Friday, May 9, 2008

"Car" Camping

Safe in my hammock, with the fly keeping out the rain, I foolishly assumed myself safe from the weather...Lesson learned: hang your luggage, or pick a campsite that won't flood!

A couple of weekends back I was able to take a respite break and went camping in Shakespear1 Park, Whangaparaoa. I needed to rest more than ride, and desired an excusion just far enough to test out my new bike and newish hammock. Shakespear worked well because there's a ferry to Gulf Harbour, after which you only have to ride 7km to the very end of the peninsula. Until you reach the park itself you are in residential neighbourhoods, and there would be sufficient hostelry if I had to bail out.

Lacking time to pack tidily and efficiently, I just threw an oversupply of clothes into one of those cheap woven-plastic bags and strapped it on the yuba. 16kgs on one side and about 3 on the other, but it rode surprisingly well. I love the simplicity of this bike.Although this was the last weekend of school holidays, the weather has recently turned cold in NZ so few people were in the park. Probably a wise choice by everybody else, as it rained about 1 in every 2 hours from Friday night until Sunday morning. The last night was particularly fierce, and I realised about midnight that I had been flooded out. Thankfully I'd used separate plastic bags inside the large carry-all, not trusting it2, and nothing essential got damaged before I rescued it onto the rack of the bike (under its own tarpaulin).
The only damage done was to my breakfast :-( and a fixable rip in my bug netting when I turned around too vigorously inside the hammock and dragged the corner of my air mat across it.

Despite the rain, I was able to open out the fly during the day and make a comfy campsite. I made a good start on my current reading project, mostly sitting in the hammock and resting my foot on the gas bottle.
I must confess that the bottle was not part of my original luggage - the friendly ranger lent it to me after we got talking about bicycles and eventually it came up that I had mis-understood the level of cooking facilities described on the council's website. That bike got me into a lot of conversations, actually -- must get some business cards or something from Stu.

All in all, a good trip. Got more familiar with my gear, and look forward to taking it on a more adventurous journey. I do need to find some kind of cooking solution - exactly what depends somewhat on whether I expect to retain the voluminous storage of the yuba or choose a smaller bike for longer trips. I also need to find a bit more insulation for my feet - they stuck off the end of the insulating mat and that hammock was quite cold on my un-insulated parts.

1) (No, there isn't supposed to be an 'e'.)
2) Actually, the cheap bag was pretty shower proof. I was impressed.

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