Trey's Beans (Bikepacking Jokes and Shenanigans)
[suggestively] “Mmm… Where’s Trey’s beans?”
“‘Where’s Trey’s beans?’ Ha! That’d make a good title for our blog post about this weekend. Where’s Trey’s beans?!”
“More like, where’s Trey?”
At some point this past weekend, when the shop hosted the first of what we hope to become a monthly bikepacking excursion, some of us (ahem, me) thought it would be funny and/or appropriately inappropriate to title this ride report “Where’s Trey’s beans?” So I have. But, honestly, now I can’t recall what my reasoning was, or even the joke really.
The weather was dreary the morning after I roused myself from a thankfully dry night spent in my bivy, but the company was the opposite. I was one of the last to wake. Folks were bustling about, stowing tents, and loading gear bags back onto bikes. Some people – either already packed up or not yet bothering – were gathered around the rekindled remains of our campfire from the night before. After quickly stowing my sleep system in my front roll bag and reattaching it to my bike, I grabbed my coffee-making implements and left the remainder of my gear (a lot of gear… I’m thinking, “Geez, how much did I bring?!”) in a haphazard assortment of piles and made my way to the picnic tables where a handful of folks had their stoves out making pour-over coffees and chewing on meager breakfasts. Since we were bikepacking in Oklahoma, the conversation passing between the smiling, bed-headed faces naturally turned to the beans of Hoboken Coffee Roasters, and, yeah… “Trey’s beans” was perhaps an inevitable pun. But what about the joke had made it seem to me a fitting epitaph of the trip?
Nothing, really. Racking my brain after the fact, reaching back through the fog that bikepacking adventures sometimes (okay… always) cast about the halls of my memory, trying desperately to get at least a draft of this ride report down on the page, I came up with nothing, at least not about the joke. What I did remember, very clearly, was a feeling. It was the feeling of a slow sort of solidarity that I had been dimly processing in the back of my mind since the night before.
I traced the feeling back to the twelve-mile ride out to Lake McMurtry West, when it became clear that riders of widely varied cycling experience had turned out for the event. For one person, the ride out to the lake was his longest ride on a bike, and he was doing it loaded. We slowed the pace on the straightaways and let people tackle the handful of modest climbs at their own pace. We stopped at intervals along the way to have the interspersed, pulsing red lights regather into a swarm.
I traced the feeling back even earlier, to the gathering of sixteen riders and loaded bikes in the dimly lit shop floor of District Bicycles, shortly after closing time on Saturday night. We were, naturally, a bit late in departing. Fittingly enough, the most experienced bikepackers were the least ready to go and the least constrained by necessity in their gear choices. Less than five minutes before we rolled out, I was strapping the last of the obscene collection of gear I had chosen to pack for a sub-24-hr. trip. Someone remarked how minimalist I looked when I carried my gear into the shop on my back, and how overloaded all the gear looked on the bike. I agreed, I was overpacked: bivouacking only in the sense of sleeping in a bivy – otherwise, glamping. And I wasn’t the only rider foregoing creature comfort. Other rigs were much more minimally packed. In fact, it was interesting to remark that the least experienced bikepackers were embracing the bikepacking ethos more purely than the rest; theirs were the everyday bikes with odd-shaped sleep rolls and tent bags strapped onto handlebars and racks with bungee cords. JT’s Surly Cross-Check was transformed into a bikepacking rig simply by installing a tangle bag on the frame, strapping a sleep pad and stuff sack to the rear rack he uses to commute, and dangling a Ti mug from his flat pack.
Three riders from Tulsa – one of whom was the guy doing his longest ride ever on a resurrected Trek 830 – were new to bikepacking and had more fun than maybe anyone else in camp. Hayden Payne made himself a bikepacker by strapping a sleeping bag to the handlebar of his full suspension Niner and wearing a backpack. An experienced bike rider who was also new to the bikepacking experience, Tyson Branyan, used a backpack he earned as a DFL Trophy in the 2014 Land Run 100 and a rack attached to the rear of his cross-style Bianchi to haul most of his required gear for an overnighter. His wife, Cathy with a C, did bring some supplies to camp by car, and we were happy to her join us camping even though she didn’t do the ride. Keith Reed has a special place in my recollection of this ride for deciding at the last minute to join us. A custom Scissortail cargo bike makes it really easy to pack up what you need for a night beneath the stars and pedal away from the lights of town in your work clothes.
There were faces new and old. Adam Blake from Gravel City Adventure and Supply Co. had made the trip from Emporia, KS to ride with us. I hadn’t visited with him in ages. On the way out to the lake, he pointed out to me that this was our first bike ride together, even though I have only ever known him around bikes. Matt Fowler, aka the Gravel Guru, had travelled with Adam, and as a longtime fan of his photography and vlogs it was a treat for me to get to know him a bit. Some riders I knew better than others. There was one dude there with whom I have clocked thousands of bikepacking miles, but you probably wouldn’t know him. There were bikes there – like, Austin’s and Tyler’s – that I’ve seen packed and unpacked in nearly every configuration, while some other rigs I had never seen before. Some the world has never seen before.
All these faces and machines dug up in the excavation of my memory, taken together, made me realize how to think about the feeling that I had associated with that gag about “Trey’s beans.” The joke itself didn’t matter. What mattered was the free and easy conversation started up among a group of people who differed in age, occupation, riding experience, camping philosophy, and in other ways we’ll never know about. What mattered was the fact that we were joking around while everyone was a bit stressed about rain that was promised but never arrived until after the trip was done. What mattered was that the most experienced bikepackers in camp were having an experience as novel as the least experienced bikepackers in camp, precisely because of the ride was being shared by veterans and first-timers. The presence of people who had never had a bikepacking adventure before made an adventure out of a bikepacking trip that I’ve made several times before (in terms of destination and gear).
We knew we wanted this ride to encourage people to try bikepacking that had never done so before. We talked about it, strategized about how to make people feel welcomed and challenged at the same time, but I never gave any thought to this kind of ride being a new kind of experience for me. I’ve known about the virtues of bikepacking for a while now. I’ve seen places bikepacking that I could never see otherwise. I’ve formed lifelong bonds with people through experiences bikepacking. I have met people whose bikepacking experiences and capabilities far outweigh my own, and I will always have them to teach me how to get better at it. But from now on I’m going to make more of an effort to bikepack with people new to the game, to help teach me how to enjoy it more.
Written by Seth Wood @drsethwood, Photographed and Edited by Tyler Siems @getwide