As I packed my backpacking kit onto my mountain bike after work, I mentioned to a few friends that I was off on a 5-9 in between work shifts. I quickly realised the “5-9” expression isn’t necessarily known by all – and fair enough. The idea of this article is to extend the reach of this beautifully simple little concept and maybe encourage you to design your own 5 to 9!

Coined by Alasdair Humphreys, a “5 to 9” is essentially where you leave your desk when you finish work at 5pm, adventure somewhere overnight, and get back to your desk by 9am. Since I don’t actually work a standard 9-5, or – since COVID and working from home, have a desk, come to think of it – mine was more loosely a 3-10, but details hey? It’s 2020 and we’re all becoming masters of flexibility.

Check out this clip from Alastair to get a feel for the 5 to 9 Microadventure.

I’m a massive fan of doorstep adventures – leaving directly from home and making home your finish point, without additional travel. This also fits perfectly with the simplicity of a quick 5 to 9 in a climate of working from home. With that in mind, the night before my microadventure, I did a quick scan of a local map to find a bush style campsite in close striking distance. There aren’t a huge amount of options close by, but all I needed was one, which I found – and so, the adventure was set.

My dual suspension mountain bike was seriously overkill for the forestry type tracks I rode out to camp, but, having never set my mountain bike up with my bikepacking bags before, it worked perfectly as a gear test. When testing out a new set up, I do find that taking a less ambitious route can work out pretty well as it allows for issues to occur, but doesn’t mean you’ll end up stranded. Winning.

Pretty excited for this sneaky little adventure amidst a six day working week, off I rode after work, first onto gravel roads then through forestry, following a path I’d roughly plotted on my GPS. Arriving at camp before dark, I had that sense of satisfaction that you get when you’ve travelled somewhere under your own steam and all you need to do is set up your tent, boil some water for a cup of tea and then get dinner cooking. “Dinner” being the exquisitely nutritious offering of 2 minute noodles. It didn’t matter that it had only taken me a relatively short couple of hours to get to camp – the beauty of the 5 to 9 for me is the knowledge that while you could just be sitting on your sofa watching Netflix, before heading to bed, instead, you’re out in nature, sleeping in a tent in between working hours.

The long and the short of this message is – a 5 to 9 is a super accessible way to enjoy an overnight adventure. While I’m a big fan of multiday efforts and am dying to go on a huge, Type 2 fun style, trip, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of an overnighter. Don’t be deterred by a busy work routine and the sense that you “don’t have time” for fun. You might surprise yourself if you think a little more about how you can eke the most out of your evenings and don’t mind an early rise in the morning.

I’d love to hear your microadventure experiences!

Sarah x

Gear set up:

Bike: Cannondale Habit 1

Bikepacking kit: Gifted Wildcat harness; Revelate Designs Saltyroll bar bag; Revelate Designs Vole; Evoc backpack; Revelate Designs feedbag

Camping kit: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 Bikepacking tent, Thermarest Neo Air mat, Big Agnes AXL pillow, Rab down sleeping bag which has travelled the world with me since 2006; Jetboil Mini Mo stove.

Technology: Garmin inReach Mini, Garmin Edge 530 , GoPro Hero Black 5