Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Bike Camping

A couple of weeks ago, we biked to the ward campout. The campsite was 16 miles away and the trip included a 1000ft elevation climb.

I carried all the kids in the Madsen and McKay pulled the equipment in the trailer. Here we are getting ready to go:

Our plan was to bike up to church (only 7.5 miles into the trip, but up 700ft) and refill the water bottles, have a potty break, and change the baby's diaper. And then from there, finish the route.

When we bike to church on Sundays, it is usually in the morning, right after a good breakfast. It is also not normally hot out, nor am I carrying all 3 kids- McKay takes one in the trailer to even out the weight we are carrying. We get to church in 45 minutes- it's easy and we have no stops or trouble.

But on this day, it was hot, lunch had been 3 hours earlier, and I hadn't been keeping myself hydrated. So before we made it to the church building, I had to stop twice because of feeling nauseated from dehydration and heat. I might be doing a triathlon in September and the fact that I couldn't do a ride that I normally can was disheartening. True, there was an extra 45 pounds on my bike this time, but still! I had an assist!

Oh well. Then we continued. 8.5 miles to go. I hadn't quite used half of the power on my assist yet, so that was a good sign.

We went through some neighborhoods (more water stops, more hills, so many hills) until we found a hill that we learned later is notorious for being a terrible, no good, very bad hill. If you are a cyclist in Oakland, you may know it as "Butters Hill." I looked at that hill and knew for sure there was no way I could get up that with the kids. McKay pushed his way through the intimidating hill, using his assist at full. I made the kids get out and walk. Still, pushing that bike up the hill was no picnic. I think the bike is about 90 pounds on its own (with the assist and battery) plus the baby, who I did not take out of the bike... it was rough pushing that up the hill!

The hardest part of this leg of the ride was just that once we were on Redwood, it was all windy streets, motorcyclists and drivers passing us too closely and too quickly. There were no good places to stop. One of our fellow ward members passed us on his own bike- his wife and baby took all the equipment in the car. We gave him some water and watched him ride off on his 20 pound carbon frame road bike.

When we were about 2 miles out, the bishop came up and offered to take the kids. We took him up on that offer and so the last bit was a lot easier for me. McKay's BionX was completely drained by the time we got there and mine was down to almost nothing. But we made it!

 We tried out our Biolight.


I woke up way too early.


Linda was a bit muddy. Also, she liked this- it was "flying!"

The raccoons came and checked out our bike overnight.


  1. Thanks for letting me mooch your water and Biolight juice! Crestmont (the last bit of the Butters climb) peaks out at 16.7%! I don't think I could ride up that on my spindly bike without a lot of momentum going into it!

    I'm very impressed that you guys were able to bring all three kids, camping gear, and a HUGE TENT all the way to Chabot Lake on two bicycles! Also, you forgot to mention the HUGE TENT (insert big tent mormonism pun here).

    1. Yes, the tent was HUGE. It was that or two smaller tents and I'm not sure which option would be lighter!

  2. Sparky7:10 PM

    That tent is designed to sleep 8 IIRC. We used it this past weekend and it surprised me once again at how giant it is. And how heavy. I am amazed you two went bike camping with it.

    That said - it sure is nice to be able to stand up in a tent.

  3. Hi! I found you by searching your name after seeing your feature on Bike Moms. I hope you don't mind my swinging past your blog to ask about the motor on your Madsen. Our car died this summer and we've got a bucket bike as well, and we are interested in outfitting it with some type of motor. Could you share the specs of the motor? I found a shop that carries the BionX systems but they have a variety of kits and I'd hate to purchase one that doesn't work well with our bike. I would really appreciate any suggestions or tips you might have :)

    1. Hi! We have a BionX PL350 model. Hum of the City ( has great reviews of different e-assists. I highly recommend her blog!


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