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Disputed territory, A Visit To Akimel O’odham Land

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Disputed territory, A Visit To Akimel O’odham Land

Security in México is a topic I don’t usually talk about; in order to keep myself from falling into hopelessness, I try to focus and highlight the good actions of people. Nevertheless, it’s like a pebble that you always carry in your pocket: you know it’s there, you touch it when you reach for other stuff, and although you are mostly used to it, some days it just decides to poke your leg. Adventure cyclists in the country generally have this factor in consideration at different levels depending on region and other circumstances, so here we’ll go a little over the topic but hey, there are some happy parts in this story too, for good balance.

Lael Rides Alaska: Alaskan Island Time

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Lael Rides Alaska: Alaskan Island Time

We continue our Lael Rides Alaska series with a beautiful story from a series of rides on some of Alaska’s islands. Check out more from this series in the ‘Related’ column below when you’re done reading this entry. Enjoy!

Staring at maps in 2017 on my mission to ride all of the major roads in Alaska, I was drawn in by a few remote destinations with more extensive road networks, specifically Nome, Kodiak Island, and Prince of Wales Island. In that summer, I made it to Nome and rode the three roads out of town— to the native village of Teller, to the river that leads to the historic gold mining town of Council, and to the active mining road that ends at the Kougarok River for a total of 230 miles.

The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Ride

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The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Ride

Logo by Sam Scipio

While it was the most violent in Illinois history, the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 still remains widely unknown to many. The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Route Campaign honors the centennial of the riot in 2019 and is a collaboration between PeopleForBikes, Ride Spot, Newberry Library . The CRR1919 Commemoration Project to educate riders about a bitter piece of Chicago’s past while supporting a better future through Blackstone Bicycle Works’ efforts with youth on Chicago’s South Side.

-The goal is to inspire 300 riders to complete the CRR1919 route before Oct 31.
-If we succeed in activating riders and sell all of the CRR1919 Guidebooks, we will raise $7500 for Blackstone Bicycle Works, a non-profit program to expanding the educational and vocational opportunities of BIPOC youth on Chicago’s South Side and contribute to the CRR1919 Public Art Commemoration Project.

This year, riders can follow that same route thanks to Ride Spot. By downloading the mobile app and joining the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Route challenge, riders will be guided by turn-by-turn directions to each stop along the route.

They can also download or stream an audio tour or purchase a limited edition  1919 CRR Route Guidebook for $10 with 100% of the proceeds donated to Blackstone Bicycle Works and The CRR1919 Commemoration Public Art Project.

To learn more, see the route and access the companion guides, visit CRR1919.COM.

Crossing the Big Empty: Confessions from Chris Burkard on the Trans-Icelandic Bikepacking Route

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Crossing the Big Empty: Confessions from Chris Burkard on the Trans-Icelandic Bikepacking Route

Editor’s intro: I’ve long been inspired by the work of Chris Burkard, particularly his work in Iceland, so when I saw he had taken up bikepacking and was about to embark on a crazy tour across Iceland’s interior, I reached out to see if he’d be willing to share his story. Read on below for an intro by Chris and an interview…

Desert Pack: A Group of Women on a Solo Mission – Bikepacking the San Rafael Swell

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Desert Pack: A Group of Women on a Solo Mission – Bikepacking the San Rafael Swell

The hot desert sun beats down on us. Sand whips around as the wind picks up speed. We follow a narrow path that hugs the base of prehistoric cliffs with contrasting sandstone layers, each representing a different geological epoch. Birds fly in and out of small “huecos”, holes carved into the rock high above. Glove Mallow flowers sway in the wind. My friends Franny Weikert, Torie Lindskog, Suzy Williams, and I are approaching the steepest climb of our bikepacking trip through the San Rafael Swell in Utah. We’re weekend warriors and set aside a few days to bike the route. We fled to the desert in hopes of a break from the stress of our everyday lives. What we thought would just be a 3-day bikepacking trip and a chance to make some new friends, turned into an unexpected adventure full of memories we’d never forget.

Lose Yourself with Andréane Lanthier Nadeau: One of the Fastest in the World!

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Lose Yourself with Andréane Lanthier Nadeau: One of the Fastest in the World!

While I was driving out to meet Andréane Lanthier Nadeau, all I could hear in my head was Eminem’s Lose Yourself, “If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it?” I know that’s a little dramatic, right? But maybe not…I knew Andréane and I would only have a few runs to shoot, and after hearing Nikki Smith speak at this year’s Frostbike, explaining how important it was to show real people, people of all walks of life, people of all different colors and genders doing their craft, not just standing with their bikes. I knew this was important. I also knew that ALN, short for Andréane Lanthier Nadeau would crush it, but I was skeptical of my talent behind the camera. I needed to nail what few photos I would be able to take because she was leaving for her home in Canada the next day and wouldn’t be back in Southern California for a year. So yes, I literally only had one opportunity to show y’all how ALN is one of the greatest mountain bikers I have ever ridden with and spoken to.

Frozen in Time: Riding Tajikistan’s Bartang Valley

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Frozen in Time: Riding Tajikistan’s Bartang Valley

2019. It feels like an entirely different timeline at this point. For months as the Coronavirus has shifted the focus of our lives, I sat on these articles covering the rest of my time in Asia, wondering if they felt relevant at a time like this. Or when the next time would be that I’d see a photo that reminds me of when kind-hearted villagers would invite a random weirdo like me into their homes with open arms and not find it as bitter as it is sweet.

