Last week, we launched our series of specialized camping articles with the topic of “How to Camp With Horses”. This week, the focus will be on a vehicle that is a lot less complicated than a four-legged animal, allowing you to venture even further in the wilderness. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the bicycle!
Four excellent reasons to go bike camping
If you are a little skeptical about this whole bike business and prefer to stroll down the trail on your feet, let us try to convince you with some of the merits of cycling. Firstly, you will be able to travel a greater distance in a shorter period of time on wheels than on foot. Secondly, you will do this without having to pay for any fuel. Thirdly, you will not pollute the environment with any poisonous fumes when you bike. Last, but not least, biking will work out your leg muscles like nothing else!
Locations for a bike trip
Now that we got you all excited, undoubtedly you will want to rush outside and set off to your bike camping adventure. Not so fast though, it is important that you plan ahead first! In order for you to make the most of your trip, you will need to choose an appropriate location. Visit the websites of National and State Parks, read some of our articles for camping destinations or do research using any method that you wish to find out where you can make use of your bicycle.
We recommend that you first pick a location near your home so that you can practice how far you can go at your current fitness level. You may find that you can bike all the way to the next state, or you may find that you seriously need to hit the gym. At any case, do not take off unprepared and unaware of the workload that awaits you.
What to bring along
Imagine that you are sitting on your bike, past the 20th mile of the day. What would you like to see yourself carrying? Without doubt, a bike camper needs super lightweight gear that does not take a lot of space. The things you will bring along will depend on the distance and the method you travel by. If you travel far, you will need more supplies. If you plan to use a car to get to the campsite and just take day-trips on two wheels, you can bring a lot more with you. However, if you are committed to commuting solely by bike, you will need to be smart. Try to plan such trips for the summer season when you automatically need fewer clothes and a very thin and light sleeping bag or just a thin tent.
You can carry all these items in a backpack or a pair of smaller bags that can be attached to the back of your bike. Make sure to distribute the weight evenly so that you don’t tip over if you ever slow down. Depending on where you will keep your bike for the night, perhaps it is a good idea to carry a light but strong lock chain with you.
How to prepare your bike
The bicycle you will use should always be checked thoroughly before you depart. Make sure that the parts, especially the chain are well oiled and not rusty. Check the breaks and ensure that the tires are pumped up to a good level. Adjust your seat and stirring handle to the optimal height so that you can maintain a comfortable posture throughout the ride. Be sure to include a basic repair kit with a few patches and glue for the tires and the essential screwdrivers that may be needed to fix up the bike.
Health and Safety
Definitely carry ample supplies of water and food so that you can rehydrate and recharge your body with nutrition as often as needed. Do not try to drink anything else than water or maybe a mixture of water and lemon juice. Sugary energy drinks or soft drinks will only make you thirstier; don’t even bother carrying them around. As for food and snacks, you will need to have items that are light but have high nutritional value and preferably last long without being refrigerated. A good example is Japanese rice balls with canned tuna filling.
A first aid kit with the usual disinfectant, gauze, tape and whatever else you deem necessary. Bring your allergy medicine if you will bike in a valley full of hay. Take some mosquito repellents if you know you will spend the night near a riverside. This is why it is important to be aware of the particular features of your destination! Finally, always carry with you a slip of some sort with your personal information such as your name, your address, emergency contact number and any other medical needs that the ER should know about before treating you in case you get into a serious accident.
For your safety, never set off for a bike camping trip on your own. When you bike with a group, try to maintain a single line while making sure that nobody gets left behind. A good method of ensuring this is letting the slowest member of the group be in the front. If you bike next to each other, do this without obstructing the traffic on the road in any direction. Make sure to keep a safety “breaking distance” from the person ahead of you, in case they need to stop abruptly.
Bike camping is a fun and physically challenging way to spend time in nature. It is great for families or groups of friends to spend time together, work out their muscles and see a lot of scenery in a shorter time period.
We are interested in your input. Have you ever gone camping by bike? Share your tips, experiences or anecdotes below in the comment section!