What Touring Is Really Like

A little story for you, from Mo:

The idea of touring is a simple one: get a bike, gather the bare necessities to sustain life, and travel somewhere other than home.

A group of cyclists from the Nampa area have formed and set a date for a mid-week camping trip for 3-4 days to Succor Creek, Oregon, in the not too distant future. Wanting to be prepared for a longer trip in both distance and duration, my buddy Dan and I decided it would be a great idea to take a shorter trip to test out our gear and bikes.

Shortly after we started planning our impromptu trip, Dan realized that he was unable to tolerate my company for any extended period of time and we both agreed it would be a good idea to open the invitation to anyone who was interested in going.

Dan, Fred, Blake, and I took off around 3pm on Sunday. The first planned stop was off of the highway at the Blue Canoe, a quaint restaurant in the middle of – well, nowhere. The reason I mention the first planned stop is due to three flats in less than a mile. Stopping at the Blue Canoe was twofold, we would have one less meal to pack and we could support a locally owned small business we normally may not go to. We enjoyed burgers, fries, and cold beverages as well as much welcomed conversation with some of the locals.

We then back tracked into the wind and uphill to our destination for the night. Nearing dusk, we pulled up to the Celebration Park visitor center and headed towards a trail that would lead us to the campsite. The trail started a off little bumpy but still, it was a nice change of pace from the road. About half way down the trail,  ‘a little bumpy’ turned into a big sandy mess. Imagine riding your bike through 6 inches of ground cinnamon… not so fun. It was difficult at times to stay moving, both front and rear wheels took turns slipping and sinking in the sand. With some technical maneuvering and some walking of bikes we did end up making it to our campsite.

After setting up our tents, we started our hour and a half search for firewood. The results of our labor… enough twigs and sticks to burn for about short 45 minutes.  After the fire went out, the wind started to pick up and things got pretty cold, pretty fast. The wind pushed sand through the mesh in our tents and covered us, our sleeping bags and our gear. We woke up in the morning to more wind. There was no firewood leftover to use for cooking or keeping warm and our gas stoves were no match for the wind. We had to take a rain check on hot pancakes, so our breakfast consisted of any and all snacks we had packed. Next stop, home.

The first part of our journey that morning was quicksand we had found the evening before, followed by a sustained climb out of the valley. The wind was much stronger that we had anticipated. It took us about 4.5 hours to travel 20 miles! We found refuge behind trees and houses every now and then just to get a break from the wind. I can honestly say I’ve never been on a bike in that kind of wind before, it was … special.

LESSONS LEARNED:

LESS IS MORE: Historically speaking, I am an over-packer. If I am taking a day long trip I pack for a full week. This works when traveling via car or plane but after pedaling all of my luggage around, I found over packing to be over rated. Note to self for future touring excursions: If the item is not worth its weight in gold, I should consider leaving it at home. Sorry 4 pound Mag-light.

The following is a list of items I took with me and did not use or used very little:
1 can of tuna, I can of soup, 8 bags of oatmeal, 8 hot chocolate pouches, extra shirt, 2 pairs of socks, hatchet, machete’, Mag-light, a bunch of dishes, and half a bottle of Ibuprofen.

WATER:  Cyclists need water, even when it is not terribly hot out. I made the mistake of not drinking very much the first day. When we pulled up to our camp after 30+ miles, I had consumed less than half of a bottle of water. I had another 3 bottles that I hadn’t even touched. Knowing I had not consumed enough water throughout the day, I polished off 3 small bottles of water, leaving a large bottle for what I though I would need for cooking. I woke up at 2am, thank you hydration, and had to get out of my warm (and at that point sandy) sleeping bag and venture back into the wind to find relief. The obvious lesson learned is to hydrate while riding.

WEATHER: Mother nature reigns supreme- the life we live in is comfortable! In our cars and homes we are protected from nature’s forces like defcon 5 wind. If it’s too cold, we turn the heater on. If it’s too hot, we turn on the air conditioning. Our connection between nature has overtime become distant and awkward. Our short trip reminded us that weather can either make or break a day of riding.
TUBES: Back to basics- for whatever reason I felt since I was camping that I didm’t need to bring more than one tube. I was wrong, I got two flats in one day and I had packed my patch kit and spare tube in the bottom of the largest bag I had – awesome. Thankfully Blake had his patch kit handy ( thanks Jiffrey).

All in all it was a lot of fun. It took a day or so for some of use to recover from it, but I think everyone that went would do it again. There’s  something about hanging out with friends around a nice crackling fire (even if it’s only 45 minutes worth of warmth), looking at the stars, and being away from the hustle and bustle of the busy life.
Here’s to the upcoming Succor Creek trip…
-Mo

Posted on May 2, 2013 in Random

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