S240 – Fat Bike Freedom

The Sub 24 Hour Overnite or S24O is, yet another, sterling example of bicycle freedom and potentially another excuse to ride your fat bike. I’m quite fond of the S24O. I’ve recently taken a couple of S24O trips to two local remote campsites with different set-ups, just to keep things interesting.

My old Surly back in 2012

My first fat bike S24O was back in 2012. I didn’t have any fancy gear or bags, but I had bike toured before so I had a pair of panniers and I had canoe camped, so I had a dry bag. Oh, and my friend Cale had sewn a frame bag that I put patches all over. That’s all the extra gear that I needed to get started. That trip along the shore of Lake Michigan just whetted my appetite for more bike camping trips.

This year Spring has taken its sweet time getting any momentum and then in early May, suddenly for a week straight, it was eighty to ninety degrees. The warm weather made me start to gather my gear together for some bike camping.

I encourage all of our readers to give an S24O a try. If you’re wondering what you should bring along on your first attempt, above is the packing list that I’ve used since that first S24O back in ’14. It was written by Sheldon Brown. I always love reading his comments like “carbohydrates keep you hungry and make you fat.”

Trip One – Sandhill Station – Ten Beers with an Extrawheel trailer

I live in rural Wisconsin between Madison and Milwaukee less than a mile from the Glacial Drumlin State Trail that connects those two metropolitan areas. The Glacial Drumlin has a couple of spots to camp and about eight miles from me along the gravel trail there’s a Wisconsin DNR campground called Sandhill Station. The Sandhill Station State Campground has 15 walk-in, tent-only campsites nestled in a secluded oak savanna. I’ve camped there several times before and sometimes just ride there to have coffee outside. I even have a favorite campsite. Site number six has two giant trees that are perfectly suited for my Hennesey Hammock.

Ten Beers at the Love Locks

This particular route is quite flat. The love locks are at the top of one of the only hills on the trip out to Sandhill and it happens fairly early in the route that I took. The extrawheel trailer is a great choice for simplifying the packing for an S24O. The only time that I felt the extra weight of the trailer was on this climb. Otherwise the trailer just simply disappears behind me, to such an extent that I find myself looking back to see if it’s still there.

On these early season trips, I eat dinner at home and head out after. You can also stop at a restaurant along the way or bring food along to cook. On this trip, I chose to have a cold camp and bring the minimum in the way of food. I didn’t scrounge any wood on my way to the campground, so I didn’t have a fire. It had been in the eighties that day after a week of summer-like weather that registered high temps in the nineties so I didn’t really want a fire.

Sleeping in a hammock changed the way that I look at primitive camping. It’s a very comfortable way to sleep, compared to sleeping on the ground. But both are doable, even for my old bones. The one thing to consider when sleeping in the hammock is warmth. Anything below fifty degrees can be quite chilly on your backside, especially if there’s any kind of wind. I have a Hammock Gear down underquilt that helps keep my back warm.

I love waking up with all of the birds and making coffee on a beautiful morning. After packing up everything it’s always a little hard to say goodbye to site number six. The shot above shows why. But sometimes a tough goodbye can lead to your next S24O.

Trip 2 – Dorothy Carnes County Park – Rocky Mountain Blizzard with an OMM Rack

One of the things about camping on your bike or on foot is that it opens up campsites that are not part of the mainstream automobile-dominated camp culture of America. That means that you may have to look a little bit harder or need to do a little more research to find the hidden gems that exist all around this beautiful planet but I assure you, that it’ll be worth it. On one of our hikes with our dog, my wife and I discovered the two remote campsites at a Jefferson County Park just west of a Town called Fort Atkinson that I call Port Fatkinson. It’s about eleven miles from the Fat-Bike.com test bunker and this would be my first overnighter there.

The park is relatively new. It was established in 2000 and encompasses lands surrounding Rose Lake. The two campsites are on top of a drumlin that overlooks the lake. Each site has a firepit, picnic table, and a lantern pole. There’s dry split firewood and a nice clean pit toilet. It’s sort of a luxury to have such amenities for camping, but when there’s good dry wood available it only makes sense to have a nice campfire.

The wood is five dollars a rack (on the honor system) and well worth the dinero. Some of these pieces of hardwood looked as though a Bantha had torn a huge red oak to shreds. I used some new fire-starting rope from Black Beard Fire Starters along with some fatwood, dryer lint, and tissue paper, and BAM! we had ignition. By that time (earlier this week) the worm had turned and the weather was more seasonal, which made a warm fire feel all the better. Instead of hanging out in a hammock, I brought along a Sierra Designs tent with a Big Agnes Bag/Pad sleep pod that makes sleeping on the ground tolerable.

The avian wildlife at the park was abundant and active. The cranes and the geese were quite vocal as darkness fell and in the morning the songbirds stepped in as my alarm clock. I make a mean backcountry pour-over and I packed all of the beverage additives that I like along with some fresh ground locally roasted Sumatran coffee from Pyramid City Roasters. For breakfast, I made oatmeal with fresh blueberries slightly poached as the oatmeal rehydrated. Somehow site number one at Dorothy Carnes wasn’t as hard to say goodbye to as site number six at Sandhill Station but the rip down the hill out of the park sure was a blast.

So now go Forth and S24O

The S24O can be a great opportunity to unplug from everything and chill. It doesn’t take much planning or very much gear. If you keep things simple, it can be a great night out. I like to say “let’s get loaded and stay out all night”. It sounds like a wild party, but I’m usually asleep before ten o’clock. When you find a groovy spot, just think about ways to get back there on your bike, and then bring a tent and a few other things. Along the way, you’ll see things and then you’ll know what I mean. #fatbikefun

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Just an old cat that rides bikes, herds pixels, ropes gnomes and sometimes writes stories. I love a good story.