Bikes. Parts. Chaos.
My wife and son spent Friday night with my in-laws, so I had a free pass to pack up a bike and ride out to the country for an overnight in the woods. Thursday's weather forecast predicted high temps around 35 Celsius (95F) on Friday and Saturday with high dew points, but I wasn't going to be deterred by the heat and humidity. Water, sunblock, well-chosen food and equipment, and a controlled riding pace would get me to my campsite and back home in good shape. I chose to ride my Pacer fixie (custom made with Karate Monkey track ends) more or less equipped as I ride it to and from the office on a regular basis: Platform pedals, front brake, 43t x 17t gearing, 700c x 28mm tires, Carradice saddle bag. By adding a small Jandd frame pack and strapping my sleeping bag and pad to the top of the saddle bag, I allowed myself plenty of room to carry enough gear to camp in comfort and safety for a couple of days. I like the concept of overnight bike camping without a trailer or racks. By just using strap-on bags, I can keep my rig light and the supply list very basic. With large panniers or a trailer, I'm more apt to carry more than I need simply because it's possible. My shelter of choice was the Hennessy Hammock. It is still one of my favorite lightweight pieces of equipment in the warmer months. I haven't perfected my cold-weather hammock camping technique, yet. But some new insulating accessories from Hennessy should allow me to use my hammock until the mercury drops below freezing. The biggest benefit of the hammock is the fact that I don't need flat, smooth, dry ground to set up my shelter. If I can find 2 solid anchors, usually trees or posts, that are 4-7 meters apart, I'm good to go. The hammock fly provides a place to cook out of the sun, rain, or snow, and it shelters any gear, including a bike, that won't go inside the hammock. I put most of my equipment in stuff sacks that I hang from the main hammock rope under the fly, so my bike is the only thing that stays on the ground. Rain and wet ground conditions are of little concern when using a hammock system. I'm using a beer can Esbit solid-fuel stove system for most of my camp cooking. I've built lots of alcohol stoves and solid-fuel stoves over the last few years, but this system from Ultralight Outfitters is currently my favorite for solo camping. I only need to boil water to rehydrate and heat my rations and brew my tea. No need to simmer, no need for a frying pan. Esbit tabs don't spill like alcohol can. And the flame is easier to blow out after the water is boiling, so you can save on fuel. The weather folks were right on target for a change. It was hot. Luckily, my campsite is near a lake, so I was able to go swimming a couple times to cool my core and wash off some of my trail stank. After my post-sunset swim, I decided to ditch the clothing altogether (except for my Keen water shoes) until I was ready to ride home on Saturday. The beauty of camping alone, away from anybody else, is that you can walk around naked without offending anyone or feeling self-conscious about your weird tan lines or giant dong. It's very freeing to hike, swim, and otherwise go about your camping routine with nothing on. One just has to be a little more careful around sharp brush, poisonous plants, and junk-seeking insects. -----