Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An S24O bike trip up Foresthill Divide Road.

The Mercian setup for an overnight trip using the Carradice Camper and Rivendell Boxy Handlebar bag.
Shelly was having an all-female dinner party the other day so I had to be out of the house for the evening. I thought, why not just be gone all night? I began planning a "Sub 24 Hour Overnight" campout, otherwise known as an S24O in Rivendell and bike tourist circles on the web now.

Thanks to California's drought, many roads are now open in the Higher Sierra Foothills and the weather forecast for the next 24 hours looked excellent so I decided to do it,

My goal was extreme light weight, so I came up with the bare minimum of equipment: A light sleeping bag, my lightweight 3/4 Thermarest self inflating pad, and in place of a tent, an REI "Bivy Sack", essentially a nylon sack your bag and pad slip into. It does have a mesh "window" so you can look at the stars if you like, or you can close it up to keep light rain or cold air out.

As for food, I wasn't going to cook; I planned to pick up an excellent deli sandwich at Worton's in Foresthill for dinner. Breakfast would be some cereal with dried milk. For entertainment I brought along my tablet for reading.
Had to stop at Worton's for a sandwich and the view.
 Temperatures were forecast to be mild with lows in the 40s so I didn't take a lot of clothes. Beside my riding gear consisting of a wicking "T", a short sleeved wool jersey, shorts, long tights and a windbreaker, I brought an extra pair of shorts, some light hiking pants, a longsleeved "technical" jersey and a buff for my head and wool gloves.

A deserted day-use area will serve nicely.
Everything fit comfortably into my Carradice Camper saddlebag and the Rivendell "Boxy" handlebar bag, I chose to ride my Mercian tourer despite it not having any low-low gears, it's compact crank still affords a 34 tooth small ring which when used with the 28 in the back managed to give me a satisfactory low gear.

Still, the slog up to Foresthill was a hard ride. I chose to take Highway 49 down to the Confluence, then Old Foresthill Road up to the "new one" in order to avoid traffic. After Foresthill there was no real traffic at all. I originally had hoped to ride to Robinson Flat, but, having started at almost 1 pm. I didn't reach Foresthill until 4. By 6 I was only as far as China Wall staging area. It was still bright so I decided to press on, thinking that if it got too dark, I could return and stay there as it had a toilet and some decent looking places for me to sleep.

I rode for another half hour and found a day use area, Mumford Bar Trailhead, that fit the bill. Although it had no water, (China Wall didn't either), it did have a toilet and was also deserted. It was getting late now, and there were patches of snow starting to appear in the shaded parts of the road, so I figured it was time to call it a day.

My commando camping kit consists of an REI Bivy sack, lightweight Slumberjack bag, and a 3/4 length Thermarest.
Not much work to do with this type of camping! I set up the bag in the Bivy and threw some pine boughs beneath for additional padding. (These were already fallen and lying all around). Then dinner and after brushing my teeth, I got into the sack. This was the first time I used the sack, it wasn't too hard to get used to. I did like having the mesh "window". Even so, I found that I liked to open it a bit for fresh air. Overall, fairly comfortable. That night I was able to enjoy the show, a bright moon lit up the sky.
A bright moonlit sky as seen from my bed!
 The next morning I packed up and rode off, wearing all of the clothes I had in the cool morning air! The ride home was uneventful, and took less than half the time the uphill climb of the day before!

Still some snow above the Sugar Pine Lake turnoff!
This was a nice little adventure, just about the right distance. I encourage you to try an overnight trip once in a while, just to shake things up!