Words - Richard Stubbins @richardstubbinscycles
Photography - Richard Stubbins
Bike Packing; My first go.
An overnighter on the Mornington Peninsula with Richard Stubbins, Santini Ambassador.
After chatting with Jack Thompson (Instagram: @jackultracyclist), on Instagram at the beginning of 2017 while he was riding all over Taiwan for five days, and then reading about the riders at Curve Cycling in Melbourne, and their multi-day adventures, all I could think was, “I want to do that! I want to ride, adventure, sleep outdoors and be free on my bike!”
Over the last couple of years, I have been talking about bike packing with my best mate Scott, (Instagram: @chefscottcycles), but with two young children, university study and work, it’s been a long, hard road since 2017 and trying to organise the right gear and get the time to head away has been tough. This idea of bike packing became the carrot at the end of the stick, getting me through my studies.
In late 2019, with my degree coming to an end, Scott and I decided to start planning a trip to the Byron Bay area to ride for five days in May 2020. His wife was heading up there for a week long yoga retreat, so he figured we should head up too, ride from Monday to Saturday and then meet up for a weekend with the ladies Saturday afternoon after the retreat ended.
After months of researching, buying new parts, bags, building up gravel bikes, we finally organised an overnighter on the Sunday of the labour day weekend (8/3/2020), here in Melbourne. We picked up another rider the weekend of the trip, Aaron, (Instagram: @azza030), the manager of Mornington Cycles. Scott and Aaron had to work until 4pm Sunday, so we all met up at Scott’s place Sunday at 5pm to hit the road with our bikes packed up with what Scott and I thought we would need for our 5 day trip so that we could get used to the way the bikes handled.
To camp at the moment, I’m using a cheap 3x3m tarp I picked up off eBay for $40 which weighs in at 720g, (approx. 1.2kg with stuff sack, pegs, guy ropes and a drop sheet), which I packed in to the BBB Front Fellow along with my Denali Trek Short 3/4 sleeping mat ( 487g, 25x11cm). For sleeping I am using the Denali Lite 50 sleeping bag (898g, 23x15cm), with a 10ºC comfort rating which I was sweating in at 15ºC wearing Thermal top and bottom. So, by adding a toque (beanie) and some socks I think I could sleep at 5ºC, possibly 0ºC comfortably. The Denali mat and sleeping bag, at their weights and sizes, for the price is a great deal. I believe I purchased them on sale for well under $200 for both.
We rode just over 30km, winding down the Mornington Peninsula through back roads, parks and gravel bike trails, from Mornington, through Mount Martha, Safety Beach and Dromana before stopping in Rosebud for some Parma’s for dinner.
After dinner, we rolled over to Woolies for some snacks, drinks and fruit for before bed and to start the morning. The sun was setting, and we were cooled down from sitting though dinner, so we put on some arm warmers and jacket’s, turned on our lights and rode another 15km in the dark through back gravel roads between farms towards Cape Schanck, Victoria, to set up camp for the night. We found a great clearing with some kangaroos chilling and bushes to block the wind. It was almost a full moon that night, so we were able to setup camp without lights. Perfect.
We set up our tents and tarps, then sat together, ate our food, listened to some tunes, talked about the days ride and what route we might take home the next day, edited some photos from the days ride and took some sweet night shots. We got a solid 7 hours of sleep. Not too comfortable, but not the worst either. We woke up eager to get the day going and get back on our trusty steeds and head towards Flinders for breakfast.
The ride from Cape Schanck to Flinders is a very hilly and windy road along the coast of Bass Straight. 11.7 km with almost 400vm. I know I thought it was going to be mental carry the heavy packed bikes up those steep climbs, (some points over 13%), but I actually didn’t find it that bad. I feel that when packing, I have to get out of the “road” mentality. I am not going to have anywhere near as high an average as I would on a road ride. Enjoy the fast descents and embrace the challenge of the climbs and just “get ‘er done!”
After breakfast, we climbed out of Flinders into Mainridge, into Redhill, had a wild descent down Eatons Cutting, a steep, gravel fire road, then a long trek traversing the Peninsula from Dromana to Tuerong, out to the back of Devil’s Bend Reservoir, then back into Mornington to Scott’s place.
All up in the two days I ended up riding 109km and climbed 1407vm. We got to test the bikes handling while packed, practice our camp setup, repacking our bikes, and assess how we would possibly organise our days on a multi-day ride. All in all, we had a great time, the bikes handled well, we are itching to do it again, and have some great ideas on what gear we might want to change or lose altogether to save weight, how we want to organise our days and nights on the road. If you have any questions about my bike, my gear, my riding, my packing or camping ideas, don’t hesitate to email me or send me a DM me on Instagram.
Stay tuned for more exciting adventures with Richard Stubbins.