Kidical Mass Camping; A Great Time!
I don't know about the rest of the families but there's still plenty of unpacking and reorganizing for me to do after our first Kidical Mass Camping trip but I can say without a doubt that the trip went off even better than I had hoped and all the logistics of getting us and the kids out into nature by bike was well worth the effort. We had 11 families (45 adults & kids) who decided to take part in our own version of the "Great American Backyard Campout" and head out to Armitage Park for a little overnighter. A large group met at Monroe Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning and we met a couple other families out at Cal Young Middle School before completing our 8 mile ride out to the park. It was so great to be riding through town with a long line of families decked out with camping gear and huge smiles! There's something special about the adventure of the great outdoors beginning as soon as you roll out your door, not just once you've driven to the campground. On our ride out to the park we saw a pair of bald eagles along the river path and discovered new parts of town many of us hadn't ridden through before. With a few stops to pick up other riders, regroup, get last minute food supplies (and take a potty break) it took us awhile to do the whole ride but none of us were in any real hurry as riding along and chatting with old friends and new ones is part of what makes the Kidical Mass rides so great and this longer ride gave us more time than usual. Of course there would be a lot more time to get to know other families as this trip was an overnighter! I think it was the first time bike camping for almost all of the families. Some had done touring "before kids" and others had been car camping and even backpacking with their kids but putting that gear on a bike and heading out to sleep under the stars for a night was new for most, if not all of us. My wife Missy and I had packed away our touring gear about four years ago when we finished our circumnavigation bike tour around the US (11,000 miles!) and hadn't pulled most of it out since then as we've been busy quickly growing our family to include three little ones (twins make that happen real fast). So it was something new for us to pack our bikes up with gear for one 2 year old and two 1 year olds but like so many things the first step is always the hardest. Just thinking about getting out there with just the five of us, let alone the gear it would take to keep us all comfortable and having fun, felt pretty daunting. But once we made the leap, got everything put together and pedaled out there it was all worth it! We got to hang out (and have the support) of a lot of great families; kids ran around, adults talked, food was shared, games were played, friends were made, a river was forded, lost islands were discovered, bike acrobatics were shown, a "kidical tent city" was set up along the McKenzie river, and talk of "the next trip" was already started. Amazingly we had no major injuries and not one flat tire or major mechanic issue. Granted it was only 16 miles all together but usually with a large group even a short ride can have it's share of repair stops. There were all manners of getting the gear (and kids) to the campground but was definitely weighted heavily toward Burley trailers with nine of them ranging from very old to pretty new. There were four Xtracycles. Of note with the Xtracycles is that those four were from two car-free families and three of them were also pulling trailers! I brought our Bakfiets, which hauled almost all of our gear, with Isadora in a Bobike seat with Missy pulling a Burley and some gear in (and on) the "Oyster Buckets". Then a couple other brands of trailers, bikes, trail-a-bikes, Mamafiets, and milk crate bikes. I noticed most of the Burleys hauled gear and those families kids rode their bikes. It's a good use for a Burley once the kids get too big to ride in it. Load it up with the camping gear and have them pedal...maybe eventually they can even pull it! All in all the trip exceeded my expectations and a lot of folks were excited to plan another family bike camping adventure. I'm certainly excited to do it again and look forward to sharing the fun with even more local families. Watch the Kidical Mass Flickr pool for more photos from our "official photographer" (thanks Matt!) and be sure to sign up for the Eugene Kidical Mass E-Alert for monthly reminders of what future rides we have planned. Next months ride is another one not to miss, the Bike & Boat the Willamette ride (registration required). Then we might have to plan another 'double mass' in August or September to add another camping adventure, but for now mark your calendars for June 23, 2012, next year's Great American Backyard Kidical Campout!