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Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

Last month, Lucas from Bunyan Velo asked me to present in an evening of storytelling with our friends at the Angry Catfish. While I tend to avoid microphones, preferring the traditional whisky-induced fireside bridge club method of storytelling, I said yes anyhow. This was, of course, before I knew I’d be presenting immediately following one Cass Gilbert, who spoke about his recent trip to Mongolia. In the last six months I’ve been in ten states and a few countries, lots of pedaling in new places, but I decided to share some thoughts from some local state park rambles instead. With the onslaught of bike-packing blogs these days it’s pretty easy to daydream about riding across Spain, Alaska or some distant far away land, but when you’ve got a desk to occupy those passport stamps don’t come as often. So while I stockpile pocket change for my next big trip, I’ve been connecting routes closer to home.

A person, bent over a fire in a camp stove on the ground, at nighttime

Fire! Fire!

Last year I started riding to state parks.  I pieced a couple together over a three-day weekend and then took on midweek camp outs, and before long I was making quite the habit for myself. Ride into work, wash off the campfire smoke, clock in a few hours behind the spreadsheet-machine, trade out some gear, confirm my route, ride, set up camp, start a fire, start over. Knowing I’d have a site waiting for me allowed me to stack on more mileage and experiment with different pack lists and routines. It was easy. I got hooked.

View of a rocky shore, and a lake with an island, blanketed in fog

Dang, Minnesota, you pretty

Rear view of 2 Surly Krampus bikes, loaded with gear and a child's seat - right bike only, in front of a liquor store

Kramping, better with friends

Within a month I’d ridden to fifteen parks. As I started talking to folks about it I started getting some questions about if I was trying to visit them all. Minnesota has 76 state park recreational areas, 67 of which have designated camping sites. While a good number of them aren’t too far from the city, riding my bike 250 miles each way to, say, Bear Head Lake, and back to the office wasn’t really an option without plowing through my PTO. But intrigued by the idea, I got some maps out and started routing anyhow to see what I could come up with. There would no doubt be some serious miles put in after the sun went away, but if I mixed in some driving segments, catching rides where I was able and stashing my car in small towns when I wasn’t,  I could split up ride time and shorten up days. So, why not.

Front close up view of an open mailbox, with campsite occupation flyers inside

State park folks just love seeing an exhausted soul arriving on a bike

Balancing work and “responsibilities” was easier some months than others. Spring time I Troll’d the parks following the Mississippi into the Southern portion of the state. Late fall, I’d caught a ride to Chippewa National Forest, rode through Big Bog up to Zippel Bay for some Pugsley beach riding. New Year’s Eve aligned with the last park on my list, fresh snow and animal tracks at Forestville- Mystery Caves.

A view down a sandy shore of a lake, with a tree line on the right side


Downward, cropped, front view of a hand holding a corndog, while standing over a fat bike, in the fall season

Straight corndoggin'

Someday when I’m good and drunk from the goodwill of passing Mongolian horsemen and I can still set up my tent I’ll thank myself for these short ones. Don’t wait for those weekends, get out there.

Black and white image of a person leaning over a campfire at night

Thou shalt not be defeated by damp wood

About Kippley

Amy Kippley a.k.a. Kippley

Amy brings with her an impressive cycling resume as a mechanic and industry pencil pusher. Both worlds of knowledge serve her well in her role here as she communicates with our suppliers and facilitates all the things that go along with getting our bikes produced and hanging parts on them. In her personal life Amy has a thing for Abraham Lincoln and a lifelong love of NASCAR, which is actually car racing believe it or not. Huh. It’s a strange world. Someone should sell tickets.