Rides

category

Winter Bikepacking to a Local Mountain in Norway

Reportage

Winter Bikepacking to a Local Mountain in Norway

Do you remember that feeling way back when you learned to ride a bike? I had just begun school when I got my first bike. Day in and day out I would sit on the seat and push myself along the roadside curb with my right foot. My strides became longer and longer until one day I put caution to the wind and took my first pedal strokes. That day, the bike became my freedom machine. The world suddenly grew bigger, right in front of my tiny handlebars. I never looked back.

Impossible Route: Yuma to Bishop via Death Valley

Reportage

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.  

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

Reportage

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.

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

Reportage

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

Reportage

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.

Wild Ice

Radar

Wild Ice

Bob Allen is a longlong adventurer, photographer, and storyteller. In recent years, he’s experimented with a new interactive 360º environmental mapping technology. We’re stoked to present his latest project, dubbed ‘Wild Ice’, so read on for Bob’s words and a 360º map by clicking through below.

Tick. Tick. Tick…

It turns out 60 seconds was a long time to ride no-handed – with my eyes shut. The rotation of my cranks was the only feedback that I had any forward motion. Arms outstretched, I just had to trust my balance and resist the temptation to visually confirm that eating shit wasn’t imminent. Relax. Breath. Just keep pedaling…

The Frozen Trail to Thorong-La

Reportage

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.

Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part II – The First Modern Bikepacking Race

Reportage

Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part II – The First Modern Bikepacking Race

Read part I here:  Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time

With the ambitious origins of the Grand Loop being shared in Part I of this series, let us now dive into the impact the route had on the evolution of bikepacking, and more specifically, bikepacking races. After all, the Grand Loop Race (GLR) was arguably the first of the modern bikepacking events and is responsible for creation and evolution of some of the most popular and longest-running mountain bike ultras in the United States – the Colorado Trail Race and the Arizona Trail 300. The Grand Loop was also the first long and particularly difficult off-road route to become a notable draw for bikepackers.

Far Quarter Gravel: Gravel Rides Around Trinidad, Colorado

Radar

Far Quarter Gravel: Gravel Rides Around Trinidad, Colorado

Two years ago Backshop Bikes introduced one of the first gravel cycling tourism efforts in Trinidad, Colorado. The perception was that gravel had already matured to the point where as a category it would evolve towards a destination model akin to mountain biking. If it worked, then suddenly rural drive-by towns had a chance to leverage gravel bikes towards social prosperity. This is why we created the Explore Las Animas campaign in 2019, which included a website with community and route information. Unfortunately, it came down and I’ve been brainstorming on ways to get one back up since…

Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time

Reportage

Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time

“It took 18 miles of new trail to get around that 800 feet,” Paul Koski explained to me, shaking his head incredulously. “18 miles for 800 feet! I couldn’t believe it. It took years to make that happen, but I really think it was actually a huge improvement for the Paradox Trail.”

I stood leaning against a table saw in Koski’s woodworking shop in a massive quonset hut in the tiny town of Nucla, Colorado. He was sharing stories spanning several decades of history related to the Grand Loop and the Paradox Trail. Folks like Koski rarely receive the recognition they deserve for years upon years of dedication to mountain bike advocacy. The afternoon before, I had finished riding for 53 hours straight to set a new record on the Grand Loop, and although my mind was still a bit foggy from the effort, I was excited to finally have the chance to meet Koski. Whether he realized it or not, his efforts and those of others like him in the area had literally changed the trajectory of my own life years before.

The Monumental Loop 2.0: A Father and Daughter Bikepack

Reportage

The Monumental Loop 2.0: A Father and Daughter Bikepack

This is Melina’s first bikepacking trip. She’s been on a couple of road tours and knows how to turn a set of cranks. That said, off-road has never been her thing. In fact she can’t remember the last time she threw her leg over a mountain bike. She’s headed off to graduate school soon, and I want her to be hooked on bikepacking before she leaves. So this needs to be awesome. Naturally, I’ve turned to southern New Mexico and the venerable Monumental Loop.

