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Swift Campout Trip Journals –July 10th
We’ve been sitting at the local watering hole, recounting and reliving our vagabond days on Swift Campout. It’s time to pull out that old pencil and paper and draw us in with your trail stories. Four dynamic trip journals will be featured on builtbyswift.com and the winnings will sweeten the deal. We’re only days into summer, and the Trip Journal Prizes are sure to accompany you for a summer of rambling.
Trip Journal Guidelines
Due July 10th, 2015
200-500 words and 5 high quality photos (300 dpi, 12” wide)
All content must be original work, submit your trip journal in Microsoft Word or a Google Doc with your first initial and last name as the title. Include your name and email address at the header of the document. All photos must be labelled with your last name (ex. doe.jpg, doe2.jpg etc) Email your stories to email@example.com
Trip Journal Prizes
Campout Films–Due July 18th
(photo from Beat the Clock Campout, Austin TX)
We’re looking for short films that make us want to quit our jobs and take to the open road!
Take us along for an adventure. We’re gathering Swift Campout Films to inspire the next person to pack up some camp gear and pedal out to parts unknown. Make it so good we think we can smell the smoke of last night’s fire in our clothes, and feel the hard earned miles in our legs.
Swift Campout Edition Junior Ranger Panniers,
Membership to Adventure Cycling Association.
Second and Third Place Prizes
Two runners-up will receive Swift Campout Edition Zeitgeist Saddle Bags.
Campout Film Guidelines:
Due July 18th, 2015
All footage needs to be original and created for the Swift Campout.
All music must be original, licensed, or open-sourced.
Film needs to include “#swiftcampout” and builtbyswift.com in the credits, and be web-ready upon submission.
Swift Industries will hold the rights to use the winning Campout Films on builtbyswift.com and all company promotion including public and private showings. Swift Industries will not have the rights to sell or distribute your film for profit.
Submit your films by posting them to Vimeo or Youtube and email the link to firstname.lastname@example.org
With a few weeks left until Swift Campout we wanted to give a huge shout-out to all of you who are first time bike-campers, and maybe even lure in any of you folks who are watching curiously from the sidelines wondering if a bike-overnight is the thing for you!
Want to get started but aren’t quite sure where to begin?
There’s nothing more exciting than showing folks how simple it is to gather some gear and get your toes wet on a short adventure. Are you craving something different, a new way to see the world and get back in touch with the simple things? Me too!
First things first–for a short bike trip chances are any old bike will do, but there are a few things that will make your outing a little easier. We recommend a bicycle with gears because your camping stuff might slow you down a bit and those hills will take a toll with your house on board.
The most common set-up is a rear rack to carry your panniers full of food, camping supplies and your shelter. It’s much more comfortable than riding with a heavy backpack! Let your bicycle do the heavy lifting so you can enjoy the peace and quiet of country roads.
Try to pack as minimally as possible. One of the most liberating things about traveling by bicycle is that when you’re stripped down to the daily essentials you pay closer attention to the landscape and people along the way. This doesn’t mean you’ve signed up for sufferfest–not at all–I guess the idea is that when we simplify our belongings, we can amplify the pleasures that make life so wonderfully satisfying. Like brewing coffee as the light hits camp on a summer morning, or chillin’ cross legged next to a glowing fire sharing a nip with travel buddies. Soak in the moment.
Life on the road is so good!
For Swift Campout you should bring along a mat, sleeping bag and shelter. Gear designed for backpacking is perfect for bicycle travel. Backcountry gear is lighter and more compact than ever–which makes bike camping pretty luxurious without a ton of weight. I bring an inflatable pillow along, and even grind my coffee beans fresh each morning. There’s no need to rough it unless that’s your calling. The minimalism of bike camping should enhance the simple pleasures that make life soul-satisfying.
Your ride will be even more heavenly if you use a few simple packing tips.
- Mini everything. Shrink your stuff–put sun screen in a smaller tube, take pasta out of the bag and put it into a ziplock, don’t take the whole salt shaker if you can put a little seasoning in film-cannister sized containers. Take a 1L pot and cook in cycles instead of lugging three pots along.
