Hey, welcome back and thanks for visiting again. 🙂
I’ve been trying hard to do something different this year by posting something every month. I mean, it really hasn’t been THAT hard, and I like to do it…so it will probably continue on this way for the time being. But as it turns out, I was late in posting last month. So the last post was posted on the 3rd of September, sorry about that. But the good news is, you get another post this month…two in one month!
So, I wanted to share in the fact that I did another little adventure earlier this month. I decided to do a solo s24o at a State Park which is very close to where I live…like backyard close. Well, actually 15 miles from my garage to the camp site…so pretty freakin’ close. I would normally do this with my wife, but she was doing her own “overnighter” with her girls…in Palm Springs. You know…hotel, sun, cocktails by the poolside, dancing and good food. Not quite the same thing, sure. But she’s doing something she loves and I am doing something I love…so, there you have it. I haven’t actually done an s24o by myself yet, and was looking forward to it. Sometimes I really enjoy it when I’m able to do something that involves solitude. For me, it’s a re-charging time that is often coupled with a healthy dose of self-reflection. Doing something like this by yourself can often lead to some solo discovery…both internally and in your physical surroundings…plus there is the “no people” aspect of it…that’s nice sometimes as well. 🙂
Getting the bike ready is an enjoyable part for me. I have all of the necessary frame bags and camping goodies so it makes packing and loading fun and easy. I would equate it to working with or doing a job with the right tool. It takes a lot of the guess work and trial and error out of the task at hand. Things just go together the way they are meant to go together. I sold my old Revelate Tangle frame bag to buy a bigger one which hadn’t come in the mail yet. In case you might want to know, I chose a Wanderlust Divide Framebag in large instead of the large Revelate framebag, as it was more of what I was looking for. Not having the frame bag meant I really didn’t have the space for the meals, coffee and loose stuff that I would bring. I was bringing the BOB Yak Trailer with me because I love sleeping in my old full size sleeping bag. It doesn’t break down small enough to fit on the bike, so it goes in the trailer. I put all of the loose stuff in there as well. It ended up being pretty heavy after all was said and done. I’m guessing 25-35 lbs. I felt that extra weight on the climbs. The bike also pushed a bit in the corners and got a smidgen squirrelly on the long, flowing descent down to the campground. You could feel that it was heavy. The trailer usually “disappears” when it comes to tracking behind you, but the weight was noticeable this time. I’m sure I packed more than I needed, but I wanted to be comfortable up there.
I was all packed and ready to go. It was a Friday and the weather seemed a bit warm but otherwise fine. I was hungry so I stopped 10 minutes into the ride at Chronic Taco for a quick “hand-held” burrito (the regular ones are massive). I ate that delicious mother and then was on my way.
It was a simple ride to the campsite from my garage. It was a gradual climb to the 3/4 (Four Corners as we like to call it) spot with a few short little burst type climbs thrown in. So not a terribly hard ride.
It was Africa hot by the time I got to the regional park, which is on the way to the State Park. I stopped at the Adventure Center located at the entrance of the State Park to check in with the Ranger and let him know that I will be riding through to the campground. Maybe a little over cautious, but just because you are really familiar with a certain place to ride does not mean you should ever let your guard down. You can never be too careful. Plus Chino Hills State Park, more so than other local State Parks, seems to really come alive after dark. I have seen more wildlife in this park in the last 20-25 years of riding them, than I have in any of the others. So, yeah. I wanted someone (other than my Palm Springs bound wife) to know where I was.
I was having a blast. Excited to get to the campground and set up and relax. I had brought a few small cans of Chef Boyardee Raviolis. Not the best, I know…but sounding like a good, quick, filling, last minute meal at the site.
It was hot, my Garmin was showing that it was 102 degrees, which seemed like a false reading, but still…I was drenched. When I finally got half way up Telegraph, the Garmin read 86 degrees…that seemed more like it. Still hot. And the trailer was feeling like it had a fucking ton o’ bricks in it. It didn’t feel like I was bringing so much with me when I was packing. But apparently I did.
Or did I? The jury is still out on that. Stay tuned. Awhile back, the Ranger told me that I had the campground to myself until tomorrow morning. That was sounding pretty goddamn perfect to me. I pulled up to Four Corners and laid my sweaty, fat noggin on the picnic table and took 15 minutes to stop sweating. I had one more little climb and then it was down hill all the way to the campsite. 🙂 That made me very happy.
I arrived at the campsite and immediately started setting up. The sun seemed to be setting fast, so I felt like I
needed to get things up and ready so I can hang in my hammock for a bit. I absolutely love camping. It is kinda magical….as is the outdoors in general. It’s why I mountain bike. I picked the spot that I actually reserved, even though I had the entire place to myself. It is going to be the one I pick again too…it seemed kinda perfect.
So I got things all set up, realizing at this point, as I am setting up my camp, that I did NOT bring too much stuff after all. Well, aside from my heavy Mexican blanket that I used between the tent floor and my sleeping pad. Other than that, and maybe the hammock, I didn’t bring too much. It was nice. And I had everything I needed…I was happy and comfortable. That goes a long way with me and was well worth the added effort on my part. Look, I’m 40 pounds over weight…so I needed the extra work anywho, and you know what? It didn’t kill me.
