Thanks in advance for spreading the word!
Good Night 2022 is a wrap! We’re stoked to report that hundreds of people participated in our third annual year-end overnighter challenge. After going through loads of submissions, we’ve chosen five favorites for the contest portion of the event. Find each of their mini-stories and some excellent photos from Switzerland, Arizona, Germany, California, and the Czech Republic here…
Back in 2020, we were thrilled to see the Good Night campout quickly evolve from an off-the-cuff idea into an overwhelming success with over 1,000 people around the world participating. Now in its third year, we’re happy to see bikepackers around the world continue take on our Good Night challenge to spend one last night out between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many have even made it an end-of-the-year tradition. For 2022, we saw images and videos of folks’ late December overnighters from across several continents via the #GoodNight2022Campout hashtag on Instagram and in the comments here on the website. Several of us on the team managed to take part and ride out for a trip of our own too.
Each year, part of the event is a friendly competition where we ask participants to sign up and then post photos and thoughts about their campout. After going through hundreds of posts, we picked about a dozen that we thought were fantastic, then met to choose five winners, each of whom will be receiving either a new set of bags from Ortlieb, a pair of tires from Teravail, or a merino wool cold weather kit from Surly. Each of the winners was kind enough to send over their photos and provide a short summary of their trip. Find them all below, followed by a few more embedded Instagram posts that we thought were worth showcasing as well.
location Switzerland instagram @breakaway_sara
In the middle of the pandemic, on December 31 2020, my husband and I unexpectedly met four young people in the middle of nowhere in the snowy Swiss Jura. They were total strangers, and we could hardly communicate because they were deaf and we did not know sign language. And yet, we spent New Year’s Eve together outdoors in this fairytale winter wonderland, quietly and peacefully ringing in the New Year. With this memory of our #Goodnight2020Campout in mind, we quickly realized that we wanted to spend New Year’s Eve outdoors again this year. Unlike last time, we’d do it with a few close friends.
On December 31, in spring-like weather conditions, eight of us set off to a location 35 kilometers from Bern. Our ride took us through mud, over meadows, along beautiful forest trails, and on a few paved roads. Just as the sun had set, we arrived at a small forest hut, the Chatzenloch (cat’s hole), which has fantastic views over the Swiss Alps and Lake Thun and enough space for a few bikepackers who want to spend a quiet night with their tents and bivies under the open sky.
A fire was quickly lit, the mulled wine warmed, and the food put on the barbecue. The evening passed quickly, and suddenly giant sparklers were burning and hugs and New Year’s wishes followed, while on the plain below, fireworks popped and lit up the sky. Soon after, tents, bivies and other sleeping places were set, and we crawled into our sleeping bags with the feeling that we had done everything right that evening and once again had been in the right place at the right time with the right people. Cheers to friendship, riding bikes together and sleeping outdoors!
location Belgium instagram @alco.n.co
“Riding to Cologne to see the Christmas markets while it is raining like hell… of course, I’ll come!” That’s how our Good Night 2022 started.
My love Fabian and I started at 6 p.m., just after the rain stopped. After four hours of riding through the forest and crossing numerous slippery bridges, we decided to stop and pitch the tent. That was the moment the rain decided to start falling again. The next day was still looking rainy, but the rain stopped right when we were starting. Lucky us!
Thanks to a tailwind, we arrived in Cologne quickly, dry, happy, and very excited to the see those Christmas markets that attract 5,000,000 visitors each year. We were quickly disappointed; the Christmas markets are closed… on Christmas! It sounds logical, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, we enjoyed pizza, pasta, and German beers, promising to come back next year, but before Christmas this time!
We slept at the hotel for the second night (I know, it is supposed to be a campout). But, trust me, we were punished. The next day was more rain, all day. After five kilometers, my shoes were filled like a swimming pool, and I had been freezing from the start until we reached the train station. We wrapped up our Good Night 2022 trip with a train trip back toward home, excited to give it another go next year.
location Arizona, USA instagram @theforrestbiome
The Sonoran Desert lights me up. As the arid biome with the greatest biodiversity of all the deserts in North America, I find myself routinely orbiting through its broad plains and crumpled peaks. Some five years ago, I read about the El Camino del Diablo bikepacking route here on BIKEPACKING.com. The idea was planted deep down, but the timing for a ride didn’t quite match up. Then came my 2022 winter break. My wife and I invited two of our friends to join us, one of whom hadn’t been bikepacking before. We lined up work schedules and headed down to southern Arizona.
The route proved to be the most spectacular example of Sonoran Desert beauty I’ve ever seen. Although the El Camino del Diablo proper begins in Ajo, we decided to start the ride in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Riding through the Park meant morning light that spread thickly through cirrus cloud across the lush vegetative landscape where saguaros mixed with creosote, palo verde, mesquite, senitas, and the iconic organ pipe cactus found only here at this southern edge of the United States. The sheer biomass of plant life was stunning, accentuated further by the copious winter rains this year that left the park brimming with swollen greens amid the landscape. And it was this wet weather that led to some of the most dramatic views on the rest of the ride.
On day two, a large weather system moved across the southwest, dumping rain even on the arid route. We awoke to the decrescendo of drizzle becoming mist. This rain percolated the deep sands of the route which, when further packed down by a few vehicles, made our sand crossings supportive and swift. And the storms sparked nascent brittlebush blooms unexpectedly flowering yellow in the Tule Mountains. We crossed the Lechuguilla Desert after the storm as morning light punctuated the roiling clouds; the results painted the distant Tinajas Altas in granite-white contrast to the storm-grays. I will never forget the exhilaration of the tailwind that day, pushing us across the broad packed-sand playas to those mountains mottled with the sun. It was on the westward side of that Tinajas that we came upon Elephant Trees growing at the northern reach of their spread and saw the ecotone of deserts collide.
