[CONTACT]

[ABOUT]

[POLICY]

My first O Firstly,warm

Found at: zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/~solderpunk/phlog/my-first-s24o.txt

My first S24O
-------------

Firstly,  warm gophery welcomes to the two newest sundogs at
circumlunar.space, cardboard64[1] and krixano[2]!  These newcomers
have wasted no time getting their gopherholes setup, and I am excited
to see what content they bring to gopherspace.  I am really happy to
have more artistic content (images and poetry) hosted at the Zaibatsu!

If you've been paying recent attention to the phlogs of other
cyclist-sundogs, you may have seen mention of the term S24O[3,4,5].  A
"sub 24-hour overnight" is a short duration camping trip, where you
get to and from your campsite by bike.  Combining cycling and camping
is nothing new, of course, people have done this for literally over
100 years.  It's generally called "touring" (well, maybe technically
"loaded touring", but who cares).  However, touring is usually "a big
thing".  You go away for several nights, and you travel 100s of kms.
This means you need to plan it well in advance.  Take time off from
work, with plenty of notice, and hope the weather is good when the
time rolls around.  Make plans for what to do if your bike breaks down
or you get lost half way in, possibly very far from friends and
family.  None of this is insurmountable, but you need to put a lot of
time, effort and money into preparing for a serious tour.  This means
a lot of people who are in principle interested in touring might never
actually take the first step, and even those who do may not do it as
often as they'd like.

The S24O philosophy is to avoid all this by embracing short bike-based
camping trips, where you leave after work, ride for one or two or
maybe even three hours, camp, and then ride home the next day just in
time to have a shower and head to work/school.  You can decide to
leave on the very same day if you have stuff ready-packed, or
otherwise you can decide the day before after checking the weather
forecast.  If it rains unexpectedlyoh well, you can cancel it.  
you get to your campsite and realise you've forgotten something
crucially important, you probably still have time to head home and
sleep there instead of struggle through.  Basially, it's a kind of
"mini-touring" which requires minimal planning or commitment, which
you can do when and as it suits you.  It removes a lot of obstacles
and excuses and lets you just get out there.

I was sold on the idea as soon as I learned about it, and started
using a combination of Google Maps' satellite imagery and scouting
rides to try to find somewhere suitable nearby.  A few weeks back I
found what seemed to be a perfect location - a small but dense patch
of forest about 10km from home.  With the weather degrading steadily
here since the arrival of autumn, I had been keeping a close eye on
the forecasts for a suitable opportunity.  This past Wednesday was
perfect: no rain forecast, and unusually warm overnight temperatures
of 15C.  It also looked set to be the last day like it for a long
time, possibly all year, so I decided to seize the opportunity.

(Yes, this is why this week's Half Hour of Power was yet another
cron-scheduled rebroadcast of an old episode without me in COM.
Sorry, but this really did look like my last chance in a long time.
HHoP will be back next week, with interesting new sounds!)

Since my Franken-Peugeot[6] bike is still having issues, and isn't
designed for carrying loads anyway, I undertook this adventure on my
everyday beater bike.  It's an 80s vintage utility bike made in the
very town I live in, and has exactly the same specs as dozens of other
Nordic bikes of the same era.  All steel construction, with unbutted
high-tensile steel tubing (aka "gas pipe") for the frame, 3-speed
Sachs hub with coaster brake, side-pull caliper brakes on the front,
one-piece cranks (not the US "Ashtabula" style, but the far less well
documented online "Fauber" style, which seems strictly limited to the
Nordic market), upright handlebars swept slightly back from straight
(not as much as the English 3 speed tradition), and a luggage rack on
the back.  This is very far from an ideal touring bike, but I'm a
firm believer that different kinds of bikes make different tasks more
or less easy, comfortable, convenient or safe, but rarely make a task
possible or impossible.  Early cyclotourists certainly rode on
machines not much more suitable than this.  So I put roughly 10kg of
stuff (including the bag weight) into a rucksack, strapped it as
firmly as I could to the rack and head off.

