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In association with members of our close-knit family, BikePacking.US will be producing a professional-level documentary.

Over the next six months, we’ll be producing a documentary of past trips, tips, tricks and funny moments that our close friends and family have made with us over the years. However, without your help, it would be a very boring documentary. We’ll need interviewees, blooper moments, photos and videos that you may have. We have already selected a few of you to give on-camera interviews with specific questions to ask you.

Needless to say, we’re excited.

The film will be a mixture of fun, happy and sometimes dark or frustrating times.

We’ve purchased professional-grade equipment and have spent days upon days outlining the flow of the project. Some of the clips will come from past trips, while others will happen over the next few months.

Including the wedding in October.

If you’re interested in being interviewed for the documentary, please contact Robert “the Bean” Blanda at bean [ at ] bikepacking.us.

 

I had a very busy childhood. I spent countless hours by the creek, in the woods and in playgrounds. But for those rainy days, we had Legos®, Lincoln Logs®, coloring books and Tinker Toys.

But when it was nice, I was on my bike. A mission by a preteen to go everywhere. I had wheels.

Annie & The Boys

Annie & The Boys Touring to a campground in 2014

Annie and I have four boys ranging in age from 13-17. While sports keep them busy for much of the week, the weekends usually bring long hours of gaming in front of a widescreen for the kids. While we don’t make them go with us everywhere we go, we try to encourage outdoor activities.

Frankly, my kids are completely preoccupied with video games while hers tend to enjoy sports a bit more. But get them together, and it’s “Counter Strike” this and Minecraft that. I sigh and move about my day.

However, we make it a point to try to do a multi-day bicycle trip with the boys at least once a year (Annie and I do several trips). I think they enjoy it, but they may just be lying to get more video time. Hmm.

Bicycle touring with kids is certainly not without its challenges. They all have different needs and their equipment is different. Each of our children has a set of panniers, tent, sleeping gear and spare tubes. We pack them daytime snacksI’ll bet you already know who manages all that. Us.

Did you forget your toothbrush Zack? Of course you did.

“Dad, can I borrow your shampoo?” Sure you can, Jeffrey.

It’s a never-ending challenge to get them to be more responsible, but I think they’re getting better with each trip.

Touring with your kids is a very rewarding and fantastic way to spend quality time with your children.

If you decide to take your children touring or bikepacking, be sure to bring some patience. I assure you, it’ll be used well.

meredithBy Meredith “Pokey” Sheeran

When Rob Blanda, co-founder of BikePacking.us, added me as a blogger for the group (probably to keep me from pestering him on Facebook with my ride ideas and gear finds) I was thrilled, honored, and confused.  Other than my obsession with all things bicycle (road/mountain/tour/bikepack), I am in no way more qualified than any recreational cycling enthusiast to write this blog.  I’m not a competitive racer or endurance athlete.  I exercise, but despise the gym, and therefore am fit but sadly it’s not outwardly apparent.  I have a full-time (plus) job, a home to maintain, a trophy (ha, ha Scott) husband, and two badly behaved pets (one of whom you will hear plenty about in my diatribes).  I have many dear friends that I try to spend time with, preferably outdoors, or just keep in contact with; so just a normal person.  What you will get in the Bikepacking.us Pedal Talk blog is a regular gal’s thoughts and insights on cycling, gear, routes/trails, and whatever I’ve taken a fancy to on a particular day, or moment.  Definitely no Lance Armstrong-like intimidation here.

My intent is to post “articles”, however if I don’t have time I may just post a link to an interesting gear find or trail that I’ve noted.  By posting here, my comments and articles will also show up on the Bikepacking.us Facebook page (FB), and on the “home” screen for all the FB “likers”, as if shared by an administrator.   That way you all can’t ignore me anymore; as currently my comments are buried in “posts by others”.  I have a passive-aggressive relationship with FB.

This task caters to my love of organizing in general and lists in particular.  It will also curtail the amount of email “word vomit” my friends need to endure when my need to write boils over.  I have created a catalogue of items researched, experiences gained, and knowledge to be shared so get ready to read (on an infrequent, when-I-have-time, kind of basis)!

