Since the launch of the Adventure Disc model at Temple Cycles, I have been slowly converted to the dark side: touring and more recently bikepacking. After ditching old fashioned panniers for some slick Restrap bags and adopting the wise mantra ‘here for a good time not a fast time’, I was ready for summer!
Luckily, this summer has felt like one long glorious sun baked heatwave, so I made sure I squeezed every available opportunity for adventure out of it. Here are some highlights:
Wild camping on the Mendips
In the spirit of Alistair Humphrey's Microdventures, fellow Temple Cycles colleague Tom and I set out from the workshop for a ‘school night’ spot of wild camping.
The Mendips hills are only a few miles South of Bristol and we had plenty of time for a dip in the marine pool at Clevedon followed by fish and chips. Following the M5 pastoral route from Lost Lanes we eventually wound our way up to a secret location which ticked all the boxes for a prime camping location.
Upon waking we were greeted by some friendly horses! We made it back to the workshop in good time to start the working day feeling like we’d just sneaked a mini holiday in.
This area of outstanding natural beauty did not disappoint! Making it up as we went along, the only goal was to find a good spot to bivvy for the night. A combination of the rugged Macmillan Way (including a rocky ascent to Dunkery Beacon) and the forgiving gradient of National Cycle Network Route 276 lead us across the varied landscape, at times bleak, at times colourful, but never boring.
Our camping spot was not ideal. A herd cows showed much interest in us as we hastily packed our kit up. The bull with them was especially unimpressed.
On the second day we tackled severe gradients, to really finish us off. The West country often manages to pack in a huge amount of climbing in such a short distance. I suppose we should count ourselves lucky for the practice, because up next is the Alps!
Salzburg to Vienna (and a wedding)
Upon the news of my girlfriend’s cousin’s wedding in Vienna, we instantly set about scheming ways to turn this into a cycling tour. It doesn’t take much of an excuse and the reward of a big celebration at the end of our tour would keep us going.
The usual route along the Danube was not for us, we wanted mountains, meadows and lederhosen. The Alps it was. Surprisingly, the going was relatively easy and the climbs, although lengthy, were generally forgiving. Or maybe it was just the views made us instantly forget our burning legs.
The Austrian Alps are BEAUTIFUL! Our necks were sore from continuously craning them in the direction of the latest peak to rear up on the horizon and either side of us.
When we weren’t looking at scenes straight out of the intro to The Sound Of Music we were consuming ice cream, pastries and coffee. Crystal clear and deep blue lakes were jumped in at every opportunity. Our bikes carried us over mountain passes and through fields of sunflowers, on road, off road, without complaint.
Camping was a mixed bag. The best night’s sleep I have ever had bivvying was in a half-pipe in Bad Ischl. The worst (but most impressive), a field above a lake, surrounded by imposing mountain faces. Sound travels well in a big bowl of stone! Thunderstorms make for a poor kip as well and a few emergency hotels were sought out.
We made it to the wedding on time! Needless to say a few drinks were had... Bike boxes were procured from local bike shops and we were on our way home a few days later.