Gravel Culture: Pennine Rally Prep

Posted By Gravel Union On 10 June 2021

Emma has a her first bikepacking event of the year inked into her diary, but needs to get in a bit of practice first.

Finally, it feels like the gravel world is starting to open up a bit and events are returning. The first one for me this year will be the new Pennine Rally from Rapha and Outdoor Provisions, which features a predominantly off-road route from Edinburgh to Manchester.

I guess a bit like my motivation of late, my bike packing skills feel all a bit rusty, although, obviously not actually rusty as most of my things are made of titanium  Thankfully I’m a bit geeky and keep lists of what I take on various trips, which means waking up the memory is much easier.

With this in mind I decided that doing a couple of ‘shakedown’ overnighters would be a fine idea. Bikepacking bags were fished out of the cupboard, tent and sleeping bag were retrieved from under the bed and a pack of Expedition Foods Thai chicken curry and a beer were safely packed. I surprised myself at quite how easy it was to get myself together after work.

I will admit to being a bit of a softy when it comes to comfort and I’d waited until I knew I would win a dry warm night with a beautiful sunset followed hopefully by a stunning sunrise. I never know why I only seem to go out to bivvy when there’s an event on - I guess the minimal nature of it all makes me wonder what to do with myself if I’m not pedalling all day, eating, sleeping and doing it all again.

I rolled off. I knew where I wanted to be. I never want to be too high as it’s cooler at night, but I did want to admire the view, watch the birds and the evening light. There are a few little rocky outcrops nearby which would keep me away from any early morning walkers and provide a little shelter and provide a big flat rock to pop my stove on to make my tea.

I’ve been endlessly dithering about which bike to take with me - the purist in me wants to go ‘classic gravel’ with the Kinesis Tripster, but the lure of the prototype adventure MTB with its 3” tyres is currently winning. It’s a rigid bike and I’m sure it blurs the line between MTB and gravel rather well. I’m not sure I’ll lose too much on the road sections for what I’ll gain on the off road. It is little test runs like this which help you to decide.

Now I’m just obsessively watching the weather to decide which kit to wear……

The Pennine Rally kicks off on the 15th June. You’ll be able to track Emma’s progress here. We’ll be posting daily updates on the Gravel Union site how she is doing too.

Expedition Foods have kindly offered Gravel Union readers 10% discount of the price of their expedition meals. Head over to their website and enter the code ‘Gravel10’ if you’re interested in trying some for yourself.

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