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Over the home-bound Easter Break we set a few regular Pannier Photographers a challenge: an Easter hunt, to seek-out six of their favourite photos from Pannier bikepacking days gone by. First up: Duncan, Matty & Dave...


1. Soca Springlands / “Vrsic Hike-a-Bike”

Mid-May and the spring snowfall has one last vocal point to make. Stepping off the train in Italy, a couple of kilometres from the Slovenian border we were taken aback by full snow cover everywhere having left a warm and sunny Venice that morning. The rifugio owner was skeptical as to whether Vrisc pass was indeed passable however with full stomachs and a good breakfast we gave it our best shot. There was a point where the vehicle tracks stopped, the road was a foot deep, edge to edge, in snow. Pushing a bike when the cassette and derailleur decide they wish to repurpose themselves as snow anchors is a pretty futile experience. No other option than the carry. Numb hands, sore shoulders and a fair way to go still. Peering into Dave’s mood through snow clad spokes, having to high knee step on step as fresh snowfall threatens, summed up the experience that day…

2. Soca Springlands / “Stol Gravel”

The clouds rolled in spelling an end to a relaxed brew stop at the top of the pass, the dregs of 3 in 1. We’d ascended from the Soca Valley revealing rolling hills to the south. The freak weather from a few days before resurfaced with wind drifted snow blocking the entry to the path. Between the drifts the gravel switch backed all the way to the valley floor. A little chunky in places the tensing hands would welcome the occasional carry through waist deep snow. I chased the team with the drone for a fair stretch waiting for the light to play ball and illuminate the trio. Unfortunately that was never to happen but the stunning scenery and memories still make it a firm favourite.

3. Desert of Wales / “Tropical Tom”

I saw a call for riders on instagram for some folk to come and trial a route in Wales. Having been talked into buying a Bombtrack Hook EXT by Tom Hill I was eager for a good excuse to ride it properly and the message to Stef and co was sent. The crowd certainly had its differences to the mountain bike flat bar thundering racers that surrounded me during my working weeks. Although I was along as a faux-guest on this trip, I had my handy little canon compact in the jersey pocket at all moments. After a steady climb up the Elan valley it was evident that the week prior had been a wet one and the ford was packing a fair current. Tom dived in without hesitation, one handing the bars to place precious cargo in mouth and charged on through. Watermelons, pineapples, aperitifs and wood-fired pizzas, the memories of food are fond from this trip.

4. Furthlines / “Three kilometres to go”

No matter how much time you invest in route planning, map reading, gaining experience riding in multitudes of different terrain, there will always be those segmented lines on the map that take longer than you think. Sometimes this could be due to the beauty of the track and photography holding up proceedings, other times the weather, making a fast rolling surface akin to HGV escape lanes or sometimes, regardless of what satellite imagery might suggest the going is just plain slow. Thanks to a combination of all of these factors and the short winter days we were stumbling our way, up and up and up to a bothy none of us had visited before. There’s something novel about waking up in an environment having no idea what it looks like…

5. Soca Springlands / “Karma”

Adverse conditions always make for some of the most memorable moments, re-emerging from the warm refugio after a hot drink Stef surprised Dave with a sizable snowball. Instant karma was enacted when a drift of snow shifted off the sloped roof onto Stef’s own head only moments later! Despite numb toes, wearing every available layer, morale was high thanks to moments like this.

6. Furthlines / “Foodie Focus”

There are less than a handful of people in this world that consider a micro grater one of the top bikepacking essentials. Yet, used more often than that flexi-spare-spoke or M3 bolt, this little grater has morale boosting abilities hugely disproportionate to its pocketable size. Finishing a long day with top quality proper food garnished with local cheese, freshly grated, is one of the real perks of a Pannier trip in the hills.


1. Grappa Massif / “Rifugio Nights”

Nathan, Max and Dave taking in the stunning scenery and epic route at the end of a long days riding in the Italian pre-alps. The boys had found a great perch to observe the sun setting over the winding gravel route on the way to the mountain refuge. These three, like many people on Pannier trips, had never met before but within a few hours were laughing and joking like old friends. There is something about bike trips that allows you to rapidly get to know someone…

2. Grappa Massif / “Skids are for kids”

…or so the saying goes. We all love a good skid; a token rite of passage in riding bicycles of any kind. Dave has put many years of practice to good use and slid sideways deep into the limestone gravel, wandering a bit too close to my camera lens to begin with. I’ve got to know Dave fairly well over the last few years – we both share a BMX background – and every trip usually always ends up with us messing around to bring the giggles on…

3. Highland Drover / “Raucous Recces”

Shot on a short route recce with Stef and Dave, in mid January, straight after completing the Strathpuffer 24-hour race. We were all pretty shattered and beaten by the puffer but after a good night’s kip at the Kingshouse, we set off for a quick out-and-back route in the Scottish Highlands. Heading out from the van, the weather looked ominous, but as we turned each corner, up higher, we noticed that our steep-sided valley might have it’s own, albeit windy, micro-climate holding off the rain. What followed was a fantastic cruise to, and around, a loch and back – testament to just getting out there and riding; generally things are always okay … and fun!

