Friday, July 3, 2009

Bicycle Camping

This week Adobe had a shutdown. Lavinia and I were "forced" to take a week of vacation. Among problems in this economy ours is definitely a good one to have. So with the week off and Lavi's Mom in town I was able to sneak out for two days. I planned a bicycle camping trip to Whidbey Island. The idea was simple, load up the bicycle with what I needed, leave the house and ride to the campground, then back the next day. Just enjoy the easy pace and have some fun.

In preparation for the ride I did a good amount of research. I quickly realized that some past camping purchases were perfect for what I needed, but others would not be ideal. Kent Peterson is some one I know. He is a bit of a NW Cycling Idol. His blog is very
well read and he post some very useful information. His post on cycling camping gave me some great insight into what I could use.

Going into the gear planning part of the ride I wanted to ride as lightly as possible. My new Salsa Casserroll alreayd weighs in at 24 pounds. I wanted to keep the load light. I knew that my 4 pound tent was not ideal. I ended up going with a bivy sack from REI and a new therma-rest pad because they were highly functional and light. I rode with two panniers and a compression sack on my rack. In one pannier I had my house, sleeping bag, bivy sack, therma-rest pad, cycling coat (in case of rain too, but dual use to keep warm at night and lay over bivy sack in case of a heavy dew or light rain), plus some cycling tights (again to sleep in or ride with if needed). The other pannnier was misc really. I carried in it toiletries, food both on and off the bike, first aid, tools, tubes, patch kit, and a camera. I also threw in a small bag that carried my wallet and
phone. The compression sack carried my clothes, light weight pants, wool socks, cycling clothes for day two, warm light weight shirt, etc. All in all, the 3 bags together weighed in at 23 pounds. Not bad. I re-packed like 10x times and each time I tried to take something out or re-pack it in a smaller container to save weight and space.

Here's the bike fully loaded:

My friends Joey, Aron and Chad joined me for the ride. We were aiming to ride to Whidbey Island and had two choices as a destination, South Whidbey State Park or Fort Ebey State Park. Fort Ebey was about 25 more miles beyond South Whidbey. We left from my house at 8am on Monday and headed for the ferry. The only agreed upon bummer of the ride was that we had to ride 23 miles to the ferry terminal, so about half of our day was "in the city" and it would have been nice to do more miles on the island.

We had a good ride to the ferry and caught hte 11am. It was only a 20 minute crossing. We decided to have lunch in Langley and then get back on route. We had lunch at Cafe Langley, it was quite yummy. A quick stop at the store and we were riding again.

Whidbey Island is a hilly ride. Lots of steep uphills and downhills, so it was slow going with the weight of the bikes. Still, couldn't ask for better weather. The ride was fun, lots of great scenery and the locals were really nice as we rode along.

We ended up staying at South Whidbey Island State Park for the night. We rolled in there at 3pm and decided it was enough for the day. Thinking of the return ride and wanting to have something in the tank. I rolled out the bivy sack and pad, got it all set up. Then it was time to get cleaned up and get some food. We boiled some water, snacked on some goodies and had a few beers we picked up at the store (Note to self, tequila in a flask would be lighter to travel with). We wound up just chatting the night away. As we all climbed into our sleeping bags we just fell silent and then just fell asleep.






I played with the title of this post a lot. Kent Peterson had a post on bicycle camping that I found very good and he called it "A little closer to fine." I thought that was good, but not being a huge Indigo Girls fan I passed. I thought about calling the post "Closer to Kent" but felt the play on words would be too much and I didn't want to make the guy blush. In the end I stuck with simple and descriptive, but some other names came up during the trip.

- The windy roads of Whidbey
- The adventures of Poleicus
- Bike Camping, the new frontier

Anyway, to sum up it all up I have to say I had a great time. I look forward to a chance to get out on the road again and ride at the speed of "whenever" very soon.

On your left (whenever),
Jeff

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