Beyond the Bicycle
Ed Shoote - Adventure Cyclist
Ed Shoote is a man who lives for the next adventure. When not travelling around the world, he can be found scouring maps and planning his next trip. We sat down with the Scottish cyclist to discover his favourite places to ride, his competitive streak and why he loves bikepacking.
Where do you live and normally ride?
I live in Peebles, Scotland, settling here after almost a decade on the road travelling. Scotland is a bikepacker's dream, the options are endless and I try to get out on an adventure most weekends. My favourite places to ride in Scotland are probably the Islands including Skye and Mull and Arran. The Cairngorms area fantastic for overnight adventures too. I'd love to do the Highland Trail 550 in one go, I've ridden most of it but never had time to do it in one ride yet!
Where else around the world have you been bikepacking?
I've cycled and bikepacked across over 50 countries to date. I've really focused on Europe and Asia as the culture and landscapes keep drawing me back to try new routes and new countries. There's just so many places I want to ride, I tend to focus on the areas that I think will soon change and be lost, places like Tibet and the Pamirs that are opening up for tourism rapidly.
Can you tell us a little about your 2017 adventures?
In 2017 I somehow managed to cycle across over 20 countries including an ambitious tour to the Altai Mountains in central Asia. Riding from Kazakhstan to China, Mongolia and Russia. This was a trip like no other, the challenges were huge but the rewards were equally as massive! To ride past the infamous Kazakh Eagle hunters in Mongolia was an experience that I'll never forget.
Do you have a favourite country?
My favourite country is probably Kyrgyzstan closely followed by Georgia. Both are incredibly friendly but diverse and beautiful places. To be fair there's no bad countries to ride your bike, except maybe India and Nepal where the mountain roads and traffic scared me a lot - and that's not something that often happens.
You seem to be riding a lot along the so called 'Silk Road', what draws you to that area?
I'm getting a bit obsessed with Central Asia, with five trips there in last four years. The silk road is a magical place to bikepack, the climate, the natural beauty and the incredible hospitality all draws me back to explore more. This last trip in February 2018 was the hardest yet as I rode in the winter battling snowy roads and temperatures below -20 degrees celsius.
What bike bags do you use for bikepacking and why?
I have been an ambassador for Apidura pretty much since they started. While living in Canada I saw the Tour Divide racers strap kit onto bikes and knew this was the future. I sold my panniers and contacted Apidura just as they started up because their kit looked awesome and I have been lucky enough to have been supported by them ever since. I am a big fan of their bags having tested them to the max and seen first hand how reliable they are. The Dry Series kit is fantastic for Scotland for obvious reasons, I even dropped the saddle pack in a river once and it was still dry. I have always provided feedback over the years and it's great to see them tweak new items to make sure their products are the best around. Not many companies get such thorough testing!
What is your bike of choice for these trips?
I've been on Kinesis bikes since 2014 and was stoked to see my feedback incorporated in the Tripster ATR Ti V2 Frame, after riding the V1 from England to India and beyond. The V2 is pretty much the perfect bike for my style of adventure riding. Running either 700c or 650b wheels depending on route, it genuinely works for everything. On my last trip I put on snow studs and rode on ice without issues. I have also been using the Lauf forks for gravel riding in Scotland on the Tripster to make the ultimate gravel bike.
What about clothing for bikepacking?
I started working with Gore Wear in 2017, drawn in to their innovative and high quality technical clothing. The Power Trail Jacket, Gore-Tex Gloves, Wind Stopper Bib Shorts and Oxygen Bib Shorts are the first on my bikepacking list. It goes without saying that the SHAKEDRY series is nothing short of brilliant as it packs down, making it perfect for less severe bikepacking trips.
Did you ever race bikes?
I have dabbled in gravel racing, being in top 10 finishers of the Dirty Reiver and 3rd in the inaugural 300km Jeroboam in Italy in 2017. I've also been UK 24 hour MTB champion. However it is the love of exploring and riding bikes to new places that really drives me on.
What are your riding plans for 2018?
I am cutting back on events and racing this year. Instead I am excited to explore the more hidden parts of Scotland. This will mostly be gravel riding because there are endless options up here! I'm also planning another trip somewhere exciting later in the year....but with a slightly different set-up.
Can you give any tips for those looking to go bikepacking?
Don't be afraid to start. Just head somewhere locally, even direct from your door and test how you get on before attempting anything more adventurous. Use a backpack or strap some bags on with what you have already. If you have fun (you will!) then invest in some good bikepacking bags as they'll last for years on trips.