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E-Bikepacking the Dolomites: A First Time for Everything

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E-Bikepacking the Dolomites: A First Time for Everything

Belén Castelló and Tristan Bogaard have made a life bikepacking around the world. On a trip to Italy last fall Belén’s brother, Horacio, decided to join the couple on a tour through the Dolomites. On the cusp of turning 40 and with little-to-no cycling experience, Horacio was looking for an experience that would shake him up, and wake him up from his normal routine. He found that while riding an e-bike for back-to-back days in the Dolomite Mountains. Read on for Belén’s recounting of the trip and why choosing e-bikes felt like the best choice for their ride.

Bumps in the Road: From the Himalayas to Istanbul

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Bumps in the Road: From the Himalayas to Istanbul

Not everything goes how you imagine it will when you set out on a trip across the world. In my experience, the majority of the time it doesn’t. It was around three years ago, in February 2020, I was packing up some things in Kathmandu to hit the pause button on endlessly riding and head home for a couple of months to visit family after a long series of tours through southern Patagonia and Asia. I’d booked a round trip flight and left my trusty Tumbleweed Prospector behind in Nepal, with my plans set to return to the Himalayas in April of 2020 to make a route through India and the rugged peaks of Pakistan… But, as we all know, plans changed.

A couple of years later, as Nepal began loosening up its restrictions on tourism, I started eyeing my return to the Himalayas, to finally retrieve my bike and follow through with the riding plans I’d set into motion years before…

The Gamble of Winter Bikepacking in Wyoming’s Gros Ventre

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The Gamble of Winter Bikepacking in Wyoming’s Gros Ventre

The peaks of Wyoming’s Gros Ventre Range might not be quite as photogenic as the towering, craggy summits of the nearby Tetons, but snaking through the Gros Ventres just west of the Continental Divide is something the Tetons lack – a substantial network of mostly-groomed winter trails. I didn’t know much about the trails, but looking at topo maps of the area, it looked impressively rugged terrain, much more so than other places where I’ve done longer rides on a fat bike. Last January, I was in the nearby Teton Valley, and looking for a change of scenery and trails, Kait Boyle and I decided to venture over to the Gros Ventres for a few days to see just what the winter riding was like.

Connecting Two Distant Corners: Cycling the Length of Africa

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Connecting Two Distant Corners: Cycling the Length of Africa

Cairo to Cape Town. The words tumbled together in poetic cadence. Africa’s malleable cycling route from the Pyramids of Giza to Table Mountain was my dream of a decade. Soured by the rigid nature of sponsors’ expectations, I chose a bare-bones expedition. Plans and timelines aside. To travel for travel’s sake. To sink my teeth into the truth and toss the rest by the wayside. I started from the Egyptian pyramids with just my kiwi partner, the most efficient machines ever created, and the entire African continent ahead. Southbound and on edge, we began our trans-continental cycling journey dissecting Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.

Dignity and Truth, Part Two: Bicycle Nomad Concludes His Journey Retracing the Historic Buffalo Soldiers Route

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Dignity and Truth, Part Two: Bicycle Nomad Concludes His Journey Retracing the Historic Buffalo Soldiers Route

Back in July, Josh Caffrey wrote an initial article about Erick Cedeño’s (aka Bicycle Nomad) journey from Missoula, MT to St. Louis, MO. That article covered Josh’s time with Erick in Montana, at just the beginning of his epic 1,900-mile bicycle expedition, a project where Erick had set out to retrace the historic route the 25th Infantry Buffalo Soldiers took in 1897. The continuation of that story is below and picks up in Missouri about a month after Josh leaves Erick in Montana…

Radavist X Komoot: New Beginnings on the Baja Divide

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Radavist X Komoot: New Beginnings on the Baja Divide

Jutting out into the Pacific Ocean south of California, west of Mexico, the Baja Peninsula encompasses four deserts, roughly 3,000 kilometers of coastline, and the right mix of challenge and remoteness to attract intrepid travelers of all kinds. For those of the bikepacking variety, a relatively new route has quickly become a must-ride: the 2,692-kilometer Baja Divide. Those with schedules to keep may take on the Divide in sections, riding for a week or two before hopping on a bus back to where they started. And then there’s Sònia Colomo.

