The S24O: A Mini Bike Touring Adventure

Along the towpathsLet’s face it. Life is busy. You have to go to work, come home, do the chores, spend time with the family… and by the time all that is done, there’s not a whole lot of time left to go bike touring.

So what’s the wannabe bike tourist to do, when getting away for a real bike tour seems impossible?

That’s the question I’ve been pondering lately, as I try to get back into the swing of working life, balancing a desire to be on the road with the realities of an office job and the need to save a bit of money.

So when I was browsing the Adventure Cycling Association blog over the weekend, an article about S24O bike trips (pdf) caught my eye. For the uninitiated, S24O stands for Sub 24-hour Overnight – in other words, a bike trip that takes you from your home to a campsite and back again in a day or less. Grant Petersen, who coined the term S24O, explains what it’s all about:

“You leave on your bike in the late afternoon or evening, ride to your campsite in a few hours, camp, sleep, and ride home the next morning. It’s that simple, and that’s the beauty of it. You can fit it in. It requires almost no planning or time commitment. In the past four years I’ve done more than fifty of them, and I’m no planner.” – Grant Petersen of Rivendell Bicycle Works

I’m particularly taken by Grant’s idea of the S24O bike trip as the perfect way to test out equipment, techniques and even bike touring itself. It doesn’t matter if you wake up cold, if rain starts pouring down or you forgot something because the next morning you know you’ll be back home – hopefully a little wiser for your experience.

Now my mind is dreaming up all kinds of places I can reach within an hour’s ride. I’m dying to head out on a mini bike touring adventure and I can no longer use a lack of time as my excuse. There are those woods near my house, and that place near the beach that I spotted on a recent ride and thought would make a great wild camping spot. What about you? Where would you go on a S24O?

To read more about S24O bike trips, check out an account of an S24O bike trip on Kent’s Bike Blog or browse a whole site dedicated to S24O bicycle touring.