Brompton’s First Cycle-camping Trip

Brompton's first cycle-camping trip

So I’m off for my first cyle-camping trip for something like 25 or more years. I could have taken the Rourke, I still have a pair of large Karrimor panniers and that would have made for a fast and steady combo. But oh no, not I, I’ve got to make it more complicated. I decided to go cycle-camping on the Brompton!

The campsite is 55 miles from home and I was looking forward to a weekend of touring around Warwickshire:

  • Friday evening, pitch tent and spend the evening relaxing with the group.
  • Saturday, 40 miles of pleasant country lanes with a vegetarian restaurant stop for lunch, and evening meal back at the site.
  • Sunday, Long Itch diner or campsite breakfast, cycle jumble and leisurely departures.

First I needed luggage and buying wasn’t on the cards, so I pressed two 30 year old saddlebags into service. At the front a Carradice Camper Longflap zip-tied to the s-frame. An old Karrimor bagon the SQR block at the rear. Add a Topeak beam rack at the base of the seatpost and hey-presto we’re ready to go!

Front Bag: Large Trangia, plastic plate, tin cup, spork, scourer, fairy liquid, micro-towel, bivvi bag, tarp plus guy lines, pegs and clips, chamois, down sleeping bag in drybag under lid, small universal cycling toolkit, cafe lock, arm-warmers and beanie hat, Sigg Meths bottle, headtorch, spare tube.

Brompton's first camping tour - rear load

Rear Bag: 1 pair long Craghoppers, 2 teeshirts (to wear under shirt), Northface baggy shirt, Craghoppers fleece, 2prs socks, 2 pairs grundies, 1 CycleChat signed shirt to pass on to Superleeds, 1 cycle shirt for return ride, 1 cycle shirt for Saturday ride, 1 base-layer, 1 pair baggy shorts, medication, toiletries, iPhone charger

On beam-rack: Vango Banshee 200 tent, Gelert inflatable airbed, Paramo Velez-lite smock waterproof in Alpkit dry-bag.

I geekily weighed the kit!!! Seems quite a lot!

The front bag + frame (contents as listed) = 6.7kg
Rear bag (contents as listed) = 4.9kg
Beam rack plus tent + sleeping mat = 3.9kg

It’s been a while …

I like cycling … and I like camping, but it’s nearly 30 years since I’ve done both together. I’ve recently become inspired by Audaxers/long distance cyclists, wild camping and micro-adventuring so when I read about a cycle-camping weekend with the YACF crew I took the plunge. Scouring boxes in the loft I found our old saddlebags, panniers, racks, touring cooking kit et al. It would be easy to sling a rack on the Rourke, stuff the panniers to the brim, bungee a tent to the rack and roar-off into the sunset. But that was far too easy … it had to be possible on the Brompton!

I molished a large saddlebag onto the Brompton front rack using cable-ties, another large saddlebag onto the seat-post with an SQR block. I still needed more capacity and bought a Topeak QR beam rack for the tentage. A brief test-ride on Thursday evening showed the Brompton to be a very capable and stable load-lugger. Now the plan .

The plan was simple, take Friday off, watch election night on Thurs night/Fri, have a lie-in and depart at 1300 hours. Shocked from the election result – that’s what I did.

Route was basically NCN 5 to Long Itchington. 60 miles. I dropped into Warlands en-route to pick-up rain covers for the 30 year old saddlebags as the sky looked ominously grey.

Rain covers for the 30 year old saddlebags

Sustrans routes are like the Curate’s egg. Some good bits, but some dreadful sections of very poor road surfaces, unyielding roller-coasters and endless single-track mud-plugging along canal paths. Still, by 7pm I’d arrived and with a little help got the new Vango Banshee 200 tent pitched and bags and bike stowed inside it in time to grab a beer and wait for the fish and chip van. Many pints of London Pride helped wash the nosh down …

Vango Banshee 200 Tent

Fish and Chip Van

The next day, Superleeds OTP arrived for the CycleChat shirt hand-over (what a fab fellow) and then off to greasy brekkie at the Long Itch Diner (most excellent for £6.50). To burn it off (ahem) a 35 mile bimble taking-in Draycote water and a fab posh vegetarian restaurant (Saumersault emporium) in Rugby. I had a nice afternoon kip followed by a team cook-in for dinner, top Trangia action …. and more beer. Did I mention the camping field belonged to a pub, oh yes!!

Trangia

The next morning I overslept. Well sort of. I woke at 0730, made a Trangia cuppa (oh the joy of lying in ones sleeping bag making a brew), I ate my brekkie Belgian bun (I know, such indulgence) and lay back generally feeling good with the world.

Good morning!

The next thing I knew it was 10:45! Got packed and said goodbyes and got on the road by 11:30. Quick blast into Leamington Spa and a train home …. bloody £17.50 for a 30 minute train ride … no wonder people drive …

A weekend of simple pleasures at a pleasant pace. Fresh air, good friends, the joy of the outdoors, getting away from it all etc. etc.

And the Brommie works a treat as a basic tourer. It fits nicely into my diddy tent which is a bonus and is easier to transport onto buses or trains as the mood takes or circumstances dictate. I would say based on this experience that if touring/distance was a major aim of your Brompton purchase, that the M-bar option makes more sense. Apart from bigger front luggage availability I would imagine being more upright than on the S-type would make for a more relaxing experience.

But what’s great about Brommie touring … it makes other people smile. 🙂

Author footnote: If you’re looking for a cycling club in the Oxford area, please look us up – Abingdon Freewheeling – we are a friendly and inclusive cycling club with riders of all styles and abilities. We have regular road and mountain bike rides throughout the week starting from Abingdon Market Square and usually ending at the King’s Head and Bell (free chip butties on Tuesday and Thursday nights!).

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