We were running out of weekends to take a bike trip to see how this whole self supported bike thing is going to work out. It’s been a cold spring in Michigan, the last free weekend we had it got to 19 degrees over night – so no cruise that weekend. We knew this weekend was a little warmer, but not that much warmer – certainly no summer heat wave. We sat on the couch Saturday AM and thought instead of being cold on a bike camping trip, lets just load up the bike and ride 15 miles and call it good. We both talked our selves into the short ride, but then a little later it hit us, “are we men or mice?” we need to do this camping thing! So we packed for the trip, with lots of extra summer clothes, because thats what we’ll have on the trip…BUT, it was not summer, and we needed to pack for an April trip, not a Mid May or June trip – We were cold at the campsite! We did survive and were certainly toasty warm in our tent, but man it was cold outside!!
Here we are before we left:
Here’s our camp – starting a fire was the first thing we did!!
So what did we learn?
1) The bike fully loaded is really heavy! It’s tough to man handle when we are off the bike and hard to find a resting place that will support the back and a heavily loaded front wheel. And we can’t hide it, the biking is very hard with that much weight. We both decided that gravity will be our best friend and worst enemy this summer. We tackled some very tough hills out by Ada, and we made it. But we will be slow on the climbs. When we are unloaded we rarely use our granny gear, but loaded up, it has become a new found best friend. Shawn reminded us today that we should not be afraid to use the granny gear because she’ll be a Granny in a few months! So she’s got the license to play that card!! NICE!
2) (Ref. #1) We need to review our gear list and make some exclusions to lighten our load. We won’t make a huge impact, but “ounces countses” so we will be making some sacrifices. The first to go will be my Muka Coffee maker, it’s not cast iron or anything, but it is a pretty extravagant item. When we camp we will just have to have instant coffee. Oh the sacrifices we make!
3) We mistakenly bought one long sleeping pad and one shorter sleeping pad – I thought we could just take turns with the short one – Nope. The longer was much nicer – and in the cold weather, it was dang cold to have your feet (nearly) on the ground! We’re going to buy a long pad before we go.
4) (Ref. #1)We have to have a little extra care when we are starting from a stand still on the bike. At least until I am used to the load – We took a tumble at an intersection while we were on the bike path. We weren’t moving, so it was way more embarrassing than painful. Tore up some handlebar tape, but such is life.
5) (Ref #1)Our legs are not in condition to do 50 miles on our first days…We’re going to dial down our expectations for the first few weeks and consider 30 to 40 miles a successful day.
6) We don’t want to be caught in the cold again – and it can be cold in mid May, so we will pack more wool shirts.
7) We froze, we poked along at 3 miles an hour and tonight we’re tired and sore, but we still had fun! We learned this weekend that this won’t be a walk in the park. To quote my dad, “If it was easy, everyone would do it!”. We are still convinced it’s going to be great ride!! We are almost giddy that in two weeks we will be on our adventure!
It was good to get some shooling this weekend. We’ll be better off for it in the long run…We certainly learned more than if we had slept in our warm bed last night!!