Despite the diminutive nature of this adventure, it’s earned itself a full report – not least because it was Sage’s first night under tarp, and thus deserves celebration!
The milestone of Nancy’s 30th birthday demanded due attention too, so we decided to enjoy a night’s camping first, then spend a second in a farm guesthouse we’d found via Air B&B.
Just off the Rio Grande, under-the-radar Dixon (one of 8 Great Places You’ve Never Heard of) made the perfect base for this preliminary outing. A small settlement in northern New Mexico, it’s complete with a co-op, an organic farming scene and a small but flourishing arts community. Our planned campout wasn’t far from town, reached via a dirt road that climbed up and out of the desert, and into the Carson National Forest – a respectable incline of 1500ft, taking us to some 7500ft (2300m).
The initial idea had included busing from Santa Fe to Dixon, changing in Española. Although there’s room on these buses for two bikes, it sounded unlikely we could fit the trailer in too, so we ended up having to drive – Dixon’s an hour or so out of Santa Fe.
Want to see Sage’s packlist? Click here.
A proud moment! Heading out towards the high country for our first mini-tour.
I do love those New Mexican skies.
Within a couple of miles, we hit dirt. For the most part, the road was well surfaced, with some corrugation and steep inclines to contend with: a good testing ground for the bikes, gear and trailer.
Nancy. All smiles, for now…
Feeding time for Sage.
A butternut squash top-up keeps Sage smiling too.
Starting at a lowly (for these parts) 6000ft, the desert stretch made for hot and sweaty riding.
Further up amongst the junipers, a collection of prayer flags snapped in the wind.
As we reached the fringes of Ojo Sarco, a storm swept in, tempering the heat.
Classic New Mexico.
Once we reach the the high road that runs between Santa Fe and Taos, we found ourselves a dirt track that curled amongst the ponderosas.
We were running a bit late, so it was straight into pyjamas for the little one.
Best moment of the trip? Watching Sage, entranced by the trees around him. Sprigs of pine needles were duly studied and checked for tastiness.
The source of much fascination.
Then it was time to layer up and put him to sleep, while we cooked up some dinner.
Bedtime story. Nancy’s read this book to Sage since we was just a few weeks old, and it has a wonderfully soothing effect. It seemed a good idea to bring along to give him a sense of place.
Come morning, Sage was bright and chirpy. If truth be told, it hasn’t been the best night’s sleep – not that he seemed to mind.
Our camp spot and dwelling for the night. At just over a kilo in weight, Black Diamond Megalite’s tarp is both light and cavernous – it will comfortably sleep 3. Being tall and single skin in design, it tends to get a little cold inside though.
Nancy’s Troll has proved the perfect trailer-hauler. Her custom Porcelain Rocket framebag/toothbrush holder makes for a nice touch too…
Lots of new things for podgy fingers to play with. Inside…
Then it was time for a quick nap…
A change of clothes…
… before we took to the road once more. We retraced our steps down the mountain.
Past the usual clutter of abandoned cars…
Back through the canyon…
Not forgetting a few short, granny gear workouts…
… and breaks in the shade for Sage.
Anxious to ensure the event was properly recorded, I raced ahead to capture every angle…
Back in the desert – and almost back to Dixon.
And finally… Sage is initiated to the post ride feast. Lunch at the co-op proved simple and tasty. Avocado is turning out to be a family favourite.
I posted details of Sage’s packlist here. Additionally, a short foam mat, to lie him out on by the roadside, would have been useful. This could easily be attached to the trailer handlebars.
Don’t forget – BikeKidShop (site affiliate) is discounting Chariot trailers by 25-35% at the moment!
Nancy found it a challenge to stay hydrated while riding and breasfeeding. Rehydration sachets might have been useful.
Sage slept in a sleepsack made by The Milk and Honey Company and a down Patagonia jacket. This combination worked out really well. It kept him warm, and unlike a conventional sleeping bag, ensured his face stayed uncovered. He slept on a 3/4 length Thermarest which we placed between us.
Our Milk and Honey Sleepsack. This one is an outdoor prototype – previous models use heavier and bulkier cotton exteriors.
It features a series of adjustable snaps, and two way zips that run around the bag for easy diaper changing, and ventilation if needed. The bag is roomy enough for babies up to 2 years old. As Sage is over 6 months, there’s no shortage of growing room.
Packed away, the combo weighs 470g (16.5oz).
Part 2 coming soon!
Very impressed: well done Sage-boy and Nancy! Am wondering how many kilos Nancy is pedaling? (sweet photos).
The short answer: A lot!
Chariot CX: 13.5kg
Plus tent/groundsheet/pads/toys: maybe 6kg
So at least 28kg in the trailer. Then there’s all the gear on the bikes… Plus food and water. It was certainly hard work on the loose, steep pitches.
Just in case I come across as not pulling my weight… once I’d snapped a few pics, I did the heavy lifting up the climb!
This is so awesome…love the way the whole family tours and camps…
Thanks. I have to admit, it wasn’t all plain sailing. But as Nancy later said, it was ‘way better than dressing up and going out for a fancy birthday dinner’…
And, we all got to really hang out together, away from the trappings of the internet and other distractions. One highlight was watching Sage’s reaction to the ponderosas when we arrived at our campsite. Another was the time we spent together next morning; just chilling out, listening to music and exploring.
Great stuff, all of you. You make it look so easy, though I know there’s a lot of work that goes into that impression. Sage may have the record for the youngest bikepacker. At six months, I imagine you are on the precipice of Sage’s self-mobility, which is the entry point into a whole new world of discovery.
