Headed across the bridge a few weeks ago for a little overnight bike camping trip, otherwise known as a S240. The S240 is a sub-24 hour overnight bike camping trip (made popular by Grant Petersen of Rivendell bikes) in which one loads up their bike with whatever they deem necessary for a 24 hour adventure of the bicycle camping variety.
In this case, our group opted to ride out towards Samuel P. Taylor State Campground in Marin County north of S.F.
The campground is situated along Sir Francis Drake Blvd. between Fairfax and Pt. Reyes Station tucked into a nice bit of forest. The Camp can be hard to get a reservation at during the busy summer months but if you arrive on bicycle you are guaranteed a spot! They have an entire area designated for bicycle campers, complete with fire pits, picnic tables, and boxes to safely store your food from the critters.
We rolled out from the city about 17 people deep riding all manner of bikes with tents, sleeping bags, and misc. gear strapped to our bikes. It happened to coincide with the Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate park so we got a few sideways glances but many assumed we were just over-prepared for a day of lounging in the park at the festival.
Bike crew gearing up for getting down.
We rolled out convoy style through the Presidio heading towards the bridge.
Riding across the Golden Gate never fails to impress.
We had people of all bike abilities with us on this trip. Some of our companions had never ridden much farther than across the bridge to Sausalito to ride the ferry back to the city, let alone with bikes loaded with camping gear.
Big groups mean many bathroom stops. Nice time to chat, snack, and apply sunscreen.
Best sock category.
Much of the ride from Fairfax to Samuel P. Taylor and beyond is done on this scenic bike path riding along under the tree canopy next to the river. Pretty much perfect.
Campfires were had.
Loaded bikes resting in the bike corral.
We detoured the next morning around the little town of Nicasio and pedaled around the lovely Nicasio resevoir.
Continuing along the bike bath towards past Samuel P. Taylor.
We made a new friend named Justin at the bike camp who was riding from Olympia, WA. to SF. It was the third time he’d made this trip! Seasoned bike tour veteran….we were all impressed.
We stopped at this Nicasio breakfast spot but it was overrun with bikers (the motorized kind) and seemed like a long wait so we opted for more granola and power bars and pedaled on.
Despite the endless caravan of luxury SUV’s on the Marin Backroads, a few of these guys still manage to survive.
The majority of the group relied on water and energy snacks to keep pedals turning. Others, however, had different techniques to stay motivated. Here is one of our companions bemoaning the last drop of her “Go” juice.
Back to the city. Everyone made it…many to their surprise.
This is something that anyone can do (if you are comfortable riding a bike a reasonable distance). Our total mileage with our Nicasio detour was about 80 miles over the course of the weekend. Many of us weren’t in what is considered “bike shape” , many had never ridden more than 15-20 miles, and many had never ridden with loaded bikes. Some rode on standard road bikes, hybrids, old mountain bikes. Some just strapped a backpack to their bike or wore it. Surprisingly little is needed for an overnight trip and riding with a loaded bike is not as difficult as you might imagine. In fact, I immediately felt that despite the extra weight on my bike, it rode very stable and comfortably.
Many state parks offer free or low priced camping for bike travelers and many are located an easily rideable distance from major cities.
Get a map, do some research, grab your pals and hit the road.