MBUK’s resident beardy explorer and occasional rough sleeper Matt checked out this year’s Alpkit event near the Peak District to make the most of all the courses that’ll help prevent serious injury and more importantly going hungry for his upcoming bikepacking escapades. Here's what he had to say...
If you are into mountain biking it is likely that you like the outdoors. If you fancy trying something a bit different than two wheeled pursuits or are looking to introduce family or friends to a huge range of activities, Alpkit’s Big Shake Out Festival is the ideal weekender. With 80 hands-on courses, 16 talks and six hours of adventure fuelled film there is plenty to keep you busy. Mountain Biking is well represented with the following dedicated courses and plenty of others which offer a fair bit of crossover.
Ultra endurance racer and one half of frame bag specialists Wildcat Gear, Ian Barrington, gave a detailed talk and demonstration of the kit needed for multi day racing from the UK to the extremes of the Arctic. Frame pack configurations, what and how to pack for ease of access, how to layer up and some specialist kit recommendations were all discussed. Explaining the reasons behind kit choices and how what you pack is more than just a pile of individual components, the importance is in how they work together.
Stuart from bearbonesbikepacking.co.uk showed us his erection methods (ahem)… for making the most of a tarp for a super lightweight shelter, which he assures us will keep the elements at bay all year round. Inspiring enough to make us think seriously about ditching the tent on our next expedition and offer ourselves up to the midges and the badgers. He followed this up with a look at minimal cooking set ups, how to eat like a king and more importantly, make a good brew absolutely anywhere. While romantic notions of gourmet cookery in the wilderness were whittled down to the best way to boil water with the lightest and most efficient way.
Nutrition expert, Greg May, gave a thorough session covering how to train and prepare for a multi day or ultra endurance event (which is anything that lasts for more than 12 hours). Covering off do’s-don’ts for the run up to an event and how to cope with things going wrong mid way through, how to set goals to get you to the start and the importance of knowing what you want from the experience. It turns out that doing something wrong can sometimes be the most fun, and that is often all that matters.
To cement their interest in bikes Alpkit also had prototypes of their new range of adventure bikes on hand, called Sonder. Check out our first look and gallery here for more info.
Of course this is also a festival so once the day’s activities were over, a choice of various films of daring deeds, talks from 16 speakers or a night in the beer tent where 12 (quite awesome) bands entertained into the early hours. A well stocked bar saw off 1500 pints of fine local beer which helped raise money for the Alpkit Foundation, ensuing a guilt free hangover for the whole weekend. So if you missed out on this year's festival then grab your calendar now. Next year's dates have been confirmed for 23-25 September 2016.
If you're a keen bikepacker or want to get a taster, this is what the festival has on offer: Fueling and training for endurance bikepacking, ultralight bikepacking cooking, bike maintenance and emergency trailside repairs, the art of bikepacking, mountain biking: Core skills session, mountain biking: Girls only core session skills; mountain biking: An introduction to jumps and drops and monsal bike and abseil. Phew!
So if you're into this kind of thing check out next year's event!