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Building Routes and Community for the 2023 Komoot Women’s Slovenia Rally

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Building Routes and Community for the 2023 Komoot Women’s Slovenia Rally

Katja says, in Slovenia when a family has salad for dinner, they all eat from the same bowl. The bigger the family, the bigger the bowl. One person gathers vegetables from the garden– green leaves, fresh beans, tomatoes and cucumbers, onions and herbs. One person chops them up. One person dresses the salad with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. One person tastes it to make sure it’s just right. They place the bowl in the middle of the table and everyone digs in with their own fork. There’s the usual family back and forth– who’s eating too fast, who’s picking out only the best parts, who’s pushing down too hard with their fork. When the vegetables are all gone, someone picks up the bowl and drinks the juice.

When I think of our route-building project in Slovenia for the upcoming 2023 Komoot Women’s Rally there, and all of the people that played a role, this story sticks with me.

It’s a Rally, Not a Race: The People Who (Pennine) Rally

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It’s a Rally, Not a Race: The People Who (Pennine) Rally

Already in its second year of glory, Rapha’s Pennine Rally has easily made its name as a worthy must-experience off-road event here in the UK. Respectfully inspired by the Second City Divide route, the Pennine Rally covers 500 kms of the best unboring, mixed and testing terrain that this (middle-ish) part of the UK has to offer. This special event runs over five days winding, climbing and descending its beauteous way from Edinburgh to Manchester.

Thanks in no small part to the magnificent Louis, the rally’s beating heart, and his socially conscious approach to its organisation, the 2022 Pennine Rally attracted a whole host of keen shredders, many of whom are doing rad things in their communities, and it shows. The Pennine Rally embodies its tag line of ‘its a rally not a race’ and the event as a result is a magnet for many of the change-makers who are working to create a UK cycling scene that is more inclusive, wholesome, and socially active.

I haven’t been hanging around in the UK for very long, but it’s clear that there is a unique scene here and it only feels right to shout about it, so I decided, as part of my own participation in the event, to photograph some of these folks, describe their endeavours and in doing so to some way capture a feel for what is going on here. Please behold and be inspired by this selection of the following incredible humans who make this magic happen.

A Muddy Race, A Million Buttes, and a Very Novice Mountain Biker: Scenes from a Weekend on the Maah Daah Hey Trail

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A Muddy Race, A Million Buttes, and a Very Novice Mountain Biker: Scenes from a Weekend on the Maah Daah Hey Trail

Of all the things I love most in this life, riding bikes, exploring the world, and writing about both of those things are very near the top of the list. So, you can understand my thrill when the state of North Dakota’s tourism board reached out, asking if I might be interested in riding one of the most difficult singletrack trails in America before coming home to write about it.

After a quick conversation with my wife—whose blessing was required to leave her alone with our kids (the three things steadfastly at the top of my list) for four days while I went off to the Badlands to fuck around on bikes—and a few pitches to some bike-friendly editors (at least one of which commissioned the piece you are, at this very moment, reading), it was confirmed; I would be heading out to southwestern North Dakota to ride a portion of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, which, at 144 miles, is America’s longest contiguous singletrack trail. Thanks to its steep grades, technical terrain full of all sizes of rocks and boulders, thousands of tight switchbacks, endless buttes, and rapid changes in elevation, it’s also widely regarded as one of the most challenging.

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.”

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.

Radavist x Komoot: The Women’s Montañas Vacías Bikepacking Challenge

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Radavist x Komoot: The Women’s Montañas Vacías Bikepacking Challenge

“I think the big highlight for me was just the energy—the energy shared any time I passed someone, or they passed me—I’d stop and think I was alone, and all of a sudden, I’d turn a corner and see someone I knew. The energy we left echoed through those mountains.”

This past April, in the quiet Spanish town of Teruel, a few hours east of Madrid, 56 riders set out by bike to take on the Komoot Women’s Montañas Vacías Bikepacking Challenge, an eight-day exploration of one of the least-populated regions in Europe. The 57th rider, Josie Fouts, followed along in the media van and recaps the challenge below.

Note: This article is part of a sponsored partnership with Komoot. We’ll always disclose when content is sponsored to ensure our journalistic integrity.

The Coronet Loop Trail: Queenstown Singletrack at It’s Finest

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The Coronet Loop Trail: Queenstown Singletrack at It’s Finest

In the 1980s, Queenstown was a small lakeside community with just a couple thousand residents. Perched on the foreshores of the majestic Lake Wakatipu; its unique mix of snowy-topped mountains, roaring rivers and stunning vistas made it the perfect summer holiday destination for nature-loving Kiwis. However, the mid-90s brought adrenaline junkies and stoke seekers to Queenstown’s shores and soon enough, the town got an ‘Xtreme’ makeover!