- Fill the dead space. Put your fuel bottle, some food, and even a pair of socks into your cooking pot. That way you can utilize the dead space created by your cookware. Same applies inside your panniers–stuff small things into the nooks and crannies so your bags don’t overflow.
- Make sure the weight in your two bags is even so your steering is stable and your body is stoked. I like to put my tent on top of the rear rack with a bungee because it leaves more space inside the bags for my sleep set-up, clothes, and kitchen.
- Say there’s rain on the horizon. Keep your clothes and bedding tidy inside your bags until your tent is pitched. If you don’t let your gear get wet from the start, your whole adventure will be much more fun come hell or high water. A little mindfulness goes a long way: put sensitive gear like down sleeping bags and electronics in seam-sealed bags. There’s nothing like crawling into a warm, dry bed if the weather’s gone to shit.
If you’re an outdoor chef at heart the most satisfying is cooking over the open campfire and a great bike-camping kitchen includes
- a cutting board out of food grade HDPE (Tap Plastics or REI),
- a sharp knife
- spice kit (small containers of salt, pepper, cumin, chili, etc)
- a small pot
- backpacking stove and fuel
- coffee kit
- small pan (the lid of a small backpacking pot is usually designed to double as a pan)
For a short ride take lots of freshies along, or stop at farm stands along the way. Relish the open air kitchen while you chop and prep; enjoy turning those hot dogs at a ritual pace over the embers.
More of a bachelorette in the kitchen? That’s easy too: you can take a burrito for dinner and no-cook breakfast like yogurt and granola for a delicious start. That means you can forgo all of your kitchen gear and bring a teddy bear along, or a beebee gun, or something.
Every tour is as unique as your travel style.
The pace and distance is wholeheartedly up to you. It’s a retreat, a time to relish the open road, and we all do that a little differently. The allure of bike-camping is that there’s no prescribed way to do it. Start with low mileage to get a sense for riding with a loaded bicycle. If you’re road touring and the terrain isn’t crazy hilly I think 50 miles a day is stellar distance and allows for a laid back pace. Make sure to eat often and stay hydrated. It takes work to pedal along and the landscape can be distracting so avoid low blood sugar by snacking tons.
50 miles sounds ridiculous? You’d rather tool around and smell the roses? Great! So long as you are living the dream, it’s all good.
If you’re heading out of town you should know how to fix a flat and have the tools along to make the repair on the side of the road. You’ll feel tough and capable knowing that you’re self-sufficient and can maintain your bicycle on your own. As for other tools–bring only what you know how to use, and unless you’re going into the deep wilds don’t overthink what to take along. Patch kit, extra tube, tire irons, a multi-tool, some additional bolts incase your racks come loose, and zip ties. Zip ties are a gift from the gods.
Be safe in traffic. Ride on the shoulder where possible, and stay as steady and linear as possible as you forge ahead. Some drivers will give you lots of space and others will be dicks. The reality of bicycle touring is that traffic is the biggest risk. Some folks choose to wear more visible clothing on high traffic roads, and seriously, a helmet is a given in my book.
Finding quiet roads can be an art. Planning ahead is easier than ever with the internet at our fingertips. Switching google maps to “bicycle” mode is a great start, but doesn’t always reveal the killer roads that make your heart soar. When you’re planning be curious, maximize that map to scour for farm roads and country lanes that parallel the highways google suggests. Ridewithgps.com, Strava’s heat map, and Gaia GPS are also good resources for creating routes. Often counties publish bike-route maps. Check for local resources of that kind.
Alrighty kids. We hope we’ve reeled you in. It can be a leap to try something new and we’re excited and impressed that you’re pushing your comfort zone to give a bike camping trip a whirl! Holler if we’ve missed some glaring details and chime in if you have a stellar tip you want to share. Our guess is that you’ll pack up and have a field day beyond compare. The hope is that Swift Campout is the first of many trips this summer!
