Bikepacking.com challenged its readers to do an overnight between Dec. 26 and 31. Keep it simple. They suggested 3 Rules: #1 Campout with your bike; wherever you can! #2 Keep it safe and responsible; we are all living under various guidelines or restrictions. #3 Have a good night! Rules 1 and 2 must always refer to #3! To pique readers’ interests even more they created a lottery contest with great prize packages. In return they asked participants to post pictures of their rides with #goodnight2020campout. I love a challenge and S24O’s (Sub-24 Hour-Overnight) are super easy for me. I live less than 4 miles from public land to the north and south, and less than 10 miles to the east and west.
Grant Petersen made the distinction between bike touring and bike camping, and further describes the S24O as the simplest version of this. The mini-overnight can start after work and get you home before work the next day. The benefits of sleeping out under the stars without all the distractions of home life are becoming measurable in our information packed worlds. Petersen provides a variety of tips, but leaves much for self-discovery.
I put it out there to our local bikepacking group that I was participating in Good Night and encouraged others to do the same. I picked Dec. 30 as a night that would work with holiday commitments, I picked a route in the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada above the Caughlin Ranch neighborhood in Reno. I have done a variety of overnights off Hunter Lake Rd, a “cherry-stem road” in the Mt. Rose Wilderness, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. In past weeks there was snow on shaded north facing slopes but we haven’t had regular storms that would contribute to low elevation mud or higher elevation deep un-tracked snow. Immediately Matthew Soileau and Michael Morris were interested. Marc Pfister said he would likely join us later.
We took-off from De Leon Mexican Food restaurant in my neighborhood. Matt and Mike met me there. The burritos we picked up were so huge we were lucky to find space in our bags. Then it was a climb through the neighborhood to public land access. We were on vary familiar terrain. Mike is a neighbor and he rides this shoulder of the Sierras with his kids. Matt lives on the opposite side of town so this area was new to him. The first mile is steep and rocky, then we hit a contour road that was snow covered. It was all smiles.
We were a mile or so from my planned destination and the sun was close to setting. I picked a ridge in the trees for camp. We set up camp, chowed down on our burritos, and enjoyed sipping Fireball whiskey (Mike’s flask) and Casamigos tequila (my flask). And it was story time. This was my second overnight with these guys and they are great story tellers! I learned so much about the overlap in Reno’s Remote Controlled Car world and mountain bike community. The wind was picking up as the temperature was dropping. We took some night photos, a carry over from our last trip, then sought shelter in our tents.
Just as I was snug in my tent, “This is the FBI, Federal Burrito Inspector! Do you have any burritos?” It was Marc! I should have come out of my tent but I was set for the night. Marc set up, ate dinner, and went for a little hike before turning in. Smart move to warm up before jumping into your sleeping bag. We had sat around until chilled then retired to our bags. This was a cold-night hot-tip that I had forgotten.
It was a stormy night. You could hear the wind blasting through the tree tops before it whiped through at ground level. Then came the frozen rain and snow that had a soothing sound as avalanched down the tarp walls. As the snow accumulated it sealed the windward side of the tarp to the ground. I was snug as a bug.
We woke to several inches of powdery wind blown snow. Mike had to get home to work, which is a benefit of the S24O, we were close to home. Matt and Mike rolled out first and Marc and I followed. The route out was downhill so powering through the fresh snow was not a problem. There were a couple of slippery gully crossings but the most time consuming part of the return was taking in the views of the Truckee Meadows with a fresh dusting of snow.
Matt and Mike split off and Marc and I finished the trip at Walden’s Coffee Shop. The breakfast burrito was excellent and Marc enjoyed his bagel and lox. And there we have it. We celebrated a Good Night 2020 on the eve of New Year’s Eve. I hope everyone has a fantastic 2021, see you out there! A goal of mine for 2021 is to participate in more S24O’s!
If you you are an Instagram user checkout #goodnight2020campout. I was amazed by how many snow camping photos there were. You can see Matt’s (@mc2hot4teacha), Mike’s (@dragonturbo3), Marc’s (@drwelby) and Doug Artman’s (@seeker57) #goodnight2020campout pictures and more!