Last Sunday I rode an overnight camping trip in French Creek State Park. I got off to a late start, so I rode directly to the campsite, 15.5 miles away, instead of riding a scenic route of 26 miles I had planned. 1500 feet of climbing in those 15.5 miles. As usual, I took a ton of photos - the leaves peaked a few days ago, but there's still lots of color left, and we might have another full week before the color is gone. The only major problem is that I probably threw my front derailer out of whack after setting the bike down so I could get some photographs. But I was about three miles from home, so I just pedaled on my small ring rather than try to fix it along the highway. I also need to make some small adjustments to the trailer.
The temperature was about 40 degrees overnight, so I wasn't too cold. The air was very damp, however, which makes my joints creak. French Creek State Park is very rocky, so I had to search a bit for a good spot to pitch the tent.
As I mentioned, the ride featured 1500 feet of climbing. Well this morning I had 1500 feet of descending, one two mile stretch out of the park from the campsite, and another two mile stretch on Rt. 23. However, in the park you don't need to worry about 18 wheelers and flatbeds whizzing past you at 45 MPH.
Rt. 345 is roller after roller. Fortunately it's not that far to the park when instead of rollers I faced a long, long uphill on Park Road, with a small reprieve as I passed Hopewell Lake. Here's the crest of the worst one, on Pine Swamp Road.
As I entered the long uphill road to the campsite I saw a couple of hot air balloons passing overhead:
Setting up camp. The park rangers required all campers to display their site registration on the dashboard of their vehicle, and so I complied as best I could. I was the only bike tourist in the park that day.
The "no pet, no electric" tent site was far enough away from the loop of campsites that I didn't see any other campers. I woke up and the first thing I would see would be the forest; other campers would wake up and see over RVs. The only drawback for me was lugging the loaded bike back and forth down a rocky slope from the road.
Settled in for the night. On Tom Stormcrowe's advice I wore a cap to bed to help retain heat. The tent was pretty warm, and my sleeping bags even warmer. Again on Tom's advice I used a fleece sleeping bag liner, from Wal-mart, to add to the warmth of my 40 degree bag. The only drawback was that I felt 'tighter' than I normally do in a sleeping bag. Most of my camping has been done in summer months, and I've either slept with the bag unzipped, or on top of the bag.
For sleeping I wore a long sleeved cotton shirt (I don't own any long sleeve synthetics), synthetic long underwear, the cycling cap from Performance, and DeFeet wool "Blaze" socks. Since this was an overnight and I wasn't doing anything after setting up the tent aside from settling in for the night, I didn't bring 'regular' clothes aside for those intended for sleeping.
Since I was a distance from other campers, the only sounds I heard at night were the wind and leaves falling on the tent.
Breaking camp the next morning. Yes, I can get my jersey to close, thank you very much. I was just cooling off. The camp shower facilities were icky, and since I'm 16 miles from home, I decided to skip showering. I regretted my decision later, since I felt, and smelled, awful by the end of the ride.
Hopewell Lake the next morning. No tourists, just me and another camper, a Christian reading the Bible by the lake. We spoke for a few minutes while I was taking photos.