Kelley turned 22 this week, and all she wants for her birthday is a bike tour. We’re itching for a longer trip, but cold weather in the Northeast can be pretty limiting. Barring a huge amount of gear (which I’ve got, and Kelley doesn’t), it’s hard to ride comfortably in temperatures that vacillate wildly between the 20’s and 40’s. Once January hits, it gets a lot colder than that.
Still, wanderlust beckons!
Our ride was an easy 16-mile stretch to my friend Tim’s family tree farm. Tree farming is a culture in the northeast, where the practice is uniquely represented for hundreds of years. The Eve land measures about 100 acres, and Tim built a cabin with a woodstove and several bunks deep in the forest. We invited a bunch of our friends to help Kelley bring in her birthday, and we used it as an opportunity to test out the bike setups and our cold-weather camping skills by sleeping outside, rather than in.
I went with a front pannier load-out, with the Ortliebs and a sleeping bag in the e-Vent dry sack strapped on top. The load was rock-solid; the panniers make the handlebars feel dampened, so the bike doesn’t turn on its own. It’s also very good for balancing weight more evenly across both wheels. It was also really nice not wearing a backpack.
I’ll do a full bike post with all the changes I’ve been making as soon as my new drivetrain comes in. You’ll notice the fork has changed, for starters…
Kelley went with rear panniers, and carried our tent poles and her sleeping bag on top. That rack also made the 2012 tour with me, so it’s got close to 1,600 touring miles on it now. It’s hurting, but still holding. Kelley kept an awesome pace with her new bike computer, which we rigged up to her fork using the cable guides for a disc brake. She also packed solo, without any guidance from me. She doesn’t need it anymore, she’s as outdoorsy as I am.
Some of our route was off-road, which was pretty awesome. Tim’s driveway is a force to be reckoned with, and we tested our traction control on the way down in the morning.
While there, we made steak and veggie shish-kebabs, jumbo S’mores, Fireball-laden apple ciders, and had a general blast. It’s great getting the gang back together when we can. Ian and Max, some of my comrades on previous backpacking trips and tours, both made it out, and we reminisced with our newer friends all night, telling stories from past adventures.
It might be cold, cloudy, and a little bit dreary in November, but trips like these remind me why I love the dynamic of the seasonal riding around here. It’s never boring.