Daypacking – the answer to winter lockdown?

Our intrepid Dutch gravel riding über-fan Erwin Sikkens hasn’t lost his love for bikepacking despite the arrival of winter – here’s his tips for getting all-of-the-fun in less-of-the-time.

Riding solo, riding with small groups, riding wherever you want and then back to riding only where you live. Something as all-encompassing as CV19 leaves its mark on society and therefore obviously also on cycling. Maybe you’ve noticed over the last year….

Obviously, this whole situation created uncertainty and problems, but also, we just kept on doing what we do best… ride that gravel bike and going out on adventures big and small! Never before did we explore our backyards as much and creative as in 2020. Discovering not only new paths and trails, but also new ways to ride and enjoy our rides.

When the second lockdown hit the Netherlands this October I personally wasn’t all that shocked. You could kind of see it coming and the whole ‘what do I do now’ shock was obviously smaller than in first lockdown, since we had already gone through this situation before.

We could still ride our bikes and this time – in the Netherlands – we could even do it with one other person. Riding with another person is obviously a lot more social than riding solo and that created chances. With some close friends – who are like me, also bikepackers – we reinvented and reintroduced an old habit we knew from bikepacking to make our rides more interesting and enjoyable.

When bikepacking it’s always nice to stop along the way at a local bar or restaurant to get some food or something to drink and that way to support our locals at the same time. On the other hand, eating in restaurants every day is expensive and not all that bikepacky or adventurous… so obviously bikepackers eat out in the wild a lot also, preferably in the most beautiful spots with a breath-taking view. Taking this concept with us during the second lockdown on day rides, with bars and restaurants closed seemed like a great idea. This way the coffee & soup ride was reborn.

Pretty soon we named this concept ‘daypacking’ and for the last few weeks I’ve been daypacking almost every weekend. The concept is pretty simple. You just pack your frame bag and / or bar bag with some coffee, a gas cylinder, cooking pot and compact burner and off you go. Obviously also don’t forget your down jacket as the days are getting colder now.

Along the way you keep your eyes open for a nice mid-ride place of beauty to stop for a break and enjoy your coffee or soup. The element of assembling your cooking gear and heating the coffee or soup first, automatically creates a nice little zen moment in the middle of your ride.

The daypacking concept soon appealed to other people, after sharing pictures of it via my Instagram channel. Pretty soon more people went out daypacking also, party pacing their gravel rides with winter at the doorstep, finding new inspiration to make their rides interesting during CV19 lockdown. The pictures you all share online give me the feeling that it’s not just me out there, but we’re in this together enjoying ourselves on gravel bikes even though we can’t ride together in groups at the moment.

If you ask me daypacking is a perfect fit to the non-rushed gravel culture. A perfect way to enjoy your ride out in nature to the max and maybe even a superb way to extend your CV19-affected outdoor season into the winter months to come, which is always a more healthy idea than to lock yourself up indoors I think. Happy daypacking everybody!

Zoals eerder gepubliceerd op de Gravel Union site.

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