Words by Jade - Windover ambassador
This year I was lucky enough to have two months off work and I managed to fit three big cycling adventures into May and June, around racing the Highland Trail. I enjoyed bikepacking through Spain, Iceland and Norway and, although the type of riding and luggage setups were quite different each trip, I rode my Windover Bostal for all three. It’s a real good all rounder of a bike!
First up was Spain, and I had two big plans. First I flew into Valencia and headed straight to Teruel for plan 1, the Montanas Vacias route. Miles upon miles of premium gravel roads around and over the mountains, in one of the most depopulated areas in Europe. The riding was brilliant, nothing too technical but quite hilly, the landscape was gorgeous and the weather was perfect. My partner, Jim, joined me for the Montanas Vacias route and we enjoyed lengthy ice-cream and cold drink stops in the bars of tiny villages, wild swims and afternoon naps in the shade. We wild camped in the forest and slept in Refugios on route, and were a nuisance to the locals as we kept trying to order dinner far earlier than anyone in Spain feels is reasonable.
I dropped Jim off at the airport and started plan 2, riding from Valencia to Malaga via parts of the European Divide Trail and the South Spain Traverse. Both Montanas Vacias and the European Divide Trail are perfect for gravel bikes, however the South Spain Traverse is more of a mountain bike route, with big sections of single track and hikeabike - dreamy! For Spain I had my Bostal set up with 650b wheels and 2.1 inch Mezcals, slight overkill for the Montanas Vacias route and European Divide sections but definitely needed for the South Spain Traverse sections. And I was rolling fast throughout.
I went with a proper bike packing setup; Bar bag, top tube bag, stem pouches, saddle bag, and (because I was riding solo and had to carry a tent, stove and cooking kit) fork cages and bags. I also had dynamo lights which I barely needed and flat pedals so I could wear my sandals all day, everyday! I wild camped quite a few nights, and was travelling through pretty remote areas so had to carry a fair amount of water and food. But even fully loaded I felt like I was floating down the descents, the bike was super responsive and my gearing was low enough that I could get up most of the hills. The South Spain Traverse sections were full of tech-y single track and glorious pushes up walking trails and there was only one descent which I felt was too rocky, loose and steep to ride.
I didn’t get enough recovery after racing the Highland Trail, but soon found myself in the West Fjords of Iceland, setting off on the West Fjords Way with my dad, who also loves bikepacking. Due to the potential for tough weather conditions on this route I decided to go with small back panniers and a bar bag for this trip, which might have been the wrong call as the first few days we just rode very slowly directly into a 40+mph headwind! I had not had enough time to swap to my 700c wheels and slimmer tires and the 2.1 Mezcals were certainly not needed on the West Fjords Way, which is 50/50 road and very rideable gravel. I did find some chunky off-route descents to drag my dad down, which I enjoyed much more than he did with his much skinnier tires! We had an excellent time with lots of sightseeing, relaxing in hot pools and stopping for waffles and coffee. The mountains in Iceland are epic and the West Fjords are remote, wild and well worth a visit.
I managed to swap to my 700c’s before flying to Norway and riding from Voss to Oslo via a route I made up which was mostly road with some sections of excellent gravel, including the Rallarvegen route. Norway was super alpine, and the road climbs were mostly a very enjoyable gradient. I went back to saddle bag and bar bag for this trip, no fork bags, and felt speedy and light despite the built up fatigue in my legs. I did make Jim carry the tent and stove this time! Norway is beautiful, the mountains are spectacular, the climbs are long and we found plenty of resupply and campsite options. I managed to slip some tech-y single track into the route, which was great fun (and a little challenge) with 35mm tires. We were having multiple ice-cream stops a day again. Norway was having a heatwave when we were there, but the highest pass on our route was still impassable due to snow!
I rode around 2000 miles in 2 months, visited three different countries, had no mechanicals and was super comfortable on the bike throughout. The Bostal is a practical and versatile bike that I’d happily ride anywhere!
Photo credits : Andy Field and Jim Simpson