I’ve lost hours with a pen in hand staring at the empty page in a notebook. A cursor on a vacant screen blinking, daring me to try and recount our days from Pittsburgh to D.C. without a single mention of Covid. Alas, I couldn’t even make it two sentences without avoiding the dreaded C word, and rightfully so. Covid-19 and the pandemic we are currently in the grips of have dictated all aspects of our daily lives and certainly dictated this trip’s timing. Without Covid, the three of us would likely have been on the road in some capacity or other. Steph has been touring with bands big and small, managing their merchandise sales. Ed has been a touring musician for the better part of six years and was getting ready to embark on another tour just before the pandemic striking. As for myself, I would have oddly enough found myself in Washington, D.C., just the same, camera in hand, shooting the annual DCCX race.
Last year in May 2019 Dan and I left Santa Monica, CA on a cold rainy day to start pedaling to New York. Dan had this goal of riding across the country a few years ago after we had done some shorter bike touring trips together. I didn’t want to do this ride at all when he initially brought it up.
If you’ve had the chance to use the Big Agnes Bikepacking tents, then you know how convenient they are. With the short tent poles and bike harness pack, these tents pack down to a manageable size for bicycle touring. New for 2021 comes the Copper Spur HV UL3 and the Tiger Wall UL2/UL3 Bikepack Solution Dye (pictured). Head to Big Agnes to check out the full Bikepacking line in detail.
Colt Fetters and his partner toured from Bologna to Rome last June. Alternating between following the Italy Divide and the Tuscany Trail, they embraced the credit card style of touring and spent time experiencing the culture of this beautiful country… check out the first of five videos here! Simply play the playlist to watch them all.
Photos by Rugile Kaladyte
When Rene Herse Cycles decided to develop a tire specifically for bikepacking and ultra-endurance racing, they asked Lael Wilcox what she wants in a tire. Lael has raced many ultra-endurance events, including the Tour Divide and Silk Road Mountain Race. She provided Rene Herse Cycles with heaps of feedback and they’re now introducing the result of this collaboration, the Fleecer Ridge 29″ x 2.2″ (or 700C x 55 mm), named after Lael’s favorite climb on the Tour Divide.
The Fleecer Ridge is a true all-rounder. Large knobs with generous space in between provide superb traction on loose and soft surfaces, while the knobs are spaced to put more rubber on the road as the tire leans into corners during paved descents into town to resupply.
The Fleecer Ridge offers a choice of the four Rene Herse casings:
-Standard combines comfort and speed at an affordable price.
-Extralight is our most supple casing for ultimate speed.
-Endurance uses the same ultra-fine threads with extra protection against punctures and cuts.
-Endurance Plus is one of the toughest performance tires available today.
Available in mid-May 2020 from good bike shops and directly from Rene Herse Cycles.
Ralph Samson took off on the Sky Islands Odyssey with friends last January, documenting the trip for all of us to enjoy while we’re locked indoors. Thanks for sending this over, Ralph!
DZR, makers of casual clipless sneakers, just announced the S240 touring boots. These boots offer ankle support, added warmth, and a different look from the brand. The S240 come in mustard (pictured) and navy, retail for $149, and are in stock now at DZR Shoes.
What is it that separates a Pro from a No? Is their genetic makeup a simple roll of the base pair dice? Or perhaps it’s a dogged commitment to training that sets them apart from the rest of us? Clearly the science is still out which but maybe Science isn’t looking in the right place. Could it be that is their dietary habits, specifically what they eat on a ride that cuts the wheat from the chaff, metaphorically speaking, we see you gluten-free fam. Filmmaker and a snack investigator Sim Smith has set out on a journey to expose these pro ride snack secrets. Why and how he gets these Toppest of Tier athletes to share their most coveted secrets we will likely never know but what’s important is that they do! Take some time to digest this critical information and apply these lessons to your next bike picnic. Trust me you and your G.I. tract will not be disappointed.
The folks at UK-based cycling adventure co. Pannier are doing great things. From before I ever started backpacking and touring, I’d had a romantic vision of touring around the English countryside – stopping into pubs when I needed food and rest, waving at sheep. The “usual stuff” had always prevented me from actually doing it – namely, the logistics of mapping a route and flying a bunch of gear across the pond. So it felt like divine intervention just a few weeks ago when I discovered the Route Beer Ramble – a 200km weekend group ride from London to Bristol, wrapping up with custom-brewed beers (and a brewery tour) at Cocksure Brewing Co.
