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Mountain Bike Camping


backpacker Bill

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backpacker Bill

2 years ago I bought a Fuji mountain bike, but so far I have only ridden it on pavement and a short beginner woodland trail in nearby Monte Sano state park.

I saw a facebook post of some friends riding on mountain dirt roads in CO, with camping gear strapped all over their bikes. I'd like to find a place to do that, where it wouldn't mess up solitude for day hikers and backpackers.  Drop car:  pedal to camp, set up for 2 night stay, next day take a day hike to a nearby summit, take in the views, repeat...

Any thoughts?

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Here's a write up on my bikepacking experience on Utah's White Rim Road - a great place to do it with your concerns in mind as this is a remote dirt road and not a hiking trail. Was definitely fun and an experience to remember, but I'd say personally I prefer the simplicity of normal backpacking for overnight trips more and save the bike for day rides:

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backpacker Bill

Great writeup!  That "remote dirt road" sounded scary at times.  

You're probably right, day-biking on dirt roads paired with car camping.  Then a few nights backpacking :)   A few of our local day hiking trails allow bikes, I don't mind them passing by, but in places they do thrash the trail.

I need to learn to use public lands (common out west) instead of car camping in campgrounds.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Thanks, it was some great scenery! Was definitely interesting being able to cover over 50 miles with a mid-morning start and evening stop for camp. Something to be said for that, but a 3 mph backpacking speed is about right I think!

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  • 3 months later...
Dogwood

If I'm MBing its 95% of the time it's on obstacle coarse single track (jumps, rails, rocks, ruts, etc in a dun in a day affair with a solid MB.

I went with a gravel bike that has many MB components, the REI Adventure 3.1, which I got for $630(last yrs 2017 model and a slight scratch)  for my LD multi day and multi wk rides on gravel and paved roads and some light single track and bike trails and rails to trails trails. Several REI bike techs were really helpful and knew their stuff with several also bike packers. I set it up as hybrid commuter/bike packer/touring bike. I benefited  that I was already an UL LD hiker with a very low wt and low volume kit while also knowing how to dial down consumable wt. My backpacking experience and kit transitioned very well to the bike.

I went with a rear very light wt rack capable of 110 lbs(overkill!) and Ortleib low profile narrow Gravel WP panniers(lowest wt panniers in Ortliebs line up) instead of a seat pack. For a weekend maybe in the future I'll get a seat pack but for now based on what I most need without having to cater to four different bikes for different riding objectives I'll stick with what I have. Bike components and a few other upgrades  cost me almost the same as the bike!

I plan to strap a small 8L day pack on the rack for day and overnight hikes away from the bike. 

Much of my inspiration and reasoning comes from hearing of Aaron's Canyonlands adventure, White Blaze User Garlic's LD bike tails,  and Johhny Issaks site. Other than his bike and frame bag my hybrid set up is very similar to Issak. http://johnnyisaak.com/my-hybrid-long-distance-setup/ 

I'm using this set up to do the west coast in the fall from Seattle to San Diego. I've already backpacked the Oregon Coast and Cali Coastal Trails.

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  • 9 months later...

Sometimes I wonder why so few people camp over night on mountain bikes.  I ran into a guy in the Pine Nut Mountains behind my house.  He was on a solo trip to Bodie, CA the old mining town.   It was 120 miles or so.   It was a hot day, so I asked him how much water he had on board.  He counted and said "7 liters."   A lot of good backpacking country is too steep for bikes.  I run into people carrying their bikes some times.  Flatter easier country would be very suitable.  Riding on old dirt roads, like Forest Service roads would work really well. 

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Backpacker Bill, have you had a chance to try out Mountain Bike Camping? If so, how did it go? I did a cross country trip on my road bike. I carried a tent, food, sleeping bag, water filter ect. The biggest thing I learned is how much I was slowed down by the weight. It was a very slow pace. I can imagine it being more difficult if you had steep terrain to deal with. 

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  • 2 years later...
Michael aka Mac

I have actually never gone Mountain Bike camping in my life, and sadly  due to my back  I will never be able to as I can no longer take the strain on my back that bikes  cause me.  It is one of those things  that I do regret not doing.  

It kind of reminds me of the comedy  Movie  " Wild Hogs"  w/ Martin Laurence, John Travolta, Tim Allen, etc.    Just hitting the open road (or trail) and away you go...

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