Planning And Preparation
I've been planning a #miniadventure with my daughter since last year but never really got round to it, I knew I wanted to do it while she was young enough to find it exciting and before she realised that I'm not 'cool'.
A few improvements to the bike had to be made before it was ready for our arduous journey, including fitting of mudguards, a Surley Nice Rack 2.0 front rack and new grips. This was achieved with a minimum amount of swearing and fettling bits to fit; I'd class that as a success.
Friday night was spent looking out camping kit and packing it, unpacking, repacking and realising that even the relatively flat 8 miles I had planned each way were going to be a challenge for my legs and the structural integrity of my dads 30 year old Specialized Rockhopper. I could barely lift the bike once it was laden and that didn't include Lana on top!
I went to bed full of anticipation for the following day's adventure and had slightly strange, vivid fear of the dark dreams; hopefully not a bad omen........
And They're Off!
Saturday came and a late start was enforced as Kate was sleeping off a night shift, not too much of a problem and heavy showers were coming through most of the morning. Late afternoon came, the rain stopped and we were ready to set off for Tentsmuir forest.
The bike felt pretty unhappy making low speed maneuvers for photos but nothing seemed like it was going to fall off, so we tentitively set off down the street; "Go fast daddy!" was the shout from Lana.
Only two miles of our planned 8 were on quiet-ish roads throught Wormit and Newport, after that we were onto the cycle path to Tayport; this lead us all the way to the boundary of Tentsmuir forest, where I had roughly planned a camp spot.
With the road and bike path successfully navigated without the bike snapping in half, we arrived at Tentsmuir and set off into the woods.
Into The Woods
Up until this point the bike had been perfect and the riding had been easy going but it was away to get a bit trickier on the fire trails and single track of Tentsmuir forest.
I aimed for the first section of single-track trail; bouncing over rocks and through mud, wrestling to control our overloaded Rockhopper on it's big slick tyres. Familiar single-tracks, normally tackled flat out turned into a serious challenge, even small roots that would have been unnoticed on any normal day in the woods now saw me tense up as I awaited the inevitable pinch flat that never came.
A few challenging miles later we arrived at my planned camp site but it was quickly discounted on the grounds of ground conditions; too bumpy, too sloped or too woody, according to Lana.
On we rode, we were onto paths that I hadn't ridden before and with large dark clouds looming overhead I was starting to lose confidence that a suitable pitch could be found, was this all a terrible idea? Why didn't I just drive like a normal person? Was I going to have to go home defeated?
And then Success, right at the boundary of the nature reserve, a flat spot with stunning views over the estuary, far enough from the water to not worry about the tide and close enough to the trees for the hammock, it was perfect!
The sky was darkening so we set to work making camp as quickly as possible, Lana ferrying the bags and passing pegs as I pitched the tent. Everything went together easily and soon we were unpacking our sleeping kit inside, a quick test snuggle in the sleeping bag and it was time to cook.
A new gas canister foot for my MSR pocket rocket and a pizo igniter were rock solid upgrades, making cooking on the stove much more stable and easy to light. The wee pocket rocket performed like a champ with our pasta cooked in double quick time and ready to serve just as the rain started to fall.
We retreated into the tent to shovel tasty fusilli pesto with chopped tomatoes into our gobs by the sporkful. The rain battering of the flysheet of our tent was the perfect soundtrack to dinner.
Pasta devoured, Lana's mind quickly turned to the long promised toasted marshmallows! The rain was still threatening so I rigged up the hammock and tarp to provide some shelter with a view of the river then fired up the Pocket Rocket again. Even set to a peep, marshmallows were quickly incinerated and then just as quickly scoffed; burnt tongues couldn't hold us back!
Parents take note, a promise of sugary treats is never forgotten; at this point Lana also remembered she was due another treat for being a brave camper! Back to the tent to make the hot chocolate, shelter from another rain shower then outside to watch the shower recede into the distance and sip our chocolate milk.
Fear Of The Dark
Finally sleep beckoned, we clambered into our bags and with the rain pattering on the tent once again we tried in vain to get to sleep; marshmallows and hot chocolate were not my friend at this point but I persisted.
Just as we're drifting off to sleep a ray of sun blasts through the vent at the bottom of the tent and Lana's eyes light up; "We have to go outside Daddy!"
The rain has passed, so on with the boots and outside to watch the sunset behind the Dundee skyline, a perfect end to a fun afternoons adventure!
"It's so beautiful!"
Sunset below the horizon and it was time to hit the sack again.
Both of us started out too hot, unzipped our bags, then got too cold and zipped up again for the perfect temperature and a solid night's sleep.
Good Morning Tentsmuir
The sun woke us as it broke the clouds around 7am and we were up for another round of hot chocolate, cereal and bread burn on the stove (otherwise known as toast).
Just as I started breaking camp my dad appeared over the dune, having cycled from his house early doors and just in time; him and Lana explored the dunes as I broke camp and re-loaded the beast of burden.
Back up the dune and we were away, the 8 miles home passed quickly to shouts of; "faster daddy, Papa is winning!"
I cannot recommend enough doing this sort of trip with your young ones, obviously YMMV but we had a blast and she's still talking about it today. Time to plan the next trip!
Total time door to door was only 18 hours!