Countdown to Summer Solstice- Part 1

In less than two weeks, Summer will be upon us! What better way to celebrate than with friends, bicycles and some campfire coffee? A group of us set out last month to do some research to find the perfect campsite. Mission accomplished. This week I'll share our adventures in 3 parts- one for each day of adventuring. But if you want to skip ahead, you can read all about it on Swift's Blog.

The first weekend in May was beautiful-  warm, sunny days and clear, cool nights. A weekend made for bike camping. Thirteen of us gathered to drink coffee and do some reconnaissance work for Swift Industries’ Summer Solstice Campout on June 20th -22nd. It was possibly one of the brightest rides I’ve ever been on. Plus when you infuse Beat The Clock Cycling Club with some Swift Industries, you know good times and camp vibes ahead: Three days of riding alongside ranches teaming with young livestock, past a ghost town and finally through the charred pines of Bastrop sprinkled with new growth.  

Jolene demonstrates how to fully enjoy a bike ride.

We rolled out Friday morning armed with sunscreen and coffee. We took Walnut Creek Trail out of Austin. There were a few stubborn wildflowers still happily showing off and we enjoyed a shaded ride thanks to Texas’ early spring. The gradual incline of the trail was our warm-up and it let us know we weren’t in Austin anymore. We made it to Manor for a quick snack break and then it was on to Elgin for Tex-Mex (and a margarita).

Park Road 1C in Bastrop. So. Many. Hills.

Fueled up, we headed toward the much anticipated gravel portion of our trip. But before we got to the gravel we had to ride alongside some small ranches. Expecting to be chased by dogs, I was happily surprised that instead we were escorted by cows and their young running alongside the fences as we passed. Then came the gravel, eight glorious miles of it. A skidding competition ensued, taking advantage of a time-out to change a couple of flats. The gravel turned back into road and we neared Bastrop, the suggestion that we “save some for the park road” made its way through our group. Another snack break and then we were at Bastrop State Park. We still  had 12 miles of rolling hills ahead of us until we made it to our first night’s campsite in Buescher State Park.

Blackberries and spirit socks.

The scenery in Bastrop is pretty surreal. In 2011, Bastrop State Park was ravaged by wildfires. All along our route was evidence of that terrible summer- epic pines charred and cut down and bald spots existed in what was once a lush forest. But new growth was everywhere- bright green little pines against the black and grey giants. There were even blackberries growing in abundance.

We set up our camp and then split into two parties. Party One set out on pizza duty, while Party Two got the fires going and made friends with three other bike campers who happened to roll through: a German woodworker taking 5 months to ride from Atlanta to Vancouver; and two women riding from San Diego and Phoenix, respectively, en route to Florida. Pizza and beverages were shared among everyone, along with stories and some pretty big goals. Quietly, campers slipped off to their tents and Day 1 was complete.

Home for the night.