Down by the River with Golden Saddle Cyclery and the Swift Campout
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
We wanted to do something very different for this year’s Swift Campout. For the last three years, we’ve been dragging people up the steepest fire roads in the Angeles Forest on their fully-loaded touring bikes, carrying gallons of water. With each year getting hotter and hotter, we wanted to find water for people to cool down in. At first, we thought the beach, but after looking into it, we discovered that we’d have better odds of winning the lottery than getting a camping spot for 30 plus people at the beach.
Then David, the head mechanic at Golden Saddle Cyclery, reminded us of a campout he did with our buddy Ray, one of the original members of the Mount Wilson Mountain Bike Association last fall. It was at Glen Campground, a campground the Forest Service likes to advertise as a bike-in campground because of it being at the end of an eight-mile paved road running along the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, which is closed to cars. While this sounds perfect, you gotta remember that the Angeles Forest is huge and this campground is about 30 miles further than any of the campgrounds we’d visited in previous years. So we gave people three options; ride the full length from the shop, take the train to the closest station to meet us, or drive to the closed road and just ride in from there. People had options!
With the varying levels of difficulty and the lack of dirt roads, there was no excuse why anyone wouldn’t come. We’re still trying to figure out why Jimmy, the shop manager, didn’t make it, he sure can’t give us a straight answer. Something about wanting to go to Target instead. We had about 35 people come out. We swam, we fished, we cooked dinner over a fire, we rode to the top of a dam and watched the sunset, we swam some more, and then we sat around a fire telling stories for most of the night. David whipped up some breakfast burritos in the morning, we took one more swim, and then he and I had to jam back to LA to get the shop opened. It was the perfect campout!
Hope you all enjoy the photos and thanks again for organizing an amazing event, Swift Industries! I personally love how many new faces we see at our event each year, and I hope everyone else participating feels the same way. For something so simple as Bicycle Touring, sometimes it can be a very scary thing to dive into. If you’re reading this and are thinking about getting into Bikepacking or Touring, don’t be scared to ask questions. Find someone in your community doing it, and ask questions or ask here.
We’d love to see more people traveling by bicycle.