Tuesday, September 01, 2009
First time bicycle camping!
Here's how it usually goes. I happen to discover some stuff that really interests me. Then I like to research the hell out of that stuff. Every once in a while (not very often) I actually do the stuff. So it was this last Friday that, after reading a lot about bike camping here, and researching it here, I really went out and did it, thanks to an invite from John.
I had worked the day and night before and was hopeful that we wouldn’t be too busy. We wound up getting up four times that night, which is kind of average at our station. I was actually feeling pretty well rested, as I headed home on the XtraCycle to convert it – from commuting machine to camping machine. In this pursuit, I made the ultimate sacrifice and removed the sound system in the name of lightening the load. That was kind of a lost cause.
I weighed all my gear and it came in at 9 pounds. But then I threw in a camp chair, some food and a couple of cans of Foster’s. So, it was probably pushing 13-15 pounds, all and all. Last year, Doogy and I weighed the XtraCycle at the station. It came in at 65 pounds. Kinda heavy even with no gear.
It was a very hot day, maybe a hundred degrees, and we all gathered at the Riverfront Park fountain to begin. There were two of us Johns and two of them Pats. One of the Pats has an excellent account of the trip and great photos on his blog here.
This was my first time bicycle camping and I was pretty happy with how it went. I learned a ton and hung out with some great guys too.
I had read about Hennessey Hammocks and had been intrigued. John and Pat had them on the trip. Patrick went with a one-man tent. A week before our trip, I started looking around Spokane for one of these hammocks. No luck. I found an army surplus one at the army surplus on Division, but it seemed kind of heavy. So, I made my own version of the hammock. I call mine the Half-assed Hammock. It worked pretty well. It had a big fly that kept the rain off of me and my bike.
I am not entirely sold on the hammock idea. It was a little different to sleep in. I will give it another try with a few modifications – the Half-ass II.
The XtraCycle setup is my summertime fun machine, but it is a heavy bitch. I don’t think I would take it on this long of a trip again – especially loaded down with camping stuff. I have done close to 40 miles on it before, but after 60 or so in 24 hours, well that’s a little much.
It was a hot ride out. My helmet straps were white with sweat salt when we got to the lake. My legs were cramping up a little at the end. It dawned on me that a little electrolyte replacement might have been a good idea. Next hot long ride, I am packing some Ultima, along with the beer.
I brought a sleeping bag liner because my only sleeping bag is really heavy. I’ve had it since 1973. It has a lot of sentimental value, but I think a new sleeping bag may be in order.
Didn’t cook. It was warm enough that some salami, mixed nuts, apples and really deformed cheese were perfect. I had brought a stove thinking I needed my coffee in the morning. It was raining when we got up and I was itching to get going, so I skipped the coffee. I was fine. As a side benefit, because I didn’t drink any coffee, I didn’t have to worry about finding a place to deposit and then destroy the evidence of what coffee does to my bowels every morning.
It was a fine trip back home, after a half-way stop at The Willow Springs Station Restaurant in Cheney. Thanks John, Patrick and Pat for inviting me along. Good times!