**important update!** New Start Location: Burke Gilman Playground, on the Burke Gilman Trail at Metro Market in the Laurelhurst Neighborhood)
Destination Tolt MacDonald County Park! Starting at Burke Gilman Playground at 10am on Saturday, June 20th. Or meet us at camp! Details: Distance: 45 miles a day, 70 miles roundtrip Level: Perfect for first time bike campers and seasoned bicycle-tourists alike! Base fitness: Riders need to feel confident riding 20 miles on an unloaded bicycle Must be comfortable cycling rural highways, in a group Pace: Social, (we have a no-drop policy!) Group Size: 25 folks Fees: Plan to pitch in for camp firewood and beers ($10 each). Bring your own food (including a packed lunch for Saturday’s ride out of Seattle) and gear.
Meeting us at camp?
We have the most beautiful sites in the entire campground booked, but they’re hard to find! Cross the suspension bridge and hang a right. Follow the dirt road 1/3 mile and you’ll see us by the river! Sites 36–39!
Roughly 120 miles of road, dirt, gravel and hills.
7 pizzas and an uncounted amount of tacos and bagels were consumed.
1 armadillo sighting.
2 campfires and many cups of campfire coffee enjoyed.
The first weekend in May was beautiful: Warm, sunny days and clear, cool nights. A weekend made for bike camping. Thirteen of us gathered to drink coffee and do some reconnaissance for Swift Industries’ Summer Solstice Campout. Three days of riding alongside ranches teaming with young livestock, past a ghost town and finally through the charred pines of Bastrop sprinkled with new growth. We rolled out Friday morning armed with sunscreen and coffee.
The scenery in Bastrop is pretty surreal. In 2011, Bastrop State Park was ravaged by wildfires. All along our route there was evidence of that terrible summer, epic pines charred and cut down and bald spots existed in what was once a lush forest. But new growth was everywhere- bright green little pines against the black and grey giants. There were even blackberries growing in abundance. We set up our camp and then split into two parties. Party One set out on pizza duty, while Party Two got the fires going and made friends with three other bike campers who happened to roll through: a German woodworker taking 5 months to ride from Atlanta to Vancouver; and two women riding from San Diego and Phoenix, respectively, en route to Florida.
We let the sunrise wake us up and sleepily made our way to our various coffee set-ups. The rustling we heard that night was identified to be an armadillo bumbling around camp, bumping into our bikes and tents. We figured it was a good sign, since the armadillo is considered Beat The Clock’s spirit animal.
We said goodbye to our new friends as they headed to Houston and then hopped back onto Park Road 1C. Part of the group branched off for a dirt ride into camp while the rest revisited the hills. The camp vibes were strong with us- Bastrop’s pool opened 20 minutes after we arrived at the park.
Day 2 was full of burgers, swimming and plenty of lounging. We enjoyed a mellow night following a sun and pool soaked day and turned in early. The moon was almost full that night, making our headlamps almost unnecessary.
Up with the sun, we made our way home to Austin and back to work, grad school work and to take a nap (yours truly). Our yoga teacher and fellow Swift Navigator was Houston bound for a criterium race, where he ended up placing in the top 10. The final group out took advantage of Bastrop’s Main Street for a second breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and waffles.
Words by Laura Clemens Trujillo of helloclementine.com
Photos by Gideon Tsang and Crew
Swift Campout is a month away and we’re getting hyped! Make sure to sign on and mark the map with your own adventure. Hit the open road for a night under the stars, and remember to share your #swiftcampout stories to win amazing gear from Tenkara Rod Co., Ibex Wool, Horse Brand, Ocean Air Cycles, and Enlightened Equipment!
We’re calling for short vid submissions so grab your cameras and start documenting your overnight! Winners will get set up with a full touring set up from Swift Industries and more.