A Weekend at The Cub House’s 2022 LA Invitational

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A Weekend at The Cub House’s 2022 LA Invitational

Los Angeles is home to one of the most diverse and eclectic cycling communities in the world. People from all walks of life have found that the bicycle is by far the best way to traverse this sprawling urban mass, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the San Gabriel mountains. Catering to this community are a number of bike shops, but one of our favs is The Cub House, which over the years has played host to a number of fun events, most notably the bike and car shows! To up the ante this year, Sean, Carla, Danny, and the team at The Cub House hosted the LA Invitational, a Euro spin on the weekend which included big rides on Saturday and the bike and car show on Sunday. John and Josh made it out to the City of Angels to document the people, bikes, rides, and more, so check out a chubby gallery and some words from John below!

Radavist x Komoot: Silver Linings on the East Devon Trail

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Radavist x Komoot: Silver Linings on the East Devon Trail

Katherine Moore, a zoologist by training and a cycling writer by trade, has just launched a new bikepacking route through her home turf in East Devon. Besides the gorgeous coastal tracks and sleepy wooded trails further inland, quaint thatched villages, and colorful seaside towns, the East Devon Trail features a twist: linking up nature reserves and bird hides along its 115-mile length. While the release of this accessible weekender trail has been the cause of much excitement, its development sprung out of a much darker and unexpected place.

Note: This article is part of a sponsored partnership with Komoot. We’ll always disclose when content is sponsored to ensure our journalistic integrity.

Riding Across the Ocean, Kinda: Fat Biking North Carolina’s Bald Head Island

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Riding Across the Ocean, Kinda: Fat Biking North Carolina’s Bald Head Island

In the deep sand, the bikes don’t seem to operate in accordance with the normal laws of bicycle physics. Turning right might send you left. Turning left may hold your line. And doing either, at any moment, can send you flying. And while falling off your bike on soft beach sand hardly hurts, you still feel like an idiot as you remount your bike while the kite flyers, frolickers, and shore fishermen lining the beach look on.

The Great Nutter Butter Discovery on Mount Gleason

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The Great Nutter Butter Discovery on Mount Gleason

Whenever I stop riding for a while because of work, or life, or hurting myself (usually while sleeping, etc, etc), I obsess over these big rides that I am going to do once back on the bike. Like many of you, I can easily spend hours looking at maps trying to piece together the “perfect” route. But cycling, like most fitness-based activities, can be fickle. It doesn’t care that you used to do it a lot.

That certainly doesn’t stop a brain like mine from dreaming. So when I saw my 43rd birthday on the calendar, a group text started with some friends. In the past, we’d done some really ambitious rides for my special day, like the ‘Clouds to Cacti’ ride, for example, featured here a few years back.

Scotty Laughland X Komoot: A Sustainable Tour of Scotland’s Best Singletrack

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Scotty Laughland X Komoot: A Sustainable Tour of Scotland’s Best Singletrack

Enduro World Series racer turned YouTuber Scotty Laughland has traveled the world mountain biking, from British Columbia to Jamaica, but world events in recent years kept him closer to home than anticipated.

Born out of a fresh perspective on his local trails after the birth of his first child, Scotty set about sharing the gems he’s enjoyed over the years – as well as some thoughts on sustainable mountain biking development, the role of trail associations and how we can support these valuable networks.

Come Together at the 2022 Ruta Del Jefe

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Come Together at the 2022 Ruta Del Jefe

The last cycling event I attended before the pandemic gripped the globe was Ruta Del Jefe in February of 2020. Returning to the event in 2022, after two years of lockdowns, masks, and vaccinations was bittersweet. Granted, the pandemic is not over but it felt like a good reset for the coming months of bike events quickly piling up on my calendar.

Ruta Del Jefe is a bike event like no other that puts various socio and geopolitical issues surrounding the host land at the forefront. This year’s experience was organized into a new format that helped raise awareness and money for a handful of non-profits that navigate a myriad of obstacles in the Southern Arizona grasslands.

Returning to the Audubon Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch for the event, with camera in hand, ears and heart open, I was once again reminded just how special Ruta Del Jefe and its organizer, Sarah Swallow is. Let’s see why below…

Sarah Swallow and Her Specialized Diverge Gravel Bike in Elgin, Arizona

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Sarah Swallow and Her Specialized Diverge Gravel Bike in Elgin, Arizona

Southern Arizona has become a destination for many cyclists over the years but it’s long been a refuge for snowbirds with the nation’s largest rock and mineral show, the Gem Show, hitting Tucson in February and bringing in over 50,000 registered buyers annually. While Tucson is bursting at the seams with RVs, campers, and retirees in February, Sarah Swallow resides about sixty miles south of the city at the Appleton Whittell Research Ranch  – an Audubon property nestled just outside the quiet little town of Elgin – planning each year’s Ruta del Jefe event…