You got in Andy – I guess you’ve done this before (-; It definitely wasn’t ‘easy’ but all told, it was a success. And a good learning experience for everyone involved.
Sage keeps threatening to take off and crawl. In the meantime, he’s become the surreptitious master of wiggling across the room.
This is such a wonderful vignette with amazing pictures. Also super inspiring. I am very excited to have found your site and your blog. You seem to be living the dream! Keep it up. I live in Denver and have three little ones — 5 year old, 3 year old, and 1 month. We took the oldest for a bikepacking trip on the White Rim when she was 6 months, but have fallen off with the two additional arrivals. I am preparing to buy a kid-adult tandem so that I can put a Weehoo on the back and take the two older ones (and eventually the third) for bikepacking. Your site has given me renewed inspiration. Thanks and keep it up!
Thank you for the feedback Tim.
The White Rim is one of my favourite rides. I’d love to take Sage there. (I guess he’d shatter the overwhelming silence of the desert, though…)
Those Weehoos look really cool!
Awesome Cass. We’re thinking about our first mini tour with the boys… Where, when, how long for etc. wishing we had your weather and incredible scenery on our doorstep! Stunning pics as always. Loving the baby sleep sack… Will need to look into those and UK availability. Well done Sage… Fully initiated now x
Thanks Sarah. I’m sure Simon will ensure your first mini tour is equally well documented! Looking forward to hearing more.
What shall I say? Awesome photos? NOT my favourite word, I’m lost for any others right now. I don’t know why. Your photography is SUPERB and you captured that little munchin’s first camping trip perfectly. It’s almost as if the colours were premiditated but I’m sure they weren’t! It was well worth the ride ahead to get those shots, Cass… and little Sage looking up at the tree (another beautiful shot) was perfect. Loved this photo with his change of clothes! I cant think of a better way to spend an anniversary… such LOVE of life and just the three of you. Congratulations.
Thanks Susie. Watching him scrabble around in the grass, and look up at upside-down trees, were indeed magical moments.
Hey Cass…as Sarah says we were out with the boys in their new trailer at the weekend. Started with an easy 5k but no tears so we will work up from here. I have bought an extra towing kit for Rob (he doesn’t know yet). He obviously forgot to read the small print in the Godfather contract (that rig is heavy with two boys!).
Camping trip soon…then we’re game on. Any ideas for sleeping bags for Noah (I guess he is going to be too big for the milk & honey sleep sack).
A double Chariot and two boys… Andd camping gear! I can only imagine!
Haven’t looked into Noah-sized sleeping bags yet. But REI generally covers the bases pretty well.
Cass, is the little one sitting just in the main built-in seat in the Chariot, or do you have a sling? My little guy just turned 6 months old and I’ve been using the infant sling for short trips around town.. seems to be a bit bouncy though since it kind of hangs in place. Didn’t know if Sage was big enough for the main seat yet or what else you were doing to secure him.
Brad, we started with the sling, but then Sage became too long for it – and as you say, it’s kind of bouncy. We were all set to move onto the Baby Supporter, but Sage’s head is too wide to fit in it! Although he’s getting on for 7 months, he’s big for his age. As of last week, he’s now riding in the standard straps of the Chariot – we’ve just added in a self made support for his head. I feel he slouches more compared to the sling, but hopefully he’ll grow into it pretty quick. The trailer definitely feels more stable now he’s sitting lower in it.
Thanks for the info.. my baby is also very big for his age, and just turned 6 months.
I bought the Chariot after your initial blog post about it and I’ve been very happy with it.. he’s just not quite fitting in the main seat yet. I don’t think the baby supporter would work for me either. Just need to be patient for him to grow into the trailer.. but it’s difficult to wait because I love hauling him around in it.
Sounds like your little guy is at the in between stage too. We took Sage is on a relatively rough road at the weekend (not by intention) and he seemed really happy in the trailer. Lots of singing… until he got hungry!
What tires is Nancy running on her Troll, and how are they working out? I’m currently pondering a set of new tires for some mixed on-and-off pavement touring on my own Troll, and trying to explore different options.
Those would be Schwalbe Mondials, in a 26×2. Very nice all round tyre, if a little on the heavy side. I expect them to last for ‘ever’.
I have some Smart Sams on my Ogre. More offroad orientated, but very nice too.
Awesome mate, I didn´t think for one second that having kids would keep you off the bike! Looking forward to your Peruvian visit and some more bike packing.
Awesome! Just when I’m all into the hard core GDMBR stuff something comes along to remind me what is really important. This is as good as it gets. Great post. :^)
What a fun ride. It brought back memories. There is such great gear now for kids. Back in 1971 I took my 5 month son on an overnight cycling trip in the foothills of Mt. Hood. He rode in his Snuggly. I wasn’t aware of any trailers back then. We hadn’t started worrying about helmets yet either. In 2003 I took his 3 & 4 year old kids across the southern tier in a Burley trailer and a trailer bike. I also had 8,11 & 12 year old foster kids with me on that trip. It’s fun biking with kids.
This is a great story. My husband sent it to me (I’m 8 months pregnant). With concerns I would never wild camp or go bike touring again, he said ‘check your inbox’. Feeling better about it all now.
Cass, I met you once or twice in Bristol. I write for What Mtb – thanks for the blog, it’s fabulous.
What a great trip! Our Chariot stroller has been our secret weapon for still getting out on the bikes. We recently started hitting some of the longer rails to trails out here in the Northeast and have enjoyed getting back off the pavement.
Thanks Don, great to hear.
Nice bikes you have there too!
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