Words and photos by Alex Tunbridge (@alex_tunbridge)
Hi, my name is Alex. I’m 57 years old and from Melbourne, Australia. For as long as I can remember, I have loved hiking, cycling, and kayaking outside. When I was younger, I enjoyed road cycling and racing until one fateful day 15 years ago when I was struck by a car whilst out riding. Unfortunately, this left me with extensive spinal damage, including vertebral compression fractures. For many months afterwards, I was mostly confined to bed, and my mental health quickly deteriorated, unsurprisingly. Gradually, my physical health improved, and with it, my mental health. Finally, I was able to venture outside again.
Not long after my recovery, I met my now partner, Tracy, who introduced me to a cultural diversity I had never before experienced through her Chinese heritage. I was happy again.
After the accident, I found that road cycling alongside high-speed cars and the pollution they create no longer had the same appeal to me. In 2020 I purchased a bog-standard Kona Sutra with the intention of bicycle touring. During this time, I became more aware of bikepacking, so with a lot of help from Adam at Commuter Cycles in Melbourne, I converted the Sutra into something more off-road capable. I’m super pleased with how it turned out, both in looks and capability. It’s a very stable and confident bicycle and easily carries all my camping gear when heading out on multi-day trips.
In terms of my bikepacking bags, I guess you could say I have an eclectic mix. I like to keep my handlebars as uncluttered as possible. I prefer to carry the majority of my gear in front of panniers as I find them the least disruptive to the handling of my bicycle. I love my Tumbleweed T-rack mounted on the rear. This enables me to carry three liters of water and my tripod.
- frame/fork 2020 Kona Sutra
- rims Curve cycling dirt hoops
- hubs DT Swiss
- tyres Vittoria Mezcal 29 x 2.25″
- handle bars Salsa cow chipper 46cm
- Headset floor
- crankset SRAM GX Eagle Lunar 175mm
- pedals Entry level Shimano SPD
- cassette SunRace 11 Speed 10-46T
- derailleur SRAM Rival 11 Speed
- brakes SRAM Hydro Disc FM Rival22
- shifter(s) SRAM rival
- saddle Brooks C17
- Seatpost Cane Creek eeSilk+
- stem floor
- Front bags Ortlieb panniers
- Frame bag Rogue Panda
- Other accessories Knog headlight
I guess I’m a bit of a loner. As such, I really enjoy solo bikepacking trips. For me, it’s a time of self-reflection and gives me the time and space to understand my priorities. To date, my trips have been within my home country and usually consist of a night or two. This coming March, I have planned a two-week solo cycling trip to Lombok, Indonesia, where I plan to see the island and meet its people. This will be my first time taking my bicycle overseas, and I’m super excited.
You can see more from Alex on Instagram @alex_tunbridge.
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