Our family loves to indulge in outdoor pursuits. And while we value getting outside together, we also value getting outside independently and as adventure partners (myself and my husband). Unfortunately, with busy work schedules, lack of overnight childcare and competing priorities, we struggled on the adventure partner front. Cloak the world in an on-going pandemic and partner escape discussions all but ceased – until last month, thanks to the Swift Campout.
Going six years strong, this annual event is a “global call to go bike-camping” and this year, we decided to participate and celebrate the arrival of the autumnal equinox by loading up our bikes and riding some gravel together.
After having a couple kids and nearing my mid-30s, I have come to accept that my memory just isn’t quite what it used to be. In fact, while writing this story, I struggled to recall the last overnight trip my husband and I took together. After a little brain job from him, it turns out, we spent a long weekend in Steamboat Springs together…in 2016…and I was 8 months pregnant with our first child.
I had no idea it would take over four years to have another solo getaway – if only for 24 hours.
Riding my bike alongside my husband at my own speed (sort of) without children to maintain awareness of, encourage, feed, etc., was a lot of things, many of which are likely for future conversations. For now, here are just a few things I learned from our sub-24 hour bikepacking trip.
Prioritize extended time together
I know from experience that this is far easier said than done. But, once it happens, keep the momentum by picking future dates and confirming coverage for your kid(s). Put it on the calendar and commit to it! Just like a work trip or meeting you can’t miss, these overnight trips are priorities that should not be canceled until necessary.
Choose your own adventure
Whether it’s an overnight bikepacking trip from your front door to the state or national forest or an international weekend escape, choose the destination and activity that stokes both of your fires. Outdoor pursuits with kiddos are not always the full-throttle, Type 2 fun you can have with your partner. My kids can’t pedal 25 miles with 6,000+ feet of elevation gain yet. But we can. And we can drink some wine when we get to camp, too!
Indulge in the silence
As alluded to, when we set camp, I poured each of us a cup of wine and stared off into the landscape as the sun set behind us. We were tired, we were happy and we were together. There was no small talk or deep conversation, just two happy people processing a day on their bikes together. Most days, if not all, my husband and I have the end-of-day download. We’re done chasing kids around and the time comes to get on the same page and talk bills to be paid, potty training, leaking faucets, etc.. When you get the chance, indulge in the need to not have to talk and you might just hear more than you expected.
Sleepless nights happen with and without kids
If you’re a parent and get adequate sleep, I want to know your secret. If you’ve ever traveled to and camped in an area with clear night skies and lively nocturnal insects and were able to get adequate sleep, I also want to know your secret! Our trip took place on the East coast among early fall foliage colors, relentless cicadas and the brightest moon I have ever experienced. As I packed for this trip and while pedaling along, I occasionally thought to myself how nice it will be to actually get some rest and not get kicked by a toddler in the middle of the night. Instead: cicadas. Paired with a blazing bright quarter moon, sound sleep was not achieved. At least we didn’t get kicked in the ribs all night?