Photos from the field: 12 nights out bikepacking in 2020

December's winning photo was taken by Sam Walsh of a winter adventure to Hathersage. Photo Sam Walsh
Winterlandscape in Hathersage with bike
Winterlandscape in Hathersage with bike

Photos from the field: 12 nights out bikepacking in 2020

2020 saw Cycling UK launch our year long bikepacking challenge, which encouraged everyone to give a night out under the stars a go. Cycling UK's tarp wizard and keen bikepacker, Sam Jones reports back on a strange year when for so many of us getting outside was exactly what we needed.

*** Update to the #12nightsoutin1year challenge for 2021: due to lockdown restrictions, Cycling UK is calling a hiatus to the challenge until further notice***

Last year spending time outdoors, in nature and in the green space was a tonic for us all. 

It was a chance to take a break from the screen, from the same four walls, the never ending gloom of the headlines. Taking time out in the slow lane was a real boon for your mental wellbeing, and as we found ourselves trapped indoors in an abnormal world, the outdoors was one of the few places which could feel normal. 

Our #12nightsoutin1year challenge sought to capture all those benefits, and combine them with our favourite physical activity: cycling.

At the beginning of 2020, the national cycling charity started encouraging as many people as possible to head out and about and share their overnight biking adventures on Instagram using #12nightsoutin1year and set themselves the goal of one night out each month of the year. Despite starting in January, the uptake was instant - just see the photo gallery below!

The time to roam and wander will return soon enough, and when it does the challenge will return with new bikepacking and camping prizes!

Sam Jones, Cycling UK's tarp wizard

When the pandemic struck in March, we were able to continue as we encouraged people to be creative in how they spent their night out responsibly - cue family fun in gardens and the odd tent sent up in the living room.

Lockdown restrictions began to ease across the UK as the sun shone, and it was great to see people - many of them families or new comers to overnight biking adventures - heading out and exploring beyond their backyards while respecting the new restrictions. 

I'd been trying to get out at least one night every month since 2019, and while I failed to do so in December 2020 I did manage to succeed in enticing my long suffering partner out for a night in the woods. And that's what made this challenge all the better - seeing people try something new and different and then sharing their excitement about it. 


Two bikepackers
Sam and Daria before heading off on their overnight adventure. Photo Sam Jones

As the mercury began to drop in autumn and early winter, restrictions preventing overnight trips began to return across the UK. Some countries allowed residents to head out, while others did not. England was one of the last countries to allow overnight stays before the year's end, so Cycling UK was pleased to see Sam Walsh squeeze in a final bivi ride to a very wintry looking Hathersage Edge in the Peak District

Sam will be receiving a unique bit of camping kit, a Kelly Kettle Trekker. Based on a 100 year old design, these stoves originate in Ireland and are still made by the same family run company. Running on twigs and other combustibles, there's no need to worry about fuel as you can boil up a cuppa in no time while also knocking up a quick bowl of porridge. For those keen to get hold of a Kelly Kettle for themselves and can't wait to see if they've won, the company is offering a 10 percent discount off their entire range to Cycling UK's members and supporters. 

It was great to see people - many of them families or newcomers to overnight biking adventures - heading out and exploring beyond their backyard.

Sam Jones

Close runner ups were @geo_deo who looked back to a wild camping adventure in the Lake District and the very festively named @marco_panettone who braved the cold for a bivi before Christmas.

Cycling UK really had hoped to continue the challenge in January 2021, but given the current situation with COVID, we felt it would be irresponsible to be encouraging people to go out exploring. 

The time to roam and wander will return soon enough, and when it does the challenge will return with new bikepacking and camping prizes!

Till then, check out our gallery below of the 12 winning photos from 2020 and prepare for lockdown to end by having a look through our expert advice on bikepacking to help you get the most out of your nights out(doors).

From advice on how to set up tarps, trailside first aid and more, if you've a bike and a spirit of adventure then we can help!

 

Gallery of the winners in 2020

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Cycling UK continues to support the UK to cycle
This remains true during this difficult period with the ongoing threat of coronavirus Covid-19