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

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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.

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.

Race the Oregon Timber Trail: Register and Join in on July 10th

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Race the Oregon Timber Trail: Register and Join in on July 10th

700 miles in 5 days? Sounds crazy to us but some folks think it’s possible. Since we launched the Oregon Timber Trail (OTT) in 2016 one of the most common questions is “How long does it take?” Most folks spend 2-3 weeks riding the almost 700 miles, but we’ve heard there’s been a few in the 11 day range.

This year our curiosity has gotten the best of us—we’ve partnered with Laird Superfood and Rapha to track Fastest Known Times (FKTs) on the whole OTT route and each of the four tiers. Similar to the Colorado Trail Race, The Arizona Trail Race, and the Tour Divide; the Timber Trail 700 is a free, unsupported endurance challenge. Anyone can attempt a record at any time, though we have a suggested Grand Depart date of July 10th if you like company.

Dead Man Gravel Registration is Open for BIPOC and Women

Radar

Dead Man Gravel Registration is Open for BIPOC and Women

In its first year, Dead Man Gravel is the newest race to join the gravel racing circuit. Today, the DMG registration is open for women and BIPOC participants – and general registration opening on March 23rd for everyone else. The event is scheduled for July 31, 2021 in Nederland, Colorado. This unique event strives to be both inclusive – as organizers believe everyone should feel welcome, regardless of experience, race, gender, or sexual identity/orientation – and challenging – as very few other races have as much climbing, technical sections, and sustained elevation.

To strike a balance between challenging and inclusive, Dead Man Gravel will feature three courses: the 66 mile Tungsten loop, the 41 mile Gold loop, and the 25 mile Silver loop, providing three distinct experiences for riders of all levels. 

DMG is also partnering with Ride for Racial Justice and Shark Tooth Cycling, two non-profits doing incredible work in bringing new, and typically disadvantaged, athletes into the sport by helping to increase awareness and reduce barriers to entry.

Register today if you’re BIPOC, or female at Dead Man Gravel.

Radar

DUST Video

In case you missed our DUST feature last week and the video embedded within the Reportage from South Africa, we figured we should share the event’s video recap (which has also been updated in higher quality). Enjoy!

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

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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.

Chasing Fabian Burri

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Chasing Fabian Burri

What’s a day, an hour, a few seconds, or a month?
What’s the point of time if it’s still and untouched?
Where are we now, and can it be then?

I woke up that morning from sweat and fears, dreams that fade away in the blink of an eye but a feeling that takes longer, lingers around, just for a while. I had a crash but it left no rash.
I met Fabian over a year ago, in Oman, at a race, he was wearing skinny black stuff and had a lot of tattoos, he had a mustache and looked a lot like bike messengers, or my friends from Brazil.

Radar

Badlands 2020: EF Gone Racing with Lachlan Morton

The Badlands is a 700km non-stop unsupported gravel race through the Sierra Nevada of southern Spain. This route traverses some of Europe’s highest mountains and its only true desert. Only the fittest and capable athletes complete this event and is the perfect challenge for EF Gone Racing’s Lachlan Morton.

After the last-minute cancellation of the Cape Epic mountain bike race in March, the endlessly adventurous Australian was eager for another off-road odyssey. All we had to do was try and keep up…

Deer and Wolves: Josh Ibbett on the GBDURO 2020

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Deer and Wolves: Josh Ibbett on the GBDURO 2020

Josh Ibbett just won the GBduro. A 2000 km mostly off-road Ultra Distance race from the most southern tip of the UK to the most northern in Scotland.

This is the second edition of this race.

The first one was won by Lachlan Morton last year.

The Racing Collective, organizers of the race, best described by themselves as “the UK’s flagship not-for-profit bikepacking club” had to change their race format this year. They did it, brilliantly.

There were no stages anymore, the race described as “a scrappy rolling picnic through Britain’s ever-changing landscapes” had that new daunting rule about it, you had to be “self-sufficient”, no stopping allowed in shops, cafe, restaurant or hotel, whatsoever, so you carry your own food, filter water from streams or sources and mind yourself and your bike ‘till the end. There is a new level in the game of Epic.

Cameron Dixon: the Transcontinental Race Interview

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Cameron Dixon: the Transcontinental Race Interview

I first became aware of Cameron in 2019 whilst working at NRG Cycles in Great Ayton. A few regular customers had been in and asked if I knew of this local lad – ‘somebody’ Dixon was all I had to go on and that he rode his bike….a lot. 

Working in a small North Yorkshire village you tend to know all the local cyclists and with my involvement with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling, that knowledge is spread further a field into the race scene. I’d never seen him on a start sheet before, so who was he?

Radar

The Transatlantic Way

Matt and Brad have been riding together for years, on increasingly difficult rides and races. This is unexpected for Matt, as he was told “no bikes for the rest of your life” by his doctor after an injury, only to take on Ireland’s Transatlantic Way, a 2500k route along the west coast of Ireland years later… Matt and Brad finished in 7 days, 15hours, and 43 minutes, finishing first place out of seven teams!