Moksha Patam: Snakes and Ladders – Flashpacking Through the Tasmanian Mountains

Reportage

Moksha Patam: Snakes and Ladders – Flashpacking Through the Tasmanian Mountains

Moksha Patam is a game based on traditional Hindu philosophy. It was designed to teach players the Hindu concepts of Karma and Kama: virtue and desire. The virtues of generosity, faith, and humility are the ladders that carry you up the board, upwards towards enlightenment and to the end of the game. But if you follow the path of vices—lust, anger, murder, and theft—the snakes will pull you back to the beginning of the game. Up and down. Enlightenment and rebirth. Making it to your destination or being pulled back to the start.

Castin’ Lines: Mountain Bikefishing in Victoria, Australia

Reportage

Castin’ Lines: Mountain Bikefishing in Victoria, Australia

‘Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride’ is one of those famous quotes by John F. Kennedy, famous perhaps for the wisdom that it carries, more than for the person who said it.

All those who have recreationally ridden a bicycle should know that Kennedy was right. However, the ex-president didn’t realize (and possibly neither many of us) that something that may be compared to and even surpasses that addictive pleasure is to combine pleasures.

A bicycle is a freedom machine that allows us to carry out different activities while simultaneously enjoying the bike itself. It is up to each one of us to choose those activities that generate the greatest pleasure. For example, in my case, a good bike packing trip combined with a fly fishing session does it for me. What in this world could compare to this pleasure overdose? A new adventure was being cooked.

Mewinzha

Reportage

Mewinzha

Blow up a balloon, it’s full. Shiny even. More than anything, the balloon reveals your reflection in her taught, shiny facade. You look past the balloon; the balloon reveals your likeness.

Being Seen. Being Heard: Ride Slow, Take Photos – 1200 Miles Of Conversations Along the Butterfield Overland Mail Route


Reportage

Being Seen. Being Heard: Ride Slow, Take Photos – 1200 Miles Of Conversations Along the Butterfield Overland Mail Route


On November 1st, 2018 I rolled out to cover 1200 miles of the old Butterfield Overland Mail Route from San Francisco to Tucson, AZ. For almost a year prior the headlines had been dominated by news of things happening along America’s southern border. Child Separations. Immigration Caravans. National Guard deployments. On social media channels the rhetoric from all sides, which had already been getting increasingly strident, ramped up to a fever pitch. Normal conversations spiraled completely out of control. I found myself caught up in it all, furious at family members, friends, and strangers alike.

High Plains Byway Extended Edition: A Sandhills Odyssey

Reportage

High Plains Byway Extended Edition: A Sandhills Odyssey

This Reportage took place a year prior to the pandemic… please be considerate and avoid traveling to small towns during the pandemic.

Some trips stay with you more than others, and this trip is one of those. Nebraska isn’t often touted (read: never) as a cycling destination, but the truly unique and varied geography we encountered offered some of the most quality riding I’ve had the opportunity to experience. The state’s remoteness—a combination of the incredibly low population density and vast, often exposed, landscapes—was initially a concern but in actuality lent a heightened sense of adventure to our days. This is also still the longest tour I’ve taken and being able to fully settle into the rhythm of passing the days—sun up to sun down—on the bike for a week straight was a pretty intoxicating experience.

From DUST to Ashes… Fixed Gear Drag Racing on the Verneuk Mud Flat in South Africa

Reportage

From DUST to Ashes… Fixed Gear Drag Racing on the Verneuk Mud Flat in South Africa

You know how a hashtag can fuck you? Well maybe not, but a few years ago my good friend Nic and I had this idea … we’d always been intrigued by the pans – or mud flats – of the Northern Cape here in South Africa. At the time we were really getting into riding fixed gear bikes and one day it hit us – let’s take our fixed gear bikes onto the pan! Why not? Surreal landscapes, super smooth surfaces good enough for world speed records! Sounds like a good adventure right? We did some research and found out that that year there was a South African Speedweek planned in September 2014 on the Hakskeenpan, coinciding with the launch of a planned rocket-propelled car land speed record attempt – the Bloodhound SSC. We decided to travel up in Nic’s old 1963 Porsche 356 – it seemed appropriate. Bikes on the roof, gear in the back.