Two days before the kids went back to school I was afforded the opportunity to take my son on his first bikecamping trip. Before this trip he has only tent camped when he was a baby; he has been spoiled with the camper since. He enjoyed the trip very much and asked if we could stay an extra day, although he may have been just trying to get out of going to school. We rode 5.5 miles; it is the furthest he has ever rode non-stop.
He has not been riding training-wheel free for very long. One day after school he told me all his friends are riding without training wheels. That day he learned to ride. His determination is impressive, so is his courage. A week before our camp outing he crashed pretty hard scraping up his leg, arm, and somehow his stomach. Still, he got up and rode. On our ride to the campsite, he was practicing riding one-handed. His handlebar caught a fence and he went down. I was very lucky I didn't run him over. The extra weight on my bike made it difficult to stop. He simply got back up and continued riding.
Click the picture above to cycle through more.
My son, Jack, is not as picky as some kids, but there are still a lot of things he will not eat yet. I was concerned about what to make. For lunch I settled on Velveeta Shells and Cheese for him and an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) for me. Over my 20 year military career, I have tried a lot of MRE's, none of them are great. I have found that I enjoy some better than others and the Grilled Beef Patty is one of those.
The meat taste like a greasy Salisbury steak and the bread is of an unusual density. The highlights of this meal are the BBQ sauce and bacon cheese. I have known guys to trade their Skittles or M&Ms for that cheese.
Besides the usual junk food, our snacks were trail mix, Epic bars, and Fuel for Fire protein 'smoothies'. For trail mix, I make large batches then dived them into snack sizes. I vacuum sealed some hoping to keep it fresh for future trips. I do not recommend this. Even though the cranberries a dehydrated they still have some juice in them. The vacuum sealing pressed that juice out and made the whole batch sticky. The protein smoothies taste good, but they have a strange texture. They are best eaten on long bike rides when you may need some energy. I have tried all the Epic bars and I love them. They are pricey so I don't get them often. The ones we had were bison bacon and cranberries. Our dessert was Backpacker's Pantry Mocha Mousse Pie. I liked it better than Jack. I was disappointed that it did not have much of a coffee taste.
Supper was Hawaiian burgers (1 lbs. beef, 1 lbs. pork, 2 tbs. brown sugar, 1 tbs. soy sauce, 1 tsp. liquid smoke, 1 egg, 1/4 cup bread crumbs). I topped my burger with pineapple. I am still tweaking this recipe. I think a pineapple-jalapeno cream cheese spread would have been perfect for it.
Another worry of mine was how to keep an eight year old entertained. I have to admit I did cheat a little and allowed him to bring electronic devices. I also brought three tabletop games. We ended up only playing one, Smash-Up. The game has become special for us because we are the only ones in the house that ever play it. What makes this game a ton of fun are all the different factions (themes). If you are tired of Candyland and the like, check out Smash Up.
We both did some riding for fun. Jack enjoyed the freedom of taking off on some solo rides. There was a steep hill near the site that became his obsession to get up. He loved doing his own filming too. In fact he captured a fall trying to get up said hill that I was not aware of until after the trip. Once it got dark we did some night riding. Very fun.
Like most boys, he enjoyed tending the fire. When I was kid I loved building the fire and keeping it going, actually I still love it.
When he wasn't riding or burning things he enjoyed relaxing in the hamock. Entertainment was not a problem.
Having the right size bike is key. It is hard for parents to keep up with this because kids grow like weeds and bikes are not particularly cheap. We did get Jack a new bike earlier this summer and we plan on getting his sister an adult bike next year. Watching him pumping away on his old bike bordered on hilarious (watch my Father's Day outing). I believe he can ride even further and maybe next time we will.
When I get into a hobby I like to start off small and cheap. Some hobbies only last a year. Once I decide I am going to stick with it for a while I slowly start upgrading. I began brewing with homemade wine making items from my dad; now I have a closet full of equipment.
After a couple years of bikecamping I decided it was time for an upgrade. I sold my road bike and mountain bike then purchased a gravel bike. I plan on writing a detailed review on my bike in the future, but for now watch the video below from GCN on what a gravel bike is.
Overall it was a successful trip. Hopefully I will get Jack's sister, Emma, out next. I also plan on taking Jack on a longer trip. My next step for him is to have him carry his own gear.