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A Tourist in My Hometown: Riding Singletrack in West Michigan

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A Tourist in My Hometown: Riding Singletrack in West Michigan

“You can never go home again.” Martin O Blank’s defining line from the film Grosse Pointe Blank has stuck with me since I first heard it in the late ‘90s. It stuck with me because I thought, until recently, that it was bullshit. I moved away from Grand Rapids, MI for work and school in Colorado in 2004 but would go back to visit at least every year. And nothing seemed to change. My friends and the city itself seemed perfectly preserved in time. It always felt like home. But after a big move to Arizona and a pandemic, nearly five years passed without a visit. Then, after that time away, when my family and I road tripped Michigan this past July, I realized that Blank might have actually been onto something. My friends and the city had changed. In exciting ways to be sure, but things were markedly different and the area felt less homey for the first time in my life.

A Caja Del Rio S24O in the Santa Fe National Forest

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A Caja Del Rio S24O in the Santa Fe National Forest

Cold nights, clear mornings. It doesn’t get much better than this time of year!

Before the winter solstice brings single-digit temps we embrace our beautiful Caja Del Rio, a volcanic tableland in the Santa Fe National Forest, just a few miles west of town. We live in a semi-arid steppe ecoregion and that means the days can be warm and in the 50º range but the nights will drop into the single digits before too long. This window of opportunity means we gotta get in our S24O – sub-24-hour overnighters – when we can! Luckily, a guy named Kevin hosts periodic overnighters throughout the fall and winter which he announces on his Adventure Bikepacking Instagram account. Yesterday, we met up at the Broken Spoke and pedaled out into the setting sun…

Searching for Positivity and a New Fork on the Tour Divide

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Searching for Positivity and a New Fork on the Tour Divide

“Well, what the hell now?” I thought to myself as I stared down at my carbon fork now resting on the ground in three separate pieces. A curb-sized, unassuming jump on a wooden arch bridge outside Breckenridge had taken me down, imploding my bike with me. The front brake cable was the only thing connecting my front wheel to the rest of my bike. I had never experienced a mechanical problem like this trailside. That’s it, game over. All the planning and anticipation, just to make it halfway through the Tour Divide.

Weather Or Not: The 2021 Hope Cyclery Higher Ground 100 in Johnstown, PA

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Weather Or Not: The 2021 Hope Cyclery Higher Ground 100 in Johnstown, PA

If you’re not from Pennsylvania there’s a good chance you have at least heard of Johnstown. Maybe it was from the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen song, or the pages of your history books. Sitting in the Conemaugh River Valley, Johnstown was the site of a devastating flood in 1889, and then again in 1936 and 1977. Given the city’s notoriety for flooding, the staging of this year’s Higher Ground Hundo event put on by the fine people of Hope Cyclery was mildly concerning.

New Mexico’s True High Country Gems: South Boundary Trail and Heaven on Earth

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New Mexico’s True High Country Gems: South Boundary Trail and Heaven on Earth

There’s a window of opportunity in the high country, albeit a small one, wherein the aspen leaves transform from their jade green scales to a deep gold opalescence, and with each wind gust, the overhead canopy flickers like an evening gown. When this window opens, we flock to the Taos Valley to ride two of New Mexico’s true gems: the South Boundary Trail and Heaven on Earth…

Touring Turkey’s Lycian Coast

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Touring Turkey’s Lycian Coast

From the comforts of the coastal city of Antalya, I took to the surrounding hills for short rides between the abundant days of rain that come with the wet season in this region. Turkey had imposed significant covid restrictions for the first time since I was in the country, including full weekend curfews, so this gave me plenty of time to plan out what kind of route would still be possible when the situation improved.  Accepting sudden changes in plans and having some patience has always been important for bike touring and that is especially true these days.

Fail 6 with Rui Pedro Tremoceiro

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Fail 6 with Rui Pedro Tremoceiro

As am packing for Fail 6, am looking at my notebook, it has an old map of Portugal’s front cover.

I traced my lines on that map, all the routes I made, I feel satisfied to see they go through most of the country already.

I have been in Portugal for about two years now. There is a lot to see and yet it is a tiny country, about the size of Indiana.

My map doesn’t show the extreme South of Portugal, so my pencil has to stop before the end of the next ride.
I don’t like that, am not a firm believer in signs but am a firm believer in signs.

