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CAMPING TIPS

Biking and camping is a lethal combination, it gives one a choice to plan a ride in such a way where destination for the night can be made at any place irrespective of hotels or guest houses.

Everyone is a little apprehensive to camp especially when on rides, but believe me once you get used to it, camping will become an integral part of your rides, for one simple reason, (apart from the joy of camping) freedom, freedom from planning a ride according to towns where hotels are available, freedom to go remote where there are no facilities for lodging and boarding.

But however there are a certain rules and ways that one must follow in order to enjoy camping. Below are a few tips I personally think will help you in your camping forays.

Tents & Backpacks

a) There are many types of tents though, they are broadly divided into two categories, the dome and two way sloping roof tent. I prefer the dome tents, as they are easy to set-up with their fiberglass rod system and do not need to be pegged down. So in case you need to camp on a rocky surface you need not worry about pegging the dome tent down, as they stand quite well on their own. The two way sloping roof tent has to be grounded with nails. It’s difficult or impossible to pitch the two way sloping tent with nails on hard/rocky surface and on soft/sand.

b) Most dome tents come with flooring and a mosquito net protection on the doors and windows. This feature is helpful in keeping the insects and pest out.

c) The Indian jungles are hot most of the time and I have camped for the better half of my camping days without a tent, instead I have camped out of a tarpaulin sheet. Most of the time a sleeping bag will do just fine. A sleeping mat, which is laid down on the ground has many advantages. It acts as an insulator, not passing the heat or cold from the ground below. It also cushions your back against hard stony surfaces. The material of the sleeping mat is the same used in cars to insulate heat from the engine to the air conditioner.


Backpacks

Backpack weight is very important. The pack weight should be 1/4 of your body weight or less. Too much weight, just like blisters, can spoil a trip. Shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and feet are the stress points. Downhill hiking is much harder on joints. Uphill hiking stresses quadriceps and lungs.

Things which you might need more often, light snacks, torch etc should be packed last or in any of the side pockets so time is not wasted in pondering for them through the whole backpack. Prefer water resistant backpack to others.


Choosing a Camping spot

Choose flat ground to pitch your tent. If you have to pitch your tent on sloping ground – be sure to sleep with your head on the higher end, if done otherwise excess of blood flow to your head will lead to headache and nausea.

Choose your spot close to a water source that would help you in washing and cleaning. If you are camping in winter or monsoons pitch your tent under a medium size tree, this would offer protection against rain and dew. Use a dew cover in winters or you may awake to find your tent completely drenched.

When you peg your tent make a note of the peg lines as we all tend to trip over them, sometimes it leads to injury while most of the time the tent gets a bad jolt.
Do not smoke in a tent or light candles.


Food

I have experimented with various types of outdoor foods, the best and easiest is tin food but tin food increases backpack weight. Maggie noodles with few veggies tossed in are quick and easy to cook. The latest, is the ready-to-eat food packets – “Ashirwad” is one of the brands. All one has to do is put the contents into a pan and heat it or dip the packet into hot water. The food packets are very convenient and tasty.

Chicken bar be que can be quite exciting, you must get along your pre marinade chicken or marinade the chicken at least an hour before roasting it. Cook over slow fire – coals. Fruits like apples and oranges are also good. Though they make a great diet, I avoid bananas cause they invariably get squashed up in the bag and turn all black. Eat light and drink a fair amount of water. While trekking carry atleast two liters of water. You'll determine right amount for you with experience. Trail snacks [bring stuff that's easy to eat such as chocolate bars/chips, dry fruits etc. they give you an instant energy boost.] should be in outside pockets or near the top, this way you don't have to take out lot of gear from your pack while it's raining!


