This Adventure Cyclist Couple Have Visited More Than 50 Countries – Here Are Their Best Bikepacking Tips

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

I am Ed Shoote and along with my wife Marion, we are adventure cyclists and bloggers on WeLoveMountains.net. Our website is all about our adventures riding bikes and split board touring through mountains all around the world. We love huge fans of bikepacking and traveling by bike and we have visited well over 50 countries.

In 2017, we visited and revisited 17 countries alone. It’s fair to say we get about on the bikes! We are currently based in the beautiful mountains of Scotland, a country perfect for bikepacking adventures.

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

How and why did you get into bike touring?

We got into bike touring in our final year in school (a long time ago now). I was racing mountain bikes and riding bikes all the time so to us it was a logical step to make and to take a tent, and just keep riding until it got dark.

For years, we used panniers and explored new places as traditional tourers. However, the new bikepacking bags we’ve been using since 2014 as ambassadors for Apidura have made travelling by bike so much easier and faster for us, so we can visit even more places!

It’s important to prepare well and ensure your kit is good enough for what you plan. In most of western Europe, you’re never far from help so it’s a good place to start researching a trip, it’s always a big step to head into the unknown but it gets easier and easier the more trips you do! The most important thing is to learn from mistakes and improve what you do on the next trip. All good adventures have low points, just remember that these are there to help you enjoy the high points more. Our blog WeLoveMountains.net has lots of information on tips we have learned the hard way so is a good place to research kit and routes.

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

Why is bike adventuring important for you?

Adventures by bike give you time to reflect on what is important. It makes you appreciate time and how lucky you are what ever is going on in your life. Visiting corners of the world by bike without running water and sanitation, you can see the hardship but the people are so much happier than in so many more developed parts of the world.

Now when an expensive car drives past at home, it makes you realize that you on your bike are so much richer; if you are fit and have time to see and help the world around you. If you have money, don’t waste it on personalized number plates and SUVs, spend it where it enriches your or others journey through life.

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

What have been the best and most difficult parts of your bike adventures?

I love central Asia from the landscapes to the people you meet. I have travelled to every country in the region and loved each one of them, all different but perfect for cycling through.

The biggest challenge is funding trips and finding time. It is hard to earn money and have time to travel but it can be done. I have been lucky to be supported with kit by Kinesis Bikes, Apidura Bags and then Morvelo, Findra and Gore bike clothing. This helps but it is about making sacrifices and saving hard too!

On the road, we have been visited by bears overnight in Canada, wolves in central Asia, seen dangerous spiders and snakes too. The biggest danger has been trucks and traffic. In Nepal, on the narrow mountain roads, I decided to stop and walk across the mountains without my bike because the roads were too dangerous, it’s not worth the risks sometimes.

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

We stay in a variety of places from hotels, guesthouses, people’s houses and then wild camping a lot too. I like camping for the experience and the stars at night, but staying with people is much better for understanding local culture, customs, and understanding daily life in different places.

We use the smallest, lightest kit we can. We use Terra Nova Laser Competition 2 Person Tent and Mountain Hardwear Phantom Flame Sleeping Bag, both are very light but strong and reliable. I use an Exped ultra light matt as this is the lightest smallest I have found.

For cooking, we normally eat basic pasta or noodles when camping, cooked on our MSR Dragonfly Stove, which uses petrol to cook.

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

How do you prepare for your adventures?

I ride my bike almost everyday and I am lucky to have amazing mountain biking on my doorstep in the Tweed Valley in Scotland. You need to be fit for a tour but don’t train hard at the last minute, steady constant miles will be the best base for you to go bikepacking on a longer trip.

For planning a trip, we look carefully at the most detailed maps we can find, check satellite images for tracks to check if it exists and if there are bridges. For less remote trips, we use blogs like ours at WeLoveMountains.net and read about others experiences to see how to ride.

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

How do you finance your adventures?

I now have a day job after moving around for a decade so we save money from that but we are also sponsored by brands to use their kit. To get sponsored, it’s really hard work and you need a track record of completing adventures over a number of years and you also need to have good social media and photography. It won’t happen overnight and you need to prove you can deliver before you will get backed. There are so many people cycling around the world and riding bikes you need to stand out.

How do you balance normal life with bike touring?

We have travelled between six weeks and a year per trip so it varies depending on the jobs we have been doing. To earn money on the road is hard and for us takes a lot of the fun out of travelling, so we stop and save and then head out again. Travelling is about the experience and not earning money so remember that and just have fun.

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

How do you bring your things with you?

I use the Apidura Bikepacking Bags on all my trips, these strap onto the bike rather than use a rack. For longer trips, I use the Apidura full frame pack, 17 litre bar bag and 17 litre saddle pack, and shorter trips the 14 litre bar and saddle bags. These are lightweight and much more aerodynamic than traditional panniers and also really robust and waterproof. While space is limited, it means you take less kit and can travel faster and further. Sometimes you wish you had more clean clothes but there is plenty of space for your essentials!

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?

The best purchase for me has been our MSR Dragonfly petrol stove, it has lasted 10 years and been super reliable in so many remote countries. Along with this is our Snow Peak titanium cooking pan has survived almost 10 years too. Both great investments.

All my kit from sponsors has been fantastic because I am highly selective in what we use. I will only take kit from brands making really good products, often they’re not the cheapest. Taking something rubbish just because you got it free can be pretty dangerous!

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

What other favorite gear do you have?

I love my Apidura 17 litre saddle and bar bags, they are lightweight strong and have never broken. They force you to carry less kit than panniers and are super aerodynamic. Some days you have solid headwinds all day and they help so much riding into them. I am also pretty attached to my Kinesis Tripster ATR bike, it has been my companion since 2014 and never let me down!

What is your best advice for new bike adventurers?

Don’t worry too much, just ensure you’ll have enough kit to stay dry and be safe whatever happens. It always works out OK in the end. Try to stay close to help on your first few trips and build up to remote regions. In remote places, small problems can become life threatening quickly without experience. France, Germany, Scotland and The Netherlands are just some fantastic places to start out.

Bikepacker Edward Shoote

What will the future bring?

2017 has been pretty full on busy so I am taking time to unpack, process images and maybe writing a book. I look forward to some new adventures maybe to cold places like northern Canada, but also here in Scotland I want to explore the amazing Scottish Highlands more this winter.

In terms of gear, I am lucky to have all the kit I’d like. For all my gravel riding, I’d like to have a Lauf Grit fork, an innovative leaf spring suspension fork that I have tested a bit and really like.

Follow Edward Shoote on his website, Facebook, and Instagram


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