27/06/2022 - DIY adventure - Peak 200

Peak 200 how-to

Adventure & challenges are fun right? I'm never going to climb Everest but I'd like to feel something (even slightly) akin to that so I looked for a long local route where I could spend pretty much a whole day sat on my bike. The Peak 200 is a self supported, 225KM route around the Peak District, taking in gravel, road and chunky chunky bridal ways. And the closest it comes to my house is only about 20 mins pedal up the road. Sounded like a plan...

The best bike for an adventure is your own bike. In 2019 the only bike I had was my 27.5 Rocket. I love that bike, have ridden it everywhere and thought a gentle pedal from my front door would be a perfect way to spend a Friday night. I pumped up the tyres, got some bags for snacks, borrowed a light and set off at 6:30pm so I could listen to Annie Mac at 7pm when I was on the actual route. I'd also never cycled through the night and the plan was to finish in under 24hrs and be home in time for pizza and beer. Guess what - it worked!

In a nutshell the ride was amazing - familiar trails with a whole load of added gravel, new views on top of that, a couple of kips in a hedge, and the freedom to eat absolutely everything when I got home. I've never woken up at 3am and gone downstairs for slices of cold pizza and a bowl of cereal before. Was quite nice.

Peak 200

So a year later when we had Cascade prototypes ready to go, myself & Hannah Saville gave it another go. Bossman Cy joined us about half way for the craic. Even with multiple ice cream stops and a medium case of heatstroke mid afternoon (coffee was a bad choice), we sliced a good few hours off the time. It wasn't a race but the difference between a fast WTB ranger and a not-so-fast-on-gravel WTB Vigilante is marked.

Peak 200 .GPX file here

Most recently after rehabbing a pretty hectic & debilitating back injury, I did it again. Solo and snacky. No records were set (mostly because I didn't have Hannah with me to drag me up hills) but I had the best day looking at all the views and listening to how I felt. Sometimes I felt good, sometimes I felt shit. But feeling it all was a huge privilege.

To paraphrase the bikepacking Queen, Lael Wilcox; it's annoying when people say you must like suffering because non of this is suffering. It's hard but I chose to do it and I wouldn't chose to do something I didn't enjoy. Don't forget to have fun. Sing, dance, talk to the bunnies, deer, cows & birds, wave at people, lie in the middle of the trail in the sun for 5 mins because the grass looks soft, just enjoy hanging out with yourself for a whole day. I cannot recommend it enough. It felt more like a treat than an adventure.

Peak 200 kit grid

I'm by no means an expert at bike-packing and a "proper" adventurer tourer would laugh at me for some of my food / kit / tyre choices. But who cares? Here, in no particular order, are some things I learned in my 3 goes and 700km+ round the Peaks. I hope that they're useful in your own attempt at something simple and silly like this...

Music is a nice pick-me-up but there's little signal in the countryside, so if you do want some tunes, don't rely on streaming. And don't miss the birdsong either!

A bum bag with two big bottles in it will weigh a lot and grind your bum into the saddle.

Also, one chammy is enough.

Eat whatever you like - proper food is better. You will be bored of all the food you bring - even the yummy home-made stuff. Unless it's a sushi burrito - Don't think I could get bored of them for a while.

Beeswax wraps are better than foil. My sandwiches got so shook that the foil disintegrated and the sticky bready was covered in silver glitter.

If you do ride a full suss, open your shock on the downhills. They're good & hard earned so you might as well enjoy them properly.

You will spook school groups out on nighttime walks near the reservoirs, but up on cut gate at night you'll spook only sheep.

There's water on route but if you start at a weird time (like early evening!?!) then a lot of spots will be shut and you'll have to furtle around for a tap round the back of a pub.

Beer is isotonic. Support the local economy.

Potato alley is rough and punctures are dull. Don't try and keep up with @pedalspanner

Also don't pump your tyres super hard - the descents are brutal and you'll be both slower and more broken. Ask me how I know!

Don't complain about every hill - there are a lot.

You will become very good at opening and closing gates.

When you're fully done you're only about 60% done - apparently. It's unreal what we're capable of but don't be daft. There are no prizes for hurting yourself.

A hardtail is probably the best bike for this route. It's very possible on a gravel bike but a dropper post and large volume tyres will make your life better if that's an option.

If you can think of anything you'd rather be doing then do that. It's supposed to be enjoyable - even though it's hard as heck.

The TPT gets busy. Suggest hitting that at a quiet time.

Don't sweat the 'training'. If you ride a bike then you're already more than half way there. Since hurting myself at Easter I've not spent longer than 3 hours on mine in one go. You'll be fine.

A chat to a friend for mojo is worth at least one energy gel. Not really "self supported" that way but I'm not your boss.

Full "rules" available here but do what you like - it's your bike ride.

In a nutshell, choose your own adventure. This post was purely to open your eyes to one that you maybe hadn't heard of and hopefully inspire you to give it (or something similar) a go, no matter your perceived fitness level or bike suitability. If i can do it then for sure you can. If you do want a properly suitable bike that's more than up for the task then check out the Cascade. Big tyres for comfort, dedicated bag for snacks, dynamo routing, confident handling. My vessel of choice. Enjoy.

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