I have been dreaming and talking about going bikepacking for a long time now. I planned to go this past Sunday now that I had all my bags and no excuses left. Come Sunday the thunder storms rolled in one after the other. As I sat there during one of the storms I looked at my Twitter account and I read the words “I have bad news…” Yet another one of my friends lost a loved one. Right then I got to living and picked myself up, suited up, and went bikepacking.
So what is Bikepacking? The simplest definition is found on the Bikepacking.net website.
The short answer: it’s backpacking with a bike.
Longer answer: any ride that includes an overnight stay. This could be anything from ultralight singletrack tours to fully loaded dirt road touring (e.g. on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route). bikepacking.net focuses on off-road touring, away from cars. But the concepts and gear transfer equally well to all types of rides that stretch overnight.
For more information on Bikepacking check out my post on the subject.
This first trip was to be a shake down trip. I had some idea what it would be like as I’ve done a bit of hiking but I was more concerned with how the bike would handle with all the weight and how I would handle it as well. Our ride started with about a 14 mile climb to our chosen camp spot. The climb wasn’t very steep but you could notice the weight going up. My partner Dennis and I plugged away at the miles as we watched the light fade behind us. By the time we got to the area I thought we could camp in, the sun was down and it wouldn’t be long before we had to bust out our headlamps.
The area I thought would make a good camp turned out not to be flat and as a result sleeping was not the greatest. I did my best to make my sleeping arrangement flat but in the end it wasn’t to be. We set up camp under the light of our headlamps, then I had a hot meal on my soda can stove which I used throughout my PCT thru-hike. It’s amazing how a simple warm meal tastes when on the trail. It wasn’t long after cleaning up that we crashed out for the night. Like most first nights out my sleep wasn’t that good.
We were up by 8 am but didn’t hit the trail for some time. Dennis enjoyed his tea and oatmeal and took a more relaxing approach to the morning. Myself, I was up and packed within the first 15 minutes of being up. As they say “Old habits are hard to break.” As we rode back the way we came to get back to Hay Park we once again passed the massive pile of bear scat from the night before. This thing was huge! I named the bear, Megatron. This would be the only signs of Megatron we would see or hear on our trip. The rest of the trip was filled with exploring new trails we hadn’t ridden before. We were able to nail the route on the first try. When we found our destination, the Buck Fence as it’s called, the views were amazing.
From the Buck Fence home, it was almost all down hill. As we left the Buck Fence we were sure we’d get dumped on by a thunder storm moving across our path. We dodge that storm and it wasn’t until the last 2 miles that we finally got rained on. All in all a successful trip in the backcountry. I learned I need to lighten up my front end as it had a tendency to ricochet off loose rocks going down hill. Bigger tires would help as well and a sleep set up that was quicker to set up and doesn’t require poles or trees. I think I might like bikepacking on a hardtail as well. I’d have more room for gear and could transfer some from the handle bars to the frame.
Until next trip that is it.
Get out there!