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Impossible Route: Yuma to Bishop via Death Valley

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Impossible Route: Yuma to Bishop via Death Valley

February 28 – March 8, 2021
February 27th 
Arrival in Yuma, Arizona

The Impossible Route team arrived about as prepared for it as a groom to a shotgun wedding. 

We planned on paper, but this was the Mojave Desert and Death Valley; and they would definitely hold some big surprises.  

An Interview with Brooklyn Bell on Her Ground Keeper Custom Collaboration

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An Interview with Brooklyn Bell on Her Ground Keeper Custom Collaboration

For today’s Reportage, we’re shining a light on Brooklyn Bell, a multi-sport athlete and artist living in Bellingham, Washington. Brooklyn launched a collaboration with Ground Keeper Custom earlier this year, with an entire capsule collection available on their website. We were really moved by Brooklyn’s artwork, so we connected for a quick interview. See the Ground Keeper Badgal Brooky collection on their website and read our interview with Brooklyn below…

A Rusty Ridge Supply and Rodeo Labs Flaat Rod Singlespeed Gravel Bike

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A Rusty Ridge Supply and Rodeo Labs Flaat Rod Singlespeed Gravel Bike

There is often a delicate dance when multiple creative minds collaborate on a project. Let’s take a look at the world of music for an example. The combination of two or more tyrannical artists can often be lackluster if not outright disastrous. Think of all the countless “supergroups” that have fallen decidedly shy of expectations; out of respect for the bands and the fans, we can each conjure up our own lists. There are occasions, however, when minds meld in harmonious magic. There’s a push and pull where something is born amongst the friction that otherwise was improbable. Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy come to mind immediately; the brief brilliance of Uncle Tupelo a friendship rooted in creation with a dash of competition, each vying for center stage. Of course, that same recipe would result in the demise of the band. Even as both would achieve tremendous success in their following projects, it’s arguable if it was better music.

Visiting Mom For Mother’s Day, But She’s 1500 km Away: A Bike Messenger Goes Touring

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Visiting Mom For Mother’s Day, But She’s 1500 km Away: A Bike Messenger Goes Touring

In March 2015 I departed from my hometown Hermosillo, in the northern state of Sonora, México, on my very first extended bike trip. After three years of slowly saving money and getting the necessary gear, I quit my English teaching job and told my family I was going to the city of Guadalajara, about 1500 km (937 miles) south, just to pretend I had a goal; the truth is I didn’t. I was going to take the highway South thinking I could either quit whenever I felt like it or ’till my funds ran out. Days before my departure, my friend Javo said he’d come along since he wanted to make sure I made it safely out of Sonora because two bikes are stronger than one on a highway without a shoulder…

Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part IV – A New Record, 12 Years in the Making

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Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part IV – A New Record, 12 Years in the Making

This is the fourth and final part of an ongoing series:
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part III – A Cyclocross Specialist Turned Ultra Racer
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part II – The First Modern Bikepacking Race
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time

2020, the year that virtually nothing has panned out as expected, delivered an unexpected opportunity for me to return to the Grand Loop. I flew home to Arizona in late March after an aborted tour across Alaska as the Covid-19 pandemic worsened. My body was exhausted from winning a 4-day-long Iditarod Trail Invitational – conditions were challenging enough that the race took twice as long as it does in “good” years. After the race, I continued touring farther along the trail for another 250 miles before Native villages began closing to visitors. When I returned home, my body was worn out. The next month was devoted to recovery as I watched in awe as the world as we knew it ground to a halt amid the worsening pandemic.

The Open Road: the Orbit 360

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The Open Road: the Orbit 360

2021, March 14th, 5:16 pm Runa, Portugal

Runa is a small village that looks like it was supposed to become a town, it just never happened. Not much to see around here.

Traversed by a fast road right through it, longing a deserted train station that never felt so vain.
All along that single file highway, tiny factories, warehouses, abandoned, emptied in a rush. Nature is invading, reclaiming those empty spaces, plants, and trees through the cracks and walls.

I press on the pedals.

A bit further down the strange fast route, a tiny park and one big tree, one massive tree, an old man walks around, talking to himself, or rehearsing what seems to be a speech or sermon, rehearsing those words while mastering their hand choreography.

Kyle’s Sklar Touring Fat Bike in 29+ Mode

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Kyle’s Sklar Touring Fat Bike in 29+ Mode

With the snow melting and the season ripe for desert ramblings, Kyle Klain took his 2016 NAHBS-built Sklar fatbike and converted it to 29+. After spending all winter with fatbike 26+ tires, the bike has undergone quite the transformation. This weekend while celebrating my 40th birthday in Southeastern Utah, I documented this stunning build in the morning sun. Check it out in detail below…

Top 11 finalist for the 2021 “Lael Rides Alaska” Femme-Trans-Women’s Scholarship: Part 01

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Top 11 finalist for the 2021 “Lael Rides Alaska” Femme-Trans-Women’s Scholarship: Part 01

Top 11 finalists for the “Lael Rides Alaska” 2021 Femme-Trans-Women’s Scholarship

Design a 1,000 mile Alaska bike adventure, tell me about your plan and yourself and how you’ll make it happen this summer.

