Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Touring Tip: Setting up Camp

I have set up camp so many times that I mostly do it on autopilot at this point.  Muscle memory is a good thing to have when wrapping up a twelve hour day of riding.  Thinking isn't always an option when you're an exhausted, dehydrated, electrolyte depleted mess.

Bertha Creek Campground in the Chugach National Forest

The thing with muscle memory, though, is that it takes a lot of repetition to really make your muscles remember.  Muscles are pretty dumb like that.  So for those of you who don't have that tour camping muscle memory yet, here's a list of the things I do once I reach camp.  Feel free to use and modify it to build your own routine, or at the very least, to allow yourself to think less after a hard day:

  1. Find Campsite - I usually camp near showers because I don't like long walks after long rides.  If you're a light sleeper, your preference may be to camp as far from other people as possible.  Whatever the case may be, don't just grab the first site you see.  Put at least a tiny bit of thought into it as not all sites were created equal.

  2. Pitch Tent ASAP - Don't linger on this one.  As soon as you get to camp, set up your tent.  Aside from removing any question about site ownership, it gives you a place to put the stuff you're about to unload from your bike.

  3. Set up the Inside of the Tent - While you still have tent pitch momentum, inflate your bedroll and lay out your sleeping bag.  You'll be happy they're already arranged when you get back relaxed from a hot shower.

  4. Start Cooking - Start prepping dinner.  Water takes a while to boil and you can do other things while waiting.

  5. Prep for Shower - Get out your toiletries and bed clothes.  This way you can head straight to the showers after you eat.

  6. Put Bags in Tent/Bear Box - Your meal kit and toiletries are out, so put the rest of your stuff in the tent.  You'll have to do it eventually, may as well do it now.  If you're in bear country, all scented items should go in a nearby bear box.

  7. Eat/Clean Up - At most campgrounds, this is pretty straight forward.  But again, if you're in bear country, any scented non-garbage should go in the bear box.

  8. Lock Bike - Before leaving camp to shower, secure your bike.  I usually lock to a picnic bench or tree.  Your bike is probably not going to be stolen, but why risk it?

  9. Shower Time/Laundry - Wash up, you filthy beast.  Also, wash your day's riding clothes (shirt, shorts, socks) while you're in the shower.  You'll get a rash, otherwise.  

  10. Dishes - Wash your dishes in the bathroom sink after the shower.  This step may be optional depending on how you eat.

  11. Hang Wet Clothes from Bike - This will not dry them, but will get them closer to it.

  12. Pull Tarp over Bike - Tarping your bike will keep it dry overnight.  Even if it doesn't rain, morning dew will soak your saddle.  Make sure to tuck the tarp under the tires so it doesn't flap around in the wind at night.
At this point you're free!  Do whatever you want!  Explore the campgrounds, phone a friend, read a book, or just go to bed.  The world is your oyster and you have a bed waiting for you when you're ready to crash.

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