Sometimes, you make plans to go bike camping and everything works out: the sky is blue, the air is warm, the wind is at your back. You have an idyllic ride to your destination, set up camp and explore the beautiful world, maybe hanging out around a fire when the sun goes down, chatting late into the night.
Last weekend’s Cycle Wild trip to Battle Ground Lake, which I co-led with the lovely Ryan Good, was not one of those times. The weather was, to put it charitably, rather shitty, and I’m pretty sure the lake level rose about 5 inches with all the rain overnight (okay, maybe not that much, but it was wet:). But despite it all, the 8 of us who went had a super lovely time: it’s not the weather that matters so much, but the attitude.
We met at 10am on Saturday morning — a windy day, but mostly at our backs, and it didn’t start raining in earnest until a few tours of the Ikea parking lot later (trying to find a sneaky way out that didn’t exist) and a few miles down the road. Since Battle Ground Lake is in Washington, we crossed the Willamette River on the I-205 bridge, the dominant feature of which is noise. Damn, is that bridge noisy. A missed turn led to a little improvising, which is always a good thing to get used to when traveling by bike, but we ultimately made it to Battle Ground Lake safe and sound, if a little saturated.
The great thing about “camping” in cabins, though, is that no matter the weather, you still have a cozy place to hang out. Especially if the cabins have heat, which these do. They also have beautiful views of the lake and covered porches from which to enjoy them — so we spent a lot of time chilling, talking, laughing, snacking, making dinner, and generally having a good time.
Small trips and big trips each have their own charms, but the lovely thing about our little group this time around was that we could actually all hang out together. Cheesy as it is, I sort of felt like we made a little Cycle Wild family for the weekend.
Actually, speaking of Cycle Wild family, I thought this was the sweetest thing ever: two of our campers this time, a couple who came with their two-year-old in a trailer, originally met on a Cycle Wild trip four years ago, after which they started dating and ultimately got married. This is the first bike trip they’ve taken as a family of three now, and they get huge badass points for hauling their kiddo the whole way there and back (their kiddo also gets huge awesomeness points for being such a good sport about being stuck in a trailer for so long). It was like Cycle Wild come full circle:)
It rained, hard, all night, and we woke up to a very wet world. Being me, I went for a long exploratory run all around the other trails we hadn’t had a chance to see the day before, feeling a little like a 5-year-old splashing frenetically through the mud and puddles. Everyone else took their time chilling on the porches, eating breakfast, walking down to check out the lake, sleeping in, being cozy, or whatever seemed most appropriate for their mood at the time. And by the time we all packed up, swept out the cabins, and took off, it has finally stopped raining! Score!
At Northwood Pub, where we made a lunch stop, I didn’t want to spend money on food and decided to take my leave of the rest of the group, high fives and smiles all around. And off I went into the lovely, non-rainy weather… until I hit the veritable wall of headwind. By the time I got back to the I-205 bridge, I was feeling really bad for having left the rest of the group, because I couldn’t imagine how they were possibly going to make it across the bridge without both me and Ryan pouring all of our enthusiasm into it (though of course I shouldn’t have underestimated the force of their own enthusiams:)
Because the wind was fricken brutal. Up there exposed in the middle of the freeway, it was on full blast: I put my head down, squinted my eyes as small as I could, covered up all the exposed skin on my legs and fingers, and pedaled as hard as I could for what felt like forever, as beer cans, cardboard, plastic of all shapes and sizes, sand, gravel, sticks, bags — all the flotsam and jetsam that collects in the middle of a freeway — blew at me full on. I was pulling little chunks of gravel out of my eyes and ears for a few hours after I got home. It was lame. (Although on the bright side, it sort of made me not realize how loud the traffic was!:)
So the end of our trip was a little hardcore, but everyone made it (so badass!!). And man, the next trip any of us takes is going to feel so easy-peasy after that:) Nice work, everyone, and thanks for making it such a lovely weekend!