Ten pedaling parents loaded their bikes with camping gear (some more elegantly than others) and made the trek from Seattle to Bainbridge Island for a superfun bike camping adventure! Julian of Totcycle masterminded the whole thing as part of the Summer in Seattle Schedule of Kidical Mass. We’ve never bike camped before and brought almost as much stuff as we bring car camping…except no dog, no balance bikes, and no queen-sized inflatable mattress. The full-sized camping stove and four full-sized pillows will probably stay home next time, but we opted to go for comfort this first time out. Mr. Family Ride hauled our single Burley trailer crammed full of the heavy stuff while I carried kids and lighter bulky stuff. I used my WideLoader on one side and had to resort to the aid of one bungee cord to hold my mass in place on the other.
I thought the four sleeping bags on the frame-mounted front rack of Kevin’s Madsen bucket bike looked particularly compact and awesome:
In the back he had a bunch of other gear, a kid bike, and the associated kid:
We had wonderful camping karma on our side–Andy, of The Path Less Pedaled’s family bike camping video:
was in town and accompanied us to the ferry. He’d left his Surly Big Dummy at home for his more Amtrak-friendly and GORGEOUS Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen, with homegrown kid platform on the back rack.
He took a lot of great photos of our ride. Here’s The Main Tank and me side-by-side on Alaskan Way while our littles seem to be communicating “What have we gotten ourselves into?” to one another.
And winding our way though South Lake Union to the ferry terminal. We were forced to avoid the easiest route along the Elliott Bay Trail because it was closed to through traffic to host Hempfest.
My previous bike-on-ferry experience was during Chilly Hilly where checkin was across the street with Cascade Bicycle Club so it was a new experience to pay at the toll booth and board as a regular bike passenger. But is equally exciting to ride onto the ferry in a huge Chilly Hilly pack or compact Kidical Mass.
Once on the island, we made a lunch stop at Pegasus Coffee House and I realized I’d packed way too much food. Of course, we could have sat outside and made sandwiches to lighten our load, but this was much more fun.
Then we began our hilly trek to the campsite in Fay Bainbridge Park. Here we are heading north away from Winslow on Ferncliff Ave. There were lots of streets with “cliff” in their names. I saw a “Garibaldi,” too, and I’m sure it wasn’t the only street named for a mountain.
Things flattened out when we reached the coast and we had a lovely spin along Manitou Beach Drive until Biking with Brad led us away from an appealing (and flat!) NO CARS/BIKES ONLY beach path for a shortcut up Falk Road. He was too far ahead to hear the grumbling, but there were some choice words said between pants and wheezes. I made it up the hill, but only because my rig is way too heavy and bulky to walk uphill. But we all made it up, some with a few short rests along the way–something I probably should have tried, but I was scared I’d have trouble getting started if I stopped. I was definitely the slowest of the pack…though in retrospect I was the only person carrying two kids so I’ll let myself off the hook.
Fay Bainbridge is a great park–though down a steep hill I opted not to think about until Sunday morning. The car camping spots were a bit cramped, giving their area a parking lot feel, but we bikes were directed to the grassy field by the beach. It was a bit cold for the water (more unused gear–swim suits and four beach towels), but the kids climbed over beached logs and played on the adjacent play structure.
Bike for Pie
We broke camp Sunday morning to ride back to Winslow for Bike for Pie. Mr. Family Ride was able to get his bulky messenger bag into the trailer and I moved one of the kid sleeping bags to the back for a much slimmer load day two.
Julian and Kevin did some derailleur work before heading out. Dig the campfire kindling bike repair stand.
We stashed our gear before starting Bike for Pie and I thought we’d have an easy time of it for the 12-mile family course. But family-friendly on Bainbridge Island doesn’t equate to flat. Silly me. Near the pie stop, I saw a kid with training wheels and an adult on a minibike, but I can’t imagine they did the whole course; it was hard! But the event was wonderful. The 32-mile challenge route had two pie stops while our 12-mile family route had just the one. The stop was well-stocked with pies of many varieties (though only sweet at this stop, while the other one had sweet and savory, we heard) as well as music and dancing.
And the event has the cutest Dan Henrys in the world:
Everyone had a lot of fun and a few people had already decided by this morning that they’d do it again! I’m going to need to rest a little bit before I’m to that point, but I know there will be more bike camping and more biking for pie, though possibly not in conjunction with one another, somewhere in my future.
You have been initiated! Family bike camper. We need patches, or bike buttons!
Oh Stacy, I was so inspired by your awesome camping experience and checklist, but didn’t heed it–you get a master camper patch and I get the newbie one. I memorized your checklist and love the bike lights as flashlights suggestion, but we brought SO MUCH STUFF. Next time we do better and work towards the AS6 camping patch :)
Riding with the KM Campers and hanging out at the Cargo Bike Roll Call were highlights of our trip. See you and yours soon. –A
Aw shucks! Thanks so much for coming to both!
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