Photo Credits – Colin Pinney
The Swift Campout is a worldwide call to ride and camp on a weekend very near to the Summer Solstice. Now in it’s third year this event is gaining popularity and based on the scientific research I have done through my Instagram feed, it appeared to be a rather solid turnout. According to the fine folks at Swift Industries, this year was an 80% increase in campouts that were registered on their site. It doesn’t include the actual number of folks that rode along but I would see that large of an increase being a fair measure that the Swift Campout is growing in popularity.
The group I camped with rode from Fort Collins up to Horsetooth Reservoir. We had a smaller group roll out but had a final group of around 20 people and 1 dog. Most people rode bikes, however, two members of our bunch came by boat. One of those boats was a canoe which offered the blessing of an ice cold cooler for riders to chill the beverages they had brought. Our success rate was pretty high for beverage transport…to my knowledge we only had one trail explosion. The second boat, a small packraft was also noted to be carrying a bike as it’s pilot approached camp. This trip from town started by bike, then to boat, then back home on the bike the next day. So fun to see all the setups as well as less traditional forms of arrival.
Our ride consisted of a few miles of pavement and hills before we connected to some of our favorite local trails. Even though these trails are very familiar it’s always a new experience with a loaded bike. Almost more foreign than riding new trail with a loaded bike. You don’t know what to expect so it seems more comfortable. When riding your local singletrack you get accustomed to a particular balance when riding it, so it’s even more fun take to those same trails with a loaded rig. Our trails brought us to our camp spot where the gang was able to get unpacked and set up. I will admit that I am always an eager one to start the day and it was a great benefit for this campout. Since we had a small group rollout the majority arrived in onesies and twosies after we had arrived, we even had two members join with full light setups as they arrived well after dark. Getting to watch each group come rolling in was a hoot and certainly helps with the spirits of all at camp.
Before dark, a small group of us decided to take on a few more miles and enjoyed the early part of the sunset from a higher perspective above the lake. Watching the the light slowly crawl away was a memorable moment from one of my favorite spots. We had a fun, fast descent back down to camp which left most of us mumbling that we should ride that section more often.
Returning to camp we were able to get going on food and fire. The value both of those items bring to any camp setting is well known. There is something about the boisterous conversations that happen around a fire or the other end of the spectrum in which everyone is just staring into the campfire. The fire burned long into the night offering a great source of laughter and storytelling. Food is another fun thing to watch people digging into. I love how bikepacking reminds me of school lunch….”I’ll trade you some Oreo’s for some cheese”…it’s always so fun to share your favorite snacks with friends. I always appreciate when my neighbors feed me, who doesn’t love a surprise goodie or two? The gang had a smattering of dehydrated meals, meats & cheeses, fruits, you name it. One of the benefits of the short ride is that the extra weight matters less.
The following morning we were greeted to a marvelous sunrise over the lake. I was able to line the tent up so when I unzipped the door I could see right to the lake. The lupine were in bloom near the water’s’ edge as well as lining the trails we rode in on. As with most mornings, once one person gets up the group slowly follows. The smell of coffee began to fill the air, one of my favorite smells. For me, the warmth and ritual of a cup of coffee is a hard thing to do without. Taking the time to sip my cup and take in the morning is something I don’t do as often at home so it becomes even more sweet on camp trips.
The campout is meant to rally the collective consciousness we all know, the one we find when we are in nature. Spending time out of doors is truly something we all benefit from. We were graced with fantastic weather and in typical Colorado fashion it went from sunny and hot to cloudy and chilly a few times throughout the evening. The entire vibe of the weekend felt so positive and enjoyable. I am one who follows the philosophy that we are all connected through a common link, a common energy. I believe that Carl Sagan said that “We are made of star stuff”, in an attempt to show relation of all things on this planet. It felt like such a great night under the stars that must have been made better because everyone was out enjoying it at the same time.
This year we had a such a wonderful variety of riders and bikes. From bikes with 20” wheels and a cargo basket for dog named O’Riley to a few amazing Black Sheep fat bikes from their stable. Our group ranged from seasoned bikepackers to some who were on their first mountain bike ride. The location was one that was fairly close to town and made it very accessible for everyone to travel to on their medium of choice. Our route focused on as much singletrack as we could take in but others stuck purely to pavement and dirt road to arrive at camp. Even the arrival of night riders was a delight and added to the greater variety of those in camp.
I very much appreciate the call Swift has made for everyone to take a crack at a journey, an adventure. Be it large or small, the Campout is a great motivator to just get out and enjoy a night away with a bicycle. A chance to sleep outside, in whatever sort of shelter you use, if you choose one at all. If you didn’t catch this year’s Swift Campout, there’s good news as you will get another crack next year. I encourage you to spend a few hours or nights planning an adventure to enjoy in the company of those you ride with. Last year we found some unique teepees in riding distance from town, this year was a trip to the lake, next year should be just as much fun and planning is already in the works…