Last summer I built up a Yeti ARC bike planning to use it for bike camping. I built it pretty light knowing I would be adding a lot of weight with the racks and gear: Easton carbon bar, Thomson seat post and stem, Mavic Crosstrail tubeless wheels, SRAM Carbon derailleur, etc. It's a great bike and can climb anything.
I bought a Freeload rack for the back and a Revelate Designs handlebar bag with added pocket for the front.
I call her Joan of ARC.
On Friday I tried camping with it for the first time. I slimmed my gear down to what I thought was just the essentials:
Homemade Cat tarp
Arrowhead designs New River UQ
Jetboil stove with coffee press
SOL Escape Bivy blanket
Two backpacking meals from Packit Gourmet
Black Diamond Headlamp
1 box matches
Slim roll of TP
Titanium coffee cup
Titanium spoon and fork
I strapped the UQ to the handlebar. The three straps on the Revelate pack held it tightly in place. The pocket wraps around the UQ and helps hold it. I put my tie out stakes, the matches and coffee in the pocket.
My bike also has a Topeak seat bag and the coffee cup just fit here.
In a small dry bag, I put the hammock, tarp, Jetboil, and the bivy sack (my top quilt). I rolled up the dry sack and clipped it together around the seat post, a perfect fit. Then I lashed it to the Freeload rack using some bungie cords with large plastic knobs on the end. The bag never moved while riding.
I also wore a Camelback Hawg with 100 ml of water, the Packit meals and a shirt and lightweight running shorts to change into. Glad I included these as bike jersey and biking shorts (Endura Humvee) aren't too comfy off the bike.
Things I wish I had brought? My sandals so I could lose the bike shoes, and my copy of Hemingway's Nick Adams stories with always goes with me on hikes. Otherwise, I had all that I needed. This was a test ride to see if I could actually get up the rugged trail with the extra gear.
I decided to ride on the Berryman Trail, a 25-mile loop located between Steelville and Potosi, Mo. I got to the trailhead just as the sun was setting. It took about 5 minutes to get the bike ready and this included changing shoes. I passed a couple of possible sights and then settled on one that was alongside one of many dry creeks about 2 miles down the trail.
This was also the first night for me in my son's Blackbird. I got both of my boys WB hammocks for Christmas but had yet to use one myself. Also the UQ had just arrived and had never been hung. Everything went up super easy though I didn't get the ridge line tight, trees were just a little too close together.
I struggled to get a fire started, not sure why, it's been super dry in Missouri but the leaves seemed to have soaked up all the humidity. I had two matches left when I succeeded.
That gave me just enough light to get supper cooked, Packit's Trailside Burrito. That's when I discovered that "Bring your own bread" meant the tortilla wasn't included. No worries, I just ate it straight from the package.
Guessed i turned in around 10 pm with the fire doing its thing, real cozy. The Bob White's where tuning up when I heard voices. Turned out to be 25 or 30 Boy Scouts wearing red helmet lights. The trail made a turn where I was camping so I could see them coming and going, very strange sight!
I slept well until sometime in the wee hours I woke up to the weirdest sound. Only way I can describe it is being similar to the sound you get when you smack a metal fence post and the barb wire twangs. Some kind of bird I guess, thought the aliens had landed.
Th next day I made scrambled eggs with ham, packed up and rode maybe 7 miles to see how it felt. I had no trouble even on the rugged sections. The added weight seemed to help the bike handle the curves. Hills were not an issue.
Next time I plan a much longer ride on the Ozark Trail. I may even set up a base camp and do a couple days of riding in between. I didn't weigh the gear, but Im guessing less than 20 pounds. Would need more food but this set up would get me just about any wear, provided I included my water filter. I also need a waterproof bag for the UQ.