I'm sure I've said it here before, but my goal for summer 2010 is to do more bike touring and bike camping trips.
Before this summer I had only done one overnight trip, to the Square Lake Film Festival, and for that one I threw everything in the sag wagon (support vehicle) so I didn’t have to carry anything and I was with a huge group of people should anything go wrong. The ride was fun and stress-free, and I enjoyed the event despite the massive thunderstorm that rocked the campsite and canceled the last few live acts, raging into the night until about 6 in the morning. I was nervous before the trip, but after successfully biking to Square Lake and surviving the intense storm I thought, “That was easy! I want to try that again!”
Over the winter I stalked Craigslist, the Mplsbikelove.com Buy/ Sell/ Trade forum, and other online marketplaces to get some camping gear together. I currently have a tent, inflatable sleeping mat, sleeping bag, small penny stove, cooking/ mess kit, microfiber towel, and collapsible water jug. All of that stuff probably cost me a little under $400. I found that you can thrift things like the sleeping mat and cooking equipment, borrow most other things including a tent (or you could just use a tarp and some rope) from a friend, but I personally prefer to have my own sleeping bag. Garage sales sometimes have good things too, but you have to wait until summer when everyone is out scouring for deals.
At the end of May this year, I went on a supported (Our friend John drove a sag wagon/ car packed with the heavier stoves and gear and was there to bail us out if we needed it.) group bike camping trip from Minneapolis to Interstate State Park in Wisconsin. Having the sag wagon was really important on the long ride (120+ miles round trip), especially when we had a slower set of riders that needed to be picked up so they could make it to the campground by nightfall. We were also able to use the sag wagon to carry two heavy stoves, a big cooler with ice, beer and food, and a massive amount of firewood. There was, once again, an all-out thunderstorm for the first four hours of our ride, but I eventually dried out and still had a ton of fun hanging out with the group and riding through the beautiful St. Croix River Valley.
I’ve been so excited about bike camping that I sent an email out to some WTF cyclists that I know, and asked if anyone would be interested in an all-WTF bike camping series. I’ve gone camping quite a bit, and I have been on two successful bike camping trips so far, but I had never done either with all WTFs. The idea was to do a short ride to an overnight spot on our first trip, go on a longer ride for an overnight for a second trip, and to go on a much longer ride with multi-night camping for the final trip in the series.
Becky, Greta and Kat were interested, so we traded a few emails to pick a place and set a date, had a planning meeting, and were feeling really excited about our WTF adventure.
This is Part I of my bike camping reflection. Stay tuned for more!