In all, the El Camino del Diablo provided a phenomenal bikepacking route and warmth in an otherwise cold time of year. The first-time bikepacker in our group spoke emphatically about wanting to do more rides after we finished the route. The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, the heart of the route, proved an undeveloped, expansive, and iconic example of Sonoran plant communities. For him, that was a major attraction. For me, I’m already hoping to return someday.
location Czech Republic instagram @havelka_radek
I decided to spend my Good Night 2022 campout in the Giant Mountains, the highest mountain range of Czech Republic, which is known as an “island of arctic tundra in the middle of Europe.” The Giant Mountains are protected by the mighty spirit of the mountains, Krakonoš, according to old legends. Weather in the Giant Mountains is harsh and very changeable, and dense, freezing fog and strong winds are typical. They accompanied me for almost all of the trip. That may sound like horrible weather for some, but for me, it was perfect.
I followed the path of Czech-Polish friendship, which runs exactly along the border between Czech and Poland. I was surrounded by impenetrable fog, which constantly froze on my ski goggles, when a human figure suddenly emerged from the mist. It was a mountain service member on alpine skis on his patrol. After a short talk, we wished each other the best for the new year and lost each other in the fog. He was the only person I met the whole time. After a few kilometers of pedaling, I passed the source of the river Labe (Elbe), one of the longest river in Europe, which begins its journey to the North Sea right there on the ridges of the Giant Mountains.
The wind increased, the fog thickened, and nothing seemed to change. But miracles do happen. Suddenly, for a few minutes, the fog disappeared, the wind died down, and the sun timidly broke through the clouds. I looked down at the clouds from the top and felt like I was at the end of the world. But, after a few minutes, everything was again engulfed in an impenetrable fog. As time progressed, I started looking for a place to sleep. I found a very simple shelter built from poles that are spread across the mountains to help pilgrims find their way in the fog. The shelter didn’t look very cozy, but I felt like a king in it after all.
The next morning, I was greeted by foggy and windy weather again. I ground fresh coffee with frozen fingers, and in a few moments, my shelter was permeated with the smell of delicious coffee. I stared into the fog, watched the wind play with the frosted trees, and sipped my coffee. I felt wonderful. After a moment of contemplation, I was cold enough to decide to pack everything back onto my beloved bike and set off on my journey back home from the fog toward the new year 2023.
location California, USA instagram @harleigh.at.heart
I honestly had no clue where I was going, just that I needed to reach the highlighted mark the National Park Service ranger left on my map. Everything looked so different in the dark, and the miles passed by slowly. When my headlight illuminated the road sign pointing toward the turn-off for Dante’s Peak, I felt a glimmer of hope. Fifteen more miles? It couldn’t be. The entire trip I’d calculated based off the map should have only been 12. I stopped in the middle of the road and argued with myself about what to do next. It was too late to turn back.
At 10:30 p.m., I reached mile marker two on California Route 30. The low battery light had just started blinking on my head lamp. Once again, I stood there in the middle of the road and argued with myself about where to go next. I knew I wasn’t going to make it much further, so I decided the next best thing was to pick a spot a little ways off the edge of the road I was standing in and hope to God nobody bothered me. I scrambled up the bank that was to my right and walked toward a metal sign that was reflecting off my flashlight. When I reached the rusted metal gate covered in STOP signs, I realized it was not a park service road, and bedding down beside such warnings was not a good idea. A hundred yards from the left edge of the road was a wash where the flat land abruptly dipped down three or four feet into what looks like a dried-out river bed. I circled the immediate vicinity with my flashlight, checking for any signs of potential danger. Not seeing any, I braced the bike against the sandy gravel wall and laid my pad and sleeping bag beside it. I could hear cars as they passed and could see the eerie glow of their headlights approach and fade, but I knew they had no idea a girl and her bike were hunkered down there.
Once I had my “camp” set up, I peeled off the clothes that were now wet with sweat and zipped into my winter coat. Sitting cross-legged, I boiled some tea, drank half of it before it got cold, and fell asleep with the starry night all around me. Eventually, I opened my eyes and was greeted with the dawn. The romantic sunrise I was planning to photograph turned out to be an overcast sky, and in the near distance, I laid eyes upon a giant rusty mining plant that probably had not been touched in years. I had survived a night in the desert, alone, with no tent.
I sat upright in my sleeping bag and lit the stove once more. I added another bag to the tea from last night and used it to wash down half a bag of chocolate animal cookies that I munched on for breakfast. Packing up was as quick and easy as settling down (the one part of bikepacking that I think I love the most is the pure simplicity of it all). I was still a few hours’ ride from seeing anything, so I got back on the road and followed it all the way downhill to where I had come from. It was 9 a.m. when I rolled back through the resort gates and back to my room.
There are many more Good Night 2022 campouts to be found via the #GoodNight2022Campout hashtag on Instagram. Here are a few more that we thought looked fun:
Cheers to everyone who participated! We’re thankful to see this tradition live on and already thinking about next year’s Good Night campout. And many thanks to Ortlieb, Surly Bikes, and Teravail for contributing prizes to add a little bonus into the mix.
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