Do you ever want to get on your bike and ‘Run Away From Home’? Do you look at the photos of gorgeous beaches, mountains and forests that we share on Fat-Bike and dream about strapping some gear on your rig and exploring the great out-of-doors? Why not take a Sub 24 Hour Overnight (S24O)? The S24O is a way we can all get out and ride till the sun sets and then wake up with the sunrise and get a ride in before work. S24O’s are the perfect way to put your toe in the water of fat-packing. All it takes is a little planning and ingenuity.
When I first started doing overnight camping trips on my fat-bike I didn’t own all of the latest generation equipment and all the fine doodads that I currently use. I started out using an old set of panniers along with backpacking and canoe camping gear. To illustrate how fat-bikers that are interested in trying a S24O can use a little ingenuity to get out into the local wild, I asked my amigo Tom to join me in an overnight adventure at our home trail in southern Wisconsin. I wanted to share with all of you that it doesn’t require a bunch of fancy gear to get out and camp for the night on your fatty. Tom borrowed a rack from his wife’s matching, battleship grey pug and mounted it up front, and along with his existing rear rack, he packed most of his gear that he would need into two stuff sacks and simply bungee corded them to the racks. He carried the balance of his gear in a backpack.
I started thinking about this particular location back in January and had recon’d the route during the winter on fat-bike and snowshoes. The plan for the night was to bivy in a backpacking shelter along the ice age trail. Most of our ride would take place on mountain biking trails in the southern Kettle Moraine State Forest. The route incorporates a short section of emergency access trail that would require us to walk our bicycles from the mountain biking trail to the shelter. The Wisconsin DNR has very specific rules and regulations regarding where bicycles are allowed to be ridden. I stopped by the forest headquarters and paid the measly twelve dollar fee for the backcountry camping permit and then met up with Tom at the Nordic Trailhead.
Since we were camping at the backpack shelter, neither of us needed to pack a tent. We packed sleeping pads and bags along with food for dinner and breakfast. With the final check and one last cold beer we headed across the street to the John Muir trails. At the bottom of Richard’s revenge we stopped and cinched down all of our straps and headed out on the green loop. My moonlander, Thparkle, handled the singletrack extremely well, while fully loaded but I needed to stop a few times to fiddle with the straps of my handlebar bag. Tom told me that his Pugsley was handling a little differently than normal because his payload was situated on top of the rack’s affecting the bike’s center of gravity, but his load stayed put the whole way. We never said that ‘winging it’ was better or that there wouldn’t be room for improvement, but ‘winging it’ will get you there nine times out of ten. We arrived at the spot, where we needed to dismount and walk the bikes to the shelter and took a picture for our friends at the WI-DNR.
We unloaded the bikes and after some firewood gathering we made our way back to the mountain bike trails and rode with child-like abandon and wide toothy grins. We swung back through the trailhead, where we refilled our water bottles and then rode all of our favorite loops, till it was almost dark. We arrived back to camp in time to watch the sunset over a dinner of Thai Noodles with beefsticks and applesauce for dessert. It was a perfectly clear evening and unusually warm for late April. I had prepared a fire starting bindle that contained cardboard, tissue paper and a half dozen sticks of fat wood. We took turns using the folding saw that I had brought to feed our campfire throughout the evening. We bunked down next to the glowing embers of our campfire under a billion stars that sparkled above.
We rose early and as the sun broke the horizon, we enjoyed coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. Soon enough we started to pack up our bikes and walked them back to the mountain bike trails. The rest of the ride was pure joy! There’s just no better way to start your day than a bike ride in the woods. We returned back to our cars with plenty of time for us to get in a full day of work.
I hope this story inspires some of you to strap some gear onto your fat-bikes and head out into your local woods for a little old-fashioned ‘I’m running away from home’ adventure!
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