Fay Bainbridge S24O

Destination: Fay Bainbridge Park, Bainbridge Island, WA

Total Miles: 35 miles (41 miles for John)

Total Time: 23 hours

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It was a weekend of firsts. First overnight tour of 2015! First tour with my new larger panniers and John’s fully loaded front rack. We picked a short one in case there were any gear issues, which means we also logged our first S24O. S24O is the term coined by Grant Peterson for a sub 24-hour overnight bike camping trip. Typically these are supposed to be minimalistic, but we were loaded up!

The plan was to bike straight to the campground and set up, then bike to a winery for a few bottles, drink some wine on the beach with my sweetie, and then play a game in the tent when it started to get cold. That is not exactly how it worked out.

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Shortly after arriving at the park, we were behind schedule and had to prioritize. We were behind schedule so the wineries were closing, and I didn’t have any more uphill miles left in me. John rode to a mini-mart while I set up camp. All the main sites are $22. There are some $7 hiker/biker sites, but they weren’t down on the beach, and there were plenty of sites with a view available on a cold March Saturday.

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Now that we had some beer, we roamed the beach, and it was beautiful. Mt Rainier looked amazing, and it was cool to see our neighborhood from across the sound. We live at the top of that hill, only 8 miles away as the crow flies.

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I picked up some dinner supplies from a market in Winslow. We found a setup with the dry bag that was the perfect fit for groceries on my rack.

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Dinner did not turn out as planned. The stove was busted. We have a MSR stove that has a refillable canister. It has served us well until now. A seal was busted and gas was leaking all over the picnic table. While John tried to fix that, I went on a search for firewood. No luck.

But when I got back, our camp neighbor Chris was helping John investigate the stove. Chris was bike touring too, AND he is a Georgia Tech grad like me! Small world! He saved the day by loaning us his stove. Thank you, Chris! If you are reading this, email me!

There's our hero Chris on the left

There’s our hero Chris on the left

Using the borrowed stove had an extra element of pressure to return the borrowed item asap. We sped through dinner prep, which meant runny Easy-Mac and only cooking 2 of the 4 chicken sausages. It was not very satisfying. Thank goodness John got that wine!

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It got cold fast. It was pretty cozy inside the tent. It’s not often I get to use the hood part of the sleeping bag. It was noisy though. I don’t know if we were hearing the ferry or what, but it sounded like barges were coming right for us, and the waves got surprisingly loud too. We both thought we heard eagles among the many bird sounds that were going on at dawn.

This was the first time that I was pretty convinced the bikes would get stolen overnight. They were chained to the picnic table, which isn’t any less secure than our normal setup. We usually stay at hiker/biker sites, which are typically pretty secluded. This time we were just out there, right on a road. It seemed so easy to snip the cable and throw the bikes in a truck before we could get out of the tent. The next morning John admitted he had all the same paranoid feelings throughout the night.

At about 7 I unzipped the fly and was treated to this sunrise, including 2 bikes safely chained to the picnic table.

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After the sun came all the way up, we emerged from the cozy tent and hit the beach again. Packing up took forever with cold wet fingers. The fly was also covered in condensation and took a while to dry out.

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Without a stove to make coffee and oatmeal, we headed to McDonalds. I know this seems lame, but we design these early season trips with plenty of markets, restaurants, and bike shops within a few miles. Just in case.

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Now it was just a race against the clock to get home in under 24 hours. We got right on a ferry without waiting, downed a beer on the short 30-minute crossing, and got stopped at an inevitable opening of the Fremont Bridge.

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We made it! Our sweet Kitty was excited to see us after her first night home alone. A new fuel pump was ordered within a few hours. It’s 5 days later and the gear is still strewn about.

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What I wish I brought: Beanie and gloves! Luckily John had an extra beanie. I also wish we saved a little time at the market by bringing our own food from home. It’s not like it really saved that much weight because I still biked half the trip (the hardest half) with the food, and took a surprising amount all the way back home. John wishes he brought different shoes that would keep his feet warmer in the morning.

What we packed and didn’t use: Technically, we did use our stove, and refilled Chris’ fuel canister with ours, so we used both of those items. The three travel games were unnecessary. We thought we would have to kill time in the dark before we got sleepy, but there just wasn’t enough room in the tent.

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