Solstice Campout 2017
Wondering what 260 bikepackers did for the worldwide group Swift Solstice Campout? Here’s a roundup of photos and essays from the weekend closest to the solstice when hundreds of fellow bike campers spent a night (or several) under the stars…
In celebration of the Summer Solstice – or Winter Solstice, depending on your locale – the Solstice Campout (AKA Swift Campout) is a worldwide group bikepacking event that sees hundreds of bikepackers around the world gather in small groups to ride off and spend a night or two outside. The Campout was started and organized by Swift Industries, a bikepacking/bike touring bag company based in Seattle, Washington. This was the third year for the event and according to Swift founder, Martina Brimmer, saw over 1,600 entrants this year and continues to gain momentum.
To commemorate this years event, we gathered short essays and an incredible collection of photos from 16 Swift Solstice Campouts all over the world. And in the spirit of the event, here they are with relevant links to Instagram accounts, ordered from the largest group ride to the smallest (but even the two smallest are very big in their own right!).
Kerry Nordstrom @dirt_drops
Tolt-McDonald Campground: Washington, USA / 65 bike campers
Photos by Martina Brimmer (@swiftindustries). For the titular Swift Campount, the Seattle crew led by Martina and Jason of Swift Industries rode to Tolt-McDonald Campground north of Carnation, WA. Two groups headed out, one on mountain bike trails with the suggestion of riding “90s mountain bikes” and the other group on farm roads. As it was extremely hot and sunny all weekend, we took our time and stopped to douse ourselves and swim along the way.
Morgan and Stephanie @foundinthemountains
Sunshine Coast: British Columbia, Canada / 30 bike campers
A quick 40-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver gets you to the Sunshine Coast, a series of eclectic communities nestled up against the lush Coast Mountains. Our destination was Sechelt, and a great group campsite at Porpoise Bay. Two-thirds of our group chose meandery side roads with ice cream and ocean swims, while the remaning ten climbed up and over a challenging technical singletrack route. We converged at camp, sharing stories over dinner before watching the long day’s last light turn to darkness on the beach. Perfect.
Sharif Hassan @thespindleatl
Chattahoochee Bend State Park: Atlanta, GA / 30 bike campers
This overnighter took 30 adventurers from the Spindle to Chattahoochee Bend State Park (CBSP) in Newnan, Georgia, a journey of about 65 miles (130 round-trip). We stopped mid-way at Blue Eyed Daisy coffee shop in Serenbe on both days for lunch, and various stops along the way to regroup and snack up. The Spindle and their handsome team of miscreants and rascals led riders to CBSP, Georgia’s fifth-largest state park, with 12 miles of hiking trails and three miles of mountain bike trails, and apparently a whole lot of armadillos. We were free to roam the wilderness, relax, and carouse with friends while a delicious dinner is prepared on the OYRO cooker by their rad crew, oh and several cold beers and home-brews to wash it all down! The trips rider ranged in experience, but even the amateurs hammered out the miles with little to complain about.
Vince Asta @parts.and.labor
Ponca Hills: Nebraska, USA / 27 bike campers
Nebraska Edition! Just over 25 of us started out in the heart of the city (Omaha) and headed North along the river. North to an area known as the Ponca Hills. The route was comprised of some fine country roads that lead us in and out of the Missouri River Valley. Food was good, camping was great, and the company was even better.
Stefan Amato @panniercc
Peakland: England / 17 bike campers
Photos by Chris Goodman (@uninspiredramblings), Mat Waudby (@getwildmatty) and Stefan. Pannier HQ lies on the edge of the Peak District National Park – ‘Peakland’ – England and there’s no better place to organise a Solstice Social Overnight ride than in your own back-yard. A small group of us met at Seven Hills Bakery in the centre of Sheffield on Saturday lunchtime and, after a posh coffee, headed off on a 70km escape ride, via the odd gritstone edge, wild-swim spot, and moorland track to our Solstice Spot in Edale – complete with campfire, wood-fired pizza oven, and cold soft drinks / negronis…
On Sunday morning, folk all went their separate ways. OK, the wild-swim was optimistic…in June…in England. But the rest all worked out perfect. Aeropress coffees always taste better in the morning drizzle, anyway. Same again in 2018. Join us next year for the 15kph Pizza Club…!
Lake Niesłysz: Poland / 13 bike campers
The history of our trip is as simple as the idea of SWIFT Campout itself. We started from Zielona Góra to which our friends from Gorzów and from Warsaw came. The destination was Lake Niesłysz located about 60 km from the starting point. On the way we visited the old bridges, bunkers and overnight accommodation we found in an abandoned tourist resort. Weekend full of adventures and good vibration.
Logan & Virginia @bikepackingcom
Pisgah National Forest: North Carolina, USA / 13 bike campers
Oddly enough, between planning another trip, work, and bad weather, we didn’t really have a plan. So we decided to crash someone else’s bike party in the woods. Which is exactly what I said as we rolled up the Buckhorn shelter in Pisgah National Forest, “Hey, I heard there was a bike party in the woods! Mind if we join you?” There was another gentleman who happened to show up unknowingly as well; it was his first bikepacking trip. Good times were had by all as we dried clothes and told stories around the campfire. We woke in to a beautiful greenroom morning and the sound of a woodpecker. Thanks @libertybikesavl!
Jarrod Bunk @hopecyclery
Pittsburg: Pennsylvania, USA / 12 bike campers
The Pittsburgh, Pa Swift Campout was a damn good time. Thick Bikes knows how to make a fun route and the campout spot overlooked the city below. Fire, drinking and some shenanigans ensued. With 12 riders and a Pug we descended back on the city to close out the trip on a pretty good note.
