Swift Industries wants you (yes, you) to lead a bike camping overnight

Swift_Campout_instagram_invite-04edc0a0bfa3ac09e3ce844697155b1bSeattle is blessed with several bike camping destinations within a day’s ride. Throw your bike on a train, and you can reach even more places without using a car.

That’s what inspired Seattle-based Swift Industries (a longtime Seattle Bike Blog sponsor) to launch Swift Campout, a website and campaign to encourage people all over the city and the world to lead bike overnights June 20–21, the weekend of the summer solstice.

They are currently urging anyone interested in leading rides to check in on their website, then start gathering friends to join them.

“The thought of hundreds to maybe thousands of people out having a bike camping experience is amazing to me,” said Swift owner Martina Brimmer. The site has only been live for a couple days, and 115 people are already registered as of press time. “To designate one day makes it feel like it’s really attainable.”

Brimmer’s company makes stylish bags for carrying stuff on your bike, but they’re also focused on selling the experience of bike adventure.

“We make these bags so that people have these experiences,” she said. That’s why they host Get Lost Academy events to teach bike adventure tips. Saturday’s class is on camp stove and backcountry cooking. The April 18 class is on trailside mechanic tips.

If you have never been camping by bike, you are in for an amazing experience. Much like the first bike trip to the grocery store or the first bike ride to your job, the first bike camping trip opens up the world to you and your bike. Knowing that you can get so far while hauling your camping gear and using only your own power is simply empowering. And Brimmer is an evangelist for the power of bike adventure.

“Your bicycle is the perfect vehicle to just step away, even for just a day or a weekend,” she said. “It’s a simple way to get out of the city and hit the refresh button.”

And getting out of town by bike is a very different experience than driving to go camping.

“There’s something particularly rewarding about not filling up your car with all kinds of stuff,” she said. “It’s the experience of going to a place rather than just arriving.”

Swift Campout is a way to encourage people to give it a try, and for people with bike camping experience to invite friends who haven’t tried it before. Your route and destination is totally up to you, and the website is more of a way to encourage you to organize a trip. They urge you to make your trip self-supported and to leave no trace, of course. If you leave town June 20, you may want to put your clothes back on first. Or not. I suppose that’s up to you.

If you want more local destination ideas and tips, pick up a copy of Cycling Sojourner Washington. Come to think of it, Brimmer and her partner Jason Goodman contributed to the book. They are really into bike adventure.

Or you could take Sarah Burch’s Basics of Bicycle Touring class at North Seattle Community College. Yes, that’s really a class. How cool is that?

Details from Swift:

Bicycle bag manufacturing company Swift Industries announces Swift Campout, a branding event calling adventure cyclists to participate with hundreds of localized bike-overnights on a single unified weekend.

Swift Industries will be mapping Swift Campout participant locations, celebrating with prizes and gathering Camp Journals, Swift Campout Films, and route sharing through the company website launching on April 5th, 2015.

Appointed Navigators, influential individuals and independent companies who have been recognized for their involvement in the resurgence of bicycle travel are being called to lead a Swift Campout. The role of the Navigator is to band together a group of riders, create a route, and celebrate bicycle camping. To nominate a Navigator, please email swiftcampout@builtbyswift.com.

Swift Industries dealers around the world are gearing up to participate in a Swift Campout with their staff and clientele to kick-start the bicycle touring season by hosting local bike-overnights.

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11 Responses to Swift Industries wants you (yes, you) to lead a bike camping overnight

  1. Allan says:

    I just sent them an inquiry, I can hardly lead as I have never been bike camping before. It would be like the blind leading the blind and end up like a 3 Stooges movie.

    • Andrew Kiggins says:

      3 Stooges Bike Camping Experience, heck count me in.

    • Gary says:

      Bike camping is just like regular camping except…. you usually can buy dinner at a grocery story every night before stopping to camp, so you can skip that light weight freeze dried food and eat like regular people do. Depending on the weather & your budget you can grill steaks, or chow down on a fresh lettace salad…. For regular camping, you can’t do that after day 2 as there isn’t any refrigeration and regular food is heavy.