The sun was setting fast. I was done setting up and was just settling into my new temporary home for the next several hours. Sharing it with no one. The campsite felt comfortable and it looked so tempting and great.
Chino Hills State Park is very dry and exposed. There are very few shade trees. But this landscape carries with it it’s own beauty. I have spent countless hours here over the past 20+ years, and I absolutely love it.
I felt pretty well recovered from the ride in. I laid for a bit in the hammock, did some reading (Stephen King’s The Regulators) and waited for the night to slowly show up. I was getting hungry but wanted to eat after the sun set. The weather was perfect. The temp dropped significantly to around 68-70 degrees. My phone’s weather app stated a low of 63 for the evening…that was awesome. That meant I will be keeping the rain fly off of the tent and that will let the air fully circulate and I will be able to see the stars. 🙂
There was a really pleasant breeze which allowed the hammock to stay in a small, constant little sway. I dosed a little. There wasn’t a sound other than the critters. Pure bliss. And basically in my backyard. So great.
Hunger was coming at me pretty hard, so I couldn’t wait for it to get dark to start heating up the same dinner I loved at the age of 11. It tasted fantastic. I had a slice of soft bread to go with it, and some tasty white cheddar baked Ritz…I say God Damn! It was delicious. I was kinda super stoked about the whole thing. Just perfect so far.
After dinner I put on a flannel shirt as I was getting a little chilly. I crawled back into the hammock to see what Tak was up too. I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open….I think that ended up being about 10pm. That was really nice too. I’m usually so wound up, I end up just laying in my tent at 8pm waiting for sleep to come. Not this time. I crawled into my tent around 10:15 ready to hit the hay.
The coyotes were out and about on this particular night, more so then when I camped here with Nolan back in January. Four different times they got into a group of, what sounded to be about 15-20 of them, yipping , yapping and howling…sounding more like hyenas than coyotes. It was really loud and woke me out of some marvelous sleep.
Morning came with my daily alarm going off at 6am. I felt pretty well rested. So far, this has been one of my more relaxing camping trips.
The morning looked perfect…not a cloud in the sky…and you could still see the moon on it’s downward trajectory. The temperature was perfect. Oh, and you better believe my coffee is going to be perfect.
I was hungry again…surprise! I brought my favorite campsite breakfast meal again, the Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy. I say, God Damn again! De-fuckin-lish!
I ate and read some more King while I let the boat-load of food I just devoured digest a bit. I didn’t want to feel too full for the ride home. I mean, it wasn’t a long ride home and it was pretty flat as well, but still riding while full is unpleasant at best. So After I started packing stuff back into, onto and behind the Surly ECR, car after car started pulling in to the spot next to me. They just kept coming. I would guess somewhere around 8-10 cars with about 3-4, 18-30 year old men in each of them…you do the math. Man, they were loud. It must’ve been some kind of retreat, bonding, youth group kinda thing. I dunno. Their arriving happened just in time, as I was just getting packed up to leave. I’m not trying to be a dick, but I am glad I didn’t have wake up to that. So glad. So I finished packing, volunteered my picnic table (they needed it bad) and took off for home.
What a great little get-a-way! I wasn’t gone very long. Got some tasty, challenging riding done. Put in about 30 miles of riding, round trip. It was a lot of fun. I will do it again soon, for sure! I will probably spare you the story because it won’t waver from this one by much, if any. So after about 5 miles of some great riding and the flat gravel road above, the rest of the ride home lends itself to be all paved. Boo, to pavement.
Riding my ECR on pavement isn’t THAT bad. I mean compared to dirt, it’s boring…right?
Right, sometimes. You ARE still on your bike, so nothing is going to suck to the point where you don’t want to do it. And this was the case here. Sure, it could’ve been a bit more exciting…but it was paved and I was riding my bike. Big whoop.
Plus…while riding home, I ran into 4 different cyclists that were curious about a few things that I had going on. My bike, the gear, and where I was coming from/going to.
Fuck yeah! I got to be the ambassador to the sport like we all are while we ride our bikes. I got to geek out about gear, educate a cyclist on the whole “plus” sized wheel and what some good applications are for it. I talked to two cyclists that were super stoked on the idea of bikepacking. They have been looking into it lightly, and I believe I may have pushed them over the edge to take the leap and try it. They didn’t even know there were campgrounds in Chino Hills State Park. It’s not that strange…that park is so big that 1) you could ride it for a decade and never venture to the side of the park that has the campgrounds. and 2) you could be riding right by the campground and never notice it. It’s a little tucked in there.
It would be great to share the campground with a few bikepackers next time I go. That would be awesome. Fingers crossed.
So yeah, I made a few new friends.
The ride home was actually pretty fun and I was almost home when I decided, at the last minute, to pull over and grab some Starbucks, call my wife and let her know that I am safe and almost home…oh, and grab a butter croissant.
I sat there, did some people watching, happily answered a few more random questions about the bike and gear while reflecting on a great little trip.
Hey, plan a “bs24o” for yourself. Let me know how it turns out. Or let’s get together and do one. Just get out there, have fun, relax and celebrate everything the bicycle can do for you.
Cool. See you next month, and thanks again for reading