Bikepacking, which is growing in popularity worldwide, is one of the key focuses of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling this year. Held from 11 to 21 June the festival, now in its third year, is a real showcase of all aspects of bicycle culture. More information about all this year’s events can be found at www.edfoc.org.uk. With talks from Swiss mountain biker Gian Liesch and London-based Emily Chappell, the Scottish premiere of ‘Inspired To Ride ’ and a question and answer session with the fastest woman to cycle around the world, Juliana Buhring, the festival has turned the focus on a increasingly popular activity, which is steadily growing in Scotland.
At the heart of this year’s bikepacking events is the Capital Trail, the newest addition to the UK bikepacking event calendar. On Saturday 13 June 100 mountain bikers will set off on Portobello Beach to tackle a 150-mile-course through East Lothian, the Lammermuir Hills, the Borders and the Pentlands. The route, which includes more than 6000m of ascent, is designed for expert mountain bikers, with a top-class field of riders already confirmed for the inaugural ride, amongst them Team Scotland 2014 member Lee Craigie and UK singlespeed legend Charlie ‘The Bikemonger’ Hobbs. The Capital Trail is supported by Ordnance Survey, who provide all riders with a free mapping solution in preparation for the ride. There are a few places left for riders who would like to challenge themselves, which can be booked directly at www.capitaltrail.eventbrite.co.uk for a small fee of £15.
The route was devised by Edinburgh local Markus Stitz, who has years of experience in long distance cycling and has recently turned his focus on bikepacking:
‘The idea of the Capital Trail, and bikepacking in general, is to combine all the amazing mountain biking locations we have readily available on our doorstep in the city into one challenging ride with an overnight stop, that will hopefully attract more mountain bikers to Edinburgh in the long term. I have ridden trails all over the world, what Edinburgh and the South of Scotland have to offer is worth shouting about. Having spent the last three months exploring trails and talking to local riders, I am confident to say that the Capital Trail is amongst the most scenic bikepacking routes on offer.’
For those who would rather listen to and watch bikepacking experiences from around the world, the festival hosts a series of talks and the Scottish Premiere of ‘Inspired to Ride ’. The movie, directed Mike Dion, gives the audience an incredibly immersive experience of 45 cyclists from around the world, who set out on the inaugural Trans Am Bike Race in 2014 to cover 4,233 miles in one enormous stage race, traversing through ten states in a transcontinental adventure of epic proportions. The female winner of the race and fastest woman to cycle around the world in 2012, Juliana Buhring, will be answering questions after the movie, which will be screened at Pleasance Cabaret Bar on 12 June at 7pm.
A bike messenger with itchy wheels, Emily Chappell has spent the last three years cycling through some of the world’s most remote and inhospitable regions. After an 18-month crossing of Asia she now turns her attention to the American continent, and has just completed a winter journey from Anchorage to Seattle, riding on four-inch tyres through the snow and ice of the Alaska Highway, and camping out at temperatures as low as -40°C. Emily will be talking about her experiences on 11 June at 8pm in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar.
The bikepacking bill is rounded off by Swiss mountain biker Gian Leish, who will be sharing his stories in a free talk on Thursday 11 June at 2pm at the Edinburgh Central Library.
Held across different venues around Edinburgh, more information on all events of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling and tickets are available online at www.edfoc.org.uk. The Festival can also be followed on Twitter at @edfoc, on Facebook at EdinburghFestivalofCycling, on Instagram at @edfoc and on Flickr at edincyclefest. The hashtag for the event is #edfoc2015.