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Between a Rock and a Willow: 45 Hours on the Stagecoach 400 Cycling Route

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Between a Rock and a Willow: 45 Hours on the Stagecoach 400 Cycling Route

A boulder stops me in my tracks. There is a dry creek bed below, a huge boulder ahead, but no trail to be seen. I put my bike down and try to think logically. First I inch my way around the boulder to see whether the trail will somehow materialize. It doesn’t. I then walk as far to the left of the boulder (west) as I can, hoping I will find a way around. Nothing. I backtrack a ways to see if I missed a crucial turn. I didn’t.

The rock is an impenetrable vertical bridge. I’m suddenly repeating ‘YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS!’ over and over in my head. Am I Gandalf or the Balrog in this situation? Or Frodo? Or an orc? Hard to say.

And there in my periphery goes that damned black animal again, wildly running away into the sandy night just past my vision. It’s roughly the shape of a boar but it runs like a gorilla. I’ve seen it a half-dozen times at this point, though, so nothing to be concerned about. It’s harmless.

It’s mile 335 of the Stagecoach 400, I’ve gone over 36 hours without sleep, and I’ve been stuck at the transition to The Willows for over 30 minutes.

Lael Wilcox’s 2022 Arizona Trail 800 Time Trial Preparations and Gear List

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Lael Wilcox’s 2022 Arizona Trail 800 Time Trial Preparations and Gear List

The Arizona National Scenic Trail is 800 miles of singletrack, stretching from the Mexican border to the Utah border and traversing most of the state’s major mountain ranges. With initial development in the 1990s, the hiking trail passes through several wilderness areas, requiring bike detours. The current bike route is 827 miles, including a 24-mile required bike portage through the Grand Canyon (wheels can’t touch the ground).

Pedaling Through Trauma:  How Chase Edwards Set the 800-mile AZT Record While Healing from a Mental Health Crisis

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Pedaling Through Trauma: How Chase Edwards Set the 800-mile AZT Record While Healing from a Mental Health Crisis

Ahead of me, the Arizona Trail snaked into the forest, disappearing behind the shadow of ponderosa pines, and re-emerging in a stretch of marsh lit by a sliver of moon. I dismounted my bike and plunged off a muddy bank onto a log submerged in stagnant water. After seven scorching days racing through southern Arizona, this riparian zone on the rugged southeast flank of the Colorado Plateau offered a reprieve from the harsh Sonoran desert, but without the constant pricks and jolts from agave, cholla, and cat’s claw to center on, my mind wandered where I didn’t want it to go.

It was November 2nd, or maybe 3rd, depending on whether or not the clock had struck midnight yet. I didn’t care. This time last year, I was deep in the relentless clutches of psychosis, and moving my body outside, no matter the time of day, made wrangling with grief and humiliation easier.

Fail 8: No Spain, No Gain

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Fail 8: No Spain, No Gain

Fail 8 is the latest installment in Ryan Le Garrec’s multimedia “Fail” series. Check out the related articles below for more of Ryan’s work.

Day 47 – Santo Isidoro, Portugal

My son told me the other day:
“Dad, the trees don’t use their roots only to drink, they also use them to communicate.”
When I saw these two trees, on the way back from Spain somewhere in Alentejo, I thought: “These two must have some kinda romance going on.”

Alone Together: The Big Lonely Bikepacking Adventure

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Alone Together: The Big Lonely Bikepacking Adventure

Sometimes we don’t understand our reasons for doing something until we’ve fully emerged. That was my lesson learned from waffling around the start and finish lines of The Big Lonely with a camera and disconcerted heart. What is this big and lonely thing that I speak of? Described in one word by the riders themselves: it’s “relentless”, “jarring”, “cold”, “delightful” – “resilience.” It’s “incomplete” and it’s “grueling”. It’s “epic”, “stoke” and “go.” For one rider it was “mom.” Most commonly though, it was described as “community” and I found this to be a curious notion. The dichotomous idea that a 350-mile self-supported ultra-endurance bikepacking race called The Big Lonely cultivated the word “community” more than any other is sort of like a metaphor for life and all the funny ways our experiences are everything at once.

The 2021 Odyssey of the VOG: Event Recap and Film

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The 2021 Odyssey of the VOG: Event Recap and Film

The Odyssey of the VOG (Valley of the Giants) is a 350-mile bikepacking event that takes riders through the rural farmland of the Willamette Valley, the rugged and vast Oregon coastal range, and the unrelenting gravel climbs found in the Willamette and Tillamook National Forests. The event name pays respect to the Valley of the Giants forest preserve, 51 acres of old-growth forest that are home to some of the largest Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks on the Oregon coast range. Many of these towering giants have existed for over 400 years, and have grown to heights of 200 feet or more. While the route does not go through the hiking trails of the forest preserve, riders are still embraced by the dense trees and lush overgrowth that the remote forest provides. The Odyssey of the VOG route consists of bold landscapes, remote forest roads, and unrelenting climbs, all of which invigorate and challenge those who choose to ride it.  The grand depart for the 2022 event takes place on May 28, 2022, at 7:00 am PST. Registration is now open here!

Radar

The Amazing Chase

Jack Thompson set out to ride the 2021 Tour de France route as fast as he could. 3,552km divided over 21 stages, chasing down the pros on his way to Paris…

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Race to the Rock Trailer

Race to the Rock touts itself as one of the most difficult ultra-endurance races in the world. This documentary looks to showcase the event’s beautiful landscapes while focusing on the struggles faced by the contestants.

Get Lost in the Vastness: Chasing Jonas Deichmann on the Bikingman Peru Inca Divide

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Get Lost in the Vastness: Chasing Jonas Deichmann on the Bikingman Peru Inca Divide

Take the Andes, a mountain range that stretches for an impossibly long 7,200km down the West Coast of South America. Chuck in 32,000m of climbing, crazy gravel sections, remote towns and villages, altitudes of nearly 5000m, huge canyons, glaciers and some of the best views on the planet, and you have a heady cocktail of elements that make up the craziest ultra-cycling race in the world. BikingMan Peru – The Inca Divide.

Colin Strickland’s DK200 Winning Allied Able

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Colin Strickland’s DK200 Winning Allied Able

With Lael and Rue’s exceptional DKXL piece up on the site today, I thought the DK200 winner’s bike would make for a nice addition to today’s coverage. Colin Strickland is a friend from when I lived in Texas. He used to crush the road and ‘cross races and now with his new team, Meteor x Giordana with Kevin Girkins, he’s had great success at the Belgian Waffle Ride and the DK200. Allied has an exceptional bike check up on their blog, so if you’re interested in reading about Colin’s setup, the new Allied Able, you should head on over to check it out.