Ruta del Jefe is a weekend of adventure cycling, education, community, and advocacy that has taken place in the Sky Islands region of southern Arizona, which we’ve previously reported on here, here, and here. Beginning in 2024, the event will occur in Cuenca los Ojos, a protected landscape in Sonora, Mexico’s Sky Islands. Below, this two-part collaborative story (“The Watershed of the Springs” by Sarah Swallow and “La Aventura” by Daniel Zaid) details what’s next for Ruta del Jefe along with other recreational and educational opportunities in these borderlands.
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…
Snowbirding in Southern Arizona and Riding the Santa Rita East Adventure Route
Birds, whales, pronghorn, and butterflies, among other animals, all have migration patterns. They spend their summers in warmer climates, but once the mercury beings to drop, they head south in hopes of finding warmer temperatures. I don’t blame them one bit for avoiding the cold. As a Colorado resident, I tire rather quickly of snow and spending more than fifteen minutes getting dressed to go on a ride. Shoe covers, while invaluable in the winter, are loathsome to put on over cleats.
Hope is a Function of Struggle: Sarah Swallow, AWRR, and the Swift Industries Holiday ’21 Dovetail Collection
Riding 100 miles in the rain with a fully loaded bike from the San Juan Islands to Seattle, pushing a 50-pound touring rig up a mountain in Montana for 6 hours and 6,000 ft, getting stuck in Dallas after the last leg of my flight was canceled at midnight (more on that later)… as a cyclist, I’m no stranger to struggle. And according to Brene Brown, hope is a function of struggle.
When we encounter struggle, we face the moment when we don’t think we can make it and sometimes finding resolve within to not only survive but to triumph. The next time life offers a seemingly uncrossable water crossing, muscle memory kicks in, and we think, I’ve been here before, I can do this! That, Brown says, is how one becomes a person of hope.
Ride With GPS: Ride Buddies – Episode 2: Sarah Sturm and Sarah Swallow
Ride with GPS‘ new “Ride Buddies” video series pairs cyclists together for a video podcast. This episode features Sarah Sturm and Sarah Swallow.
Jambz Interviews Sarah Swallow Post-Great Divide
@jambi_jambi, Sarah’s stand in influencer during the Tour Divide 2021, interviews Sarah after the race has finished with some of her own questions as well as answering some viewers questions.
Discussing mental strength, equipment, working with each other, hygiene on tour and more.
A Guide to Sarah Swallow’s 2021 Tour Divide POI Map
Are you watching those dots move across the TDR map? Perhaps you’d like to take it on sometime? Well, Sarah Swallow meticulously researched and documented every single resource you could ever need along the GDMBR, and now we want to share all her hard work with you. Check out the full article at RideWithGPS!
How Sarah Swallow is Preparing for the Tour Divide
Our friends Sarah and Jorja pulled together this video, showcasing how Sarah is preparing for the Tour Divide this year:
Sarah Swallow, professional adventure cyclist, cycling the 2021 Tour Divide Route. In this video we find out more about; 1. Who she is 2. What she is setting out to achieve 3. Where she is at with her preparation for the 2021 Tour Divide 4. and answers some questions from friends and family Check out her GoFundme for the Cairn Project here;
“For this challenge, I am teaming up with The Cairn Project to fundraise $5,000 to provide outdoor opportunities for more young women and girls. I have had the incredible privilege and opportunity to make my passion for adventure cycling as my work. I want to help create accessible pathways for more young women and girls to pursue a similar lifestyle, adventure goal, or profession. I never knew this life of mine was possible or even an option. If young women and girls could feel inspired by what I do and see that they could do it too, or to get exposed to what they love to do outdoors at an early age, I think it could make a positive impact on their lives, and the lives of others around them. Over the next few months, I’ll be fundraising for The Cairn Project by sharing my story as a young girl and how I found purpose in life through riding my bicycle as I prep my mind, body, and equipment for one of the most significant endeavors of my life. To learn more about my trip, read my blog post. To follow my journey, follow me on Instagram.
Thereabouts Interviews Sarah Swallow!
Thereabouts – Gus and Lachlan Morton – recently interviewed Sarah Swallow, one of the founding members of the WTF Bikexplorers and organizer of the Ruta del Jefe in Arizona, about life and the pursuit of all things rad. Check it out here and head to Thereabouts for their excellent write up about Sarah!
The 2020 Ruta Del Jefe Registration Opens December 13th!