Ventura, CA Established: 2010
There’s no question about it: the Perks Family is passionate about bicycles. What’s more, they’re committed to high quality goods made in the good ol’ USA. We’ve been honored by the opportunity to work with the Ventura company on the Ocean Air Cycles X Swift Industries Docena Demi-Porteur Bag. The morning ritual of #coffeeoutside spread like wildfire when Rob shared his weekly routine and now folks all over are inspired to get out and gather with friends new-and-old for morning coffee in a beautiful spot. Whether you’ve been following the family grow and the business from its inception, or if this is the first you’ve heard of the mom’n’pop company, I think you’ll love the insight Rob drops about Ocean Air Cycles.
San Francisco, CA Established in 2012
There’s no better match than Swift Campout and a homegrown touring company in San Francisco called Pedal Inn. When the founders, Nick and Lindy, discovered their love for travelling by bicycle they set out to share their delight with the public. When we discovered Pedal Inn it was in the form of a beautiful bike-camping recipe book the duo published called the Pedal Inn Weekender. Nick and Lindy’s passion for food, cycling, and the social and geographic connections that come with bike travel, shone through in their compilation. We were smitten!
Sit back for some story telling, a huge dose of inspiration, and an invitation to the grand opening of the Pedal Inn pop-up shop in San Francisco’s Alite Outpost on April 16th, 2015
Pedal Inn is about sharing our passion for bikes, cooking, and the outdoors with everyone.
We offer bike camping tours based out of San Francisco to the most captivating nature destinations in the Bay Area. We’ve crafted what we believe is the perfect all-inclusive, active outdoor adventure for locals and visitors alike. We supply the camping gear, adventure bikes, food, expert guides, and all the special details in between.
We believe in setting off on bikes and going camping as way to excite people’s spirit of wonder and adventure. By slowing down and staying local, possibility and discovery abound: nature tells a story, you get a unique perspective on a place, the food tastes even better, and you’re able to reconnect with what really matters. Pedal Inn brings the full experience together, makes it accessible, and shares it one memorable overnight Bay Area bike camping tour at a time.
We feel really lucky to live in a place like San Francisco where a bike can take you to a diverse range of environments, all with a distinctly beautiful perspective on nature. It’s what inspires us, keeps the ideas flowing, and rewards the effort we’ve put into the Pedal Inn. Every tour we go on has those Aha! wilderness moments that surprise us, bring new discoveries, and make us forget we just rode in from the city.
“We’ve explored a lot but really
just scratched the surface here—
you could get out there every
weekend for a year and camp
somewhere distinct and spectacular,
all within a reasonable day’s ride from the city.”
Pedal Inn Favorites
Apart from our Swift panniers, we packing the usual camping kit necessities but with a few extras stashed in to liven things up. You’ll find a couple Trangia stoves for cooking, a pretty extensive camp kitchen (with lots of spices), aluminum foil, strands of LED lights to set the mood, Alite camp chairs, a weather-beaten Japanese hatchet, Nick’s harmonica, our trustly Olympus OM-D camera with vintage glass, a smallish tripod, and plenty of Four Barrel coffee. Of course, we’ll also be stopping along the way to pick up essentials like cold beer and a bottle of whiskey to share. We don’t put too much emphasis on packing light, rather we follow our interests, stay comfortable, and eat ridiculously well ‘cause it’s only one night and we want to do it in style.
Pedal Inn’s top choice Bay Area Swift Campout Destination
Looking for a stellar spot for your Swift Campout? Pedal Inn’s top choice is Tennessee Valley in the Marin Headlands, about 20 miles from the Mission District. You can strike out from San Francisco on a tour through the city, including Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and taking in sweeping views of the Pacific. From there it’s biking paradise on the waterfront trails and sublime bike path of Marin County.
Tennessee Valley is a short turn from the Bay, nestled between rugged, wind-swept hills with the campsite nestled in a tranquil little valley. There are some great trail riding with fun rollers that reveal a small, untouched beach that delivers some of the most memorable sunsets anywhere. It’s part of a vast network of protected parkland that makes up the Marin Headlands and features some of the best trail riding anywhere.
Go on and check out an outright celebration of Pedal Inn and bike-camping in and around the Bay Area!