Car Camping, By Bike (part one)

Late last week a few of us talked about a quick bike camping trip up to Mystic Lake. Considering the distance and time frame are relatively short (20 miles, less than 24 hours) we discussed the merits of packing to have fun and to be comfortable rather than to pack light. And since my small backpacking stove was damaged the last time I went on a bike camping trip (by dropping it out of a tree) I was forced- FORCED! to bring my hefty two-burner Coleman stove. Well, since I'm not going to be going light (and I'm not particularly light myself), then why not bring a cast iron frying pan? And a couple of coolers, so we can have nice cold beer. And we'll stop and get some steaks, too. Oh- and a couple (well, more like 4) boxes of wine. And stuff for breakfast.
We met at the shop on Saturday evening. Cap'n E and I had ridden our loaded bikes to work, mine a Specialized mountain bike and his a Redline Mono-Cog converted to an ersatz cyclocross bike with the addition of 27 speeds and drop bars (lovingly referred to as...The Brown Streak). E loaded his gear onto his homemade trailer, a two-wheeled device constructed out of a nordic ski flexing bench, some steel shelf units, two milk crates, self-tapping screws, and plenty of zip-ties. As loaded, with two folding wooden deck chairs jauntily placed on top, it bore a striking resemblance to a Conestoga Wagon,...or the Beverly Hillbillies' truck, it is:
As we shove off, all the minutiae that I forgot to pack start coming back to me- things like food, matches, knife, and a bunch of other small but crucial things. So we take a ride down to Heebs grocery (yes, that's their real name, and no, they're not jewish) for some supplies. In the haze of rushing to get out and the sinus infection I was battling I forgot a few more things after we left Heebs. A quick stop at Joe's Parkway solved that.

Finally, we start heading south (and up). Ten miles of uninteresting asphalt pass. We reach the Sourdough Canyon (aka Bozeman Creek) trailhead and pause for some stretching and airletting from the tires for more traction and coosh. The four of us start out all together, but gradually drift apart the way a slowly-pulled slinky would, with Wiley (fresh off a weeklong Great Divide trip) at the front, followed by C-Note on his road/mountain/city bike/xtracycle mixed-breed, me on the inappropriately fully-suspended Specialized FSR XC and BOB trailer, with Cap'n E navigating the bumps with his trailer. Plenty of sun and a slight breeze made for a quite enjoyable ride.
Once you get to the 5 mile mark, you have a choice of routes to take to the lake. Five more miles of pleasant fire road or two miles of fun (yet challenging- with a long bike) singletrack. Since one of us had a trailer that was wider than the trail, we chose to take the longer route. It was an easy ride until we got to within a half-mile of our campsite. There's remnants of an old earthen dam, and a swift yet small creek that needs to be forded. From there on it's narrow singletrack.
For the final half-mile, I decided to ride behind the Conestoga, thinking that there might be a bit of excitement. For the most part I merely giggled as the thing merrily bounced along, one wheel on the trail and the other trying to mow down some brush. Well, until he encountered a sizable rock:Thankfully, there were no injuries.
We did find a pretty nice spot,and after setting up camp we cracked open some beers and cooked up our dinner,...and drank some more beer and wine,"Guys, close yer eyes sho I don't get anny redeye, kay?"
"uhh, but that will make me look drunk, ride?"
The rest of the night was campfire, wine, an amazingly clear sky (itsa satellite! no it's the Space Station!), and blissful moments of sleep punctuated by an idling chainsaw sitting next to my head. We all snored, according to Wiley. But he was sleeping under a poncho tied to his bike, so take what he says with a grain of salt.

Later- the return trip.


Singletrack Mind said...

tsk tsk...I've have it on very high athority that the sound of my snoring is actually quite pleasent.

wiley said...

Very pleasant, actually.

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