I was told by Stef and Dave (Pannier head-honchos) that I’d only need to bring a helmet, pedals and cycling shoes – they’d essentially handle everything else. This removed my biggest obstacle – and as the sole international traveler, it made booking this trip last-minute infinitely do-able. Upon arrival, Stef had me fully setup with a beautiful Surly Straggler with fat gravel tires and Ortleib weatherproof bags. All the necessary camping gear (tent, pad and bag) would be ready and waiting for me upon arrival at our first checkpoint. This was really almost a bit too good to be true.
Salsa Cutthroat, Much More Than a Tour Divide Rig
Words By Spencer Harding, bike photos by Spencer Harding, with action shots by Locke Hassett
While I was able to finagle this incredibly snazzy bike solely for the purpose of reviewing a framebag on it, I figured why not squeeze a bike review out of it as well? First things first, I’m not a huge fan of riding drop bars and as I mentioned before I’m no ultra-endurance racer, which is precisely what this bike is designed for. So, I may be a fish out of water in that regard, but I think there is still plenty of potential in this bike for us humans who enjoy riding less than 200 miles a day and more than 2 hours of sleep a night. At face value, this bike is fast, when you point this thing down a dirt road and put some muscle into the pedals it fucking moves, it doesn’t much care for going slow. When using a combination of the magtank 2000 and two stem caddy style bags, the bike actually couldn’t turn sharply at low speed, but this bike was designed to haul ass on the Tour Divide, not make low speed technical turns. Lets delve into the specifications and all that jazz…
In the latest video from PLP, they take on the Ochoco Overlander, a semi-supported bikepacking ride in the mountains near Prineville, Oregon.
A view from the road, heading Due North from Nice to London.
Something happened to me while I was riding the 90-mile NOVA Coastal Route of Eroica California, I started loving the ride. A bit of a “duhhhh” moment, right? That may have had something to do with the skill and knowledge of the route-maker who has expertly joined some of the most stunning roads of San Luis Obispo County. From wineries to summits to the Oceans’ shore featuring some loosen-your-filling descents. I’m sure we could have easily found a dentist at Eroica to fix that last problem. So, not really a problem. It also helps to have beautifully cheerful people at rest stops handing you wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, and praising your athleticism. I felt so undeserving of such treatment, but that’s for me and my therapist to figure out together. Regardless, treatment like that could make a cyclist out of just about anyone.
Ben Page takes us on an intimate journey into the Canadian Arctic:
“Self-shot and edited whilst cycling around the world, this short film charts my winter journey into the Canadian Arctic as I completed my bike ride up the American continent. Compelled by Jack London’s assertion, that ‘any man who is a man can travel alone’, I sought an adventure of perfect solitude. Yet, as I came to realize, the harsh truths of traveling in such a formidable environment were a long way from the romantic images I’d held of this land. The Frozen Road is an honest reflection on my solo trip; of the wonder, terror and frustration I experienced when riding through the unforgiving emptiness of one of the world’s ‘last great wildernesses’.”
What an amazing story!
“Dreams come in many forms, unique to each of us, and ranging from the fleeting to the enduring. Our dream to ride the divide of North America begins in the Arctic and proves to be a challenging start to our nine-month journey. In the wilderness, we discover strength in our diversity and that our direction is influenced by many dreams.”
See more at Simply Propelled.
Jake’s Pacific Northwest Do-All Trek 970
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
While we can easily find ourselves lost in things shiny and new, there’s no denying the allure of a carefully curated classic being put to good use. Jake’s Trek 970 is just one of those bikes, with a build that takes advantage of classic mountain bike practicality to create a versatile and stylish bike for days long and short.
Jake’s no stranger to well-thought-out steel bikes, already having a number of sweet builds in the quiver before his 970 came together. He leans toward time-tested components, durability over flashiness, and comfort over outright speed. The 970 is Jake’s Pacific Northwest do-all bike, with wide tires, loads of carrying capacity, and inspiration taken from its home in Seattle.
Down the Ladder into Hell
Words and 35mm film photos by Stan Engelbrecht
I don’t remember when I first heard of ‘Die Hel’ (The Hell). It’s the kind of thing that comes to you like a mysterious rural legend – a rumour of a tiny community of farmers living for decades in complete isolation in an impenetrable valley paradise. More than anything, I wanted to go to ‘Die Hel’. Places and people like this have always fascinated me. South Africa has for many, many years had a complex social and political landscape, and I always like to imagine that these individualist pioneers left whatever country they came from to escape some kind of governmental or religious ideology, and when faced with the same developing in their newfound home, they were driven further into the natural world. To live simply, in peace, with nature as their surround.