We were one day into a three-day trip dubbed the Garibaldi Classic or “The Nch’kay House of Pleasure and Pain.” Pandemics aside, on the long weekend in September, it has become a tradition to embark on some sort of ill-advised multi-day trip involving mountain landscapes, good friends, small backpacks, and quite a bit more foot travel than would be advertised in a long-weekend bike trip brochure. The goal was to leave from our front doors, bikes loaded with everything we would need for a three-day, lightweight excursion in the mountains, curling a horseshoe around Garibaldi Lake within British Columbia’s Garibaldi Provincial Park.
If you stop in at Absolute Bikes, a bike shop in the mountain town of Salida, Colorado, Shawn Gillis, with his welcoming grin under a distinct ginger mustache, will likely be there to greet you. Whether you need a flat fixed on your commuter or the brightest bike light money can buy in order to finish the 2,745-mile Tour Divide, Gillis will lend a hand and have you riding again in no time.
But what he really loves is setting someone up on their first mountain bike, hearing about the adventures they want to tackle, and giving them tips about which local trails to start on.
Maryland-based freelance photographer and all-bikes rider, Korey Hopkins, recently traveled with the Minority Mountain Bikers for what promised to be a schralp-filled bike park weekend. An untimely OTB put the kibosh on any riding ambitions he had but fortunately he’d packed his camera! Alongside shreddy Snowshoe shots, Korey shares his inspiration for bridging his love for photography and bikes.
Less than thirty miles from one of the most populous areas in North America, lies the remote eastern reaches of the Los Padres National Forest. With its seemingly endless layers of pinyon, ponderosa and fir-studded peaks that stand sentinel over a tangled labyrinth of deep, rugged valleys, it’s hard to believe that such a wild oasis exists merely a stone’s throw from the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area and its nineteen million residence. And, in unbelievably stark contrast to the concrete-laden hustle and bustle of neighboring LA, this portion of the Los Padres remains almost entirely devoid of human presence for much of the year. For the months that motorized access is prohibited, one must hike or pedal their way into these wild and untamed canyons. Getting back there can be a rigorous effort indeed, but more than worth it for the unhampered solitude one can find.
April is typically a shoulder season here; heavy snow years and lallygagging winters can render the month bitterly cold, the trails can remain unrideable, and the streams too cold and icy for any desirable form of fishing. This winter was different however…the snow never really fell, and unseasonably warm and dry weather persisted through the once-rainy winter season and on into spring. So here we were, the first weekend in April, baking under an angry sun as we loaded bikes and prepared to set off deep into the Los Padres in search of wild campsites and native fish.
I first met Janessa (15), Jodessa (13) and Jaron Segay (20) November 2020 in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Wanting to support Dzil Ta’ah Adventures owners, Jon Yazzie and Nadine Johnson, and their Navajo Youth Bikepacking Program, we invited these first three participants on a Four Corners Guides bikerafting course to cap off their season of learning to bikepack.
The kids didn’t talk much, and Jaron busied himself setting up camp for all of them or otherwise prepping their bikes and gear. The girls rode on borrowed bikes until dark night one, and fished for catfish with beef jerky night two. And when we first set out on Lake Powell, the three of them giggled and spun their rafts in circles for the first few miles before settling into a paddling rhythm. Since that trip, I’ve watched the kids blossom into full-fledged competitive mountain bikers. Based on their hard work, ability to take care of their own gear and confidence riding bikes, they’ve been chosen to participate in various bike- or adventure-related programs. I recently chatted with Janessa, Jaron and their mom, Jessica, to talk about how the Youth Bikepacking Program has changed their lives.
Having been a resident of western Pennsylvania for my entire existence has given me a supernatural view of real mountains. I understand that they are real, but part of me doesn’t grasp how something so magical and awe-inspiring is there for us to become a part of whenever we choose. Perhaps having grown up in a society where things like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus were so embedded in our childhood has permanently skewed the collective vision of what is real instead of an illusion. Even when I’m touching the snow or granite rock, the concept that it is me, in the physical form present, and not a dream or a postcard, takes a fair amount of internal dialogue to accept the reality.
In spring 2021, I decided to embark on a couple hundred mile bike-to-ski journey from my home in Telluride, CO to the La Sal mountain range near Moab, Utah.
During the winter season, I’m a professional skier. Usually, I’m traveling around the globe, doing photo shoots and film projects. I will acknowledge it’s quite the privileged life, and I’m very grateful to so many who make it possible for me. The winter window is short, and when I make my career happen. So when things don’t work out during those few months, it feels like a failure and loss of a season. With a film project that wasn’t quite materializing, 2021 was starting to feel just like that I found myself just wanting to get away – from my own winter’s demise and seemingly everything else. So, I decided to pack up my skis and hop on a bike, headed towards the desert of all places, far from any normal ski hill, to hopefully disconnect from it all.
Across the road from a sprawling old corral with a dozen or more cattle pens constructed from creosote-laden boards and discarded railroad ties stood a small stone monument. It commemorated an earthen dam, behind which was a very small but empty reservoir at the foot of a butte called Coyote Peak.
“If it were not for strongmen like Bob Crowder,” the metal plaque read, “with the fortitude and ambition to develop water in these vast desert areas, there would be no game and no livestock today.”
“Our driveway is rough.” Those are the words John Campbell of Alpine Luddites used to describe the windy, undulating, treelined drive, freshly blanketed in seven inches of snow, tucked away in the quiet town of Westmore, Vermont. It’s an understatement — a theme that emerges as you pick Campbell’s brain about his work making ultralight and durable bikepacking bags and backpacks for outdoor endeavors.