I was really surprised at how much harder the ride felt, compared to
the same bike unloaded.  The weight of the bag can not have exceeded
10% of the combined weight of my body and the bike, so I did not
really expect to feel it, but I certainly did.  I very rarely drop
this bike into the lowest gear when I'm riding it with little to no
load, but I used it a lot on this trip.  Nevertheless, I made it.
I decided against doing the obvious thing of locking my bike to one of
the posts of the sign at the entrance to the forest, and instead
carried the bike a short way into the forest, off the trail, and
locked it to a tree.  This was surely not necessary, as the bike is
of no great value (these bikes are ubiquitous here), and Finland is a
very low crime plcae anyway.  I admit I just really liked the idea of
locking my bike to a tree, it seemed in the spirit of the whole
undertaking.  Using a backpack strapped to the bike worked out very
well here, as it meant I could transition to moving on foot much more
easily than I could have with panniers or other "proper" touring
gear.  For different combinations of bike and destination this may
not have mattered, and I very much like the idea of being able to ride
right up to the campsite, but in this case that simply wouldn't have
been feasible.

I walked maybe 20 or 25 minutes into the forest, trying to get far
away enough from the freeway that goes right past it to reduce the
sound of traffic (which, while it got quieter, never completely went
away, which was perhaps the greatest disappointment of the entire
trip).  I saw only one other pair of people walking, on their way
out, and far enough away from me that I don't think they noticed me.
I am about 90% certain that camping where I did was completely
permissible under the Finnish legal principle of "everyman's rights",
but not 100% and I was a little paranoid about bumping into somebody
who would ask questions about my pretty obvious intentions, but this
didn't happen.  There were plenty of mushrooms about on the forest
floor, including delightfully cartoonish ones with bright red caps and
white spots.  I am sure tob would have loved it.  Once deep enough, I
veered off the designated pathways and tried to find a nice isolated
spot to set up camp.  I started doing this at about 6:30 pm.

My sleeping setup consisted of a simple foam pad, with a metallic
layer on one side to reflect body heat, and a light polyester sleeping
bag which I bought very cheaply (on sale because presumably the time
where the weather makes it practical is drawing to an end), mostly
because it packed down very small, which is an obvious benefit in this
kind of scenario.  Since the weather was agreeable, in lieu of
"proper" shelter which would have been heavier and bulkier, I
improvised a sort of bivvy bag (or swag, for Australian readers) from
an old East German army shelter-half.  This is a 1.7x1.7 m tarp made
from very tightly woven cotton and impreganted with some kind of water
repellent which, despite sitting in a warehouse for nearly 30 years
since reuinfication, still works exceptionally well.  It's designed to
button to a second of the same thing to make a little two-person
tentish thing, but you can fold one in half an button it to itself to
make something vaguely sleeping bag shaped.  If you stick your mat and
actual sleeping bag inside, the mat and sleeping bag are protected
from dirt, damp earth, dew or moderate rainfall.  Your head sticks
out, of course, which is problematic if it rains.  Just in case the
forecast was wrong and there was a little ran, I pitched a rain poncho
at an angle over the top part of the setup, just covering my head,
while leavin my view forward unrestricted.  This was my first time
using such a minimalist setup, and I was happy with how it worked.  I
have nothing against tents, and have used them plenty of times, but
tents small and light enough to carry under your own weight cost more
than I like to spend.  I like to push back, as far as I sensibly can,
against the idea that outdoor activities need to be insanely
expensive (an idea that you can get extremely easily from looking at
the catalogue of any outdoor store).

I ate a very humble dinner, a can of pea soup (a Finnish staple) and
some bread rolls.  The soup was heated up in a cheap aluminium pot
(Czech army surplus this time - I will admit to being a bit of a
surplus fanatic.  "Serious" outdoorsy types ridicule it for being
heavier and bulkier than even mid-range civillian stuff, which it
unquestionably is, but it's also a tiny fraction of the price and ten
times harder to break, and does the job just fine most of the time) on
a small and simple alcohol stove (the burner from the much more
elaborate Trangia system, purchased individually).  I ate in front of
my sleeping setup, facing away from it, so all I could see was my
forest surroundings, which was lovely.  I think the forest is too
small and too close to built up areas to support any really exciting
wildlife, but from a distance I saw what I think was a hare - and
those get really big here.

