Bike Camping 1972-Style

I rely on Google for too much, arguably. My email, my calendar, the analytics for this site, searching the Internets. Now, thanks to their mad attempt to scan every published document in existence, I can use Google to get cutting-edge bike touring tips from 1972.

Laura and Russ of The Path Less Pedaled (two previous Bicycle Story interviewees) posted a link on Twitter to a Google books scan of the April 1972 issue of Popular Science. The issue contains an article by A.J. Hand with the straight-forward title “Bicycle Camping–What you need to know to join the fun.”

Some of the advice still rings true: pack lightly, put your gear on the bike and keep if off your back. Some of it isn’t so great: buy aluminum racks instead of steel to save weight, avoid putting weight on the front of the bike. Regardless, the article still captures the spirit that inspires many of us to give bike camping and touring a try. It opens:

Own a 10-speed bike? Let it take you camping this summer. Rolling silently along the back roads it will introduce you to an America lost to the mile-a-minute Interstate armies. It will bring to life, with sounds, sighs, and smells, scenes that are no more than a subliminal flash to the traveler sealed inside his car.

My favorite aspects of the piece are the little details that clearly date it as a product of a bygone era. The writer says to expect to spend about $30 on a set of panniers, $3 on a rack, and $40 for a good two-man tent. The best of all? Mafac brake tools are part of the recommended tool-kit.

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