I finally made it out on a mini-tour with the bike as I have been wanting to do this whole year yet. My first attempt back in June didn’t work out due to lack of planning on my end. This time, I booked a campsite at the Borden Bridge Campground, just 45 kilometers west of Warman. As the Day of Solstice this year was June 21st, this was the first Saturday after that I could take advantage of the longest days of the year. It would only take me about 2 hours to bike there, so my plan was to leave Saturday evening just after work with still plenty of time to set up camp, enjoy a campfire and some supper, before the sun decided to set. It was perfect! I could work all day and still have time to play, thank you northern summer sun!
My panniers carried two sleeping pads, pillows, and quilts. In addition to sleeping gear, I also packed my stove, cookware, coffee maker, food and other supplies. My trunk bag carried extra clothes, and the tent tucked very nicely up and under my handlebars. Each pannier weighed in around 9lbs, the tent is just over 3lbs and the trunk bag was about 5lbs. All total, I had about 28-30lbs fully loaded plus water, so it wasn’t too bad but handling was obviously slightly affected. Probably would make wheelies easier, if I did that sort of thing…
The ride itself was peaceful. Not too much traffic, and I managed to just skirt around and in between a few bits of rain. Typically, my luck would’ve had me charge full into a torrential downpour… But, for some reason, while I was expecting a soggy ride, the rain kept it’s distance. I averaged about 22km/hr as I had a bit of a headwind here and there, but overall it was an easy pedal out to the river. I took some gravel roads (they were muddy, ugghh, as the rain had just passed by earlier), some two lane highway and finished the last 20kms on highway 16 which was fairly busy. As you can see in the above picture, I had my bug spray readily available. I had to stop twice to take phone calls from my kids. Both times, I was instantly engulfed by those annoying little black bugs.
Setting up camp was pretty quick. We recently brought in the Copper Spur HV UL2 just for this purpose, as it packs down small enough to fit easily into panniers, or as I did, on the handlebars. Set up was simple and quick (check out this video for a time lapse of the set-up: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GFahEyF7cgubyvB97). Big Agnes packed a LOT of features into this tent. Lightweight and small for packing, yes. But the footprint and pre-bent poles ensure maximum interior space and comfort. With spots to store your lamps, hats or whatever you need, lots of room under the fly to keep your shoes and bags dry, and two doors to allow you easy access. Even spots to store your bike helmet!
The best part about the campsite that evening was that because I was only a short ways from home, my kids drove out to hang out with me around the campfire! My youngest stayed with me, as her plan was to ride back home with me in the morning. And she loves camping!
For heating up water and cooking meals, I brought the MSR Pocket Rocket mostly because it is so small and light weight it’s a no brainer to pack this along. Of course, if any of you have tried the meals from Peak Refuel, you know that’s exactly what I brought along to enjoy some delicious chicken and pasta that evening, as well as fruit and granola for the morning. And, of course, the coffee. I must have my morning coffee. The Nanopresso made it easy to fill my caffeine addiction and I enjoyed two very tasty Americanos.
The next morning, we packed up the campsite. Everything, the tent, sleeping bags and pads, all went back into their carry sacks so easily. I wasn’t even sweating when I finished (and if you know me, you know that’s not a common thing for me to experience).
My youngest loaded up her two things in her fanny pack while I loaded the rest on my bike… Haha! She was ready to ride the 45kms back home, but her biggest concern was the hill leaving the campground heading up to the highway. Granted, it was a long and steep hill, but she made it.
We took our time heading home. Stopping and sight seeing when we could, learning about the Doukhobors settling in these areas and the villages that once were here. And, of course, we enjoyed Subway and Co-op slushies on the way to make sure the trip was enjoyable.
Traffic on highway 16 was actually really good. 90% of the drivers moved over as they passed us. Traffic coming into Warman however was NOT fun. It was a busy, busy road (I thought gas was expensive, why is everyone out driving all the time still and on a Sunday afternoon?). We held up some cars for sure, adding a few minutes to their drives. If that was you, sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for slowing down and passing when safe!
And now, not only am I anxiously awaiting my next trip, so is my 12 year old daughter. Where will we go next?
Adventure is what we do.