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Bike Camping: A more exciting way to backpack

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Bike Camping: A more exciting way to backpack

Trever Perelson

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Bike camping, bike touring, bike packing, or just getting lost on your bike with a sleeping bag and no destination. Regardless of what you call it, this activity is a guaranteed experience to satisfy your craving for adventure without emptying your entire piggy bank or harming the environment. You would be surprised by how far you can get after pedaling an hour straight on your bicycle, and how good it feels to know that your very legs have carried you hundreds of miles from home. Through bike packing you are able to observe and appreciate your surroundings as you pedal down the coast or through the mountains with the breeze in your hair and the elements on your back.
Although bike packing is a rather unconventional way to go on vacation, it is an experience that will benefit any curious soul. It is a self-reliant way to move about the world and see what is actually there, down the road, outside of the bubble, outside of the comfort zone of knowing everything around you. Bike camping is the instant vacation you’ve always longed for. Yet, you never know until you go, so I’m going to give you a handful of tips and a list of items to bring on your trip in order to be prepared and have a successful experience on the road.

Tam Alumnus Adrian Bennett on a bike camping trip.

Packing list:

  • Sleeping bag or blanket if you’re one of those grizzly types
    backpack, tent or tarp (you obviously don’t need all of these depending or your preference of sleeping accommodations).
  • Bandanna.
  • An interesting novel to keep you inspired (Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac or Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie).
  • Notebook or notepad to record those ridiculous moments and thoughts that occur on the road.
  • Map.
  • Para chord.
  • Bike tools (patch kit, pump, bike, lights, extra tubes, mini-pump, spare parts).
  • Camera.
  • First-aid Kit.
  • Matches.
  • Water bottle.
  • Pocketknife/ Multi-tool.

Food:

  • Energy bars
  • High calories foods (nuts, trail mix, peanut butter, dense bread).
  • Fruits and vegetables (avocados, bananas, apples).
  • Keep in mind the more food you bring/prepare the less money you’re spending on dining.

Bicycle accessories:

  • Water bottle cage
  • Helmet
  • Rear or front racks to carry gear (this saves the strain on your back and gives you more freedom and enjoyment to bask in your surroundings).
  • Reflectors and adequate lighting. It may look fruity but in the long run you’ll be happy that the cars can see you.
  • Extra bicycle equipment: inner tubes, patch kit, hand pump, extra spokes, etc.

Tips:

  • Assume that every day it may rain. So pack accordingly. (Rain coat, tarp, extra trash bags) It’s no fun to be soggy and miles from home.
  • Think lightweight.
  • Analyze everything you pack for your trip. You don’t want to over pack or under pack. You don’t need to carry 4 pairs of pants, a laptop, and your stuffed monkey Lulu.
  • Wear as little cotton as possible. (Wool and synthetic clothing is best).
  • You shouldn’t feel excluded because you don’t have the right gear. Just get together the resources you have and start from there.
  • The kind of bike you’re riding on the trip really doesn’t matter as long as you’re comfortable. Yet, use your common sense a full suspension downhill racing bike or a cruiser are not suitable for riding dozens of miles at a time fully loaded with gear. A steel road bike or a hardtail mountain bike is good way to keep you stoked.
  • You shouldn’t feel excluded because you don’t feel physically or mentally fit, pedal over the hill and see how it feels.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for directions.
  • Do independent research on where you’re going and which route you’re going to take.
  • Remember that nature is not a place you can drive to.

Local destinations:

  • Angel Island: Pedal to Tiburon and take the ferry in.
  • China Camp: Pedal out to San Rafael and traverse towards camp.
  • Samuel P. Taylor Park: Pedal to Fairfax and follow Sir Francis Drake past Lagunitas.

If you plan on creating your own bike packing route, research the weather, road quality, traffic, mileage and proximity to civilization.

Excited or nervous? Contact me for further tips or advice on traveling by bicycle at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “Bike Camping: A more exciting way to backpack”

  1. Mark Keeler on July 16th, 2012 9:36 am

    I spent nearly a year bicycle touring and it was one of the. Est experiences in my life!

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