Bike camping test ride at Berryman

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Bike camping test ride at Berryman

Postby Big Jim Mac » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:10 pm

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 ( ... tegoryID=3) 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:
Warbonnet Blackbird hammock
Homemade Cat tarp
Arrowhead designs New River under quilt
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
6 stakes
Titanium spoon and fork

I strapped the under quilt 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 which 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. 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 sites 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 under quilt had just arrived and had never been hung. (You use an under quilt for hammocks so that you don't compress the insulation. It hangs under the hammock as the name suggests. It keeps the breeze from cooling your back and I am glad I had it!) The bivy bag was also a recent purchase from REI. I was concerned it would cause me to sweat but that was not the case. This one is more thermal than the foil emergency blankets I've seen. For $30, it's a super light (5.9 ounces) sleeping bag. Velcro holds it together so I was able to stick my feet in it and leave the back open. Everything went up super easy though I didn't get the ridge line on the hammock tight, trees were just a little too close together. The Blackbird has a little shelf inside to put your stuff on, perfect for glasses and light.

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, I guess, 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, but I 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.

Good times!
Big Jim Mac
Posts: 102
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:36 pm
Location: Jefferson City, MO

Re: Bike camping test ride at Berryman

Postby Jim » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:06 am

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see your bike supplies on the list. *(Tube, multi-tool, spare chain links) Those are almost as important as the camping gear.

For summer weather I forego the under quilt and use only a light fleece blanket with my ENO.

Add in a water purification system to ensure your able to refill along the way. (Many use the Steri-pen, I use the First Need Purifier. First need is heavier and bulky, but does taste better than Iodine tabs.)

AS for the fire. Add in a magnesium starter and striker...easy to tuck away and lasts longer than matches. Ps..Bic lighters work faster than matches as well. Add a couple cotton balls with Vaseline for assistance.
Pine needles and smaller than a pencil twigs will get your fire cracking really quick.

Glad you enjoyed the trip. Wanna go longer...check out Middle Fork and Council Bluff.
Posts: 436
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:07 pm
Location: O'Fallon, MO

Re: Bike camping test ride at Berryman

Postby Big Jim Mac » Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:25 pm

Yeah the bike stuff is a given, I never leave without it. I really needed the under quilt this time, but I think I could get by with the bivy bag in July. Hope to hit the Courtois section south of Highway 8 next.
Big Jim Mac
Posts: 102
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:36 pm
Location: Jefferson City, MO

Re: Bike camping test ride at Berryman

Postby mpbike » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:34 pm

I use my therm-a-rest mattress with my hammock and it works great. Blocks the air from underneath and is very comfortable.
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Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:25 pm

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