Local cycle shop offers bike camping adventures

Bike camping. Is that different from regular camping?

One way to find out is to attend the bike camping open house from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the Goodspeed Cycles, 2125 183rd St. in Homewood. 

The cycling business is hosting a Bikepacking 101 clinic and product demonstration that will include free food and beverages and some bike camping giveaways.

The event is a precursor to three bike camping adventures the shop has planned for this summer:
  • May 18, a nine-mile round-trip with camping at Izaak Walton Nature Preserve in Homewood. The cost will be $35. Registration will be limited to 50 people.
  • July 14, a 40-mile round-trip with camping at Oak Ridge Prairie near Griffith, Indiana. The cost will be $65. Registration will be limited to 100 people.
  • Sept. 8, 70-mile round-trip with camping at Camp Bullfrog Lake by Willow Spring. The cost will be $85. Registration will be limited to 100 people.
At all three events, kids 11 and younger are free. 

"The rides are lightly supported. We want participants to exercise their self-sufficiency as much as they are able," said Steve Buchtel, the store's event coordinator. "Everyone will carry their own camping gear, clothes and whatever they need to make it through a night of camping using their bike."

The first mini-adventure in Homewood is an opportunity to get a taste of bike camping close to home, he said. Most of the route is on quiet Homewood streets. 

The next two longer adventures are more than 80 percent on multi-use, car-free paths, with some easy on-street connections, he said. 

"We’ll have minimal route marking. Wayfinding is part of the fun of bikepacking," Buchtel said, though he noted that GPS and online maps would be available for people to use or print to help with navigatation.

"The campsites are really fun and family friendly," he said. "Each has bathroom facilities, and Camp Bullfrog even has fantastic shower houses."

Goodspeed will cater dinner and breakfast at the campsites, which will save participants from the need to bring cooking equipment unless they choose to.

The rides are sponsored by Big Agnes camping gear, Gore Wear apparel and Trek bicycles.

Net proceeds will be donated to local trail projects and trail organizations to expand bikepacking and cycling opportunities in the South Suburbs.
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