A few of my coworkers and I have been trying to go on a simple bikepacking trip for two years. We were pandemic’d once and rained out twice. Fortunately, last weekend featured perfect weather, seven riders and a much-needed car-driving stuff-hauler. I’ll put the ending right here: it was very fun and so much easier than I thought. To be fair, my coworkers did all the planning; I mostly showed up and did what I was told.
We work until five on Saturday, so we couldn’t go too far afield without stopping for dinner and/or setting up camp in the dark. We also wanted to keep barriers to entry low. We found a private campground about fifteen miles away that was happy to have us.
Lots of the stress involved in this is the packing part. What do I need? How do I fit it on my bike? How much money am I going to spend to give this a try? My coworkers are campers. They have sleeping bags and tents and hammocks, etc. They also commute to work and have their bikes equipped with lots of sweet bags. I, on the other hand, was a babe in the woods. Compounding my issues, I loaned my commuting bike to someone and had to figure it out on my gravel bike. God has a special providence for fools, including me, and a lightly used bob trailer fell into my lap a week before the ride. What would I have done otherwise? Probably something else.
Here’s a quick set of pictures of the various bikes.
Some wore bike shorts with a chamois. Some didn’t. Most slept in tents. Two brought hammocks. I brought a good amount of clothing that I didn’t use. I ran out of both bug spray and sunscreen. We ate chips, dogs and s’mores. I slept soundly to a background serenade of bullfrogs and birds.
The plan had been to wake up, bum around then ride to Lawton for lunch and a beer. We got antsy and instead rode to Schoolcraft for breakfast and intense amounts of coffee. MarJo’s is highly recommended.
So are there actual tips that I gleaned from this experience? I think I have two. The first is that this was really simple — one night, not far from town, low barrier to entry. The second is that I travelled with the right people — adaptable. collaborative, fun. I’d totally do it again. Right now.