Starting a Fire

In order to cook or make a cup of tea you must have a fire. Staring a fire can get pretty difficult especially when there is no wind or when it’s raining. Start the fire with small twigs and dry leaves, let them burn well and then insert slightly bigger branches and finally the logs. To start a fire quickly, add kerosene, but again kerosene tends to leak and mess your bags. Best is to insert a small-lit candle between the twigs, this gives a permanent source of fire and the twigs will burn quickly. During the rains most of the wood is wet, you would need to dry the wood over a small fire first. A small fire can be started with a candle as mentioned above or by burning a little bit of plastic with the wood. The plastic will give you a persistent flame. Be careful of the fumes emitted by the plastic, hence use plastic only in cases of wet wood. I carry a small portable stove, which works on paraffin inflammable balls. This stove suffices to cook a small meal and some tea. If you are making a campfire be sure that you collect a lot of spare wood. Campfires can get very demanding in their consumption of wood – stick to large logs, as they will not only burn brighter but also last longer, even after the fire has died out the embers will keep you warm.

A note of caution, see that there is a buffer of cleared ground with radius of atleast 1 meter around the fire and make sure that your fire is completely stamped out before you leave. Most forest fires are cause by carelessly lit fires. These fires consume and destroy 100’s of acres of prime forest.


Insects & Insect Repellents

The basic rule is, that if you go camping then brace your self for a few bites, scratches and itches. Although it is a small price to pay.

Mosquitoes : The humming that they make in your ears can be more irritating than the bite. During monsoons the mosquitoes are at their best. Most mosquito repellents are quite effective, but they all wear out pretty quickly. So the trick is to reapply a new coat every 3 to 4 hrs or whenever you feel the mosquitoes have made their undue presence felt. Try Neem leaves, it is a natural repellent – on condition that you find one close at hand.

Leeches : Leeches are by far the most dreaded creatures, as small as they are they will and shall suck your blood. No need to panic, although the sight of a leech sucking blood is unnerving but the bite of a leech is completely harmless and sterile. They have bitten me on numerous occasions with no side effects. They are attracted to the sound of your feet and the heat of your body. Some of them may even choose an Arial attack, don’t worry they don’t fly !! They fall of branches onto your back and when they have had their fill they will comfortably drop off. I have spent a lot of time with the leeches in the Jungles of India, the point is not to frighten the readers but caution them a bit. Most repellents will work with limited success. Salt or tobacco juices are the best preventions. Though in the jungle most smokers would find it a pity to waste their precious cigarettes for making a juice. Try the leeches J Try not to pull the leeches off, instead gently apply the tobacco juice or salt and they will fall of immediately.

Cow Ticks : I have saved this insect for the last because in comparison it makes a mosquitoes look quite harmless. Cow ticks are found around cattle and feed on their blood. Avoid camping on cattle grazing grounds and near cow dung, also avoid frolicking there in the grass or wayside. Cow ticks are minute insects but deliver a nasty bite. The climax is that the bite does not heal for almost 3 months and will send you into an itching frenzy. The itching will turn into violent scratching and the more you scratch the worse the bite will get. I am a living example – itching at work – home – restaurants –dates everywhere. Till, a good soul took mercy on me and suggested a remedy. Apply a cream called “Propygenta” as often as possible, it is effective! And ofcourse you would have to contain your scratching.

Scorpion : Remember to dust your shoes in the morning when you awake in the jungles, scorpions love cozy warm places. There have been many instances of scorpion bites when campers wear shoes in the morning, which are left outside the tent.


Flashlight

Flashlight should be small enough to fit in your mouth because that's where it will be when you pitch your tent solo after sunset. Carry extra batteries and bulb. Candles are an important source of light and also provide a nice ambience. If you want to spot wildlife in the night carry a 4 or 5 cell sturdy torch, the MAG lights are the best with their adjustable focus.


Camping Ethics

Do not urinate or defecate near any water source, campsite, or at a place where people are likely to congregate. Bury toilet paper in the hole, replace sod/dirt, and tamp down lightly. Wash hands or clothes well away from any water source. Remember, this is the same water you and others use to cook and drink!

Never litter while camping, plastic bags and other non-bio-degradable stuff should be collected in a waste bag and discarded at a waste management spot



HAPPY CAMPING
Dean Gonsalves


If you wish to add more tips which are not mentioned above, kindly e-mail them at theride@60kph.com.
We will gladly add them to the list.



   
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