Where Do You Sleep At Night?

Before you start to become concerned by the title of this post, this cycling bloke has not become homeless, instead I am asking the same question I get asked a lot when talking about extended cycling adventures.

In researching my 2015, three week, 1700 kilometre ride down the length of the River Murray (see the Snowfields to Sandhills series) I found a lot of blogs that went into great detail about what they wanted in a camping site.

To an extend I covered some of these criteria in my discussion on What I look for in a campsite. Or how to avoid the widow maker but at the end of the day, after all I had to think about was the weather, where was I going and what was I going to eat, I tended to be very basic in my selection of a camp site.

For the last ten hours or so, nothing else had mattered and when scouting for a suitable site to set up camp, I had four main criteria:

  • Was it flat and dry?
  • Was it safe?
  • Was it reasonably quite and more importantly;
  • Was there somewhere private to pee?

How much more basic could I get?

I didn’t try to camp off the grid.

If there was a caravan park available at the end of the day, then I would use it, if there wasn’t, then I bush camped. To be honest, most days, by the time I stopped, I only hoped that I had just enough energy to eat and crawl into my sleeping bag. My needs were that simple.

In general, my campsites were just off the side of the road and in very dry conditions. There were not many opportunities to put a lot of distance between me and the traffic but I tried for obscurity, trying not to draw attention to myself. But sometimes this was not possible.

The site shown in the main image above looks idyllic, but was probably less than 20 metres from the road, tucked in tight to a barb-wire fence where I slept like a log all night.

Other times my camp was was next to river or lake, off on a quiet side road and even one time, in the garden of a lookout carpark where I had a toilet block and running water one side and a picnic table the other. There is nothing like some creature comforts.

On four particularly challenging days, I even took a motel room or cabin. This was pure luxury and certainly no surviving on 50 cents a day for this bloke!

But it was the mornings when I emerged from the tent that I loved the most.

The air was cool and fresh, there was a growing anticipation for what the day held and an eagerness to get out on the road again and the birds were just staring to call their greetings in the early morning haze.

It was amazing how a simple breakfast of oats in rehydrated milk was enough to lift the spirits and as I packed up, it didn’t matter if I was camped next to a river, under a clump of almost dead gum trees, or in a caravan park all freshly showered; last night had been the best sleep I had had for weeks and now all I wanted to do was get moving again.

So my advice is to enjoy the ride and don’t fret about finding someone else’s “perfect” location.

If you have been in the heat and flies all day where the only conversation was during a brief encounter with an old milking cow, then any site that meets those basic needs mentioned above will feel like a five (million) star hotel.

And in case you are wondering, not once did I feel at risk and from what I have read, this is the general experience of most other cycle tourists.

So go forth and enjoy, sleep easy and don’t let the bed bugs bite!