The First Trip

Oh boy. So I get a good bike and decide I want to try this. I know I need a couple basics like a sleeping bag, pillow, tent… and like one or two other things. Maybe a sweatshirt. So I’m talking to one of my friends who is an experienced adventure rider and he says, dude – you just got a new bike, I just got a new bike, let’s meet in the middle and go on a trip – I’ll show you some things, and I have some extra gear I’ll give you, just bring a bed roll.

Well OK

(Googles “Bed Roll”)

So I ask my mom if there is any leftover camp gear from when I was a kid. She gives me a sleeping bag and a couple other items. The sleeping bag was one of those thick rectangles, warm but so bulky. I tie a belt around it and get a couple waterproof duffel bags from Walmart, had no other room but for a pillow, so I take one off my bed and I’m good to go. I also put a sweatshirt in the side bag just to be prepared. That bag was HUGE though, like cartoonishly disproportionate

We decided to meet in Pueblo, CO. My geography club was going on a field trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, so I planned it to meet my friend after the zoo.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was really cool. They did all kinds of things to encourage the animals to stay engaged like hide smelly things in their pens so they spend their time looking for it to find out its a box with perfume or something. Most zoos look depressing because the animals are so confined but this one was nice. The other really cool thing was they built a boardwalk that put you eye level with the giraffes and you could feed them crackers! It was super fun

After the tour I met up with my friend, Road Dog as I like to call him. We rode through a mountain pass and got to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We were there on free camping day (because we did not plan a single part of this trip). There were no places to camp and no ranger on duty to tell us were we could wayside camp. It was about 11pm, already dark so we decided to “ninja camp” behind some bushes off the parking lot. We thought it was super sneaky but upon waking up in the morning, from just the right angle you could see our tents plain as day. What a couple of morons. The rangers pulled up in the morning and just laughed at us.

We took a minute to look at the dunes but immediately agreed we were not here to hike sand we were here to ride our new bikes. But the place was pretty cool

Before packing up Road Dog challenges me to a game of dice. I said if I win, you take the giant red bag. He said “You’re On!” and was disappointed when I pulled snake eyes.

We find a breakfast place that served up some eggs and it was time to figure out where we were going. We decided for my first trip it was a little risky to just camp anywhere so we made reservation at the same campground as Ragnarok. Road Dog wasn’t able to make it to the rally so it was nice for him to at least see the sites. When we got to the campground he showed me the interworkings of how he packs for trips. He said he usually takes everything necessary for setting up shelter in one bag he calls the “Deploy Bag.” (Why are all of my moto friends so good at finding the most badass words to describe anything? They could be talking about a bar of Irish Spring and they’d come up with something so metal like “grime obliterator”)

The theory behind the Deploy Bag is it contains everything to set up camp, and only those things. A first aid kit, kitchen, clothes – all those things are not necessary in setting up your shelter they are an independent task that you would go to your bike to do all on its own so why mix them in with the first thing you are going to need when you land somewhere for the night? In the case like the night before, you pull in late and you don’t have sunlight or time to pick everything out of your panniers, you just unclip the top bag, wander not far enough into the bushes, and set up – it’s all there. This advice became the foundation of how I organize. Camp essentials first, everything else can be separate.

The next morning we headed out for a ride through Buena Vista. I had class the next day so we had to eventually get back to Denver

It was such a great trip, great learning opportunity, great to meet a good friend finally in person, and I feel like I have so much to figure out at this point it’s overwhelming