On Saturday, July 30 2016, the Women's Adventure Cycling Club met in Prospect Park to talk bike touring and bike packing. Our aim of the day was to answer questions, prompt ideas before investing in equipment, and have a test run of cooking lunch and ,setting up camp before experiencing the real deal.
718's Women's Adventure Cycling Club was introduced this year after multiple requests to create a group for women, female identifying and gender non-conforming folks. Our goal is to foster an inclusive space and connect people to learn about adventure cycling - riding in the woods, on trails, on gravel, off the beaten path, etc. - or think they might be!
In preparation for our overnight camping trip on, leaders Aurora and Meg came "fully loaded" with both a bike touring and bike packing set up to explain packing essentials.
First was a bike touring set up. One of the questions folks had was whether their bike would function for a tour or bike packing trip. We discussed the geometry of touring bikes and how weight both on the front and back affects riding. We stressed working with what you have and making modifications where possible. Bike touring allows for more space to pack things which translates into more weight on the bike.
For bike packing, one thing we learned is that your individual body affects how much you can pack; for instance, the size of the rear pack that sits above the rear tire is influenced by your height and how much clearance you have between the saddle and the rear tire.
Next we unpacked camping stoves and cooked up a lunch. Items we feasted on included tortillas, beans, fruit, peanut butter, cheese, steel cut oats with walnuts, and an avocado. For those of us unfamiliar with cooking with a camp stove, we learned about different types of stoves as well as how long fuel canisters typically last and what type of fuel is compatible with different types of stoves.
During lunch, we discussed our various touring and bike packing experiences, providing ideas about safety, planning ahead for riding in desolate places, and being prepared for all types of weather conditions. The group agreed that wool is a great clothing choice because it provides phenomenal insulation and does not smell.
Finally, we set up and then broke down a tent - setting up a tent in your apartment is helpful, but having the experience of staking the tent into the actual earth after some bike riding and fatigue from the elements (we were working in 80% humidity and light rain showers) simulated the real thing!
Throughout the day, everyone offered helpful suggestions - can't get chamois cream for a saddle sore because you're in place without a bike shop? Try diaper cream instead, which is readily available at most drug stores.Are you riding in a place with bad cell phone reception and stuck without a map? Load the GPS when you have service and then switch your phone into airplane mode - the GPS will still work and you can conserve your battery for emergencies. When packing up your campsite, don't bother folding your tent or sleeping bag as doing so will actually cause the fabrics to wear down faster. We all walked away with new ideas and more confidence for hitting the roads. Thank you all who participated and to our leaders!
Find out more about the Women's Adventure Cycling Club here!