The 30 miles each way from my place in south Minneapolis to Carver Park Reserve in Victoria, Minn. is almost entirely on bicycle trails. The exceptions being the two miles from the house to the Greenway and a couple blocks in downtown Hopkins. This makes Carver Park Reserve a popular destination for bike campers.
We loaded up our bikes with our gear the night before. Of the 30 miles to the park, 20 miles is crushed limestone, which stays packed better than your typical gravel road. I’ve done many miles on a road bike with 25mm slicks on this trail in the past. It rides well, even when wet. Since speed wasn’t a goal and time wasn’t an issue, I elected to gear up my Salsa El Mariachi 29er SS. Being without a gravel bike for the time being, my El Mar is the most stable bike I own. Audra handled the gravel on her Felt with 25mm tires like a champ.
The bags I used were from the Blackburn Design Outpost series. I packed up my Outpost handlebar roll with a tent; my Outpost top tube bag with a phone, wallet, granola bars and a flask; my Outpost seat pack with a hammock and cooking supplies; and a 25L Patagonia Ascensionist backpack for sleeping bag and clothing. It all worked very well. I went with the Outpost series over panniers because they can be fixed to any bike, regardless of racks. This allows me to use the bags on any of my other bikes. If you pack light, the Outpost series is perfect for you.
Two of our friends joined us for the trip, Mal and Tae. We met them on the Greenway near Lake Calhoun. The pace we kept was leisurely–perfect for a group that didn’t care about the clock. Lunch was planned for Excelsior, a small town on the south side of Lake Minnetonka about 20 miles into the route. We ate burgers and beers on a sidewalk patio at a place with some Irish name. Another hour later, we were at the campsite.
One of the best parts of this particular park is the proximity to grocery and liquor stores. Downtown Victoria is only one mile from the park entrance. After setting up camp, we ventured into town for food and drinks. Tacos and (more) beer were on the menu for dinner. Can’t go wrong with burgers and beer followed by tacos and more beer.
Waking up after a cool night in a tent is harder than getting out of bed on a Saturday morning. All I wanted to do was stay in the sleeping bag. The big motivation to actually get out of the sleeping bag was knowing I’d be biking again soon. Oatmeal and whiskey tea was on the breakfast menu. Perfect before setting out on our trip back home.