So a bit about my cycling background.  I’ve always loved cycling from my first hand-me-down blue Schwinn with a banana seat, to the road bike I saved up for and bought at the long-ago defunct Best, to the mountain bike I commuted on in college until stolen, to my current hybrid riding on folding bikes (I travel for work, a lot) and my beloved used Moots mountain bike.  Wow, that was a really long run-on sentence!  I took approximately a four-year hiatus from cycling when my college MTB got heisted until my boyfriend (now hubby) and I purchased a couple of Trek hybrids to take on vacations.  Cycling was creeping back into my life.

My first organized ride was the One Helluva Ride [the Ann Arbor Bike and Tour Society’s (AATBS) signature event] on my Trek.  OHR takes place in July and occasionally one of the routes, usually the century, actually goes through Hell, MI (yep, it exists people), depending on the shape the Michigan winter (and MDOT) have left the road in.  I did a 35ish mile route plus the 15 mile fun ride so I could go around Portage Lake.  I was super proud of myself for completing my ride, but sad that I didn’t get to go to Hell (bet you’ve never hear that before) and vowed that I’d get faster and gain more endurance for that goal.

A few months later I was working in Minneapolis and happened to be staying over the weekend at the Sheraton on the Midtown Greenway.  For those not familiar, the Greenway is basically a bicycle super highway just South of downtown Minneapolis that was built on the remnants of a sunken railroad corridor no longer under use.  The Midtown Greenway helps to connect over 120 miles of on and off road bicycle facilities; part of the reason why Minneapolis has been named one of the best Bike Cities in the country, and sometimes #1, by Bicycling magazine.  But I digress…  Anyway, I rented a hybrid bike from The Freewheel Midtown Bike Center (conveniently located on the Greeenway) and rode all over the city and along the Mississippi River every night and weekend day I was there.  From then on, I was hooked.

I attempted bike rental in other cities that I traveled to but many did not have close to the cycling infrastructure that Minneapolis does.  Therefore, renting was often expensive, inconvenient, or impossible.  That’s when I started to think of folding bikes and discovered there is an entire sub-culture of folders used by commuters, travelers, and folks who don’t like leaving their bike locked up on the street.  I first found a used Bike Friday Pocket Rocket (performance oriented; takes about 20 minutes to fold and unfold – time, and number of forehead smacks with pedal wrench, greatly reduced due to addition of quick release pedals) and later a Brompton (folds in about 30 seconds, not as fast and sporty as the Bike Friday but damned efficient).

Hello, my name is Meredith and I am a bike-aholic.

The morale of the story is that I started to ride, a lot.  I love to talk and write about all aspects of cycling and though I’m no expert I hope that my passion for cycling and resulting research will provide folks with some education and enjoyment.

P.S.  As you may have noticed, I adore parentheses (J).

Okay, I have a bike. Now what? 

Preparing your bike can be easy or challenging depending on the type of bike you ride. Long story short, you’ll need a bike rack with pannier bags, touring tires, and bungee cords. We have found that bungee cords become currency on the trip because no one seems to bring enough of them!

rearsuspensionMountain Bikes
Depending on the mountain bike, your assembly can be easy or difficult. If you have a rear suspension (coil spring in the middle of your bike) mounting a rear rack is near impossible. A child carrier or cargo  trailer may be a solution for you. There are “seat post mounted racks available but they are only rated at about 25lbs. Not a smart idea. However, if you dont have the rear suspension (hard tail) you should be able to buy a standard rack for the rear of your bike to mount.

Personally, I don’t think mountain bikes are the wisest choice for most BikePacking trips, however, we’ve seen them work in certain situations. Also, be mindful of bicycles that are cheaply made. Many mountain bikes are of the $100 dollar WalMart bicycles and can break down after extended use. Don’t be afraid to spend over $300 on a bike. You’ll be thankful you did. Some repairs on cheap bicycles can cost more than that.

commuterCommuter or Touring Bikes
Commuter or “Touring” bikes make the best choice for BikePacking. These bikes are made for carrying panniers and extra cargo. In most cases the tires are treaded to handle most terrain that we will encounter. Quality Commuter bikes start at around $250 unless you can find a quality used one. Try your local bike shop for used bikes if your budget is low. Some touring bicycles also come with racks on the FRONT of the bicycle, adding more possibilities for carrying cargo.

