Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bike camping (1)

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Count down 1 wk to bikecation. I was hoping to do a little series of posts about bike camping leading up to the trip, and though that didn't happen, I'll try and squeeze a few in over the next couple days.
I'm not really sure why bike camping and touring isn't more popular these days. I've know many folks to hike the AT for months, etc., yet riding from point A to point B is incomprehensible. When we rode from Pgh to DC, people were flabbergasted that we rode our bikes (SLOWLY) there. And many of these people were seasoned Ironmen or ultramarathoners who beat cancer.
Anyways. Bike touring is fun and easy. You pretty much just need a bike, a rack and your typical camping gear. Though customized bikes and carefully selected gear can make this more comfortable...
Bike type: Though any bike will do, one that fits you well, in which you can sit a bit more upright is more desirable. My commuter bike is a Surly Crosscheck with an Xtracycle attachment, so that's what I'll take. A front bag is essential for holding a camera, handkerchief and wallet. This trip, I'm going to take a bit bigger of a front bag, which will hold my DSLR, 2 lenses and easily pops off to carry around. The Mountainsmith cube system is one of my favorite storage products all-around, and the bags fit nicely in the back bags of the xtracycle. With anticipated temperatures in the high 80's and high humidity, we're thinking of taking along the Sixer cooler too. Though it will add some bulk, the idea of cool hummus and carrots for lunch is much more appealing than warm peanut butter on celery or a clif bar- it is vacation after all...
JG typically has ridden his Rivendell with rear panniers (mid pic, orange), though will be taking his custom Vanilla with front/rear panniers and specifically designed for touring (bottom pic, blue).
I think that tires are the key here. I got 2 flats on the Tow path)(I only count it as one, as we didn't check to for the giant thorn, but found it on the 2nd flat). I've always ridden Continentials, and usually run them at a bit lower pressure than recommended. I'm not sure what JG rides, but we've really only had 3 flats over the last five years and have put in a good amount of miles.
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Packing for this trip has been a bit challenging. I find it's easier to pack for colder weather, and the balance of what to bring/what to leave is a little more important since we're a little more outta shape for this trip, a little heavier, haven't been riding distances, so the mental state will be a little tough too. I'm going to give just using a sleeping bag liner a go, an actual pillow (usually just use clothes in a stuff sack), and beside clothing, that's really the only change from a typical trip.
There are a few items that are easily overlooked yet can greatly increase your trip happiness. A handkerchief/hankie or small microfiber towel in your front bag (or somewhere handy), a head lamp and plastic bag to cover your seat are three such items. Tune in tomorrow for WHAT TO WEAR!
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Read other post on:
Bike Camping 2, Bike Camping 3, 2011 trip pack list, 2011 12-day trip from Pittsburgh to north of Kingston, Ontario, 6 day autumn trip on the Allegheny Passage

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