Bikepacking The Hunt 1000 – an amateur’s perspective

Route on ridewithGPS.com
Words & Photos by Jack Keogh
Illustration by @leeleebefrank

6 minutes

November 17 2020 was the day we’d set at as the start date for our Hunt 1000 adventure. The official ride was canceled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and Victorian border closures, but my pal (Rohan Hunt) and I were pretty set on taking on the route and had been working towards it all year.

Part 1. buy a bike and learn about bikepacking

My riding journey began one and a half years ago after my friend had got a bike and encouraged me to do the same.

We’d always been into camping and hiking but I’d never really even heard of bikepacking, nor had I ever seen someone with a fully loaded bike riding across the country. It didn’t take long before we dove deep into bikepacking, spending every weekend riding around the ACT and the surrounding NSW areas.

My first ride was an ambitious route from Canberra to Moruya (around 125km’s) and it’s safe to say that I had no idea about the amount of pain I was destined to feel on that trip. No bike shorts, no riding shoes, just a couple of dry bags and some straps to keep everything on my bike. I started off with a Surly Disc Trucker, which was an unreal bike, but the more I rode, the more I realised I needed something more suited to the style of riding I was enjoying doing.

Bikepacking the Hunt 1000 from Canberra to Melbourne
Bikepacking the Hunt 1000 from Canberra to Melbourne
Bikepacking the Hunt 1000 from Canberra to Melbourne

Part 2. Someone mentions the Hunt

It was around the time I first started riding that my friend, Rohan, mentioned this thing called the Hunt 1000 and we were immediately interested. I remember having the thought ‘man it would be cool to do that someday’, not knowing that someday would be the very next year. During 2020 I built my ideal bike and got training for the Hunt.

Sundays were designated ‘training days’ for the better part of the year and we made the most of the rest of the world hiding away indoors.

After nowhere near enough training, and dealing with breaking my hand 6 weeks prior to the start date, November 17th rolled around and we were packed and ready to go. Our bikes were running well, our gear was all in check, we had a rough plan of where we wanted to end up at the end of each day and we were off.

Part 3. A ride of two halves

Now that I’ve actually finished the ride, I tend to break the ride up into two parts, the first half and the second half. 

The second half comes to mind first – this was a glorious half, the half where I knew I was going to complete the ride, the half where I smiled a lot, the half where we actually had resupply points and the half that I really appreciated the beautiful places I was in.

This was a good half.

I guess that leaves you thinking, ‘Well what was the first half?’ During the first half I was often hurting, hungry, in a negative headspace and ready to quit. These feelings were not constant and I definitely did have some great times but I found many of these feelings resurfacing a lot.

I knew before I started the ride that I was going to be challenged and hit lots of walls but I wasn’t really sure when these challenges would arise and how I would push past these walls to keep on going. Funnily enough, one of the main reasons I wanted to go on the Hunt 1000 was to experience these challenges and see how I would grow from them.

Bikepacking the Hunt 1000 from Canberra to Melbourne
Bikepacking the Hunt 1000 from Canberra to Melbourne

Part 4. Love, growth and acceptance

Although it probably sounds like I hated the first half, I still love it (though it took looking back on it to feel this way). The first half gave me everything I needed in order for me to get all the way to Melbourne and I feel like I grew a lot from it. I’d talked myself out of quitting too many times to count, I could look back on a map and be proud of how far I had come and that I’d overcome enough physical and mental challenges to tell myself that I could keep on going.

Don’t get me wrong, in the second half there were still many times where I was hurting and wondering how long it was until the next stop but I felt like my mind was strong enough to overcome any physical challenges that were presented to me. I enjoyed the soaking rain, I thought about how beautiful the views were as we scaled Billy Goats Bluff rather than focus on how steep and long it was, I learned to love the simplicity of life on the bike and I was thankful for all the new places I was exploring.

My takeaways from the Hunt and any advice I have for anyone thinking of doing it

My main takeaway from the Hunt is that things in life can be hard, and when they’re hard you have two options, to quit, or keep on going.

Many times on the Hunt I wanted to quit, I thought about how easy it would be for someone to come and pick me up and what that would mean. It would mean that rather than being somewhere out in the middle of nowhere for another 9 or so days, i’d be comfortable at home, eating anything I like and most likely sitting around playing playstation. I’d be able to shower and I wouldn’t have to deal with things like saddle sores or burning legs.

At the time, this seemed so appealing and these thoughts almost won the mental battle that my mind was going through, but I kept on going. Continuing the ride meant that I got to experience and learn so much more. I thought about going into detail about all the things I learnt and what I gained from finishing but I decided that I think it’s important for everyone to experience such a journey in their own way, with their own expectations and push through their own hard times.

Continuing to ride each day was hands down one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am so proud that we finished the ride.

Bikepacking portrait on the Hunt 1000 from Canberra to Melbourne
Bikepacking the Hunt 1000 from Canberra to Melbourne, All City cycles

If you have read this much then I want to thank you for giving me the time to share a bit about my ride with you and if I could finish with one last piece of advice. You will never in your life regret pushing through a hard time when you come out the other side.

Hop on your bike and send it!