Boogie, er, I mean Bivvy Nights!

13 10 2009

Sometimes you really do need someone else to sound out ideas that, on the face of it, seem a little bit mad. This was certainly the case last month when due to a mix of poor planning and apathy I realised that I wouldn’t be competing in the Dusk Till Dawn Enduro. I did feel the need to do something a bit different but still involving a mix of night riding, camping and social but without a long, fatigue ridden drive home afterwards.

bivvy night

 A quick e-mail was sent out listing couple of silly ideas, some possible locations and, most importantly, a fixed date: October 3rd.

One idea got the best response:  a local-ish night ride and wild camping trip where I could test some of my new Alpkit gear and also try for once to travel as light and as simply as possible (anyone who has seen what I take camping will understand how challenging this is). Our resident wild camping “experts” Lisa, Rick, and RichF all seemed to be up for an October night under the stars.

 A flurry of texts last week put paid to Lisa and Ricks involvement (get well soon Lisa!) but after re-checking both with Rich and the weather forecast it was decided to still go for it. So, early on Saturday evening found Rich and myself riding from my house on bikes loaded with everything required for a night out on the South Downs. Rich was using his full-susser bike and Bob-Trailer packed with a tent, food, camping stove etc, I had decided to try and follow the “light and simple” ethos as much as possible by loading my singlespeed with a tarp, sleeping bag and mat and a worryingly heavy rucksack containing food, drink, solid fuel mini-stove and some spare clothing. Rich also decided to try out his Blackberry for some “live blogging” over the course of the evening.

 Realising that Rich hasn’t ridden much I my area of the Downs allowed me to take him on a nocturnal mystery tour of my local trails. We threaded through Angmering Park taking in some rough trails and singletrack made more exciting/scary on overloaded bikes. A tunnel-like ghostly trail through a dark cornfield, sheep, caught in our headlights running in front of us on a fast sketchy downhill and a long slog across a newly ploughed field were highlights of the ride to “the secret location”.

I’d scouted out a couple of good places to wild camp other the last few months and had found one that seemed ideal: an old grassed-over chalk pit, just off a bridleway, that would give pretty much all-round shelter from wind. After quick check to make sure there were no other people camping there, we dropped the bikes and set to establish Muddy@rse Bivvy HQ.

 Tent and Tarp were put up in a slightly blustery wind and the rest of the gear unpacked. Our camp set-up efforts were toasted with a bottle of real ale each. Further entertainment was gained with Richs’ cooking demonstration (see Youtube for details) and my attempts to first light and then use a solid fuel stove in a strong gusty wind…think a lot of swearing, loads of matches and then a kind of horizontal towering inferno that completely failed to heat up my dinner and you get the idea.

After my blagging the use of the working gas stove, dinner was eaten, good wine drunk and conversation made. A few more posts to the club forum were made by Rich whilst I texted the guys doing the D2D (don’t you love modern technology) and then came the next, critical stage of the night: the bit where I got to test my new Singletrack Hipflask!.

 Well, suffice to say I did survive the night. I managed to get about 6 hours sleep: I even overslept till about 8am! The only issues were being woken by a bit of rain at 1am (hint: sleep with your head facing into the tarp, its drier!) and waking up at about 3am with a snail attached to my neck! The Tarp proved waterproof, if a bit noisy/ flappy in the wind. My Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag proved 100% waterproof and my 20 year-old Norwegian three-seasons sleeping bag is still toasty warm. Whilst I was initially looking on enviously at Richs’ rather neat hiking tent, after a night sleeping under my tarp I concluded that provided the weather is not too horrible who needs a tent? There was no sleeping under a glorious vista of stars as the low cloud put paid to that but you can’t have everything.

 An 8am wake up, quick cuppa and a very light breakfast of a couple of fig rolls was followed by a pack-up and clear-up of the camp. Bikes and bags reloaded and we were ready for the return leg. Once again I was able to show Rich some of my local favourite trails including a long fast singletrack trail where the only obstacle was a rogue sleeping bag ejected from my bike rack…er, sorry Rich.

 Riding back through Angmering park and onto the local roads as we gradually returned to a normal Sunday morning. A Muddy@rse ride would be complete without coffee and some form of cake, in this case a coffee choice of Latte or Americano and oven-warm pan au chocolate (jealous now Lisa? :-P)

 Big thanks to Rich whose infectious enthusiasm and good humour, spare stove and supply of a rather good bottle of Merlot helped make my first bivvy night a big success.  I think we’ll be doing repeat night-out but on a slightly grander scale in the spring. Anyone interested? … Guy

Check out the live blog and video of the night from the forum archive:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: