For the second year in a row, the folks over The Spindle ATL hosted a campout that coincides with the annual Swift Campout, an overnight bikepacking trip celebrated worldwide.
This year, the plan was a 100 mile round trip to Griffin, Georgia to check out the new Sister Louisa's Sanctuary, If you're an Atlanta or Athens local, you know this name well. And yes, it's the same Sister Louisa from Church Bar.
With the promise of delicious snacks, a scenic route, and good company, we jumped at the chance to go!
Day one was a 60 mile ride from the Spindle down to the Sanctuary. We left around 7am alongside ~30 other riders (I'm really bad at estimating people, so it may have been more or less than this).
Riding with such a large group of variously experienced riders was an experience that I have never had prior to this trip. But The Spindle dudes handled it flawlessly and our SAG vehicle was always close by in the event that someone needed it (no one did).
We kept a pretty modest pace throughout the trip. We were greeted with some pretty substantial climbs on our way out of the city, but the route also offered up lots of low-traffic flats, a few bike paths, and smooth country roads.
Around our second store stop (mile 30ish), the rain began. We took shelter under a gas station's awning to wait for the rain to pass. A quick glance at the radar though showed that, although the current storm was passing quickly, another, much larger monster was close behind. As soon as the coast was clear, we decided to go for it in hopes of making it south before the storm crossed over.
As one would expect, we had no such luck.
It rained on us for close to an hour, varying in strengths from "is that hail?" to a calm drizzle. Right as the rain let up, we rolled into Hampton, GA. This was our longest stop of the day and a chance to check out Jailhouse Brewing and grab lunch at a local spot.
After lunch, it was pretty much all smooth sailing. The sun came back out, we finally stumbled upon some gravel, and each mile starting ticking by faster & faster.
We got to camp around 3:30pm. The Sanctuary is a retired Girl Scout camp. Since this is a recent acquirement of Church Bar, it has yet to receive all of the kitschy charm that Church is known for. The camp is home to 6 cabins, stocked with 2 bunk beds each, and a nice little desk and sitting area. There is also a bathhouse with showers and actual toilet stalls.
Overall, the camp's accommodations were far more than I bargained for - especially once I realized that the cabins had A/C.
After dinner, everyone kind of went off to do their own things. A card game that was too complex for my understanding broke out under the main pavilion, a game of toss that was lovingly just called Ball. formed in front of some of the cabins, and others went down to the pond to fish and take out the boat we found.
Everything about the camp truly exemplified the summer camps of our childhoods, but without the awkward counselors and being scared of the opposite sex.
In true camp fashion, we ended the evening around a campfire despite the 90 degree temperatures.
Once we had our fill of conversations, fire smoke, and beer, we set off to our cabins to prepare for the 7am wake up call the next morning.
On Sunday, we awoke to a breakfast made by TinkerTown Pies, a local vegan favorite, with coffee from The Spindle. After breakfast, we loaded up our bikes and set back for Atlanta. The return trip was much shorter, at just 44 miles.
Anxious to get back, the groups ended up splitting in fast and slower groups. With a few more store stops enjoyed, we were back in Atlanta before we knew it.
All in all, I cannot imagine a trip of ~30 riders going more smoothly than it did. There were no major mishaps, no disagreements with the route, and no one got lost.
Thank you to the Spindle for taking on such a huge responsibility to ensure that we all had a great time!
If you haven't checked out one of the Spindle's rides yet, we recommend checking them out on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with their upcoming adventures!