This weekend I took my first official bike camping trip. I’ve camped plenty of times and taken my bike before, but I’d never biked to the campsite or carried my camping gear on my bike. Rivendell has termed this kind of small adventure the S24O, for sub 24-hour overnight trip.
- Packed a change of clothes, essential toiletries and some food and dishes into panniers. Zip tied sleeping bags to racks.
- Biked to Union Station in downtown Chicago.
- Took Metra train one hour out of the city. Bikes are allowed on train for free.
- Met Melissa at the destination station and the three of us biked together to the forest preserve campsite.
- Met Chanh at the campsite in his car. Good for people who are not comfortable riding the whole route and/or carrying bigger items like tents and coolers (although we could have fit a tent on our bikes).
- Biked around, played with fire, drank beer and canoed.
- Biked to the train station, took train back to Union Station, biked home.
The details: Once we set up camp, all four of us set out for Two Brothers Brewery. The route was a nice mix of nature bike paths, quiet neighborhood streets and fast roads with wide shoulders, with some interesting sites along the way.
After super fresh beer, food and more bike riding, we returned to the campsite to watch the sunset. Songs, fire and more beer drinking followed late into the night.
The next morning started with s’mores – the breakfast of champions! – and Melissa’s guitar.
A quick rain shower cleared up in time for us to hit the lake. Mr. Dottie and I took a canoe, while Melissa and Chanh chose a tandem kayak.
After packing up, we biked to a diner for lunch and then biked to the train station. Mr. Dottie and I took the train to downtown Chicago and biked home. In our neighborhood we stopped for frozen custard, and it’s amazing how well the turtle sundae recharged my batteries.
My Rivendell Betty Foy, which I bought for the versatility of commuting and light touring, handled everything perfectly and felt wonderful.
By the end of the whirlwind weekend, I was exhausted but happy. I want to do this more often. The next-to-nothing cost and planning make it easy to accomplish on any given weekend. The opportunity to escape the city and enjoy life’s simple pleasures make me want to do it every weekend!
Who else has experience with bike camping, either S24O’s or longer tours?