Winter camping via bike

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Location

MN
United States
46° 0' 1.0836" N, 95° 20' 43.3104" W

If you ask mountain climbers why they climbed the mountain they just might say, “because it was there.”  That is pretty much the same reason four Alexandria men set off from town to bike 15 miles to Lake Carlos State Park in 15-degree weather with a 10 mile an hour wind to camp in the dead of winter.

            “You could say it was our maiden voyage with the idea of doing longer, more difficult trips in the future,” said Jake Capistrant, owner of Jake’s Bike in Alexandria.

            “We have talked about taking bigger trips like to Runestone County Park, Glacial Lakes State Park or even Itasca. But first we wanted to try it out. She what we could do, what we could learn,” said Capistrant.

            Using a mix of mountain bikes, gravel and road bikes the four carried their stoves, tents, sleeping bags and food stopping twice to have a beer and warm up. The night before one member of the group built quanza in a campsite at upper campground at Lake Carlos for him self to sleep in. He heated up with a Coleman cook stove. Two of the group stayed in a summer tent and another rented a camper cabin with this wife and child.

            “The camper cabin was our backup in case things got bad,” said Capistrant. “Our fire went out about midnight so we turned in. Once I was in my sleeping back I was fine but about 2:30 am I was ready to head to the camper cabin but I decided to stick it out.”

            The group dined on freeze-dried beef stroganoff by the fire. They had a quick shot of coffee in the morning and hitched a ride back to town.

            “We learned you have to have the right equipment for this kind of biking and camping,” said Capistrant. “Better cooking gear, studded tires and better sleeping bags and pads would help.”

            Capistrant said his rule of thumb for winter clothes is add an extra layer for every 10 degrees below zero. He said it felt good getting into his Carhart jacket and bibs.

            The group didn’t decide on their next adventure. They said they need to quit shivering from this little trip first.

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