For a minute there, I was tempted to change the route. Maybe I should just change the map…

Wind, Chile, Chonk, and the Monumental Loop: the 2021 Dangerbird in Las Cruces

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Wind, Chile, Chonk, and the Monumental Loop: the 2021 Dangerbird in Las Cruces

Washboard roads, rocky doubletrack, creosote, cacti, centipedes, tarantulas, and vistas for miles. The Monumental Loop provides it all in a healthy mix, featuring the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, BLM, and state lands surrounding the town of Las Cruces, New Mexico. With the mighty Organ Mountains looming in the background, it’s hard to imagine a better touring or bikepacking route in Southern New Mexico. When you add in the delicious food on the route, you’ve got yourself a winning combination. To help celebrate this monumental achievement (tee hee), Matt Mason, co-founder of the Loop, throws a grand depart each year dubbed the Dangerbird which took a brief hiatus last year due to the Pandemic. With Covid protocols in place and our numbers remaining slightly elevated in New Mexico, Matt made sure the entire weekend’s events took place outdoors, so I felt safe to head down to experience this gem of the Chihuahuan Desert…

Scenes from the 2021 New Mexico Bikepacking Summit and the Dangerbird Grand Depart Rider and Bike Portaits

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Scenes from the 2021 New Mexico Bikepacking Summit and the Dangerbird Grand Depart Rider and Bike Portaits

New Mexico has a lot of really amazing bicycle touring routes, from the mountainous aspen forests to the southern deserts. One such route is the Monumental Loop, which is based out of the Southern New Mexico city of Las Cruces, co-founded by Matt Mason. The Monumental Loop is a passion project for Matt but this year, he wanted to do something special to celebrate the cycling community in New Mexico. Part of that includes the first-ever New Mexico Bikepacking Summit. The weekend’s events included a Makers’ Mart at Outdoor Adventures, a local bike shop, and a grand depart for the Dangerbird, Matt’s nickname for the Monumental Loop. As you can imagine, after photographing the weekend’s events and touring the northern loop, I’m super zonked, so let’s get to it!

The Westfjords Way: Bicycle Touring One of Iceland’s Most Remote Areas – Part 04

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The Westfjords Way: Bicycle Touring One of Iceland’s Most Remote Areas – Part 04

It starts raining ten minutes into the ride and we pull over to suit up. Twenty minutes later, we’re at the base of the climb and we derobe. Half an hour later, I’m at the top of the pass, sweating through my sweater. It’s a screaming descent to the sea and I freeze on the way down. I never want to stop and it’s tough to regulate my body temperature. The climbs are hot work and the descents a cold thrill.

We wait at the junction for the group to catch up. Today we’ll ride out and back to the westernmost point in Iceland, the seasonal home of the puffins, but they’ve gone for the year. I eat a sandwich and unwrap half a piece of leftover blueberry cheesecake to split with Rue. We’re into the stage of the trip where we’re eating machines. We hide behind a signpost to get out of the wind. Nichole and Payson join us at the bottom. We’re all chilled to the bone. Chris says there’s an old ship up ahead that might be a good spot to snack and warm up. We ride there.

Grand Rapids Urban Singletrack with Mitch Mileski, His All-City Electric Queen, and Grand Rapids Bicycle Company

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Grand Rapids Urban Singletrack with Mitch Mileski, His All-City Electric Queen, and Grand Rapids Bicycle Company

In addition to riding some amazing purpose-built singletrack in my former hometown of West Michigan this past summer (more on that to come!), another highlight was linking up with Mitch Mileski for a very unexpected type of trail riding. Mitch manages the Fulton Street location of the Grand Rapids Bicycle Co. and, having also grown up in Grand Rapids (just much more recently than me) he knows the city very well and was generous to show off a few hidden gems. I met up with Mitch early on a moody weekday morning with a typical summer weather forecast calling for a 50% chance of precipitation.

When I Say Hike, You Say Bike: A Swift Campout Double Feature

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When I Say Hike, You Say Bike: A Swift Campout Double Feature

It’s pretty clear that I really like bikes, and I really like camping. A lot of us are here because we like combining the two. I’m also very lucky that my partner also likes bikes and camping, and we live in a place where it’s fairly easily accessible to do both. However, For whatever reason, I’ve never managed to actually do a trip over the Swift Campout weekend, and, it looked like the same thing might happen this year! So, we decided that we might cheat a little, and do a close-to-home, Thursday night camp and take advantage of some beautiful weather. All the while still getting our respective work, and school days in. Ideally leaving the rest of the weekend open to *maybe* sneak another ride and camp night in, you never know.

