Click for Paul’s first post in this series.

Day 5, Trinidad Bay, California

Yesterday, my bike route was Gasquet to Patrick’s Point. It was 80 miles with 5,200 feet of elevation gain and 5,400 feet of elevation loss. It was a big day—and an incredible day. I biked next to an alpine river, through giant Redwood forests, and along the rocky Pacific Ocean. I struggled up steep passes, I cruised down miles of quiet, forested perfection, and I ended the day at a state park next to the ocean where I was able to hang out with seals at sunset.

As I discussed in my first post, the first question I typically get from folks about ‘Tour de Camp’ is WHY? The next question I get is HOW?! People love to better understand the logistics of a trip like this when it comes to planning the gear and route. I’ll start with the gear I’m bringing.

How to Plan: Gear

These days, you can go really big (and expensive) on gear. I don’t. The most important gear that I have with me are my bike and my bike trailer. The bike I’m using is an old-school road bike. I bought this bike used about 15 years ago. I think it was originally built circa 1980. In bike shops and online, you will see opportunities to buy bikes that are specific for “touring.” Those bikes are awesome… but my old Simoncini road bike works just fine for me. To carry all of my stuff, I’m pulling a BOB trailer behind me.

I’ve also had this trailer for many years, and I love it. There are three main ways to carry your gear when bike touring:

  1. Pull a trailer (like I’m doing).
  2. Use paneer bags (either only on a back rack or on a back rack and front rack).
  3. Carry everything you need with new-school, bikepacking bags.

There are pros and cons to all three options. Really, it comes down to how much stuff you need to carry and personal preference. Very fortunately, ‘Tour de Camp’ is actually part of my job. However, that means that I do need to bring a few extra things… like my computer and a pair of “real pants” to wear once I get to San Francisco. So, the trailer affords me the storage capacity that I need for this trip.

And now to all of the other gear (what goes into the trailer). I’m camping most nights of the trip, so I have a lightweight shelter (I love the Mega-Mid), a lightweight sleep bag (low temps during this trip will be in the high 50s), and other basic camping supplies. For this tour, I will pass through lots of great towns where I will stop for all of my meals so I don’t need to carry any camp cooking gear. I do always make sure that I have a small but intentionally packed repair kit. Bikes are simple machines and you don’t need much to repair anything that breaks on your bike.

west coast summer camp bike tour

How to Plan: Route

OK—that’s the short and skinny on gear. The other part of the HOW is planning. People ask me, “How much time does it take to plan a trip like that? How much training do you have to do?” My answers—hardly any. Basically none.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent about 20 minutes sketching out a basic route plan, but I am truly making up my route day by day, deciding how far I want to bike each morning. It’s easy to have this sort of flexibility because there are tons of places to camp (or stay inside) along the way. In terms of training—sure, you should have some level of basic conditioning before heading off on a bike tour, but I often say that the bike tour IS your training. So, if you’re interested in doing a bike tour, don’t over-think it, just get out there and start biking! (And, if you do want some additional advice, I would be happy to chat – paul@avid4.com).

Paul Dreyer is the CEO—Chief Empowerment Officer—for Avid4 Adventure, an outdoors focused summer camp and expedition program with locations in Colorado, Oregon, and California.