Howlin’ on the Mt Ashwabay Trail Network

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Howlin’ on the Mt Ashwabay Trail Network

First off, let’s acknowledge the Chippewa land this article takes place on.  The Chequamegon Bay that is visible from the middle of the ride, “encompasses the spiritual center of Anishinaabe nations.” You can learn more about the local Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa here.

Just a few miles outside of Bayfield, Wisconsin hides a compact but wonderful system of trails that weave their way around Mt Ashwabay. These trails were masterfully crafted by CAMBA (Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association). After sampling their handiwork in the Cable/Hayward area as well, I feel like I can say that I found the Mt Ashwabay system to be some of the most fun trails I have ever ridden in the Midwest and some of CAMBA’s best work. 

Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series: Nazlini, AZ

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Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series: Nazlini, AZ

This is the first installment of what we hope to be a series chronicling our efforts to develop sustainable tourism on the Navajo nation through the establishment of meaningful bikepacking routes and accessible singletrack. In addition, we hope to build a bikepacking community starting with the youth and eventually extending to interested community members.  Our first foray in this ongoing project will be a Fall bikepacking series with local Navajo youth NICA riders. This series consists of three trips; the first two being on Navajoland and the last with Four Corners Guides, out of Mancos, CO, to include packrafts.

The first in this series begins in Kayenta on Sept 26th and ends Oct 31st in Lake Powell, Utah.  The planning started back in July and continues every chance I can meet up with the participants.

Here is the first of a journal I hope to keep, documenting this event.

Santa Fe Rides: Take a Friend On Up to Deception Peak and Raven’s Ridge

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Santa Fe Rides: Take a Friend On Up to Deception Peak and Raven’s Ridge

Staying local during the pandemic has been a new thing for me. I’m usually on the road for most of the year, sleeping in our truck, documenting races, rides, people, shops, and communities. I can’t emphasize how strange it has been to just stay put. While it has been a bit of a change of pace, it’s really pushed me to take on as many of the local rides that I can and this week, I took on maybe one of the most infamous trails in our area; Deception Peak and Raven’s Ridge.

Bikepacking the Continental Divide Trail CDT in Northern New Mexico

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Bikepacking the Continental Divide Trail CDT in Northern New Mexico

DISCLAIMER: Travel is limited to New Mexico at this time and there is a mask requirement. This trip was planned before the recent changes and we adjusted to ensure safe distances and to limit any small community contact. Be safe.

Starting at the border of Colorado and following along the Continental Divide Trail, some friends helped hatch a plan to traverse the central highlands of New Mexico by bike over 3 days, covering 100 miles of unbelievably-beautiful country.

Santa Fe After Work Ride: Tesuque Peak Loop – Alamos Vista Trail

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Santa Fe After Work Ride: Tesuque Peak Loop – Alamos Vista Trail

Living at 7,000′ has its ups and downs, particularly for someone still acclimating from life at sea level for the past 5 years. One of the positives though is easy access to alpine riding. Well, easy is subjective for sure but if you only have a few hours to kill and want a quick loop that’s equal parts hard as it is beautiful and most importantly, fun, then have I got one local Santa Fe ride for you…

Lael Rides Alaska: Touring the Dalton Highway and Gear Breakdown

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Lael Rides Alaska: Touring the Dalton Highway and Gear Breakdown

Dalton Highway

We land in Deadhorse on the North Slope of Alaska in the evening under sunny skies and drag our cardboard bike boxes out of the single gate terminal. We’re the only passengers on the flight not starting a two-week work shift on the oil fields. The wind is ripping so fast, it’s hard to put the bikes together. We help each other. We velcro bags to our bikes and load up our camping gear. It’s cold enough that we put on all of our clothing layers. We cram days’ worth of food into every pack. The workers at the airport are kind and helpful. A woman gives us directions to the shop where we can buy a camping stove canister and a can of bear spray that we couldn’t bring on the plane. She asks us to leave our bike boxes in storage. They always save the big ones for hunters.

Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series

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Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series

Dzil ta’ah Adventures LLC was created to offer sustainable cultural experiences in the backcountry via bikes and bike packing with most of the commercial tour proceeds helping to build a bikepack community on the Navajo Nation. Whether it be creating routes or mentoring native youth.

Our year to launch was spring 2020. The COVID pandemic resulted in all non-essential businesses being shut down including the Navajo Parks and Recreation department. Parks and Rec are the issuing authority for permits.

Through The Wardrobe: Exploring the Oregon Timber Trail’s Anaxshat Passage

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Through The Wardrobe: Exploring the Oregon Timber Trail’s Anaxshat Passage

Last Autumn, I found myself wondering, “How do I pack for a bike ride through Narnia?”. I had just been asked to sample a small section of the wonderful Oregon Timber Trail by my friend Gabriel. I packed a grocery bag full of Voile straps, my foul weather gear, a laminated local mushroom-foraging pamphlet, and prepared to step through the magic wardrobe.

A Reason to Ride: A Big Ride for a Big Cause in the Santa Monica Mountains

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A Reason to Ride: A Big Ride for a Big Cause in the Santa Monica Mountains

Should we join the crazy Everest fad? Zwift for 48 hours straight? What if we ride the entire Santa Monica Mountain Range? The route had to be gnarly enough to catch people’s attention, and then we could steer the gaze to the reason for the ride. To raise funds and awareness for grassroots organizations that fight racial injustices as a part of the Big Rides for a Big Cause platform.