      Long distance, ie a week or more, expect to increase your food/calorie intake tremendously. For a weekend you can pretty much plan to eat nornally.

  2. Don Brubeck says:

    Is there a camp site in Georgetown? I want to ride to HonkFest, too. Maybe ride back to Camp Long in West Seattle? They have rustic cabins for rent for $50 a night for up to 12 people.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Hey, so long as you bike there it counts! :-)

    • Gary says:

      You can camp under I-5 in Georgetown… :>

      Seriously though there should be in city camp grounds, ie Discovery Park. The requirement should be human powerered with a 2 night limit. Thus kayakers via the Puget Sound Trail, or bicycles or Mountains to Sound travelers.

  3. Allan says:

    Thinking about it, if I do it I don’t mind a little distance. I have been camping with my car and picnicking with my bike so it is just the combination that is new. I would think up to 50 or 60 miles or more one way would be ok. Maybe going up the Iron Horse Trail, I have been thinking that would be a good place to learn camping. How does converting road bike miles to camping bike miles work out? Can you go half as far on a loaded bike? More? How about camping at Lake Easton? They have bikes only campsites there. It might be a stretch in one day from Seattle, from North Bend not too bad. I guess it would be good to ride around town loaded before hand and make sure everything works ok.

    • Adam says:

      Fully loaded up for a long-term trip I’d expect to go around 50 miles a day at a moderate pace with ample breaks.

      Lake Easton would also be doable, though I’d say it’s a bit far for first-timers.

      What I’d say is to go from Seattle to just before the Snoqualmie Tunnel. Starting around the 45-mile mark from Seattle there are a few hiker/biker campgrounds spaced a few miles apart. It does have a slight uphill for much of the way, and about 20 miles or so are on gravel, but overall it’s a great route for first-time bike tourists. The Annette Lake trail head is also nearby if you really wanted to see a lake as well.

    • Gary says:

      Fully loaded, expect to make 10 to 12 miles per hour on average. So for distance, it’s a matter of how many hours in the saddle can you stand. It takes maybe two hours from the time you get up until you are on the road in the morning (time to pack, eat etc.) so 3 hours of riding in the morning, then maybe 4 in the afternoon before you want to stop. You can pitch camp in the dark, but it’s easier if by last light you are cleaning the dishes.

      The key for converting a basic road bike is, heavier tires, lower gears and leaving everything home that you don’t need. I also prefer a spring seat like a Brooks Flyer. A frined is also extremely handy as one can watch the gear while the other nips into the grocery store, take turns breaking the wind, or to do your business in the bushes. etc. Plus one tent, one stove, one set of hard core tools for repairs. etc. If you both have the same size tires then you can swap tubes, and carry one spare tire folded in case of total disaster.

      Also if you go someplace where there is some cool thing to visit on the way you for sure want to alot time to stop and see it. Otherwise it’s more of a “white line fever”.

      • Allan says:

        Thanks, that is kind of the answer I was looking for and confirms my thoughts of 70 miles a day. It all depends on the time of year for how fit I am. Lake Easton would need a really early start for the trip up. Taking a bus to Isaquaah might be a good idea. 25 miles of going uphill might be a little slow. Now, how can we organize a group to do that or something similar?

      • Gary says:

        I would also add, that two water bottles really make a difference. You really need to stay hydrated when riding all day long.

        70 miles is a nice distance, and yes, if it’s all uphill…well, you probably won’t be going more than 7mph. And I can’t say enough about some test rides. Nothing like haulling your gear up a hill to realize that you didn’t need that spare shirt, etc. Think, “will I be warm enough if I wear everything I have?”, “What is the coolest temperature I need to be warm for”, and if it’s at 4am, realize that you’ll be inside your tent inside a sleeping bag at that hour.

        Remember this is supposed to be fun, if it stops being fun, hop the bus home/over the hill. No one ridicules skiiers for using a lift eh?

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