Adventurer extraordinaire and not afraid of a challenge, Claire Frecknall has taken on some impressive rides and is a massive inspiration to anyone keen to get exploring on two wheels. Find out what happened when Breakaway Digital caught up with her ahead of her next big ride!
In one sentence what does cycling mean to you?
Cycling has given me my friends, my freedom and my confidence, it’s my happy place.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get into cycling, was it the adventure riding that got you from day one or did you start out a little closer to home?
I started out mountain biking on the South Downs close to home, mainly cross country, I love the outdoors and seeing new places, but it was only in 2016 I discovered adventure riding.
My first experience of bikepacking was an unsupported solo trip across Scandinavia, from the coast of Sweden to the coast of Norway, I kinda threw myself in the deep end there.
Your first multi day ride… the highs, the lows, the nerves, your expectations. Can you tell us how it all unfolded.
The fact my first multi-day ride involved transporting a borrowed bike to the start point via an aeroplane and a train made the logistics more stressful for me than the actual riding itself. Once I arrived in Sundsvall with the bike intact and bags loaded I got pedalling any trepidation melted away.
Can you tell us little more about your gear, what tips and tricks have you picked up along the way?
My main Bikepacking bike is a Brother Cycles Big Bro, it’s a rigid 29er with plenty of mounting points for luggage. I use Restrap bags, the “holster” systems make loading and unloading a lot quicker and easier and means you can remove the whole drybag from the bike without faffing with straps each time.
For longer trips or when it’s likely to rain I take a small lightweight tent, it’s a luxury over a bivi bag but the weight penalty seems worth it when you have a dry space to move around and change in. Apart from that I like to think I travel fairly light, although what I take really depends on the trip.. how much civilisation is around, climate etc. Always happy to answer any specific questions about kit via my Instagram account though.
Whats your mirage food stop when you’re really struggling on the bike?
Scotch eggs or cheese are the foods I always end up craving, not things I have much at any other time but I have a tendency to eat too much sweet stuff on long rides so I guess my body ends up craving salt, fat and protein! I normally take a bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit to nibble on as I ride, I much prefer this to artificial gels or bars.
Whats your big bike goal, remote, far, fast…
I don’t have any particular drive to race or break records for speed or distance. The biggest pleasure I find in my trips is seeing new places and leaving the hustle and stresses of everyday life. I enjoy the freedom you get when travelling, especially solo, by bike. I try not to plan too much or set specific targets and although it’s good to push yourself I think you need to have time to enjoy the places you’re visiting. Having said that, I have just signed up to race “Further”…
I understand your taking part in the inaugural “Further” race! Can you tell us a little more about this and you must be pretty excited to be involved?
Further is a multi-day, multi-terrain endurance Bikepacking race through the Pyrenees. It’s a new project from Camille and when details first started coming through on Instagram it was all very vague, but the photos looked stunning so I decided to register an interest in taking part in the inaugural race, which is limited to 10 men and 10 women and is by invitation only. Having never raced anything like this I was quite shocked, and a little scared when I got a message asking if I’d like to race, especially when I saw the list of other potential riders, many of them extremely strong and experienced racers, Lee Craigie and Josh Ibbet to name just a couple!
Not one to turn down an opportunity I decided I should confront my fears and go, I’m not expecting great results, I know there will be times I wonder why I agreed to race but am looking forward to pushing myself and seeing what I am capable of, both physically and mentally.
If you could inspire more people to get out and explore whom are maybe a little nervous or apprehensive what piece of advise would you pass on?
Start small, if you’re really apprehensive you don’t need to go alone or go far from home. There are a growing number of people getting into Bikepacking and adventure riding, try looking on Instagram or Facebook for people locally who would let you join them. There’s a growing number of organised events and trips you could start with, sometimes with the benefit of supplying you with kit too if you don’t want to invest yet.
However, like me, you might surprise yourself if you do just go big and put yourself out of your comfort zone! We’re a lot more resilient than we give ourselves credit for a lot of the time!
You can follow Claire’s Adventures and read up on past experiences over at her blog.