On Saturday the 28th of Sept. I rode from my house in Salt Lake City to Park City to meet up with a group of bicycle touring dreamers to do a bike camping over night in the Park City Valley. The event is hosted and put on by Darren Alff of Bicycle Touring Pro. Perhaps you have heard of him from his YouTube channel or from his blog. I had no idea who he was until sometime in July when I began really looking into figuring out a way to do one or two night biking overnights that I can reach from my home in Salt Lake City. I then came across a video of his Bikepacking in the Unitas.
I have been for some years now wanting to do a bike tour, I have a couple regions in mind in the States and a couple places I’d like to try in Europe. Mostly a tour the expands between a week or two. Before doing that learning what type of gear that would best suit me and learning how to camp on my own has been the challenge I have set out for myself this summer. I have also wanted to figure a system where I could have things ready to go so that when I would get back from work I could hop on the bike and bike a few hours from home camp, explore and then come back home for the next trip.
Between July and August he started mentioning his ‘Bikes and Burritos’ event and I decided that I really needed to do this. As soon as I was able to and with barely time to spare I was able to get one of the last spots available. The universe sometimes works in magical ways and without really knowing if I would end up having to work a trip or if I’d even be able to get that trip taken off my schedule I signed up. Thankfully it all worked out.
The ‘Bikes & Burritos’ is set up in a way to have those who are new getting into bike touring to do it with ease and comfort. The campsite is within a 20 mile radius from the meet up spot and supported with food and extra water the next day. There are typically between 12 to 14 people who are able at a time to sign up. This keeps it one small, less intimidating and for the most part keeping everyone together and easier to get to talk with most of the group. All you have to bring in your tent, sleeping bag, toiletries, water for the ride and an extra pair of underwear if you so incline.
At 12 o’clock we all began meeting up at a parking lot in Park City. Gathering our gear, signing waivers and all saying hello to one another. Once we were all accounted for we gathered our bikes and took a group picture and all got in line behind Darrin and off we went to be taken around for a tour of the bike paths and historic downtown of Park City before heading towards our campsite.
We would stop every so often that had good views for picture taken, a place that had some historic significants. Darrin would gather us around to tell us the history of Park City. How it was a town for silver mining and later as prices dropped and it became increasingly difficult to mine the mining companies then turned the mountains into now what is Park City. For many years in the winter time it was the miners who where working the lifts for skiers that they would then use in the summer for mining.
Riding in a group is new to me, not something I do really ever. Even though I don’t ride with other people often I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the time spent. We all in our own ways enjoyed biking or perhaps the memories from years past and wanting to get back to it. We in our own rights invasion ourselves out there exploring the world by bike. Getting out of our backyards, seeing the world on two wheels. Through out the ride I was able to ride with many of the other participants and to get to know them a little more. Where they are from, what they do for a living, where they’d like to take a bike tour to, their kids and the places that they have traveled to.
We traveled through the bike paths around Park City looping around making our way over to Jeremy’s Ranch Rd. Where we then would right to our campsite at East Canyon Reservoir. Jeremy’s Ranch Rd is a good stretch of dirt, gravel road winding through the mountains. Cows being on either side with a river cutting beside the road, passed the ranch is a couple group campgrounds and fields. Mostly quite besides the few who are running, biking, and those who work out on the ranch. Besides the big dips I really enjoy that stretch of riding that I have been able to do the last couple of times.
Once we made it to our campsite we located where we’d like to camp at, settled in, chatted and then oh the Blessed Burritos from Cafe Rio came. As with Autumn evening started settling in to camp and everyone changed from their biking clothes into our camp clothes for bed, gathered our chairs and made a big circle around our little make shift ‘campfire’. We all sat around talking into the night till finally one by one and then the rest said our good nights.
Saturday night the moon hadn’t made it out yet while we where all sitting around, the sky was clear and we were far enough from the majority of the city lights that you were able to see a portion of the Milky Way. Every once in awhile on a flight I will be able to look out and see the stars across the night sky. As much as I enjoy the comforts of electricity I think our society of today misses out of seeing what the sky would look like with out of the lights. Being able to look up from our porches and seeing a falling star across the sky. Or being able to see a meteor shower without congesting up a National Park because it is our only last place to go with out the pollution of light.
Every time I am able to have the chance to look up and see even a small portion I am reminded of how small we are in such a speck in the universe. It is a reminder of how fragile the life we have here on earth really is and how little we know. The wonder.
The next morning we all awoke rather early. We had a good spread for breakfast. Baked goods from a local bakery, granola, oatmeal, cliff bars, teas, coffee, OJ and Almond Milk. I have to say the spread was better than most continental breakfasts at the hotels I stay at. It might have been the coffee for me that made it top notch. French Press is always the way to go. After we all had breakfast we took down camp, got back into our biking clothes and got our bikes packed back up for the journey back to Park City and the Parking lot.
Darrin took us rather than the same route we came in on another scenic ride around the valley, different paths, different barns and fields. Stopping to take pictures, take a gulp of water, get our strengths back to finish strong at the Parking lot. More chatting along the ride, more connections making friends whether for the moment or for future adventures.
When we got back to the parking lot we all chatted some more, some of us exchanged numbers and socials. Everyone tired, hungry and satisfied and hopefully with dreamy eyes of adventures on those dirt roads.
If you haven’t already watched Darren’s Videos on Youtube of bike touring all around the world because you live under a rock like myself, go check it out and stay tuned for next years ‘Bike and Burrito’s’ and just go ride.