With the help of Cari Carmean, Natsuko Hirose, Kailey Kornhauser, and Abigale Wilson, we’ve selected 11 finalists from the 126 applicants. It has been extremely encouraging to read about women from around the world that want to take on this challenge and have so many unique approaches. I am honored to share a few of their stories. This has been a hard year for everyone. While highlighting positivity, there’s always an undercurrent of endurance and reflection. These are bold stories of perseverance, of finding connection, learning about ourselves and what truly matters.

I’m thrilled to share that we have the capacity to give out two full scholarships this year to outfit two different adventures this summer. Thank you so much to our generous and thoughtful sponsors.

The winners will receive either a complete Specialized Diverge with Easton carbon wheels or an adventure bike built up by SRAM, Revelate Designs bikepacking bags, Big Agnes camping equipment, PEARL iZUMi apparel, a premium subscription to Komoot, a Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM GPS, a $300 gift card for Competitive Cyclist, Rene Herse tires, an Ergon saddle, a year subscription to Bicycle Quarterly, Trail Butter, Hydro Flask hydration, and a $1,500 travel stipend provided by Easton, and the Radavist will also kick in a $500 travel stipend for one of the finalists.

Now’s the really hard part– we have to choose two winners. Announcements to come later this week.

Read on below for the first of three posts showcasing the 11 finalists…

Cam’s Self-Built Mercer Road Bike

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Cam’s Self-Built Mercer Road Bike

Every steel bicycle frame begins life as a pile of tubes and frame components. This frame really started as a pair of Shimano UF, semi-vertical dropouts, lying on the Schauff table at Eroica South Africa. I bought them on a whim, after enjoying a few beers at the finish line of the 2020 event. At that moment I thought I would hang them on a keychain or hand them over to a friend, Dave Mercer of Mercer Bikes.

The Esker Japhy is One Scrappy 29er Hardtail

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The Esker Japhy is One Scrappy 29er Hardtail

When one thinks of Esker Cycles, the Hayduke 27.5+ hardtail (reviewed here by Locke Hassett) quickly comes to mind – and in many ways, the Hayduke served as the launchpad for the design of Esker’s latest model, the Japhy.

While the Japhy looks like considerably “less bike” than the 140mm Hayduke with its 120mm fork and 29″ wheels, don’t count it out yet: the Japhy is scrappy and is willing to claw its way through just about anything!

Over the past few months I’ve been riding the Japhy all over our local trails here in Santa Fe and while at first I was hesitant about taking it out on some of the more technical terrain, I found it to be an exceptional climber and a surprisingly fun descender.

So, let’s get into it!

Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part III – A Cyclocross Specialist Turned Ultra Racer

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Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part III – A Cyclocross Specialist Turned Ultra Racer

This is the third part of an ongoing series:
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part II – The First Modern Bikepacking Race
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time

Back in the late 2000s, I was a geology Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado and a devoted cyclocross racer. I got up early and did intervals in the dark before class and I raced around in little circles every weekend from September to December, chasing other skinsuit-clad guys hopping on and off their bikes for rather contrived reasons. I flew around the country to some of the biggest race weekends, chasing UCI points and top-20 finishes. I was infatuated with the sport until I rather abruptly became bored of those little circles.

Control-Alt-Delete: Bikepacking the AZT – Plan B

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Control-Alt-Delete: Bikepacking the AZT – Plan B

When this year’s last winter storm went big (like, really big) we realized we’d have to adjust our plan to bikepack the Coconino Loop in northern Arizona. We shifted our focus South, to the Arizona Trail segments around Tucson, hoping the lower latitude and elevation would deliver the sunshine we craved.

Instead, we were greeted in Tucson with heavy rain, so we postponed the trip by a day, hoping it would blow over. When the next day also looked rainy, and kind of snowy too, we lost half our riding crew. My partner Brandon, our friend Sarah and I decided to make a start anyway.

Erik’s Hawk SS 29er Hardtail

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Erik’s Hawk SS 29er Hardtail

With the pandemic causing severe delays and stock shortages, building up a new bike in 2020 and into 2021 is proving to be quite the ordeal. Erik is a local here in Santa Fe and a customer at Sincere Cycles. I first rode with him a few years back when we shuttled Winsor while I was visiting. At the time, he had a Santa Cruz Chameleon, which proved to be a capable ally in our mountains. Jump forward a few years and Erik was looking for a new bike. The aforementioned delays due to the pandemic had him looking at other options outside of the brands offering titanium frame models. He had his sights set on a custom titanium hardtail from Waltly in China…

The Frozen Trail to Thorong-La

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The Frozen Trail to Thorong-La

(note: this story took place before the pandemic)

The Annapurna circuit has been around as an established trekking route for over 40 years, but parts have existed for trade between the Tibetan plateau and the Manang and Muktinath valleys for far longer. Today it’s one of the most famous places to hike in the world, and one of Nepal’s primary tourist draws. Over the last decade or so it has become famous for the herds of backpackers and yaks that often fill the trail during the peak seasons (spring and fall), and slowly the trail is being replaced by roads to make it easier to bring supplies to these tourist-filled villages.