The sub 48 hour overnighter (S48O) is a great way of getting away for a couple of days on the bike, on your own or with friends, to roads and trails you know well or somewhere entirely new. It would seem from various sections of the media (particularly social media) that this is something new, but Cyclotourists have been doing this over spare weekends for decades, and doing it on a vintage bike adds another dimension. Though the pull of buying a gravel/grinduro/endurance/gnarmac bike is strong purely on the level that it’s another bike to add to the collection I have found that there were bikes already in my stable more than capable of covering 100 miles or so over a couple of days loaded with kit. A vintage bike S48O is easy to do, fairly cheap and makes for a wonderful escape.
Because of the short-ish journey time you probably won’t get too far (for me 50-60 miles on road and 25-35 miles off road is a great pace) and you therefore probably don’t need to pack too much kit. In summer months a bivvy bag and light sleeping bag is sufficient, a proper tent and a thicker bag might be needed in Spring/Autumn (depending on where you are going obviously!) but generally I don’t pack any cooking equipment and little in the way of clothes or spare parts. This means that you can get away without pannier bags, and if you can be assured dry weather you don’t need a bike with mudguards either, so any road bike with a few bags can work. There are some great luggage options that come under the ‘bike-packing’ category, no brackets, racks or special braze-ons necessary, but you can get an awful lot into the combination of a saddlebag and bar bag, and with the addition of a small frame bag too this should be plenty for a light summer trip.
One of the joys of using a vintage bike for trips like these is you really get to spend some time on them and appreciate the ride, I use vintage bikes for nearly everything from Touring to the commute. On day rides and commuting in particular I don’t have a lot of time to reflect on what it is I enjoy about riding them though, a couple of days back to back in the saddle means I start to notice all the little things, a nicely shaped lug, the flex in a particular frame or just how smoothly I can get friction shifters to work with a bit of practise! Because, for me certainly, these trips are not about riding huge distances, or going particularly quickly they offer the ideal pace to explore, and I don’t need the highest performance, lightest or most up to date bike for that. There is no guilt in stopping for ice cream (twice), or getting off the bike to go and paddle in the sea, there is just a sense of freedom and almost of timelessness. And therein lies the other great feeling of riding a vintage bike S48O – the connection with the past, that feeling that you could be travelling these same roads but 20, 30, 40 (delete as applicable) etc years ago, on the same equipment and enjoying the same freedom.