My First Bike Camping Trip!

This Thanksgiving holiday, Erik and I decided to travel back to Santa Barbara, where we went on our very first trip together 2 years ago. This time however, we brought our bikes, camping gear, and the dog!

We had a late start in the morning so we scrapped our original itinerary and went backwards. So we drove to Santa Barbara and left the car there on a residential street. Once we got everything packed and ready to go, we loaded the bags onto Erik’s bike and Maddie onto my back.

It’s about a 12 mile bike ride from Santa Barbara to Carpinteria State Beach, where we were originally planning on camping there the second night.

After 10 miles or so, my back began aching so Erik took Maddie instead.

By the time we found our campsite, which cyclists don’t need to reserve a spot ahead of time and the fee is just $10 per person, it was dark! Maddie was shivering a bit so we put her in her sweater.

We chose not to have a campfire and just snuggle inside our tent with food we bought from a nearby shop. The next morning came pretty quickly and we were able to get all our equipment packed and head back to SB! We were situated right along the shore so the sand was just a couple meters away.

It’s a bit ridiculous how much Erik was carrying on his bike. My bike wasn’t fitted with a rack so he had to schlepp everything.

Back in Santa Barbara, we got brunch and walked around the shops for a bit before we were ready to head over to Refugio State Beach, about 25 miles west of the city. I had been planning on taking a shower at the 24 Hour Fitness here since I have a membership but this location didn’t have towel service! I was so disappointed and I had to wait until we got to the next campsite to pay quarters to use the showers there. I felt disgusting.

We biked through UCSB for a portion of the ride to Refugio and stopped by a grocery store to pick up food.

The last 8 miles or so going to Refugio required us to be on the Hwy 101. That means being on the side of the road with fast-moving cars and big trucks. It was quite scary and wouldn’t recommend it to beginner cyclists. Erik took that route before so I felt safe with him, but Maddie was NOT having it and whined pretty much the entire time and drove the both of us nuts. We ended up cutting the journey short by 2 miles and camped at El Capitan State Beach instead.

This campsite isn’t right along the beach – you have to take those stairs down to the sand. But, it’s right next to the railroad so we had many visits by loud trains just steamrolling by and tooting their horns. The Amtrak Pacific Coastliner goes through those tracks – quite annoying when you’re trying to sleep at midnight.

For dinner, we had bought bread, canned soup, and macaroni, which we cooked in Erik’s camping ware.

The next morning, Erik and I took our time packing up camp while Maddie lounged around waiting for us to finish.

Soon it was time to go, and time to get back in her backpack!

Erik was amazing and carried Maddie most of the way back. My body was aching and I could only support Maddie for so long. Erik honestly looked ridiculous next to me since he was literally carrying everything! And Maddie would be real cute sometimes and put her head on his shoulder.

Overall it was a great trip and I would definitely do it again, but put Maddie in a trailer instead – She whined half the time since she must have been pretty uncomfortable. But it’s our favorite thing to witness people’s excitement and happy faces to see Maddie in that backpack!

Our next camping trip will probably be either Big Sur or Sequoia National Forest, so no bikes involved there 😉

xx Sam

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