How do I become a member of Cycle Wild?
Cycle Wild has no memberships – we serve the entire public for FREE. Our classes and trips have no cost attached to them whatsoever. We do accept donations, though, so if you’re feeling generous, please consider contributing something, even if it’s just a dollar.
Your posted camping trip says $5 per person – didn’t you just say you don’t charge anything?
When we post a camping trip, we’re saying that we’ll lead whoever shows up to the promoted destination if they show up at a certain place at a certain time. We don’t charge anything to provide information, for leading you to the site, or for anything else. You are responsible for buying your own food, and for paying any park/campground fees. When we say the hiker/biker camp costs $5 per person, we’re telling you that State Park, County Park, or USFS Campground is charging that much per person or per site.
So, what exactly do you DO, then?
Cycle Wild provides information free of charge to the public to help them experience the wonders of nature through the use of the bicycle. We provide on our website route information to various camping destinations in the Portland rideshed, links to local weather, bike-related information, route-planning and natural/wilderness topics, classes on how to camp, what one should (or could) bring along with them, and how to do it all by bicycle. We also coordinate group trips to local destinations and provide a ride “leader” to guide the group to its intended destination and answer questions.
You mentioned a “rideshed”. What’s a rideshed?
A rideshed encompasses all the places an average rider can reach in a single day on a bicycle loaded for camping. The Portland Rideshed reaches about 75-80 miles in all directions from downtown Portland, covering portions of 2 states, 8 counties, 3 National Forests, and a couple hundred dedicated campgrounds. It includes beaches, mountains, forests, fields, canyons, orchards, vineyards, and prairie. Oh, and a few big cities and lots of smaller towns. There’s an incredibly large variety of places to see and things to do, and they can all be seen or done in a weekend by bike!
How do you carry everything without a car? I can’t possibly fit everything on my bike, can I?
Well, that depends on how much you need to bring with you – or want to bring with you. If your bicycle has a rear rack, you can camp by bike – the necessities aren’t that many. If you want to go really light, then renting a cabin or yurt at a state park is a good way to travel light and still enjoy a natural setting – though cabins & yurts have a higher cost involved.
What skills do I need to camp by bike?
Presumably you already know how to ride a bike. We basically lead two types of trips – beginner rides and intermediate rides. Our ride announcements will state what level a given ride is. “Beginner” rides assume that you are capable of riding at least 35 miles in a day and know how to change a flat tire. “Intermediate” rides assume that you have a basic understanding of what gear you need to camp safely, even in adverse weather. We cover the basics in our Bike Camping 101 class, which is held 3-4 times each year.
How Expensive Is It?
Park fees tend to run $5-$10 per person per night. If we’re camping in cabins or yurts (we do a couple of those trips each year) the cost may be as high as $20 per person per night. When we have campfires (most trips), we all pitch in for firewood – roughly $5 a bundle, and 4-5 bundles for a night. It usually works out to $3-$5 per person for firewood, and if you’re strapped for cash, usually someone else is willing to make up the difference. Food is the responsibility of each person, you can plan on spending $5-$20 per day for food depending on whether you are cooking it yourself or buying pre-made food from the store or restaurants.
Do I Need To Reserve A Spot In Advance?
Typically, no. Many of the places we go either have a hiker/biker site, a campsite reserved exclusively to folks who travel “under their own steam. Or they are in a campground that should have room for all of us. All you need to do is show up to the meeting spot.
However there are a few trips where we need to reserve space in advance, whether it be at a campground where space is limited, we want to grab the group site, or we are reserving yurts or cabins (more on that later.) For those we do require a reservation. When advance notice is required, we will note it in the ride description.
Do You Only Do Tent Camping?
No. During the winter months we have a few trips where we’ll camp in yurts or cabins. Yurts are permanent round tents based on a design from Mongolia. Cabins are…cabins. These yurts and cabins have electricity, lights, and heat!