His shop is located on a picturesque fourth-generation Vermont family farm of 1,100 acres, a place secluded enough that your cellphone welcomes you to Canada as you crest the hill of his aforementioned driveway. Around the back, past the woodshed and out toward the fields, you’ll find Campbell’s workshop. It’s an idyllic setting that easily could have been the setting for a Hudson River School painting in the mid-19th century.
As the sun was setting on 2021, my good friends Greg and Nikki – people who constantly seek out adventures – invited me on one more trip before cold winter conditions reared their ugly head. In a year that contained a lot of personal firsts, they asked if I wanted to ride the White Rim Road in Moab. This was my first year of backpacking, so most routes were still unfamiliar to me and almost every trail is as exciting as the next. The only thing I knew about the White Rim was that it’s located in Moab – an area that always yields stunning photos. In a world that feels pre-apocalyptic, sometimes a weekend bike ride, with a focus on the shutter button, helps to reset my appreciation for life. Saying goodbye to the shitshow that was 2021, this ride was a time to reflect on what a struggle the year was for me, individually (and for everyone else), and how bikes and photography contributed to keeping me afloat mentally.
Bikepacking Roots (BPR) is excited to share the Love Where You Ride project. Recognizing that bikepackers traverse landscapes from those with wilderness qualities to rural communities to urban areas, we have created a set of Positive Impact Bikepacking practices that riders can apply to travels and racing. We also partnered with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to adapt their standard Seven Principles specifically for bikepacking and adventure cycling.
While many of the sites and vistas here are fairly well known, we will not be providing names and furthering keywording the area for the Internets. We encourage you to find a Canyonlands map, a cup of tea, and a good reading lamp and enjoy letting your mind wander the nooks, grottos, bends, and spires on the map unfolded before you.
“Native lands, the places where California Indian tribes had interacted closely with the landscape for generations, were designated as unpopulated ‘wilderness’ areas to conform to Euro-American notions of idealized, pristine conditions that supposedly existed before contact. This assertion was, in part, built upon the idea that Native peoples were not and had not interacted in any meaningful way with significant portions of California. These systematic attempts to attack the very existence of California Indians were a means by which white settlers set out to exterminate, control, and dominate the land, flora, and fauna of Native California.” Baldy 2
I’m here to share my journey toward a better understanding of the context of our public lands with the hope that it will inspire you to learn more as well. As a young bike tourist, I was shocked at the manner in which people were engaging with our public lands and held many ableist and entitled views about enjoying such places. Originally enraged by the almost being killed by rental RVs on the road, I later became enthralled with the vignettes plastered on their sides. As I started to dig into some reading about the origins of wilderness areas and the terrible atrocities committed that created them, I became starkly aware of how little I understood of our county’s history and the formation of our public lands. Much of the writing I was able to find disproportionately deals with our National Park system which is almost unanimously managed as wilderness areas which isn’t something that we encounter much as cyclists, especially if you are trying to ride off-road. Nonetheless, the park system became the archetype for how we manage public lands and thus is important for understanding the rest of our non-NPS lands and our broader definitions of “nature” and “wilderness.”
Perhaps you remember this piece we posted a few years back, showcasing the conservation efforts by Arizona-based community members to save the Dells from residential development. Well, on July 13th, the City Council of Prescott, Arizona voted in a Special Voting Meeting, ultimately rejecting the development of this important piece of land in Northern Arizona, saving 474 acres of unique public land…
“Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Remember the date. Prescott, Arizona City Council voted 7-0 to approve the annexation of thousands of acres of land owned by Arizona Eco Development into the city, with the prize being 474 acres of natural open space now under city protection. This culminates a five-year process in which a few caring citizens formed a political action committee, Save the Dells, to achieve this very goal. Save the Dells garnered enormous public support, and through long, sometimes very difficult, negotiations, this date turns out to be the win-win-win successful compromise for Prescott, the people, and the developer. And let’s not forget the thousands of animals that depend on that ecosystem!”
Read more at Save the Dells’ Facebook Page.
With my partner Cari’s birthday always falling on the Summer Solstice, it’s usually up to her to decide how we spend the longest day of the year. This year, with temps in the 90s here in Santa Fe, we were excited to get out on the river in our Alpacka rafts with our friends Doom and Lizzy from Four Corners Guides, where we spent our Solstice evening on the San Miguel river…
The accompanying gallery includes photos from a few of the areas in Arizona burned by wildfire in just the past 15 months.
My friend Joe and I stood atop Spruce Mountain just below the fire tower one last time this past Friday, admiring the surrounding peaks and forests of the Bradshaw Mountains. We both live just a few miles from this summit, and we share a love for big rides in the chunky, challenging backcountry trails deeper in the range. But today’s ride was a short one, first thing in the morning. Up on that vista, my eyes hopped from one patch of brown to the next, each a cluster of dead pines and firs. The ongoing drought is having a devasting impact on these forests. To the north, smoke from the nearby 40,000+ acre Rafael Fire filled Verde Valley with an impenetrable brown haze.
This is the second of a two-part series on how human-caused climate change is affecting the cycling experience, why we as cyclists should care about those impacts, and what we can do as individuals and as a community to combat those impacts. Part I of this series connected cyclists to a few examples of the realities of climate change, and Part II here outlines what changes we as cyclists and the cycling community can make to improve the future of our pursuit in a changing climate. If you only have 5 minutes, jump to the end of this article to read the action items toolbox to quickly learn more about what you can do to make a difference…
This is the first of a two-part series on how human-caused climate change is affecting the cycling experience, why we as cyclists should care about those impacts, and what we can do as individuals and as a community to combat those impacts. Part I of this series connects cyclists to a few examples of the realities of climate change, and Part II will outline what changes we as cyclists and the cycling community can make to improve the future of our pursuit in a changing climate.