I remember last year going on my first solo bike tour coming back to Milwaukee from Minneapolis I felt scared, worried and unsure of my skills and ability to bike tour five days by myself. After that trip- I remember the feeling of feeling empowered, the serenity of being in nature and the pride of accomplish of biking over 50 miles each day. I truly experienced those moments connecting with people, listening to their stories and forming new relationships and friendships along the way. That experience will never leave me.
With that in mind- I knew coming back that I wanted to give those experiences to people who want to explore camping by bike, but are just unsure how to start. Starting this year, Tristan and I planned a series of bike touring workshops and trips for new & experienced cyclists to meet and learn from each other.
This last Sunday and Monday, Tristan and I with Luke and Sandy went to Harrington State Park to camp overnight. We wanted to do a Saturday and Sunday, however getting a Saturday night at the group site apparently requires one to sign up at the first day(s) of registration on the DNR website. Next year folks we’ve got a plan to make it friendlier for people not to take off work.
Harrington State Park is an easy 40 miles from Milwaukee and mostly uses the Oak Leaf Trail and Ozaukee Country Trail system with very little roads along the way. We left at 10:45a from the shop and got there around 5p. We enjoyed conversations along the way and getting to know each other. We stopped for lunch at Cedarburg, halfway to the campgrounds. The weather held up and with only a quick rainstorm Monday morning- we had clear and warm weather both days- shows that never listen to the weather reports with bike touring.
We provided dinner (tacos) and breakfast (oatmeal and bacon from Luke) at the campsite and our fearless sag vehicle driver Pat joined us for lunch and dinner. We want to make this trip easy for new riders and just have a learning experience that is stress-free.
The route is well marked- however using Google Maps Bicycle directions is important for the connections between the Oak Leaf Trail in Glendale and into the Ozaukee County Trail by Green Bay Road. Technology has really changed how we bike tour but I always remember that cell phones are not dependable but the bike maps are (and we do sell them at Coast In Bikes).
Doing a trip like this allows new relationships to form among all the riders.. Luke has done winter camping and overnight hiking trips so has much of the gear but is just starting to get into bike camping. We learned new gear tips as he has had experience with camping gear that we haven’t used before. Luke- thank you from our stomachs and taste buds for the homemade cured smoked bacon and wine you brought. Such a treat!
Sandy has over 45 years of experience and this weekend was her anniversary of her first solo trip
from 1970 with her two other girlfriends. She traveled all the way from Beloit to adventure with us and provided a lifetime of bike touring and adventure biking stories both days. With only a seatbag & pannier bungeed to the bag she traveled the lightest of all of us.
Despite having only two people show up- we had an amazing range of experience and learned from each other and made new friends along the way. Next year we hope more folks will join us!
I encourage anybody looking for a great weekend trip to consider Harrington. The route is quick and safe. There are six walk-in/bike-in sites at the campground that can not be reserved (but pay once you arrive) for quick trips and were spacious with hot showers nearby. Wood can be brought from the office for a camp fire and they have cooking grates on the fire pits (and they have a 10 mile rule for wood so you must purchase nearby).
Bummed you miss this trip? Don’t worry- we’ve got more workshops & trips happening this summer including one to Lake Mills in August.
Here are the dates & be sure to reserve either at the shop or by phone if you’re coming.