Sarah Swallow @sarahjswallow
XVT: Vermont, USA / 12 bike campers
Photos by John McCaig (@jdgesus). For this years #Swiftcampout Solstice Ride Poppi organized a group of 12 riders hailing from as far as Australia, Canada, Washington, Phoenix, North Carolina, Ohio and Connecticut to embark on what turned out to be a combination of the XVT-Light and the traditional XVT (Trans Vermont Trail) route. The quiet dirt roads, steep climbs, and brief sections of boggy singletrack were accompanied by regular waterfalls, lakes, and streams to cool off from New England’s hot, humid, tick and mosquito infested atmosphere in June and the artisanal health food stores stocked with maple syrup kept us regularly fueled and happy. They were soft, quaint times.
Brad Serls @ride_that_trail
Lake Leschenaultia: Perth, Western Australia / 11 bike campers
Title photo by Justin Jones (@Stabbyoperator). Cycles Bespoke has working over the past year to create a community for those that adventure by bike in Perth, Western Australia. We decided to join in on the Swift Campout festivities by getting together a small crew, head into the hills and ride an old railway heritage trail to Lake Leschenaultia, a reservoir created to supply steam trains with water during the line’s operation. Perth’s weather played nice and our group was greeted with sun shine and blue skies, multiple beer stops were made, the ride up was a chilled affair full of smiles. As we arrived to camp the sun started to drop, tents were set up and the crew had a hearty dinner and a couple of pints at the local pub. Back at camp a fire was lit, we sipped whisky and shared stories with the Milky Way in full sight. After a good night’s sleep, a cooked breakfast and pack up we headed back home via bakeries, pubs and #coffeeoutside stops. All in all everyone came away with smiles and plans for more adventures, we can’t wait to all head out again!
Cass Gilbert @whileoutriding
Rio Grande Gorge: New Mexico, USA / 9 bike campers
The Desert Mariners was our chosen name: a fine, upstanding, yet somewhat motley crew of Santa Fean riders, inspired by the Swift Campout to bike, cook over the embers of a camp fire, and sleep under New Mexico’s canopy of stars for the night. Friends and families alike, our ages ranging from 15 months upwards and we numbered 9. Read Cass’ full story here.
Josh Spice @staysanesleepoutside
Fort Rock & Christmas Valleys: Oregon, USA / 6 Bike Campers
Keeping an “In The Ground” theme from last year’s Swift Campout, I managed to trace doubletrack and dirt roads across high desert sagebrush country to create Devil’s Crack: a 90% dirt tour from Fort Rock, through Devil’s Garden volcanic field, to Crack In The Ground, a resupply in Christmas Valley, camp among the pines for a campfire, and then across the Connley Hills, linking up with Oregon Outback’s ride into Fort Rock. The 1800 feet of total ascent and brightest Milky Way galaxy we’ve ever seen hovering above our campfire were the icing on the cake needed to balance out the 100° heat.
Gabriel Amadeus @oregontimbertrail
Waucoma Backcountry: Oregon, USA / 5 bike campers
The Oregon Timber Trail Alliance loosely organized a beginner-friendly trip into the area last weekend as part of the Swift Campout. Three first-time bikepackers and a handful of experienced bike campers rode the aqueduct trail from Kingsley Reservoir and found a splendid base camp deep in the forest at Black Lake. The following day some of us ventured towards Wahtum Lake but found the trail blocked by a gnarl of windfall, while others relaxed in camp and enjoyed fishing and floating in the crystal clear lake.
Lewis Ciddor @xshippx
Yarra Valley: Melbourne, Australia / 5 bike campers
A winter trip to Keppel’s Hut has become a bit of a yearly pilgrimage for myself, having made the trip for each of the past 3 years since I moved to Melbourne. The roads and tracks leading up the mountain to the hut are closed to vehicles in the winter, so you can rest assured a 4WD isn’t going to crash your party!
Departing from the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, Todd, Ben, Guy, Chris and myself (Lewis) made the wet and cold journey through the Yarra Valley, around the lower slopes of Mt Donna Buang and into Marysville before the final push up the back of Lake Mountain.
The final few kilometres were a tough hike-a-bike through thick peanut butter mud but we were rewarded with a great night huddled around the hut’s stone fireplace. We awoke in the morning to a dusting of snow on the ground, some flurries and the mud frozen hard enough to ride out on for our return journey and made for the perfect Winter Solstice mission! More photos can be found on my instagram @xshippx or the trip hashtag #kampkeppel
Whitney Ford Terry @whitneyft
Missoula: Montana, USA / 4 bike campers
Since moving to Montana i’ve been overwhelmed by the prolific network of service roads and forgotten double track winding through the Northern Rockies. So for this year’s Swift Campout I thought I’d try to connect as many of them as possible to create a tour of some of the most well preserved Ghost Towns and mining sites around Missoula including Garnet Ghost Town and the “Museum of the Mountain” at Granite State Park.
This campout was part of a longer Peripatetic Artist Residency Alex Borgen and I cooked up as a way to encourage conversations around the complicated histories of Land Use and natural resource extraction. For two weeks we went on 2-4 day tours and hosted a coffee outside meetup with the Missoula Art Museum to discuss a recent lecture by Lucy Lippard on her book “Undermining: A Wild Ride Through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West.”
Ryan Wilson @rmdub
Cordillera Real: Bolivia / 1 bike camper
While following Cass Gilbert’s Yungas route, I hit the day of the Swift Campout and decided to do something a little extra special. I veered off the route and started heading up an unknown road aimed straight at Nevado Illimani, hoping only for a good view, and a quiet place to pitch the tent.
The date is already set for next year — mark your calendars for June 23rd, 2018. Thanks to Justin Jones (@Stabbyoperator) for the beautiful main photo of the starry sky.