Camping Close To Home

Not every bike camping trip needs to be a complicated excursion, involving high mileage and unfamiliar territory. Sometimes it’s just as fun, and more convenient, to camp close-in. That’s one of the advantages of bike camping — once you have things figured out, it takes no time at all to throw the gear on the bike and hit the road.

Time’s been a bit tight for me lately, but I did get two bike overnights in during August, and both were less than 12 miles or so from home.

The first night I was there, I had only a vague idea where I’d be setting up, and with a 6PM start, time was short. But, since it was so close to home, I was there by 7 or so, so had plenty of time to locate a flat, grassy area, and set up camp.

Grass wasn’t too tall, and brush hadn’t overtaken the site, and it was partially hemmed in by trees — perfect!

I located some rocks, made small fire ring, and started a blaze. It wasn’t cold, but a fire is always comforting.

As darkness settled in, I kept the small fire burning, letting it idle down before turning in for the night. There was a mostly-full moon, and the sky was clear, so the stars were out. I kept the rain fly off the tent and enjoyed staring up at the heavens.

In the early morning the coyotes started up, at first far off, then eventually near at hand. At one point the whole pack was yipping nearby. Not sure how close exactly, but not far off! It was a pretty special moment, even if I did get out of the tent and stoke the fire back up until daybreak.

There was ground fog in the dawn, and dew covered the grass and trees. This is a view over a nearby pasture.

A dew-covered spider in its web, waiting for breakfast.

Flannel Mullein with with a solitary bloom.

The ground fog was beginning to burn off as I made my way out of the area.

My next camping opportunity was in late August. I had a group ride scheduled for Saturday, so I loaded up my camping gear on the bike, rode to the meetup point, and did the ride fully loaded. What’s an extra 20 pounds?

By afternoon, the temperature had climbed into the mid-90’s so it was rather muggy as I made my way back to the same campsite. Luckily, there was just a bit of a breeze, and the temperature moderated quickly as the sun went down.

I set up camp in basically the same configuration as before, using the same fire ring. That one long branch wasn’t very big, but it was solid, and it lasted me the whole night through.

In the morning, there was little to no dew, and the sun was already up as I went walking. I found this fat preying mantis clinging to a cedar tree.

Wouldn’t want to climb this tree!

Not sure what this purple flower is, but it was very pretty.

Acorns are setting on the oaks.

A big hairy hedge ball.

Puffs of milkweed seeds waiting to be cast adrift by the breeze.

Not sure what this plant is, but these little burrs latch onto everything, and are very difficult to remove, particularly from leg hairs. Ouch!

I used a bit of a different bike setup this time around. Rather than running front panniers, I managed to fit most everything in the rear panniers, then used a cooler on the front rack. Makes a fine place to store food and extra water. Might not be quite enough space for a long trip, though, if I were having to carry extra clothing and other gear. But for a short overnighter, this setup works well.

Hoping to get out a few more times before the cold weather sets in!

DirtBum Written by:

I enjoy riding bicycles all over -- city streets, suburbia, rural roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rail-trails, and singletrack. I love exploring the countryside and finding the interesting and historical treasures hidden in plain sight. You can follow my rides on Strava.


  1. September 13, 2011

    Looks like some really good trips. Frankly your fires look dangerous, though, be careful! Should clear the ground to 3 feet of mineral soil:

    I liked the photos, especially the dewey/foggy ones.

  2. September 13, 2011

    I watched it closely, but yeah, I thought about that afterwards…

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