Go bike camping

A few Tiny Fixers and other Rad Bike Chicks went on a nice little bike camping trip last weekend. It was super fun! We wanted to share the wisdom we gained from our adventure, so here goes:

1. Have the right bike. It can be a single speed or geared bike or even a fixie, but generally we’d recommend something with geometry good for long distances and that can accommodate a rack and panniers.

 

2. Be prepared for weather being weird. Check the forecast often, and make sure you know how cold 50 degree lows overnight in a tent feels even if it’s late July and there’s no way it should be that cold.

3. Know how to set up your tent.

4. Bungee cords: a touring biker’s best friend.

5. Make fire. Cook things over it. Use peanut butter cups instead of plain chocolate in your s’mores. Die of happiness.

Camping fire yay.

6. Don’t go back to the CVS near your campground for a second booze run. You really don’t need more booze.

7. Eat pizza (Or any real food that isn’t granola bars or trail mix. But mostly pizza.) at every opportunity.

8. Take pictures, but also stop taking pictures and enjoy life.

9. Have fun!

8 Comments

  • Peter July 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    how far was your ride? I’ve been looking for good campsites within a ~60 mile radius of logan square, so any insight on a good route and nature-enveloped campsite would be appreciated 🙂

    Reply
    • kaz July 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Peter – we went to Illinois State Beach Park, which is about 40 miles from Chicago. The beach/lakeshore is really nice, but the campsites themselves are quite close together and some have electricity so we had issues with loud music from neighbor campers. Also you want to be sure to reserve your site in advance — we ran across some other bike campers from Chicago who almost ended up having to share our sites with us because they didn’t have a reservation and the campground was full.

      The nice thing is you can get there from Chicago entirely on bike trails. Some are paved and some are crushed limestone but it was pretty easy going and mostly well-signed.

      It was still a fun adventure but (speaking solely for myself) next time it would be fun to find a more back-to-nature kinda place.

      Reply
    • lauren eg July 29, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Kaz, I can assure you that I also had fun. 🙂

      Reply
  • John Greenfield July 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Looks like that’s Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, a 43-mile bike-ride from LSQ: http://goo.gl/maps/evRmM

    Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is another great bike camping destination. It’s 67 miles via trails from LSQ to Dunewood Campground, the nicer of the two campgrounds, located in Beverly Shores: http://goo.gl/maps/ulHDD I strongly recommend taking this route instead of Highway 12, which is more direct, but really sucks to ride on in places.

    You can also access Illinois Beach by Metra, which takes bikes, and the Dunes via the South Shore Line, which doesn’t. I just did a car-free camping trip to the Dunes this weekend by taking the South Shore with a backpack – it drops you off two blocks from the campground.

    Reply
  • erin July 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Kaz, this is great! Thanks for writing it up! I also wanna compliment your snack game, because you really made the trip better by feeding me sport beans and babybel cheeses on the way there.

    (Also, agreed on finding a more back-to-nature-y place next time, or just a less popular weekend. That Reserve America website is actually pretty good for finding and reserving campgrounds. But yeah, A+++ good times!)

    Reply
  • Adam_S August 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Nice article. You should really tell people to avoid panniers like the plague, and opt for something that puts the extra weight in the middle of the bike, like a seatpost bag, framebag, or handlebar bag. Racks just add extra weight to a bike, and unless you’re doing days on end, if you need to fill panniers, look up ‘glamping’ in a dictionary.

    Reply
    • kaz August 8, 2013 at 12:38 am

      I’m intrigued how we would have brought 3 tents with us without racks and panniers. Framebags? Don’t necessarily work that well with small frames with tiny triangles. Seatpost bags aren’t even an option when your seat is basically slammed so there is very little exposed seatpost (it’s hard enough finding racks that fit).

      So, sorry, I won’t be telling people to “avoid panniers like the plague” because honestly they were the best way to carry the gear we needed to carry and I love my rack and panniers. To each his/her own, though!

      Reply
    • k_strict January 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      Haaaa,you don’t really get the point of this blog do you? The triangle in my 44 cm compact frame can just barely fit two full size waterbottles. A framebag for it would fit an extra pair of clothes and that’s about it. And it would cost a bunch of money since it would likely have to be made custom. Unless you are an ultralight camper with super light (and expensive) gear, panniers work fine. The handling may be compromised a little, but this doesn’t look like a super serious off-road expedition.

      …Just wanted to back kaz up 2.5 years later. Great blog. I have been perusing it while shopping for a new bike.

      Reply

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