This content is optimised to be viewed on a widescreen monitor.

Words: Andy van Bergen | Photography: Tim Bardsley-Smith | Video: Saint Street 

This content is part of our Roadtripping the Silk Road project, in partnership with Specialized.

Find out more about our sponsored content policies here.

There is nothing like jumping in the deep-end when trying something new.

While we would be able to spend a couple of weeks testing the gear that we were planning on bringing – and more crucially how to fit it on our bikes – our first proper foray into bikepacking would be on the super-remote dusty paths of Kyrgyzstan

But whilst it was our first bikepacking experience, we’d researched thoroughly, had advice from some very talented ultra riders, and could draw upon a lifetime of camping, hiking, and backcountry trips to ensure we were not going in blind.

The biggest thing I took from our first bikepacking trip was that is was just so damn accessible. Considering how much I love camping and hiking in remote areas it’s somewhat surprising that I never had gotten around to doing it on two wheels.

The truth is, I’d been scared off for fear of not having the right gear.

When Shannon Bufton from Serk Cycling first got in contact about riding through Kyrgyzstan with our house on our backs I had a lot of questions about the equipment we’d need. He reassured me that our bikes were fine, our tyre choice was sound, and between our group we had enough combined knowledge to get us through any situation that arose – even dealing with wolves.

At the end of the day even if we were riding without support (which in the end we were), a trip-ending mechanical would just mean we split the group and seek a ride out for them in the next village. After all, the stranded rider would have camping gear, water and food.

Shannon was correct, of course. I grew up hiking and loved geeking out on the gear. I was more than comfortable sleeping in remote locations (including an annual backcountry snow trip for the last dozen years) and knew how to pack economically. I knew how to ride, conduct some basic (and not-so-basic) repairs, and had been on enough remote solo rides where if something were to go wrong, I’d have no other option than just figuring it out.

Research and advice is essential, but so is separating some wheat from chaff. Occasionally you just need to let go – and go.

My advice? Get out there and ride. You’re missing one hell of an adventure.

Any questions for the team on their bikepacking set-up? Ask away in the comments below…