July 9, 2010
I know some folks prefer to travel without one. But I just don't feel like I'm on a bike trip unless I'm packing a tent.
This dome of fabric can be the difference between a jaw-droppingly expensive trip and a frugal one. It provides a thin, but effective veil of protection between me and a million mosquitoes, or black flies, or sand fleas. It allows my destination to not be the nearest town, but "how about over there?" It is my (our) physical home away from home.
My next several posts will be about bicycle camping ... the good, the bad and the ugly.
I'll begin with one of the best. A campsite I'd go back to tonight, if it wasn't 6,300 miles away (as the crow flies).
Kat and I were pedaling east of Cappadocia in central Turkey. There was hardly any motorized traffic on the road. The sun was getting low in the sky and we'd been on "tent site alert" for over an hour. But the countryside was rocky, and several possible sites had been rejected. Then the road split into a "Y", and there was a small orchard with a flat bit of green. Considering we hadn't seen or heard a motorized vehicle in over an hour. We pitched the tent in the fading light, ate some rice with sauteed vegetables, and fell fast asleep.
When the brilliant sun rays of a cloudless day hit our tent in the wee hours, I stepped out of the tent and gasped. I was staring at snow covered Mt Argeus (Erciyes Da?i).
Because of the fading light, we hadn't noticed we were in the shadows of this magnificent mountain. The rest of eastern Turkey lay out before us like a welcome mat. We lingered over eggs for breakfast (purchased at a local market the day before) and thanked the camping gods once again for providing a scenic backdrop we dream about to this day.
Photo by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.
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Yes to bike touring with tent. I carry a REI single person very light weight tent, lightweight pad and sleeping bag. In 4 summers of bike tours I have "wild" camped only twice, both in Czech Republic at disused campgrounds. Instead seeking out campgrounds or failing that pensions or small hotels in the USA and Europe. Why the tent and camping when rooms can be had cheap? It gives me the option and also reduces total trip cost to stay at a campground. Also somehow the spirit of solo bike touring just goes hand and glove with camping.