Most yurts and cabins sleep five: two on a futon, three in a bunk bed (with the lower bed being a double bed.) While the beds are provided, bedding is not, so if you go on one of these trips you’ll still need to bring a sleeping bag and pillow (or regular bedding if you prefer.) There are no stoves or kitchens provided either, so you’ll still need to bring a camping stove if you intend to cook. (Bathrooms are separate as well.)
Yurts and cabins are more expensive than tent camping, ranging anywhere from $30 to $70 a night plus a reservation fee. Divided up amongst five people per yurt/cabin this brings the per-person fee somewhere around $8-12 per-night. Yurts and cabin trips require advance reservations.
Where Do You Meet For Your Rides?
All Cycle Wild trips start from a place that is easily accessible by public transportation. Typically these meeting spots are at or near the end of a MAX light rail line. This also means we minimize the amount of riding through urban and suburban areas. We encourage folks to arrive at these meeting spots by bicycle or public transportation, as we make no provision for vehicle parking.
How Far Do You Ride?
The majority of our trips are between 30 and 50 miles. Each year we do a few trips in the 10 to 30 mile range to campgrounds like Milo McIver, Battle Ground Lake, Oxbow, and Stub Stewart. Typically we do two to three three day weekend trips of 55-75 miles on the “summer holiday” weekends of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day weekends. For the longer trips we typically ride to the destination on Saturday, spend the day at the destination Sunday, and ride home Monday.
What Is The Ride Like?
All of our rides are moderately paced. We follow a “no-drop” policy, meaning we make sure no one is left behind. We generally have a “sweep”, a ride co-leader in the back making sure that no one is dropped along the way. We also stop frequently for breaks, allowing slower riders to catch up to the faster ones.
Typically we ride on low-traffic country roads or on roads with some sort of bicycle provision. We also try to avoid big hills if we can. Please note that it isn’t always possible to plan a “perfect” route. We’ll note in advance if there are any particular problem areas.
Do You Do Trips Outside of Portland?
Not usually – we’re a locally-based nonprofit. Our Bike Camping curriculum is location-independent, but our other services are centered on the Portland, Oregon rideshed. If you’d like to start something similar for your local area, contact us and we can help you get started camping by bike in YOUR rideshed!
What About Kids?
Cycle Wild serves all ages, including children – we’re family-friendly! The caveat is that a legal guardian must be present on the trip for any attendees under the age of 18 – no exceptions. If a trip description is listed as “family-oriented”, it means we’ve deliberately put an effort towards soliciting families to be on the trip so that kids have other kids to meet and play with. Kids are welcome on any trip but be advised that most of our trips tend to have only adults, and sometimes kids can get bored.
What About Food?
We usually stop at a grocery store somewhere along the way to pick up supplies for the night. Market quality can vary, so if you have specific items in mind or have a restricted diet it is wise to pick up provisions in Portland to bring along with you.
If you plan on cooking in camp, it is recommended that you bring a stove or share one with someone else. You’ll most likely be able to “borrow” someone else’s stove, but don’t depend on it. You can also cook over the campfire but be advised it takes awhile for a campfire to get going.
What About Alcohol?
Most of Cycle Wild’s camping destinations permit alcohol. When they do not, it’s listed in the event description. Since our start in 2008, Cycle Wild has never needed to have an alcohol policy of any kind (other than no alcohol given to minors) – people on our trips are well-behaved and considerate of other campers. The New Year’s Eve cabin camping trip tends to have kind of a “party” atmosphere due to the nature of that holiday, so be advised if you choose to join us on that particular trip.
Can I Bring My Pet?
Sure, but we do ask that you refrain from doing so if your animal isn’t particularly well-behaved, and some of the sites we make trips to do have pet restrictions – we try to list that in the trip description when we’re aware of park restrictions and the like. Please remember that you’re coming on a trip with others who might not like or may be allergic to certain animals. We don’t want to be restrictive in any way but we do put an emphasis on making everyone’s experience on our trips a good one.