A Recap of the Bikepacking Roots Go Bikepacking! Event in the Teton Valley

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A Recap of the Bikepacking Roots Go Bikepacking! Event in the Teton Valley

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Bikepacking Roots “Go Bikepacking!” event put on in conjunction with Mountain Bike the Tetons in Idaho’s Teton Valley. I was asked by my friends and mentors, as well as the co-founders of Bikepacking Roots, Kurt Refsnider, and Kait Boyle to come and ride bikes and take photos of the event. Reconnecting with rad folks, riding and camping in a new place, and busting out the camera after a hiatus of doing most of those things sounded like a great way to spend a weekend.

130 Miles Bicycle Touring Through Alaska: Team Mosaic on the Denali Highway

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130 Miles Bicycle Touring Through Alaska: Team Mosaic on the Denali Highway

The Denali Highway is often referred to as one of the loneliest roads in America. It’s a bumpy, and inconvenient road that spans more than 130 miles, mostly above treeline, along the Alaskan Range. I visited the Denali Highway for a brief time years ago and that visit stuck with me. I knew I had to go back and this past summer, with my husband and a small group of friends, we did.

As cyclists, perhaps it’s our nature to see a road and want to ride it. This specific dirt road lives just outside of one of the most famous national parks in the world, and while many confuse it as the road to the park, it no longer serves that purpose. It’s host to grizzly bears, caribou, ptarmigans, and moose. It’s old, it takes a while to get to, and even longer to drive across. In the winter, the road and almost all of the lodges along it succumb to ice and snow, leaving a very small window of summertime when it erupts in color and becomes passable to cars. At about 130 miles from end-to-end, riding its length or close to it seemed just long enough to feel like a tangible challenge to us: consecutive 100+ mile days, on fully loaded bikes, and on a road, we were all curious to see from two wheels. Our ride would be a two-day out and back between the towns of Cantwell and Paxson. I haven’t done much bike touring, and none of us seemed all that excited about tent camping in Grizz country, so we booked lodging along the way.

It seemed like the second we booked our tickets, my husband Aaron, who is also the owner, and visionary at Mosaic Cycles, drafted plans for a new adventure model, The GTX. This was a bike that he’d been scheming in his mind for years: a big-tired gravel bike geared towards adventure riding and touring. Most of our trips present new opportunities for Aaron to design and build our next dream bikes. Lucky me, I just get to ride them.

Falling For Fall

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Falling For Fall

Season changes mark a time for renewal, not only for the forest but for ourselves. Just when the long days and heat start to get to you, the temperature drops and a cool breath blows across the dry landscape. Here in Northern New Mexico, the skies change from a blue expanse with puff-ball clouds to gargantuan storms enveloping our peaks; the terminus of the great Rocky Mountains. Each morning our mountains have a cloud toupée and upon their dissipation, reveal a dusting of white snow.

A Preview of the Kromvojoj Event: Road Touring in Catalonia – Stronger than Vinegar

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A Preview of the Kromvojoj Event: Road Touring in Catalonia – Stronger than Vinegar

For me, riding a bike has always meant three things; experience, adventure, and escape. From childhood, it’s given me the opportunity to experience new, it’s given me the freedom to explore, to embark on adventures near and far, and it’s also given me a much-needed escape from my battles with mental health. Cycling has also introduced me to a community of amazing people and this for me is perhaps the greatest benefit of riding because they never fail to enrich the three reasons I love the bike.

Improvising in the Aladağlar

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Improvising in the Aladağlar

I rolled into the small village of Çamalan. There was a lone shop at the main intersection of town that had a steady flow of locals driving up in their cars. Typically they’d grab bread from the cupboard outside, maybe some Ayran from the fridge, and (most likely) a few packs of cigarettes. These are the Turkish staples.

It was almost dark and I had no clue where I would spend the night.  This is a fairly typical situation for me at this point. I’ve grown comfortable with the feeling.  That’s not to say it can’t be stressful, but when you’ve felt that uncertainty dozens of times before, it gives you more confidence that you’ll be able to make it work out somehow.