Converted Road Bikes
Road bikes are also a good choice for bikepacking. However, most road bikes come with “Slick” tires that have little or no tread. Most of the trails we ride will require some sort of touring tire. Continental TourRide tires are perfect and will work for most situations. Be sure to find the right size for your bike! Also, be mindful if your bike is made for hard-core racing. Most of these bikes will not work, due to the absence of mounting pegs for the racks themselves. Most low-to-midrange roadbikes will have mounting pegs on the seat stay. If you’re uncomfortable installing the racks yourself, you can take it to your local bike shop.

fixieBicycle Trailers / Cargo Trailers
This is the easiest way to prepare for a bike trip. They are easy to mount, hold a  lot of cargo, and will make your trip easy. They simply mount to any rear-axle on your bike and away you go. No need for panniers or racks at all. Most trailers start at about $100 USD, but you may be able to find a child-carrier at a yard sale that works just as well. Look around, you might find a deal!

Packing It All Up
If you’re using a rack and panniers, you’ll find that after packing the panniers on the bike, you’ll stack tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats on top of them with bungees. Watch your height because the bike can become unstable if you have too much stacked up. If you find that you can’t make it with what you have, consider a trailer or front panniers as well. Also, you may want to take your tent out of it’s bag and “Smoosh” it all the way at the bottom of your panniers to make more room. You’ll find that sometimes all it takes is a little creativity to make it all work.

One of our BikePackers found a bungee cargo-net at a motorcycle store. This net held all her gear really well on the rear panniers. Also, don’t be afraid to mount a handlebar basket for easy to reach items such as your phone, etc. Be sure that you have quick access to your water bottles as well. It is important to hydrate during your trips even if you don’t think you’re thirsty.

Recumebents, Trikes and Other Weird Bikes. 
If you’re like me, you’re riding a trike pulling  a trailer or a stack of gear behind my head. Trikes and recumbents make for a really fun trip. Albeit expensive, these cruisers are much easier on the back and other body parts. Trust me when I say, I’ll never get back on an upright bike again. No thank you! 

A Word About Tires
Bikes come with all sorts of different tires. The best rule of thumb is to use a hybrid or touring tire. In a pinch you can use mountain bike tires, but they really slow you down quite a bit. What you want is a strong tire with “a little” tread to get over those bumps and rough surfaces. Road slicks (road tires with no tread) are really not recommended.  Most bike shops can put touring tires on your mountain bike with little effort. You shouldn’t really be paying more than $30 per tire – installed. Also, be sure that you have extra tubes (at least 3) that you carry with you in the event of a flat. This is a MUST.

Written by Rob “The Bean” Blanda

Leave the Drama at Home
Robert "The Bean" BlandaThese trips are intended to be fun – a break away from everyday life. Leave your problems, bills, fights with the family – all that drama – stays at home. This is a chance for you to get a great workout every day, meet new friends, try new camping tactics. It’s a challenge, and that’s exactly what it’s meant to be – something you’ll never forget. I remember every trip like it was yesterday. All of our rides are ‘non-drop,’ meaning no one gets left behind. Everyone stays together! If you’re riding a little slow, or you’re tired – don’t worry, that just means it’s time to take a break!

Everyone seems to adopt a different culture during these trips, and we wholeheartedly support every one of them. Some people get up early, some later. Some meditate. Some like to shower before departure. Some eat Ramen, some eat wheatgrass. Some people sleep in trees, others in expensive tents and structures. Whatever your liking, do it. And do it best as you can.

