Friday, April 17, 2015

Round Prairie Park Campground Overnighter--An Adventure

RPP Schoolhouse at campground
My first overnighter bicycle "tour" of the year wasn't exactly a flop . . . but it wasn't exactly not.

The third Sunday in March 2015 was unseasonably warm, the next day even hotter, highs of 70 and 83. I was looking for a date for an overnighter, and on Saturday my wife said, "Why don't you go tomorrow afternoon and come back Monday morning?"

"Yeah," I said, "It's only 14 miles to the Round Prairie Park campground. I can pack up and get back in time for work."

It all worked out pretty well. The camping was nice. I had the little county campground to myself. My new wood-burning Emberlite "rocket" stove worked great. There were some details, though, some things I didn't realize . . .
  1. I had just gotten past a cold, so even though I felt fine, I didn't have any stamina.
  2. I had not ridden all winter, and "a 14-mile jaunt" was more than my body expected.
  3. Seeing how my Travoy bicycle trailer handled by loading it up immensely was probably not the best way to begin the touring season.
  4. Headwind! I had thought, It'll be okay because I'll have a tailwind coming back the next morning. How foolish was that? Headwind both ways!
You can see how innocently naive I was. It worked out, though. And my first overnighter of the year was a great learning experience.

Sleeping in temperatures of the 40's was comfortable with my sleeping bag. Wussy that I am, I'd never slept out in the cold. (And some hardy souls would say temps in the 40's is not cold.) About 4 in the morning, I could feel the ground chill creeping up through the pad and bag, but nothing excessive, even though the ground gets cold over Iowa winters. I took my heavy North Face tent--less netting and more solid covering than my other tent.

My ride to the campground was a battle with headwind the whole way, but I made it, tired but satisfied. The next morning I was more tired than expected, so with the headwinds back it actually took longer to return. I walked the bigger hills. I walked sections of the 2 miles of county road gravel just before the park. The family was considering sending out a search party. I was late to work. I picked up a cold again, no doubt my depletion of energies contributing.

However, it was ultimately a good experience. I learned. I enjoyed (pretty much). I returned.

And today I write about my experience and look forward to my next.

Copyright 2015 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

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