Thornbridge Jaipur. Eventually, I put everything away and tried to get some sleep.
Rather than heading straight home, the plan was to follow quieter back roads to Phoenix Cycleworks, have a coffee and some cake, then head home. Rather than cycling along the busy main road between Wicken and Soham, I decided to go off road. The fens are still waterlogged and while parts weren’t too bad, some parts were barely ridable, with the rear wheel spinning madly in the slop. One section was being sanitised, with two thirds of the width under a load of un-cyclable rubble, while the other third was ankle deep liquid mud.
Thankfully the rear wheel stayed inflated and I eventually rolled into Phoenix Cycleworks for my coffee, which hit the spot. Then it was simply a case of riding home around a load of the local villages so that my completed distance was just over a hundred kilometres. Thirteen hours, twenty six minutes after I left, I rolled back up the driveway and switched the cycle computer off, my first overnight adventure of the year completed.