Testing out the Bikepacking Setup

I finally got out for my first bikepacking overnight. This is something I had originally planned for early May or June, but with the weather we have had in New Hampshire this spring, this was my fist chance to actually get out and give it a shot. I loaded up the Fargo Thursday night in preparation of leaving straight from work. I kept the concept of this one pretty simple. I was headed to Pawtuckaway State Park to spend the night and then meet my friends, Mia and Martha, at Wallis Sands for a day of lounging on the beach. I figured worst case scenario was that I would suffer through one night and then sleep in my own bed the next night. Turned out the whole thing was a total blast!

Getting out of Concord involved some very heavily traveled commuting routes. I wasn’t sure if traffic would be heavy or light given the huge holiday weekend. Luckily it ended up being fairly light and I had little to worry about. Once I got out of Concord and into Pembroke, I turned onto Academy Drive and dropped down to route 28 and taking a quick left into Bear Brook State Park. Bear Brook would have been my destination of choice had I done this in May or early June, but with long daylight hours I knew I had plenty of time to get out to Pawtuckaway.

It was only about 30 miles to get to Pawtuckaway from Concord. I had debated taking the railbed out of Massabesic and out to Raymond, but wasn’t sure how much this would add to the journey and knew I was playing with only about an hour until sunset with my expected arrival at camp.

I arrived at the park about 7:15 and got registered and dropped down to camp. It was pretty packed with Massachusetts license plates. I definitely felt like the odd man out.

The campsite was fairly level and more than roomy enough since I did not have a car. It also had access to the lake right out the backside of the site.

First time testing out my Nemo Mio too. It’s not the largest tent in the world, but packs down small and is super light. Check their website out, they have some cool products.

I got a small fire started from some scrap sticks kicking around the campsite and some paper. Nothing major, but enough for a little ambiance. After that died and I was tired of listening to my iPod, I went to sleep about 9:45. I was wide awake by 5:10 and got up to make coffee and breakfast, then hit the road early to meet Mia and Martha at the beach.

After packing up camp, loading up the bike, I continued over to Raymond, NH, and picked up the Massabesic rail-trail near the Dunkin Donuts.

Being an old railroad bed, the surface is almost totally dead flat. I don’t think there is more than a 3% grade on the whole thing. It’s almost dead straight out to Exeter from here too. Then another 15 or so miles to the beach. I was very impressed with how the Fargo handled this “trail” fully-loaded. The bike was super smooth even with about 20 extra pounds of stuff thrown onto it.

After almost an hour on the railbed, I popped out in Newfields/Exeter and took route 108(?) back to route 27 and followed that all the way into Hampton and route 1A. Once there I had to take a left to head to Wallis Sands, but before I could do that, I had to head right to hit one of my favorite little places to visit while on the coast.

After a quick snack of blueberry slathered fried dough, it was back up route 1A to Rye, NH and Wallis Sands. My favorite part of this last 45 minutes was some old dude on a Specialized Roubaix who thought he could drop a fully-loaded “touring” cyclist. I’ll admit it was a bit of jerk move on my part, but the guy passed me at like 18mph and quickly died back down to 15mph, so I did the snide move and sat on his wheel while he towed me the last 3 miles to Wallis Sands. I think I deflated his ego a bit since he couldn’t “drop” me on his racing bike. The whole GPS can be seen here. It was a good test of my equipment and gear. I think I can leave a few things behind next time.

Get more information about bike overnights.

9 responses so far ↓

mark hendershot - Oct 4, 2011 at 4:57 PM

great ideas, i travelled from above bowling green kentucky to nashville tennesss, using ozark trails 2 man stuffed in backpack...when temps dropped into 40's i popped out a couple of walmart emergency blankets, and since i had an army ground covering, we stayed warm\
lets compare notes, sometime... i take people on cycling tours in usa...we are going to smokey mountains in two weeks when leaves turn

Mag in NH - Oct 5, 2011 at 4:53 PM

I did the ride from Concord to Bear Brook, kind of short, but a good intro into Bike Overnighting. I was able to lengthen it on the way home, so that made me feel good.
I don't read about too many women doing a solo trip. Any experiences to share with me? I kind of like traveling alone, and am having a hard time coordinating with people, so I'm ready to give it a go.

detay61 - Oct 5, 2011 at 11:01 PM

Nice ride. I'm hoping to head up to NH in the Spring and do some camping on the way. Any tips on a packing list for a 4 day trip?

Peter Rhodes - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:04 AM

Thanks for the replies peeps.
Mag - My biigest advice at this point is be careful about what you pack. I went a little bonkers with this trip and pared it down more on the second trip. I'm looking at going more minimalist next time too. It may not be for everyone, but I like the idea of light and fast. I bring multiple shorts and jerseys for riding, then sandals, convertible pants that can also be shorts and a wicking top. Since I went in summer I did not bring any warm layers besides a thin fleece top. I'd probably add a windbreaker or thinker fleece for cooler times of the year. I also use a camping stove, though in reality my two trips have not been far off the beaten path and food is readily available I could have just eaten "on the road" but it was cheaper to bring my own stuff for dinner and breakfast.
Detay- If you come to NH in the spring for 4 days bring layers, rain gear and bug spray for sure. Depending on what time in the spring you could have temps in the 80's in the day and 30-40 at night.

Beth - Jul 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Hey, MAg. I do solo trips a lot. just came back from an overnight Bristol to Rumney. Had a blast. Camped by the Baker river-good and cold! Cheers,
Beth

Pat - Aug 2, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Just getting into this..and it all sounds awesome. I live up in Rochester, from Tx... and not sure really where to start...Ive never even been camping..
But im looking for people in the same frame of mind, does anyone ever do group over nights?..
I prefer more dirt and trail riding, but also have a road bike...old school 10 speed.. o

Michael McCoy - Aug 3, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Pat, are you in Rochester, New York, or Minnesota? Let me know and I'll see if I can find some local resources for you. Also be sure to have a look at the "How-to" section on this site for some tips. http://bikeovernights.org/archives/category/how-to

Pat - Aug 8, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Cool thank you Michael....up in NH

Michael McCoy - Aug 9, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Pat -- Ah, a Rochester I didn't think of! If I were you I would consider contacting the Granite State Wheelmen, who (according to their website) offer "organized weekday, weekend and multi-day rides for road and off-road adult enthusiasts of all ages." http://www.granitestatewheelmen.org/ Another possibility is the Monodnack Cycling Club, http://www.monadnockcycling.org/ With either of these clubs you'd be bound to meet some good folks who could introduce you to overnight touring. Good luck!

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