Adventurer, environmental campaigner, filmmaker and of course Genesis Vagabond and Croix de Fer rider, Joffrey Maluski is most at home on the bike.
We caught up with the multi-faceted Frenchman to talk about his most recent adventures, bikepacking essentials and tips based on his extensive experiences.
You can follow all of Joffrey's adventures over on his Instagram.
Tell us about your current trip and what you’re up to?
In August 2023, I embarked on an unforgettable journey to the Lofoten Islands, accompanied by two friends, Loic and Myriam. This remote and far-away destination from our home in France called out to our sense of wanderlust.
However, we were determined to undertake this epic adventure without the convenience of air travel. So, with unwavering determination and a thirst of adventure, we hopped aboard a train, embarking on a four-day journey that would lead us to the Lofoten archipelago.
The journey by train was a remarkable experience and adventure in itself. As we set foot on the Lofoten, we were instantly mesmerised by the rugged coastlines, towering peaks, and the crystal-clear waters that stretched as far as the eye could see.
Our primary mode of exploration during our 20-day journey was cycling. Armed with our trusty bikes, we discovered hidden gems at every turn. The scenic beauty of the Lofoten Islands was beyond our dreams, and each day brought new and breathtaking landscapes.
In addition to cycling, we eagerly indulged in our love for hiking and bivi. The Lofoten Islands offered a plethora of hiking trails (Reinebringen, Matmora, Ryten…) each one leading to magnificent viewpoints over the fjords.
You’ve done many trips over the past years, which one has been your favourite one so far and why?
It's pretty hard to choose just one, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be the trip to Iceland in summer 2021 that I took with my friends, Léo-Paul and Katia.
Traveling with close friends made this trip truly memorable. One of the main draws was the opportunity to explore the breathtaking highlands of Iceland that we crossed from North to South and East to West. The country is renowned for its otherworldly natural beauty, with its dramatic volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, vast glaciers and many rivers to cross in the highlands.
What bikes are you currently using?
I had the pleasure of riding a Vagabond in Iceland, a choice born of the necessity for large and rugged tires to navigate the diverse and challenging Icelandic terrains.
However, this summer I travelled more on roads, gravel trails and even attended bikepacking races/events. So I’ve made the transition to a Croix de Fer 30 which is a versatile marvel, capable of conquering both gravel and road with equal finesse.
When it comes to the bike, are there any unique features you have on your Genesis you’d like to share?
I use my extension bars extensively. I use them not only for comfort and changing my position on the bike but also for fixing various items on it, such as my GPS, phone, and most importantly, my camera. This way, my camera is always within easy reach for taking photos.
From the photos we can see you carry a lot with you on the bike! Can you tell us a little about some of the essentials you take with you?
Certainly! When embarking on my cycling adventures, especially those that involve a mix of activities (climbing, skiing, paragliding…) or challenging terrain and weather, I carry some essentials to ensure safety, comfort, and self-sufficiency. Here are some of the key items I always have with me on my bike:
- Repair and maintenance tools: These include a multitool, tyre levers, a compact pump, spare inner tubes, and patch kits. These tools are essential for making on-the-go repairs and adjustments.
- Camping gear: Since I often venture into remote areas, I carry camping equipment like a tent, sleeping bag, and a fuel stove.
- Camera gear: Canon R6 with RF24-105 and RF70-200 lenses, a DJI Mini 3 Pro and two GoPros (Classic and 360).
- Navigation tools: I rely on GPS devices or maps to ensure I stay on the right track, especially in unfamiliar terrain.
- First aid kit: Safety is a top priority. I carry a well-stocked first aid kit to address minor injuries and medical needs while in the wilderness.
- Cold weather gear: Since I enjoy winter adventures, I carry insulated clothing, gloves for temperatures as low as minus-30°C. This gear is vital for staying warm but takes more space and is quite heavy.
- Head torch: A reliable head torch is a must for lighting the way during night rides or when setting up camp after dark.
- Communication device: In areas with limited cell phone coverage, I bring a satellite communicator (Inreach Mini) for emergency communication and staying in touch with my family and close friends.
- Energy snacks: High-energy snacks like energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits keep me fueled during long and challenging rides.
These essentials are meticulously selected and packed to ensure I'm well-prepared for a wide range of scenarios. Safety, self-sufficiency, and adaptability are paramount in my adventures, and having these items on hand allows me to confidently tackle the challenges of the great outdoors.
You have some bikepacking events coming up (mad Jacques and Poco Loco) can you tell us in short what those are and what they entail?
Mad Jacques and Poco Loco are both ultra bikepacking events, but they are not races. The goal of these events is to connect with people and explore the world of cycling travel or ultra cycling with the support of an organized community.
During my last Poco Loco event, which took me from Pau to Bilbao, we covered a distance of 700 kilometers with a total elevation gain of 13,000 meters in seven days (time limit) through the stunning Pyrenees. You can choose to complete the journey as quickly as possible, challenging yourself to push your limits, or take the full seven days to savor the experience, enjoying each night's incredible bivouac, and sharing memorable moments with fellow participants.
What are your top three must haves for your adventures?
Definitely, my camera is a vital part of my gear. I enjoy documenting my adventures and sharing them through my photos and films. Another essential item I always carry is my Fixplus straps. They enable me to securely attach various items to my bike, making it incredibly versatile. Lastly, a comfortable and well-insulated mattress is of paramount importance. It's just as crucial as having a high-quality sleeping bag because it ensures a good night’s sleep and proper rest.
For someone wanting to get into bigger gravel and adventure challenges, what would be your best piece of advice?
Do thorough research, plan your journey, and have a clear idea of the route and available resources along the way. Invest in the right gear you can trust in any conditions and in a bike designed for gravel and adventure riding.
Learn how to perform basic maintenance on your bike, as well as for your tent, stove, or other gear. Work on your fitness and endurance, practice on different terrains, and gradually increase your distance and difficulty.
All of these allow you to embark on a challenging adventure with more confidence. But above all, challenging bikepacking adventures always come with ups and downs, both physically and mentally.
So in these moments, it’s important to remember why you are here, that the essence of adventure is the journey itself. Take the time to soak in the beauty of your surroundings, appreciate the unique experience, and relish the sense of accomplishment. A warm smile always helps you get through a difficult moment!