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.
In years past, we’ve often found ourselves meandering through the deserts of the Western United States. The Colorado, Mojave, Sonoran, and Great Basin all have provided ample inspiration to my tired body and mind. While many of these ecoregions feel familiar, by far the Chihuahuan is the most mysterious to me. It’s the one region we haven’t spent much time in and with our relocation to Santa Fe, I was looking forward to spending days meandering through the various public lands in southern New Mexico.
It’s no secret that for the past few years, we spend a lot of time on the road traveling to bike events. We often spend 7 months on the road, visiting gravel races, MTB events, framebuilder showcases, or just checking out the cycling communities and rides in various towns all over the Western United States. 2020 put a damper on that with Covid-19 but this year I’ve been building out a desert tourer and road trip vehicle of a different sort, an HJ75 Troopcarrier from Australia. This “long van” is one of the most capable and compact RVs in the world and unfortunately, we never got this specific model of Toyota here in the States.
When BF Goodrich caught wind of a recent interview with me where I discussed desert touring… by bicycle. They had to know more. How in the world do you ride in the desert on a bike? So I sat down with them for an interview about the Radavist and what it means to “Shred Lightly.”
Guide books like this are where I get a lot of inspiration for bike rides and tours.
The piece might be common knowledge for a lot of y’all but it’s always nice to push a positive message for outdoor recreation on a large platform like that. Head over to BF Goodrich Garage to check it out.
As reported in the Sustainable Trails Coalition last week, there’s been a bit of development in the often debated topic of whether or not bicycles should be allowed in designated wilderness areas:
“Agency staff testified before a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee regarding S.1695 – the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act, introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R.–Utah). Click here for video of the full testimony.
S.1695 would remove the agencies’ blanket bans on bicycling in Wilderness and revert to the Forest Service’s 1981 rule, allowing line officers to treat bikes as they do horses, hikers, campers, and hunters—i.e., allow or prohibit access based upon local conditions.”
This is a massive undertaking, with many details that would need to be ironed out if it passed.
Read the full report and many more details at Sustainable Trails Coalition.
Do you remember the crazy trans-Icelandic voyage featuring our friend Chris Burkard from last month? Well, we’d like to give his video UNNUR a shout out here. Enjoy this somber piece on your Friday afternoon!
“Elli Thor is an Icelandic photographer, surfer, and former kayaker. A decade ago Elli nearly drowned under a waterfall while kayaking a challenging Icelandic river. The near death experience became a catalyst for personal growth and his professional career. After walking away from kayaking, a newfound passion for surfing and the birth of his daughter Unnur gave him a new perspective worth living for.”
When I first heard about the Colorado Trail Race I was in fact riding part of the route, albeit one of the least engaging stretches. It was just ten days after I’d raced my bike for 200mi in Kansas and I’d been overly optimistic about my recovery when I’d agreed to a four-day tour from my home in Boulder through the South Platte (and on through Summit County) with my partner Tony.
e-Bikes aren’t going anywhere. They are a part of cycling and they’re here to stay. That means various forestry management departments are trying to find out what regulation these electronic bicycles need. I’m well are this is a heated topic and there are a lot of opinions about e-bikes, so now’s your time to let your voice be heard.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service is requesting public input on proposed updates to the agency’s internal directives on how e-bikes are managed on national forests and grasslands. These proposed updates are in alignment with the Secretary of Agriculture’s direction to increase access to national forests and grasslands, and would provide needed guidance for line officers to expand e-bike access while protecting natural resources and other forest uses.”
Read more at the USDA website, where you can learn how to submit a public comment.
If you’ve read the above-linked memorandum, then you see how important it is what we VOTE!
There is a case for wilderness in the American West, which is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.” The problem is, this classification was written by colonizers and erasers of indigenous history. Humans have long inhabited these areas, before the Spanish or the Pilgrims infiltrated these lands, long before it was called New Mexico.
This topic is a heated one. Organizations like the Sierra Club lead the way in this classification, establishing rules about who can or can’t visit these lands: for instance, cyclists. I’m not here to talk about whether or not bikes should be allowed in areas classified as wilderness, so let’s step back a bit and discuss what that word, wilderness, means in the context of the original inhabitants of the Americas.