It got dark before too long, at which point I entertained myself by
doing some shortwave listening, and later reading on a backlight
Kindle.  I didn't expect too much in the way of SW reception, as it
wasn't a particularly remote location, but actually I was very
impressed.  I caught a lot of interesting utility stuff, digital data
streams which sound vaguely reminiscent of fax machines or dialup
modems.  Sometimes these had weak voice or music signals in the
background, interference from remote broadcasts on the same frequency.
I'd like to try recording this kind of stuff some time and maybe
trying to make some kind of "found sound" audio art out of it -
inspired by Cat's efforts at something similar[7].  I started trying
to sleep at about 9:30 - much earlier than I usually would, but I
needed to get up much earlier than I usually would, so this seemed
sensible.

I was plenty warm enough with my sleeping setup, but I still slept
pretty fitfully because the foam mat just was not terribly
comfortable.  Nevertheless, I ended up feeling sufficiently well
rested throughout the next day.  My alarm woke me at 6am and I was
surprised at how dark it was.  I stayed "in bed" until about 6:20 in
the hopes it would lighten up, but it didn't substantially.  I packed
away my sleep gear, and made breakfast, instant oatmeal.  My old Czech
mess kit has two pots, which nest inside each other.  I used the
larger one for the soup and the smaller one for breakfast, which meant
I didn't actually have to clean anything at the site, saving time and
packing space for cleaning gear.  I also brewed up some pour over
coffee.  This required bringing a mug, a pour over cone (a Hario v60,
made of clear plastic, quite small and light) and a small kettle.
This was a bit of an indulgence, and I could probably have just lived
with tea, which would have required only an aluminium mug I could boil
the water in and then drink out of once it cooled enough, saving quite
a bit of packing space.  The sun eventually rose as I ate and drank,
and this was perhaps the most atmospheric time of the whole trip.  The
deciduous trees in the forest had just started the process of shedding
their leaves, and at windier moments, gentle sprinklings of yellow
leaves drifted down through the low-angled sunbeams, and it was
glorious.  I heard, but didn't see, a chattering squirrel at this
time.

I ended up taking a wrong turn somewhere on my way out and emerged at
the gravel road alongside the forest somewhere other than I entered.
This meant I had to walk for about 15 minutes to find my bike.
Between this, wasting 20 minutes waiting for the sun to rise early,
and generally taking longer than I expected to pack up by torchlight,
I didn't get back on the road home until about 8am, which was later
than I expected.  I was home by about 8:45.  I live very close to
where I work (5 minute's walk), and my working hours are very flexible
anyway, so this was no great disaster, but I was disappointed that I
didn't achieve my goal of very comfortably arriving bang on time.  A
quick start in the mornings is pretty essential to the whole exercise
being feasible, especially if you start work early or have a long
commute to factor in.  For future trips, in addition to bothering to
look up the sunrise time in advance, I would consider a cold
breakfast, maybe some kind of muesli bar and some fruit, to save time
in the morning.

Despite the few small hiccups, on the whole I have to count the entire
outing as a huge success, and with more practice I am sure things will
get smoother.  I will definitely be doing more of these, although I'm
not sure when because of weather limitations.  I was warm enough on a
15C night with the gear described, but 5C would probably be another
story.  If I shed some dead weight (e.g. coffee gear, hot breakfast
and one of the pots) I could get a warmer sleeping bag, or a liner for
this one, which would maybe give me another month or so of
opportunity, but once it gets below freezing I will be totally beyond
my realm of experience and, I suspect, into the realm of super
expensive space-aged plastic gear.  I wish I'd done this earlier in
the year, when there was an abundance of daylight.  I could have spent
more time exploring the forest after setting up camp, and could have
more easily gotten an early start home.  There's always next year!
And I can still location scout throughout autumn without spending the
night.  I'm really excited that living without a car doesn't at all
mean an end to camping!

[1] gopher://circumlunar.space:70/1/~cardboard64/
[2] gopher://circumlunar.space:70/1/~krixano/
[3] gopher://circumlunar.space:70/1/~dokuja/phlog/20180909
[4] gopher://circumlunar.space:70/0/~tfurrows/phlog/afo_s24o.txt
[5] gopher://circumlunar.space:70/0/~tfurrows/phlog/afo_s24oRoute.txt
[6] gopher://circumlunar.space:70/1/~solderpunk/bikes/franken-peugeot/
[7] gopher://baud.baby:70/1/files/K6MWT


AD: