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Biking & Camping is not all bugs, lousy weather, and wild animals

While bike touring (often referred to as "bikepacking"), I have stayed in relaxing B&B’s, hotels, and vacation homes. Bike touring while camping however, requires a different set of skills, but can be just as relaxing and rewarding.

I recall years ago when riding day trips on the C&O Canal or overnighting it at a hotel and seeing folks camping at the primitive hiker-bikers. My thoughts ran to how could anyone stand the heat/bugs/snakes/skunks/rain with no hot showers/running water without becoming homicidal/suicidal? My idea of roughing it at the time, was arriving at the hotel too late for room service! I recall chatting with a few of these hardy camping-while-biking folks and thinking that despite it all, they seemed sane and to be enjoying the experience.

Then, at the wise old age of forty - something, I joined (again) the Boy Scouts! Or rather I should say my sons did, and my understanding that time with them was both precious and short, I thought I would tag along. The rest is scouting history (or notoriety depending upon your perspective) and a long story as my sons, both Eagle Scouts have since moved on. Yet I am still there, 15+ years later as a scoutmaster and looking forward to another 150+ mile bike-camping trip next month with another group of youngsters!

What I learned as an adult (read growing older, not up) scout leader, has prepared me well while biking and bike-camping. And while I still enjoy a hot shower, comfortable mattress, and air conditioning at a hotel/ B&B after a day of biking, I also understand, and have the skill sets to make camping after a long day of biking, enjoyable and comfortable.

And while there is a fair amount of knowledge and skills needed by a novice camper that cannot be covered in a blog (maybe I will write a book about bike-camping one day), bike touring while camping is worth consideration. Surprisingly, even on trails like the C&O Canal which can be very hot and humid during the summer months, your body gets acclimated to the heat, and with the help of a battery powered portable fan, some good cotton sheets (my indulgence to comfort while bike-camping) and finding showering/bathing opportunities in a river or creek, someone's backyard garden hose, or well water pumps, I am able to maintain my need for daily absolutions and sanity.

And while meals when camping require considerable foresight and planning, I have found that I enjoy fixing food at the campsite, even if it is the backpackers dehydrated precooked eggs with freeze dried sausage and instant coffee type of meal! Besides, I can always ride to a nearby restaurant or convenience store.

The combination of biking and camping really allows an individual to be one with nature. Most of the things that I enjoy about biking on trails is intensified when adding the camping component. Sitting around a campfire under a clear sky, stargazing while listening to the sounds of the night after a hard day's bike ride is just good for the soul, and an experience that I look forward to again soon. Now if I can just find my damn tent...

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