10/10/2018 - Kelly goes bike rafting

Kelly-Jayne

Bikerafting

Bikerafting. Sounds interesting right? Now Iím all over bikepacking, Iíd even consider myself a bit of an expert. But chuck in a raft and youíll find out I was in deeper (water) than I thought.

When planning an adventure, itís always important to consider every aspect of it. New to Ďraftingí, I thought it best to start on something small. Time to drag in my water+obsessed, bike-obsessed and even more so adventure-obsessed friend, Mrs Nikki Read! She chose our trip to incorporate Coniston Water in the Lake District, a nicely sized body of water and surrounded by some great Mtb trails. We planned a water crossing, and a ride, followed by a nice hike up to a camping spot all on Komoot. I mean our plan was pretty bulletproof. We met at Coniston in the afternoon and spent some time mounting all our kit on our bikes, of which there was A LOT. We had the man behind Iron raft with us, Nick, to offer his packraft knowledge, and also capture the tour ( heís pretty handy with the camera too). Iím going to be very honest here, the Ďideaí of packrafting was a super exciting one; but when it actually came to it, became more of interesting one, not a Ďlets go and actually do ití oneÖ

Bike Rafting photos by Nick Kowalski

I could feel my tummy doing somersaults whilst loading my Cotic Soul up (the best bike for the job), Iím a land lady! Not a mermaid (WHAT AM I DOING?!). The thought of paddling across the water with my bike didnít have me stoked on life, I was more stoked to just go home. But Mrs Read is very good at keeping me positive (this woman has been on the water pretty much her entire life) and somehow managed to coax me to the water edge.

Bike Rafting photos by Nick Kowalski

The rafts are super easy to inflate, which was a welcome distraction from what was to happen next. Nikki and I chatted and laughed whilst racing to blow up our new method of transportation. Once on the water and sturdily afloat we headed across Coniston.

Bike Rafting photos by Nick Kowalski

What an adventure. Now I was panicking that I was going to sink and lose the Soul down into the deep deep water, but my raft however stayed very much above the water (thank god). Iíll be honest, Iím all for new experiences and trying out something different, but this will be the last time I raft, thanks very much. I felt very unwell! Iím a delicate one when it comes to motion sickness and seemed to have forgotten this when signing up.

All packed up I was very much ready to ride my bike. A little nauseated but I pulled through it because I REALLY couldnít wait to camp.

Bike Rafting photos by Nick Kowalski

We met Jenny Nuttall for part 2 of our mission for day and headed up to Goats Water. Up the Bridleway and onto the footpath where we had to hike-a-bike. It was a pretty epic, lung busting climb up over some huge embedded rock, especially with my bike fully loaded with all the adventure equipment.

All of that was soon forgotten though, once we were welcomed with the most spectacular camping spot, Goats Water, which is a small tarn. Thanks Jenny, thatíll do.

I then spent some time sussing out the best place to pitch my tent, trying avoid any large rocks or uneven ground. Once Iíd found it I then eagerly pitched it! I was hungry and my shelter building was the only thing that was getting in my way! I think Iíve said it a few to times now, I know Iím not made of sugar but it did start to rain A LOT, which isnít ideal on a bikepacking trip, especially when my tent is about a centimetre big. Camp created, we found a massive rock to take shelter under and made our dinner.

Bike Rafting photos by Nick Kowalski

During the night, what happened is best described as biblical rain. The noises I heard through the night felt like a jet wash being sprayed directly at my tent with someone else repeatedly smashing a broom into the walls of it. These noises surrounded me the entire night. Haha.

By morning though, Iím happy to say I was alive and well and very surprisingly dry in my £48 tent from Amazon. I knew covering it with waterproof spray and NOT wiping away the excess was the best idea ever. In the morning after about an hours sleep I planned in my head how quickly I could get out of my tent, pack all my kit and get the heck off the mountain without completely drowning in the rain. I clambered out and went straight to see Nikki and Jenny. (I thought it worth mentioning here that Nikki and Jenny although also experienced a terrible nights sleep were completely unfazed by the rain and in super high spirits, those women are mega, I however woke up with a dark cloud above my head, figuratively and literally). They had a plan of action, and I was quite happy to go along with it. Unfortunately Nick had also a challenging nights sleep with a tent malfunction and spent a good few hours sleeping in an inch or so of water! (I mean I would have had a right princess moment and gone home). Eager to get dry and some food we all packed up and set off. The journey back down was pretty wet, the path which we had hiked up was now a river, making for a soggy experience.

Bike Rafting photos by Nick Kowalski

But gradually as we descended the clouds cleared and we eventually caught a glimpse of the sun through the clouds. Definitely lifted my spirts and helped my verging on hypothermic state! (Thatís a bit dramatic, I was just cold and wet).

Once we made it to the bridleway the ride down the rest of the mountain was marvellous and the views flippiní delightful as ever. That was enough adventuring for a soggy me though, we rode down to Coniston and finished out the trip with a nice warm breakfast.

Photos by Nick Kowalski


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