My favorite event last year returns for 2020 with a plethora of new activities. The Ruta Del Jefe weekend will include a 55-mile gravel ride, bikepacking tour, 12-mile run/ride…
Ruta Del Jefe is a 125-mile self supported adventure race following dirt roads around the Santa Rita Mountains, the lair of one of the only North American Jaguars to live in the U.S., El Jefe. Rural Del Jefe takes place on Tohono O’odham and Hohokam lands, in the Sky Islands region of the Sonoran Desert and the US/Mexico borderlands in Southern Arizona. The race follows remote and rugged dirt roads through one of the most biodiverse and beautiful places in the world yet, the region is plagued with many environmental threats and a humanitarian crisis that need our attention and action.
Want to learn more? Well, head to the Ruta Del Jefe website and be sure to check out our Reportage from last year’s race! Remember, registration opens December 13th at 7:00 am mountain time and is limited to 100 racers, so jump on Bikereg to set a reminder.
Sarah Swallow’s S-Works Diverge Has Been Pushed to the Verge
Progression happens when people push the current paradigm causing a shift, or a schism in the model. This applies to bicycles as well. From the era of the klunker and the cruiser influencing mountain bikes to people riding 23mm road tires on gravel roads. Hell, I think it’s safe to say that our generation has seen various permutations unfold from people who push their bikes just a little more than others. To the verge, even.
What’s in a Name: A Recap of the 2019 Land Run 100 – Sarah Swallow and Brian Vernor
What’s in a Name: A Recap of the 2019 Land Run 100
Photos by Brian Vernor and words by Sarah Swallow
You might be wondering, out of all the gravel events popping up around the world, what makes the Land Run 100 special? Why ride gravel in Oklahoma, in a place known as “Tornado Alley”? If you are wondering this, you are not alone.
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in my first Land Run 100 gravel race. Bobby and Crystal Wintle host the event from their shop, District Bicycles, in the center of historic downtown Stillwater, Oklahoma. The race attracts two thousand gravel cyclists from around the country and has some legendary stories attached to it. For instance, in 2017 rain soaked the red dirt roads to the consistency of peanut butter mud and only ~25% of the riders who started the race finished. Despite the treacherous conditions that bad weather can bring on race day, the Land Run 100 has established itself as a must-do event on the gravel race circuit. Before I talk about why I think that is and what I learned from my experience there, I’d like to acknowledge the history behind the name of the event.
Sarah Swallow’s Sick Flatbar 27.5 Sequoia
The general rule of thumb is if you build it, people will cram the biggest tire possible into it. I wish we lived in a world where tire clearances were maxed out with drivetrain efficiency in mind, but it’s not always the case. However, when it is the case, you end up with a very capable bike. So yeah, if you build it… with ‘it’ being the Specialized Sequoia. While people have certainly put mountain bike tires on this bike before, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone fit as big of a tire as Sarah Swallow did with the Ground Control 2.1″. This bike is her recon bike for her 125 mile race next month, the Ruta de Jefe, in Elgin, Arizona. While there is no singletrack per se on the course, the roads can get rowdy, where a wide bar and fat tire will soften the blow from the washboard and ruts.
It’s built with a Rogue Panda framebag, SRAM Force 1, PAUL Klampers, a Revelate Feed Bag, one of those WTF Bikexplorer bidons, and a set of those S-Works Overendz Bar Ends.
Some might call it a hybrid, or just a rigid MTB, so that nomenclature is welcome, but bottom line is, I doubt anyone foresaw a build like this arising from the Sequoia platform!
Also, as a personal note, happy birthday Sarah!
Follow Sarah on Instagram.
Tucson to Kanza: a Long Ride to a Long Ride – Ultra Romance
Tucson to Kanza: a Long Ride to a Long Ride
Word and photos by Ultra Romance
Dirty Kanza: How does one prepare their mind, legs and undercarriage for a 200 mile “race?” How do you relaxation cycle ésport™ without relaxation? How does one saunter through the day, resting in the sun whenever the mood strikes, dine on expensive chocolate after a fine fine yogurt cupping at the local co-op, all whilst riding 200 miles in one go?? Can that even be kinda fun?
I suppose it depends on your Myers Briggs score divided by how many years you’ve spent in dental school. Dentists were all over the road scene, and as road has taken a major swan dive into a pile of 20c used rubbers (sounds dirty cuz it is), grav grinding (sounds dirty but only mildly) has become the future world arena for the well-to-do-sadistic. Dentists are sadists by nature, nothing against them, they just are. They drill and pull teeth outa screaming peoples faces all day. They love training for 200-mile races.