Into the Gran Desierto de Altar with La Ruta Chichimeca Bike Tour

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Into the Gran Desierto de Altar with La Ruta Chichimeca Bike Tour

The 1st of July marks the start date for the most awaited cycling event of the year. Tens of cyclists from different origins gather to dedicate the next weeks of their lives to riding a different route every day, with a rest day every week. Those who manage to finish the route will have over 4000 kilometers under their legs. We’re not talking about the Tour de France here, this is La Ruta Chichimeca!

Trail and Path: A Love Letter to Bike Touring the C&O Canal Towpath

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Trail and Path: A Love Letter to Bike Touring the C&O Canal Towpath

When I first started gathering the necessary gear to give bike touring (or “bikepacking” in the parlance of our times) a go, the concept struck me as an opportunity to escape from the predictable, mundane, “rinse-and-repeat” order of everyday life. An opportunity to embrace a new kind of freedom of aimless wandering through paths and tracks out in the near-endless natural landscape. After a couple of trips, though, I found the reality of touring isn’t the carefree meander I had envisioned. It can involve weeks or months of planning, trail markers, GPS tracks, resupply points… Which is not to say that escaping on a multi-day trip isn’t freeing, it is – very much so – but maybe not in the conventional sense of the word. I think author Robert Moor says it best in his written exploration of travel, On Trails:

“But complete freedom, it turned out, is not what the trail offers. Quite the opposite – a trail is a tactful reduction of options. The freedom of the trail is riverine, not oceanic. To put it as simply as possible, a path is a way of making sense of the world. There are infinite ways to cross a landscape; but the options are overwhelming, and pitfalls abound. The function of the path is to reduce this teeming chaos into an intelligible line.”

Bikepacking is Changing Navajo Youths’ Lives

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Bikepacking is Changing Navajo Youths’ Lives

I first met Janessa (15), Jodessa (13) and Jaron Segay (20) November 2020 in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Wanting to support Dzil Ta’ah Adventures owners, Jon Yazzie and Nadine Johnson, and their Navajo Youth Bikepacking Program, we invited these first three participants on a Four Corners Guides bikerafting course to cap off their season of learning to bikepack.

The kids didn’t talk much, and Jaron busied himself setting up camp for all of them or otherwise prepping their bikes and gear. The girls rode on borrowed bikes until dark night one, and fished for catfish with beef jerky night two. And when we first set out on Lake Powell, the three of them giggled and spun their rafts in circles for the first few miles before settling into a paddling rhythm. Since that trip, I’ve watched the kids blossom into full-fledged competitive mountain bikers. Based on their hard work, ability to take care of their own gear and confidence riding bikes, they’ve been chosen to participate in various bike- or adventure-related programs. I recently chatted with Janessa, Jaron and their mom, Jessica, to talk about how the Youth Bikepacking Program has changed their lives.

The Adventures of Paisa the Colombian Mountain Pup

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The Adventures of Paisa the Colombian Mountain Pup

I was just starting to get into the flow of life in Colombia. Waking up in the morning in a small village to seek out whichever local bakery had the most people flowing in and out to grab breakfast. Hitting the road while the air was still cool.

The evening before, I had rolled into the tiny old town of Toche to a chorus of agitated dogs looking to announce my arrival. Back 10+ years ago this town used to be a particularly dangerous place due to its remote location making it attractive to folks trying to avoid the law, but these days it’s mostly just home to a small number of Llaneros (cowboys) and their animals.

Early the next morning, I rode through the town’s totally empty streets. I stopped to take a photo as a friendly pup that I’d seen the evening before came running up toward me with a lot of excitement in its step, though she never came too close. Just watching what I was doing from a safe distance.

After a stop in the shop, I pedaled my way up the start of the day’s long and steep climb to “Alto de La Línea”. This was a stretch of road I’d been looking forward to for a very long time.

