2012 Bike Camping and Touring Relfections

After being on the road for four and a half-months on the Cross-Continent Bike Tour in 2011, it would be really hard for 2012 to measure up. Still, 2012 shaped up to be a pretty decent year bicycle wise.

April and I started the bike camping/touring year right on New Years with our annual tradition of hitting up the cabins at Stub Stewart State Park with a bunch of friends. February saw the next (and final if you don’t count the cabin camping we’ll do at the end of this year) cabin camping trip to Battle Ground Lake.

Tent/bivy camping started with the Cycle Wild trip to Ainsworth in April. Emboldened by weekends of good weather and the itch to go bike camping again, the following two weekends saw camping expeditions to two new (for me) campgrounds: Sunset on the edge of Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Paradise Point State Park in Washington.

For a brief moment, I hoped to keep up that clip of a bike camping trip every week or every other week, but weather and life conspired against me. Still, May was good with two trips: Milo McIver and the Champoeg/Silver Falls excursion over Memorial Day.

Then soon after that was my first bike tour of the year: the nine day PDX-Oly-Astoria jaunt right at the beginning of June. The rest of June was busy with Pedalpalooza, but I still got in a mid-week camping expedition to Battle Ground again. (This was part of the Pedalpalooza calendar.) After Pedalpalooza was my first attempt at bush camping in the Portland metro area: the comical trip to Sauvie Island.

While July was prime bicycling and sleeping outdoors weather, I only managed a “small” tour: the Hood-Adams-Helens five day bivouac. August saw my third and final trip to Battle Ground (a Cycle Wild event) on possibly the hottest weekend of the year. I finished off August with my longest and most epic tour of 2012: the ten day Helens-Rainier-Seattle-Vashon trip.

September saw a “bike-augmented camping” trip to Cape Disappointment right after Labor Day, and a mid-week overnight to Metzler Park in Clackamas County. While the weather was still good for another month and I had all intentions of doing more camping, Metzler was the last camping trip of the year.

Though I didn’t think it was that impressive at the time, looking back at the year I had a good run:

  • Eight bike overnights
  • Three three-day trips (Stub cabins, Champoeg/Silver Falls, Cape Disappointment)
  • Three tours

All added together, this totals 49 nights away, over a month and a half of bike adventure overall.

Moosemoose saw some action, no doubt.

While I obviously went to many places I’ve been before over roads I’ve ridden many a time, this year I hit up a lot of new territory, like Sunset, Paradise Point, and Metzler in the overnight categories and biking around the Cascades and over the Willapa Hills in the touring categories. Even on tours through areas I’ve been through multiple times, like between Portland and Olympia, I managed to find new-to-me roads.
One theme of travel over the past year becomes apparent when you put it all together: I stayed close to home in 2012. At no point was I more than 200 miles from Portland. This was by design. I wanted to explore new areas that were nearby, and most importantly I was very, very broke in 2012. For the first eight months of the year, the months I did the majority of my camping/touring, I did not have a regular job. I couldn’t afford big train trips or expensive overnight accommodations. 
I must say that I’m pretty satisfied with what I accomplished. I biked over mountains and to the coast. I hung out in Olympia and Seattle. I saw a bear again and met German bike tourists.
Still, there were two places in 2012 I would have liked to tour that I didn’t get to: around Crater Lake and the Cascades in southern Oregon and the many island archipelagos (San Juans, Gulf) in the “inland sea” of the Northwest. No biggie, as they ain’t far away. And there’s always 2013…

6 thoughts on “2012 Bike Camping and Touring Relfections

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  1. Your list is very impressive. I like the bike overnights. You've inspired me to get out on more bike overnights for 2013. It's doable to get away for a short time, leaving the family for one night. The Hub and I got away for an anniversary in this manner and we had the best time.

  2. Very inspiring Shawn. I don't even own a sleeping bag at this point, needless to say any other gear. Nor do I have any bike luggage…but I DO have a bicycle, so there is hope.I feel ya on that broke part. I have been broke so long I'm getting used to it. Here's to multilevel remedies in 2013.

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