Horsen’s Fjord, East Greenland OWPG AWARD WINNERS 2017 OUTDOOR TRAVEL FEATURE Winner John Metcalfe for Bikepacking Broadens the Mind Judges Carlton Reid, executive editor of www.bikebiz.com, and Elizabeth Multon of Bloomsbury Publishing Bikepacking Broadens the Mind John Metcalfe M any years ago I was transfixed by a prescient magazine image of two dreadlocked bikepackers riding ladened Konas across a sunbleached landscape. I forget the magazine, maybe it A formula for the best bike- packing experience does not exist was MTB Pro or Mountain Biker International, it doesn’t really matter. What does, is the image spoke to me of freedom, exotic places and rebellion. Perhaps, even heroism. The thousand yard stares, being in control of one’s destiny. It fuelled my dreams and tuned me into the harmonics of 18 Outdoor focus | winter 2017 travel. Shortly after, I read Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon. That book put me over the edge. The lure of travel was mainlined via the pages into my psyche. I wanted in. Prolonged travel has had an irreversible effect on my life and its lessons are far reaching. What follows are a few observations from my time spent in the saddle. At its rawest, the experience of travel transcends the mode of transport. The mode is a tool, an instrument to enable you to tap into the source. Yet it is not a blunt tool, far from it. Your choice of transport and how you use it has an indelible impact on your travel experience, so it is worth giving it some thought. Hitchhiking forces you to interact, pitching you headlong into the vagaries of other people’s schedules, and of course it is internationally cool. Walking is the ultimate self-sustained slow-travel, This is where the noteworthy stuff happens...Where stories are born and although the daily distances are curbed, each mile is intimately earned. For me though, it is bikepacking that hits the sweetspot. It’s the overlap between sizeable distances, self- sufficiency and intimacy with my surroundings. It is where my learning proliferates.