One thing I always say about adventure is that it’s never good to have all the details predetermined. As the Swift Campout approached, I officially registered myself on the Swift Industries website with that very thought in mind. My Additional Campout Info was listed as “Undecided. It will come to me shortly”.
The detail I was sure of was that we had plenty of beer to carry (thanks Sierra Nevada!) and I didn’t know how it would all get there via bicycle. This is never really a problem once the anticipation of a great bikepacking trip comes together. Somehow the beer arrives every time, but maybe I forget to pack extra underwear.
We ended up planning a trip Cedar Point County Park in East Hampton Long Island. I’ve been camping there for about 4 years and wanted to share this special ocean inlet campsite with some new friends.
It’s important to note that each individual that decided to join me on this trip I’ve never biked with before. Nor had I even spent more than 30 minutes time with any of them prior to the weekend of September 26th. I just had the feeling it would all come together and we’d bike and camp in harmony. After all, there’s no better way of getting to know someone then next to a campfire with a cold beer.
I want to say thank you to Miggy, Ben, Will, Kim and Luna (the dog). You made this my best Swift Campout to date. The following is a photo dedication to each of you as well as some notes about us meeting or a key contribution to this journey. I wish to send love and encouragement to the Mappy Hour readers. I hope to see you on another trip soon.
Team Member 1: Miggy
There’s so much to say about Miggy I don’t even know where to start. He’s an experienced cyclist with a serious devotion to adventure, so we hit it off immediately. Without him this trip would not have taken place. He was interested in checking out Cedar Point and the long steady ride to East Hampton on his cargo bike with his French Bulldog copilot Luna. Not only did he carry two six packs on this 80 plus mile ride, but a nice size cast iron skillet for quality camp cooking.
We planned so spontaneously together that we finalized our morning meetup plans the night before at 11pm. I had a serious decision to make before waking up early to meet him at 5AM that next morning in Brooklyn. I had to either fully pack my bike or give myself a haircut to stay fresh on the island. Any photos you see of me will reflect which decision I made. Let’s just say the bike looked great.
Team Member 2: Ben
There was a mystery guest that Miggy invited and expressed that this person would be biking the entire way from Brooklyn to East Hampton. It’s funny that Miggy never mentioned his name leading up to the morning of the trip. On the train to Babylon that morning around 7am I was startled by a direct message on Instagram that read “Hey are you on this ride too?!” I realized this was Ben who I speak to all the time, but only through messages and we’ve been trying to connect for a bikepacking trip since March earlier this year. I was excited and startled. This was “the friend” who was meeting us in Babylon and would be coming on this campout. Once in Babylon, Ben rolled up on a red Surly that looked well equipped for beer carry we laughed about finally meeting so spontaneously through our mutual friend Miggy. He naturally offered to take the six pack from my handlebars before starting the long ride East and mounted it about his front pannier bag.
The ride itself was through small towns along the South side service roads of (27A and 25A). We passed local businesses to some more developed areas, plenty of farmland and local vegetable stands. As expected, it was smooth riding with no intense elevation on a beautiful sunny Saturday. This is always such a contrast while biking from New York City.
Team Member 3: Will
By early afternoon I received a text from Will who confirmed he’d meet us in the town of Shirley, about 50 miles out from the campsite, still ensuring to do some mileage with the crew. It’s funny that Will and myself had only met within the past few months prior at the shop that I manage in Brooklyn. One day he came by on a vintage Specialized Stumpjumper with a great story about how he had purchased it from its original owner. We had been waiting for the right opportunity to present itself to bikepack together and this trip was it.
I’m very grateful he came with us, especially the last 6 mile ride in the dark entering Cedar Point that Saturday evening. I was riding behind Miggy, Ben and Will taking some video which was some of my favorite documentation from this trip.
Team Member 4: Kim
The week before the trip with the only the detail planned of myself and Miggy meeting up, Kim came into the store in Brooklyn and bought a camp spork. She also asked to pick up a six pack of beer because she was doing a project with Mappy Hour. I explained this trip and some of my personal bikepacking experiences. I reached out within 24 hours to her via email feeling I had missed a great opportunity to extend an invite that afternoon that we met. She expressed that she’d do the ride on Sunday.
This ended up being her longest bikepacking trip to date, doing just over 125 miles from Manhattan to East Hampton. The camp cooking abilities she offered alongside Miggy and Ben had us eating very well on Sunday and Monday night. It’s safe to say I would have been eating dehydrated food solo reenacting Rambo scenes in the woods without their outdoor cooking expertise.
I feel this trip was successful for multiple reasons and the main reason is the people involved. We each moved at our own pace, met up at various points along the ride, and even left at the time most convenient for ourselves.
The unity of riding fully loaded bikes alongside one another taught me a great deal on this multi-day journey. Truth be told, I’m not always as open with people and most know that I love bikepacking solo. It’s been such a complicated year for all of us in general. Letting my guard down, leaving expectations behind and just allowing life to happen is what this trip symbolizes to me. You never know what memories and inside jokes will be created until you open up and give it a chance. Sometimes past experiences hinder us from meeting new people. In this case, I was proud that I looked to the future and made some new friends. Thank you all once again.