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The Well-Executed Cycling Road Trip Part 1: Camping

This is the second post in my new series on how “we”, meaning my friends and I, do a road trip. We don’t do the epic, four-week long “sea to shining sea” 100-miles a day journey. I only wish I had the time to do something like that. I don’t. We do, however, have plenty of time to head up to the northern part of our State, a three-hour drive, for a long weekender or three during the year… and we do it right.

What I’m talking about is the non-supported, heading away for a few days with my buddies, getaway. Hotels are great, but camping is where it’s really at because at that point, it’s all about the cycling, food and sleep. Once camp is set up, all you do is ride, eat, sleep, repeat. Often.

Typically speaking, I’m a fan of hotel road trips, but there’s just something about camping with a group of friends that makes the weekend about what it should be; friendship, food and cycling.

We’ll have several “levels” of camping that will cover most incomes.  First would be tent camping.  Camping in a tent, in my opinion, takes a lot of want to.  You’ll need a tent, preferably a mattress (air or foam), your clothes, and something to carry your incidentals; food, cooking supplies, and utensils.  A grill of some sort would be wise (or a grate you can put over a fire pit works too – cooking is a challenge, but if you can get the fire to behave, my God, is that a fantastic way to cook.   While this isn’t the easiest or most comfortable way to camp, it’s got its advantages – both in money and scope.

In our case, my wife and I didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend on a camper, so we bought our pop-up used.  I think we paid $1,200 for it.  We’ve gotten so much out of it, I can’t believe we paid that little for it – it was a steal at $1,200.  My wife is a tent camper – I absolutely am not.  I did it, camp in a tent, but I never liked it.  The pop-up was our compromise.  The big, screened windows had the feel of a tent for my wife, but with actual beds and electrical outlets, and other amenities for me.

For us, the pop-up carries with it a lot of the conveniences of home; a microwave oven, a stove-top, beds, storage for a hibachi grill, pots, pans, coffee maker, sheets, comforters, pillows, a sink, a furnace and refrigerator… but in a relatively light package.  It’s only 1,500 pounds dripping wet.  This means you only need a V-6 with a decent tow package to pull it and gas mileage isn’t destroyed, either.  One thing to keep in mind, however, is the method one will use to get the bikes where you’re going…  We travel with enough people the bikes usually can’t go in the vehicle.  With the camper on the hitch, we can’t use our bike rack, either.  I had to build a rack to go on the camper (see photos above and the link – it works excellently).

Now, my friend, Chuck, goes with a hard-side camper that has quite a few more amenities, but it lacks that outdoorsy “feel” my wife wants insists on when she camps.  Either way, with a camper, a decent home base for that road trip is just a matter of packing, hooking the rig up to the vehicle, and rolling out.  And rather than blow $100+ a night on a hotel room, we can get a full hookup campsite for $25 to $40 a night.  When the nights turn cold, a $12 propane tank will run our furnace at night for the weekend.  In other words, if money is an object or, like us, you’re simply a fan of the outdoors, camping and cycling road trips go hand in glove.

Though this is Part One, the initial post’s link is here.

Stay tuned for Part Two