Some of you may find me a bit on the edgy side in the morning – I try to get everyone up and moving as quickly as possible for the sheer excitement to get to our next stop. I’ve even been known to sing Sinatra in the morning to make your awakening a little more pleasant. Don’t worry if I am a little off-key, that’s just to get you to jump right out of your tent and start packing for the next destination.

I film every trip with the GoPro camera you see on my head (right). Don’t cover your face or shy away – I do a lot of editing and believe me, if you do or say something silly, I’ll be sure to edit it…. IN! Take many pictures, send them to me – I make a virtual documentary for these trips. It’s my little thank you for coming on these wonderful little adventures with us.

These trips are free of registration costs. We charge nothing. The only expenses you will incur are camping fees and food/beverages. However, if one of our tour guides was especially helpful and you’d like to thank him or her, please feel free to tip them. Gratuities are always welcome. Some of the money actually go toward the marketing and costs related to this website and other efforts.

Bring a camera. Shoot a ton of pictures and video. Take pictures of your friends, and don’t shy away. When they have a camera, SMILE! Do something silly. YOU’RE BIKEPACKING !

If I can be of any help to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me personally – I am here to help. After all, this is what we love to do. And the biggest reward is the smile on your face 🙂

Call 609.320.9831 or email bean@bikepacking.us

Don’t have a camp stove? Make a Penny Camp Stove for almost nothing!

Q. How much food should I bring? 

A. You don’t have to pack EVERY meal – At almost every one of our stops there are stores, pizza joints, café’s etc. YOU SHOULD WORRYMOST about lunch. This is the meal you’ll eat during our rides, so you should have something to eat for each day.

Q. Do I really need to cook my own food?
A. Technically no, but you’re going to have long gaps where there are no stores or restauraunts. If you opt out of cooking, please be sure to have some granola bars or quick food on hand. Also, if you like coffee, a few places are a stretch to get it, so you may just want to bog down and have some cooking gear.

Q. What are some good light-weight food ideas for the trips?
This is a great question. Here are some great food ideas to pack with you:

  • Trail Mix: I mix my own. I use peanuts, M&Ms, Chex® cereal, Chocolate covered pretzels, and cashews. Put them in ziploc bags, one for each day. They are easy food for the trail, and give you the carbs and protien that you need for the ride.
  • Ramen Noodles: Yeah, we know they aren’t really that good for you, but think about the carbs, the sodium, etc. You actually need this. It’s quick, cheap and easy to make with a small camp stove. All you need to do is add water
  • MRE’s: (Meals Ready to Eat) – You can buy pre-packaged freeze dried food that you add water to. You don’t even need to dirty a dish – you’ll pour the boiling water into the bag, let steep and eat. Some of them are really tasty too!
  • BACON!: Fry up a pound of bacon, drain all the grease, and place it in a large ziploc bag with a paper towell. Cooked bacon will last a few days if you suck all the air out of the bag.
  • Beef Jerky: Beef Jerky makes for a great snack on the trail. Protien. Sodium. Not the healthiest thing? But its nice to have a little beef while you’re riding. Great snack. Try the peppered Jerky.
  • Granola, Energy Bars: Most of these are healty and will give you energy. Good breakfast idea.
  • Pasta Selects: These are the little pasta side dishes that you add water to and serve with a regular meal at home. At my store, they are 4 for $5 – pretty cheap, and they are tasty! Just remember to buy the ones that DO NOT require MILK. You can do without the butter too.
  • SQUISH A BAGEL!: Take a fresh bagel, place it in a ziploc sandwich bag, use a metal mixing bowl to squish all the air out of the bag (squish the bagel!) and zip it up. You can pack several of these and they take up little real estate. When you open the bag, the bagel will retain it’s shape. Voila!

Remember, you can’t really keep anything cold, unless of course you’re carrying some sort of cooler for the trip (this is near impossible). Bring pastas, etc that are lightweight. Just add water and munch!

If you’re like me, you need coffee in the morning. To be honest, instant coffee SUCKS. Just does. Try the Foldgers “Coffee Bags” – they are wonderful and are easy to make! Best part? It’s real brewed coffee. Also, if you like cream and sugar, buy flavored or non flavored powdered creamer, mix it with sugar (usually 1 to 1 ratio) and put that in a sandwich baggie. Throw in a plastic spoon and you’re all set!

