Texas: An Overnight In Aggieland
Two wheel touring in the Brazos Valley: College Station, TX to Lake Bryan.
Bicycle Adventurers: Just me, Jason Ridgeway
When: January 2017
Accommodations: Lake Bryan Campground near Bryan, TX
Distance: 36 miles in two days
Bonus tip for this adventure: There’s a restaurant and live music venue at Lake Bryan called the Lakeside Icehouse that’s open in the summer.
A couple of years ago, I rebuilt a 1986 Schwinn Cimarron specifically for bike camping. Although I commute on the bike every day, I’d never actually gotten around to taking it on an overnighter. So on a Saturday morning, I said, “Let’s do this!” and packed up my panniers.
I started on the south side of College Station, TX, and my destination was Lake Bryan, 18 miles away on the north side of the city of Bryan, TX. After about six miles, I arrived at Texas A&M. Because it was a Saturday and school hasn’t started yet, things were pretty quiet. After making it through campus, I rode through mostly residential areas in Bryan before getting to the north side of town, where development thins out.
Most of the ride was pretty enjoyable, with wide roads and little traffic. The last few miles were a little terrifying, though. Like a lot of Texas farm roads, the road to the lake is two lanes with no shoulder and short sight distances due to hills and curves, and the speed limit is 70mph. Fortunately, there wasn’t much traffic, and most people gave me a wide berth, but it was still a little nerve-wracking.
I got to the park about 4:00PM and set up camp. There were quite a few people there for an overcast day in January. The park is open for day use until midnight, and I think a lot of people were there, not necessarily to camp but, to enjoy being outdoors with friends. There were people flying kites and quite a few picnics and campfires, as well as some loud music, but the park was big enough that the noise wasn’t too bothersome.
Because I had planned and packed for the trip all in about two hours, I had thrown whatever food I could find in the pantry into my bag — that meant trail mix, breakfast bars, Ramen, and oatmeal. I cooked up the Ramen on my alcohol stove for dinner, then took a little bike ride around the park. By that time it was dark, I had settled down in my sleeping bag with a good book.
Most of the day-users must have left around midnight, because around that time I heard several big trucks racing their engines and driving fast through the park. It didn’t last long, though, and I went right back to sleep.
Around 5:00AM, we had some intermittent showers, but the rain had pretty much stopped by the time I got up around 7:00AM. I told my family I’d be home by 10:00AM, so instead of cooking breakfast, I broke camp, grabbed a few handfuls of trail mix, and headed back to my start point. The ride was a little wetter and muddier than the day before, but still enjoyable. I would have taken more pictures, but my phone died right before I left the campground!
Your favorite local bike shop? Aggieland Cycling
Bike overnight tips and tricks?
- My favorite piece of gear on this trip was my bike itself. I love how this rebuild turned out, and it was a real pleasure to ride a bike that I had built myself.
- I wish I’d brought more water. There wasn’t a good water source at the campground. I need to add another water bottle cage and carry at least a third water bottle in my panniers.
HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your own bike overnight adventure!