Deuter Trans Alpine 30

The Trans Alpine 30 is Deuter’s ‘favourite all-rounder’. I have been putting this to the test for the last season.

My incumbent go-to bag for mountain bike riding and guiding has been the Evoc FR Trail, which is 20 litres of low profile, extremely well thought out and well made bag. The Trans Alpine 30 is in a different category as far as capacity goes and to pitch the TA30 against the Evoc for general single day riding would be unfair. However, for guiding purposes, I have happily used either.

Guiding

For me, this would be the main purpose of the bag.

The TA30 came in to my hands just in time for guiding Saddle Skedaddle‘s Awesome Ambleside mountain biking weekend. It settled in to this role well, comfortably swallowing all my guiding kit including spare layers and a small group shelter with room to spare. The extra space of the 30 litre bag was well appreciated, yet it still manages to maintain a fairly low profile.

Something I especially like about the TA30 is the main compartment has a (zippered removable) divider towards the bottom, with the lower section being accessible from below. This feature is simple but so very handy in practice; I use this section to store my first aid kit, making it very easy to get at and keeps it separate from everything else in the bag.

I also really appreciate the presence of waist strap pockets, which I use to store a few tools in one side and snacks in the other.

What I found strange was the unusual omission of a whistle integrated in to the sternum strap buckle. Interestingly, this is a feature on other Deuter bags such as the smaller Attack 20, making its omission even more baffling. A small whistle slipped into one of the waist strap pockets alleviates this.

However, possibly most importantly, this bag is stable and comfortable when riding. By distributing weight well, the TA30 is well up to the task of carrying a full mountain bike guiding load all day. The weight is held well through tight corners and there is no ‘swinging’.

General Travel

Part of the ‘all-rounder’ quality that Deuter attaches to the TA30 suggests to me it should be at ease with general travel duties. With the amount of road riding trips I guide, the TA30 was destined to spend quite a lot of time in such a capacity.

A fun video of packing it can be found here!

It’s also seen use lugging some sport climbing gear around between work assignments.

The H x W x D of 54 x 28 x 24 cm means the Trans Alpine 30 should be hand luggage ready. To test this, I took a four night trip to Reykjavik, with this as my only bag. Here it is stowed safely under the seat in front of me:

Comfortably taking a couple of changes of clothes and a few other travel essentials, the TA30 passes this test. It performed well as a day to day bag both around town and on hikes to hot springs, with ample room for food and clothing. Those side pockets came in extra handy for bottles of water, too. None of my other bags have them, and in most other situations I wouldn’t care much for them, but they really complement the all-rounder ethic of this bag. The waist strap pockets were also a very useful place to store hotel keys.

The verdict so far

I have been using the TA30 for a few months now; with useful features and a good size it has quickly become a familiar travel companion and comfortable, capable riding sack. I’ll happily keep testing it out!

Mountain biking summer 2017

After guiding a lot of road trips, I always love getting back on my mountain bike, riding and guiding quality trails. This summer I’ve had the pleasure of riding one of my favourites in the Lake District with good friends: the three passes starting from Staveley.

This was followed by an impromptu trip up to Scotland to cover the last few days of Saddle Skedaddle‘s Celtic Crossing trip. This is an epic journey in the traditional cross country mould which starts on the north coast of Scotland in Bettyhill and concludes at the Wallace monument in Stirling. The day I started we were to cross the Corrieyairack Pass.

The highlight day of this trip has to be the penultimate leg from Dalwhinnie to Killin, crossing some beautifully remote terrain.

I also found myself back in the north Lakes, guiding some great rides near Ullswater. The forecast was for heavy rain all weekend but the usual Lake District sunshine prevailed for the most part.

France summer 2017 with Saddle Skedaddle

Earlier this summer I spent several weeks in France guiding two trips for Saddle Skedaddle. The first of these was the iconic St Malo to Nice, taken over three weeks.

This is a great way to do the trip if you have the time available as it gives you longer to enjoy the journey and the places you visit.

At the start of July I headed to the French alps to guide a group over some of the Tour de France regulars in Skedaddle’s Classic Alps Passes trip.

This was great as it linked some new areas for me with more familiar ground.

It’s always good to get back to the big mountains! I’m looking forward to another St Malo to Nice trip in September when the cool autumn mornings start to arrive.

Loughrigg Terrace descent with ambient clouds

Awesome Ambleside with Saddle Skedaddle

Last weekend I had the pleasure of working in the Lake District with some of the best guides around on Saddle Skedaddle‘s Awesome Ambleside trip.

The first day is a great loop around Coniston Water, going from the tourist honeypot of Ambleside to some of the quieter corners of the Lakes on some fantastic trails. The second day takes in more classic trails in the area.

Great trails in this quiet corner of the Lakes
Great trails in this quiet corner of the Lakes
Picnic in the usual Lakes sunshine
Picnic in the usual Lakes sunshine
Loughrigg Terrace descent with ambient clouds
Loughrigg Terrace descent with ambient clouds
Poppies

Del Norte al Sur: San Sebastián to Tarifa with Saddle Skedaddle

The first trip of the season with Saddle Skedaddle and it was a big one! Having previously done St Malo to Nice and Land’s End to John o’ Groats, it was great to take on another iconic end to end journey.

From the first day, the climbing begins.

Climbing over the Cordillera Cantábrica
Climbing over the Cordillera Cantábrica

There’s some huge open landscape views along the way.

Wide open spaces
Wide open spaces

There was so little traffic on the route, you sometimes wonder where everyone is!

Rolling towards Valverde de los Arroyos
Rolling towards Valverde de los Arroyos
Cyclist friendly roads
Cyclist friendly roads

Over a couple of weeks we had a few drops of rain but the clouds often made a dramatic backdrop to the scenery.

Dramatic skies
Dramatic skies

On the highest point of the route, we even rode in to the clouds.

Climb to the Collado de Serranillos
Climb to the Collado de Serranillos

Roads clung to the side of the hills overlooking the ever changing landscape.

More incredible scenery
More incredible scenery

One of the great things about the trip is the diverse range of incredible accommodation it visits.

Monastery converted to hotel at Guadalupe
Monastery converted to hotel at Guadalupe

As the trip gets further towards the south, the hills don’t let up. There’s a steep climb to the picturesque town of Zuheros.

Rolling out of Zuheros
Rolling out of Zuheros

Towards El Chorro the mountains get really impressive, the roads taking a sinuous route through them.

The road to El Chorro
The road to El Chorro
Sunshine and traffic free
Sunshine and traffic free

During May there are thousands of poppies lining the route, with occasional fields cloaked in bright red.

Poppies
Poppies

Ronda was the penultimate town we visited. Sat atop vertical cliffs and strung together with incredible bridges, this is somewhere I would like to return to.

Ronda view
Ronda view

With one last climb to go, the route is beautiful to the end. Watch out for the strong Levante wind descending to Tarifa. There’s a reason windsurfing is so popular here!

On the road to Tarifa
On the road to Tarifa