Find Nice Places to Camp!
Keep an eye out when you travel. Get advice and trip reports from club members, and watch for articles in magazines and other club newsletters. Note places the club has used before. Group camps are often a better value, have more privacy and often have fewer restrictions on vehicle count, but a block of single sites can work well. Private campgrounds can be more flexible and welcoming to motorcycles. Pick spots close to home in the rainy season, favoring dryer southern locations. Stay out of high country until June, then take advantage of the season to cross the passes. I will pass on to the next tour captain:
- A list of every California state group camp
- A list of every Forest Service group camp
- A list of every place the club has camped in the last 30 years
- A list of places to consider next
- Notes on specific campgrounds.
Most reservations are made on-line. Single sites, and State regional group sites, are usually reserved 6 months in advance; some up to 7 months, on the first of the month. National Park and busy Federal group sites (like near Yosemite) must be reserved a year in advance. (We reserved Death Valley for next year while we were still at the campground.) You should be “war-dialing” at 8:00 AM on opening day. Cancellation fees are minimal, so you can book backup sites. I will pass on:
- Reservations for camping through October, and for March 2017, with alternates
- For reference, all the reservation confirmations from the last 2 years, with prices
- My meeting, telephone, and planning log.
Plan the Ride
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Ride planning can range from a full GPS route with a GPX file and turn-by-turn instructions, to a turns list alone, or just “follow me.” The ride to DV has been riders-choice so that people can take the time and amount of off-road that suits them. The only essential is that the meeting location and time be clearly called out, these are official meetings. Lat/Long alone may not be enough to get riders to remote locations due to map errors. On a guided ride, plan on a comfort stop an hour after breakfast, then two hours later. Riders should meet with full tanks and there should be a gas stop at about 125 miles. The meeting is at 4PM in the dark season, and 5PM on daylight time, so get riders into camp in time to pitch tent and relax before we start. A formal lunch stop is optional, usually on longer summer rides. Dinner should be part of the plan; if there is no catering, scout out local dining options or plan a shopping stop. Preview the ride, if only in a car, while looking for good stopping points and checking the accuracy of the instructions. Say Hello to the camp host and look at the cooking facilities and firewood availability. The new tour captain will receive:
- GPS (.gpx) routes of every ride in the last 2 years, with written instructions and maps
- GPS waypoints for restaurants, campgrounds, gas stations and restrooms.
Announce the Meeting
The bylaws are specific about advance notice of meetings in the newsletter. The tour captain can also post directly to the web page, which is official, and to Meetup, which is not, though it is very good at reaching new members. The Meetup file storage is good, and it’s easy to link to Meetup route instructions and GPS files from the web page. Announce the camping fee and ask the treasurer to make a payment link on the web page; ask campers to use it, even though some will still pay in camp. Make a payment link if there is catering, this cannot be paid on-site. Announce the breakfast meeting time and “stands up.”
- Past postings on Meetup and the web will be good templates.
Lead the Ride
Go over the route and call out tricky intersections, signage and road conditions. Break the ride into two groups if you have a lot of riders and select a sweep for each group. Let riders know how long each stop is, and signal a few minutes before leaving time. There should not be riders in full gear, sweating and waiting, while the laggards hang around unready. Roll into camp triumphantly, then snag the best camping place for your own, you’ve earned it.
- That’s me right behind you, with eyes on that nice spot.
Tour Captain 2014 - 2016