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robandanniewarmshowers
Are you travelling via bike through NJ? We are one of the best stops on the East Coast for cyclists to spend an evening.

Our excerpt on Warmshowers.org: We are BikePacking.US! We are touring cyclists as well! Come join us for a beer, a warm shower and a bike wash and tuneup. We have our own little bike shop. We love cyclists!

We have extended WIFI, an outdoor firepit, tiki torches, Full bike shop basement, New bathroom and shower facilities. Room for at least 4 tents in our back yard. Quiet time begins at 9 on weekdays and 10 on weekends. We’ll most likely sit outside with you and have a cold beer (or several). Rob is a great bike mechanic and Annie is a fantastic host with world-class hospitality. We’re sorry we cannot offer beds since we have children that occupy those. We do, however, have a host of great BikePacking books and videos that we have made or collected over the years, so you’re more than welcome to share them with us during your visit!

We love good touring stories! Sit with us around the fire and enjoy the best warmshowers.org spot on the east coast!

When: July 13th-14thcolumbia600

Who: Anyone, including beginners

Distance: 30 Miles total Saturday, Sunday Optional Mileage

Join us on a gentle journey on the Columbia Trail in Hunderton County, NJ July 13-14. We’ll be taking it easy on this one! We’re car camping (you don’t have to carry your own gear) and hitting some trail restaurants as well as taverns.

If you plan on attending, please email bean@bikepacking.us for more information. Your hosts, Bean and Mudge are here to help you with any questions you’ll need answered.

Even though we are car camping, you’ll still need all the camp gear such as tents, sleeping bag, etc. Food is optional if you would like to bring it. Otherwise, we’ll be hitting the towns for grub!

Here are the fine print details from Annie:

Shove off 10 am from Voorhees State Park:

251 County Road Route 513
Glen Gardner, NJ 08826

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/voorhees.html

Campground Map:
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/maps/voorhees_camping_high.pdf

Columbia Trail Info:
http://www.nynjtc.org/park/columbia-trail

Bike from trail start to end (approx 16 miles) then head back… about 3-4 miles back, in Long Valley, NJ stop at Long Valley Pub and Brewery, 1 Fairmount Road, Long Valley, NJ (make a left off the trail onto Route 24/Schooley’s Mountain Road) for lunch and drinks (should hit there around 1 pm), they have outdoor dining:

http://www.restaurantvillageatlongvalley.com/rest_home.php?restid=1

If running early, maybe branch off to Patriots Path for a few miles (branches off south after N-4 Bridges Road and before Elizabeth Lane or branches off north a bit further after Naughright Road and before Fairview Ave) or Gillette Trail (branches off south after Fairview Ave) before hitting Long Valley on way back.

There is also a bike shop nearby:

http://cyclecraft.com/

After lunch, head back to Voorhees State Park, check in, set up camp, etc. – 2 group sites available (minimum of 7 people, up to 50) for $3 per person.  Single sites available – 6 people and 2 vehicles per site ($20).  There is an observatory at the park, open to the public from 8:30 to 10:30 pm:

http://www.njaa.org/observatory.html

Sunday – Pack up cars, then Open Day for cycling/hiking, swimming, or fishing at Spruce Run Recreation Area, which is 5 miles away from Voorhees State Park:

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/spruce.html

BikePackingPresentsOkay. You asked.

We’ll pretty this page up soon, but here are all the videos to date:

funny_faceI’m sorry to say that I’ve been neglecting this website. It’s really not my doing. Life is good, but busy.

I always like to send thanks out to our trusty admins, Matt, Skinny, Annie, Meredith, Dean and well….. everyone.

We have some cool trips coming up, and I wish I could give you all the details, but I’ll post as soon as things calm down.

Whatever you do, please try to join us for the 2013 MS City to Shore Ride in late September. Click here to donate a few bucks!