4. Grappa Massif / “Gravel Travel”

THAT section on the Grappa Massif tour – probably the best section of gravel road I’ve ever ridden. The route clings and twists along the edge of a mountain, already steep and rough but increased tenfold by bombing during WWII. Around every corner there is a steep drop or a winding tunnel that sure brought out the sense of adventure. This was shot, of Stef, descending the road on the morning of the final day of the tour. We’d spent the night at the Refuge and a chilly early morning descent woke the senses and cleared any Grappa sore heads…

5. Solstice Socials / “The Stig”

Jordan doing his best Stig impression at the 2019 Summer Solstice Campout in the Yorkshire Dales. The annual loaded hillclimb is always a highlight of the weekend with a Surly loaded with panniers full of gravel and, at least at the beginning, a watermelon. Competition is always fierce and the event is taken very seriously. For many it is the race highlight of their year and the fruit of many months worth of training which go into these precious few seconds. Jordan deemed safety was essential having seen Stefan crash due to some nefarious activity from other contestants. This was shot as he bombed back down to the start…

6. Solstice Socials / “Loaded Hill Climb Starts”

Dave’s disqualified hill climb run from the 2018 Summer Solstice campout. Another image from the same series of events but it really brings together everything that Pannier symbolises; fun, friends, fantastic riding and amazing scenery. Dave produced a stellar time to come second in the standings, however, he was promptly disqualified due to being a borderline pro… Someone should probably have told him before he took his run!


1. Grappa Massif / “Pasubio Descent”

As the sun rose and the mist was hung in the valley, myself and Matteo set off for a cold early morning descent on the Strada della 52 Gallerie. We were descending fast because we had other tourers (who had spent the night at a lower rifugio) to meet whilst the rest of the group headed down the Strada degli Eroi. However, as I passed a gap in the trees and spotted this distant switchback, I just had to stop and wait for Matteo to ride into the distant shot…

2. Rainspotting / “Snowy Tracks”

Setting off from Corrour Station, we made our way into the wild open expanses of the Scottish Highlands. The snow got gradually crisper, hands and feet got suddenly colder, but the smiles and team spirit boosted with every pedal stroke…

3. Rainspotting / “Ben Alder”

With daylight disappearing fast and our hopes of a nice warm bunkhouse well and truly shatered, we set our sights on the Ben Alder Bothy, praying for the door to be unlocked and the wood stack piled high. With wet feet and numb hands, the squad relayed bikes over the old narrow bridge before making the final dash to shelter…

4. Route Beer Ramble / “Bus-Stop Sanctuary”

After battling a block headwind all morning there was almost a sense of relief when one of the group flatted and the pace dropped. Riders quickly scattered and found shelter from the cold wind wherever possible, some hid behind bushes, some huddled together, and some hoped to catch the next bus to Bristol…

5. Rainspotting / “The Next Stop”

As the Caledonian Sleeper gained elevation through the Scottish Highlands the snow went from being on distant hilltops to burying the roads and tracks we were soon to ride. Since waking up, it was all smiles and awe from the warm seats of the train, but soon it was our stop…

6. The Road to Dolomiti / “Syncro Show”

On the day before the Dolomiti Superbike, we went for a pedal up to Lago di Braies to check out the most Instagram’ed lake in the world. With holidaymakers gathered around in puffy jackets and woolly hats, the Pannier synchronised diving team (Chris & Stef) stripped down to their bibs and put on a performance befitting the beauty spot…

Journey | SLOVENIA


...bikepacking the mountain passes and gravel roads of Slovenia's Soča River Valley, Triglav National Park and Julian Alp lands, in the tracks of Slovene mountaineer/traveloguer Julius Kugy...



...the photo essay from our Grappa Massif guided gravel hut-to-hut bikepacking tour in the Venetian Alps, with clothing brand PEdALED. Expect quiet mountain roads, gravel tracks, walled-towns and alpine rifugios

Journey | UK


Follow us as we bikepack into The Desert of Wales, on an overnight tour to preview Quoc's new Gran Tourer (GT) adventure cycling shoes...

by Stefan Amato, Chris McClean & Josh Brooks