Since I got panniers back around this time last year, I have been obsessed with the idea of bike camping. Car camping is easy fun and I got a taste of back country camping recently as well, but there is a wholesomeness about bike camping that doesn’t compare to the two. Probably because a vehicle isn’t required in the slightest.
After this passed summer, I decided that I want to bike tour on the west coast in the spring of 2018. I’ve been doing tons of research, making some purchases, and ultimately I’ve been planning bike camping trips with friends in the Austin area to get some hands on experience. Also, it’s fun!
In October we biked out to Krause Springs for the weekend starting from the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf about 8:00am. We had a solid group of six people riding together. I and a good friend of mine, Johanna, drove the route the previous weekend to see what we were getting ourselves into. I’m thankful we had done that because it really gives peace of mind to see how sketchy roads are before riding them. If you are planning rides yourself and coming up with alternative routes, I would recommend you take advantage of a vehicle and test out the route that you are aiming to ride. People were telling us that riding out on 71 is asking for trouble. On the other hand, if you want to bike camp in Spicewood without tacking on more elevation and a ton more miles, that’s what you got to do. It’s totally possible and we weren’t the only crazy cyclists on the road that day.
The ride itself is hilly. Many ups and downs, figuratively and literally. It’s a quiet game when you’re pedaling on the shoulder of a highway. Your body is focused on continuing to pedal, but your mind wanders in between. I remember at more than one point I started imitating Amber’s breath when I rode alongside her for a few stretches. It’s easy to lose good form when you’re riding long distances. You hunch your shoulders, you breathe through your mouth, and you got a frown on your face cause the sun is in it. We kept each other in check. I found myself making adjustments to my posture every couple of miles. We were single file, one after the other, and keeping the pace up no matter what. We probably looked like a row of ducks. This probably sounds miserable but, the heat wasn’t killer. We left early enough. Johanna and I had also planned to stop at specific places every 10 miles that we saw when driving. We paused at the Hill Country Galleria, The Paleface Grocery, and the last stop was a fire station on the remaining stretch off of Paleface Ranch Road. I have to mention that there was a glistening stud of a fireman training without a shirt on when we rolled up. So, yeah, some good scenes besides the trolling hills that passed us on the ride.
When, we finally got to Krause, it was about 1:00pm. We paid our camp fees and the folks at the front lounging in rocking chairs gave us flags to tie on our bikes. They commended us on our ride and we even got one free entry (yaaaaa suppp). After picking out a campsite, setting up, and changing into our swim stuff, we jumped into the water. I can’t even begin to describe how incredibly refreshing it was to get into cold water after riding. Jumping in felt like a fire had been put out all over my body. I felt awakened, refreshed, and alive. Yet, It felt like a lucid dream. One of the most rewarding physical and maybe even spiritual experiences of my life.
Of course, we also did some exploring and walked around the grounds with our bare feet. The roots of the great Cypress trees in Krause Springs protrude, entangle, and gnarl the earth below and above the water like infinite snakes. It can be uncomfortable on naked feet. Usually, I justify wearing my Chacos for this particular reason, but I was feeling like a super hippy in this moment. The sticks and stones could never hurt me. I found Quentin laying in the sun on a slab of rock when I came out of the water. Seeing him so still and unaware of my even being there, I played copy cat. Resting my cheek, stomach, forearms, inflamed quadriceps, and the tips of my toes on the warm flat rock, I dozed into an actual dream.
That night in Krause Springs we told stories, drank beers that a friend brought up from town, listened to music, and circled around a fire like some Wiccans. The temperature was warm, the night was filled with stars, echoed with laughs, and the trees still towered over us in a silhouette. I slept peacefully in my hammock. Not a single complaint.
Next morning, we took our time. Coffee, breakfast (haaa just more snacks), and another swim. Krause was vacant in the morning and this is rare. Typically the main entrance of the water is littered with folks but, at this hour (about 10am) there was no one. Even the waterfall didn’t have a soul underneath it. Pretty dope.
Then, we left about 11:30 and rode the 31 miles of hilly roads in the 90 degree weather. The morning swim was worth it but, fuck, it was hot. It took a little over four hours to get back to our meet up spot cause we were tired and also had a flat tire in the group to patch. It was definitely a bonding experience for us. I didn’t wanna see any of those people for at least a few weeks.
(Ian, Quentin, Myself, Amber, Johanna, Anna, and Alicia)
(Teamwork with Amber’s flat)
Thanks for reading y’all. I hope this gives you the gall to ride your bike far far away and set up camp. PEACE.