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A Weekend Adventure

Finding out how equally great the Cairn E-Adventure 1.0 can be as a non-electric bikepacking rig

4 September 2020

Early in September, while we still had decent sun and long(ish) days, me and my girlfriend, Summer, went to visit some friends in Cambridge. The idea was to ride our bikes there by avoiding tarmac as much as we could and sleeping in a tent at night. Thankfully, down south, we are blessed with a network of gravel paths connecting AONBs so creating a nice route and finding a campsite wasn't an issue.

The only catch was that this was Summer's first long distance adventure. Having ridden a max of 32 miles on her MTB once before, she was initially worried we wouldn't make it. I, on the other hand, was convinced she had the fitness and the fact that the route was fairly flat along the way helped me to persuade her to do it.

This was also a great opportunity for me to find out how the Cairn E-Adventure behaves as a non-electric bike by swapping the Fazua motor & battery with a downtube cover which neatly fitted 3 spare inner tubes and some tools.

The Route

We decided to split our adventure into 3 days, with the last day returning to Harlow where we would catch the train back to Brighton.

First leg was from Brighton to Merstham where we found a really nice campsite to stay for the night. The route took us onto the Downs Link which is a 100% gravel path connecting the South Downs and the North Downs. Once the Downs Link ended we joined the North Downs all the way to our campsite.

For our second leg of the journey, we decided to jump on a train and skip the majority of London as riding wouldn't have been as enjoyable and we wanted to make sure we got to Cambridge before dark. We took a series of gravel paths across endless fields and through some small forests.

The third day saw us ride along one of the routes of the National Cycle Way until we joined a canal path from Bishop Strotford to Harlow.

Click on the images to see the full details taken from Komoot

A Weekend Adventure Pt 1
A Weekend Adventure Pt 2
A Weekend Adventure Pt 3

The Route

We decided to split our adventure into 3 days, with the last day returning to Harlow where we would catch the train back to Brighton.

First leg was from Brighton to Merstham where we found a really nice campsite to stay for the night. The route took us onto the Downs Link which is a 100% gravel path connecting the South Downs and the North Downs. Once the Downs Link ended we joined the North Downs all the way to our campsite.

For our second leg of the journey, we decided to jump on a train and skip the majority of London as riding wouldn't have been as enjoyable and we wanted to make sure we got to Cambridge before dark. We took a series of gravel paths across endless fields and through some small forests.

The third day saw us ride along one of the routes of the National Cycle Way until we joined a canal path from Bishop Strotford to Harlow.

Click on the images to see the full details taken from Komoot.

A Weekend Adventure Pt 1
A Weekend Adventure Pt 2
A Weekend Adventure Pt 3
Downs Link 1

The Start

We set off around 8 am and after a short stretch along the seafront we jumped straight on the Downs Link. This path is 37 miles and was built on old railroad tracks and is a great way to go north to safely, surrounded by lush green fields and trees along the entire way. Also happens to be one of the best work commutes for me as it runs past Partridge Green (Cairn Cycles' HQ).

Downs Link 2

Sandy Surrey

After reaching Guildford, which is the end of the Downs Link, we joined the North Downs Way going through Surrey. This part was particularly fun and was a mixture of singletrack descents and really steep climbs where I wish I had the support of the Fazua motor as I happened to be carrying both of our gear for the journey!

Surrey Hills - Stan
Surrey Hills - Summer
Surrey Hills 1

Getting lost is always part and parcel of a good adventure!

Surrey Hills 2

Getting our feet wet was part of the plan, I promise...

Surrey Hills 3

Just this hill and it's all flat from here. (Famous last words)

Box Hill (The Hard Way Up)

I couldn't miss the opportunity to show Summer one of the most iconic climbs in the UK. I knew that the roads around the climb will be busy as it was a gorgeous day out so decided it will be better to climb it via a gravel path that didn't seem that bad on the map. It only had a little note from Komoot saying:

 

Komoot Warning

 

Should've known better...

At least when we got to the top, the view was amazing and we found a great spot for a late afternoon snack.