Good Grief and Gravel: Emily Dillon’s Tribute to Her Late Father

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Good Grief and Gravel: Emily Dillon’s Tribute to Her Late Father

My Garmin reads 113 degrees. With smoke blowing into Idaho from the seemingly continuous California fires, the air quality index is almost double the temperature. A brown haze obscures the landscape. Soot mixes with dust and sweat forming a dry crust on my face. In the dirt, on either side of me, lay my two companions—my younger brother and my hardtail mountain bike, fully loaded with camping gear. Forty miles into a four hundred-mile unsupported mountain biking trip through the Idaho backcountry, we take reprieve in a sliver of shade.

“Classic Mike Dillon trip,” my brother mutters, his voice thick with melted trail mix. Mike Dillon is our dad. Mike Dillon died eight months ago.

Stop and Smell the Wildflowers: An 800-mile Bikepacking Journey of Self-Discovery Across the Pacific Northwest

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Stop and Smell the Wildflowers: An 800-mile Bikepacking Journey of Self-Discovery Across the Pacific Northwest

For almost an entire calendar year, I watched as the business I worked for tracked record profits, month after month, while I toiled away at the kitchen table of my studio apartment amidst the onset of a global pandemic.

Outlook pings governed my daily life; recurring meetings and phone calls structured my weekdays ‘to-the-hour.’ Most interactions were conducted in real-time Brady Bunch video cubes. With a cell phone and 13-inch computer screen acting as bridges to all of humanity, I was overwhelmingly connected, yet incredibly distant at the same time.

I questioned my own existence and sense of purpose. I felt both disposable and in-demand; exhausted, but left with a permeating fear of upsetting an operational chain. My manager had quit without replacement and I floated along an aimless trajectory, making up additional job responsibilities as I went. With so much unpredictability, I struggled to do real, meaningful “work.” Feeling a constant pressure to compose emails and tap away at computer keys, home life seamlessly meshed into work life. I grew tired and weary and craving fulfillment. So I quit.

Giving Papaya in the Colombian Andes

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Giving Papaya in the Colombian Andes

After almost 6 years on the road, maybe I let my guard down just a little bit too much. Maybe I’d grown too comfortable mapping out routes in any direction my heart desired and hitting the road without much concern for my safety beyond steering clear of roads with lots of traffic. I’d take notes from locals on places to avoid, wouldn’t ride at night, and I always considered myself careful, but 6 years is a long time, so there’s no doubt that I slipped just a little.

FAIL 11: Going South at Portugal’s “Heading Southwest” Bikepacking Race

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FAIL 11: Going South at Portugal’s “Heading Southwest” Bikepacking Race

Fail 11 is the latest installment in Ryan Le Garrec’s multimedia “Fail” series. Check out the related articles below for more of Ryan’s work.

Heading Southwest is a new bikepacking race in Portugal. It crosses the country with a set route of 1000 km and 15,000 meters of elevation gain. The route was designed to show the diversity of the country far from the clichés of coastal tourism and bigger towns. It showcases the country in a way only a local long-distance cyclist could provide. I have toured this beautiful place I call home for a while now, never have I had so much fun (and pain yeah) on the roads of this country. Massive thanks to David Cruz at finisterra.cc

Dignity and Truth, Part One: Bicycle Nomad Retraces the Historic Buffalo Soldiers Route from Missoula to St. Louis

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Dignity and Truth, Part One: Bicycle Nomad Retraces the Historic Buffalo Soldiers Route from Missoula to St. Louis

When I first met Erick Cedeño (aka Bicycle Nomad) I had no inkling that a day we spent together shooting lifestyle photos as part of his new role as an ambassador for the outdoor apparel company swrve would blossom into a deep friendship. Nor did I realize at the time that our friendship would take me halfway across the country to help document his ride to honor the 125th anniversary of the monumental expedition of the volunteer Bicycle Corps of the Buffalo Soldiers who rode from Missoula, MT to St. Louis, MO.