The Adventure Cycling blog covers bicycle-travel news, touring tips and gear, bicycle routes, organizational news, membership highlights, guided tours, and more. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates.
Photo by Adam Coppola
Jenn recently sat down with Adventure Cycling Cartographer Casey Greene to chat with him about the project that has been occupying his time for much of the last year, the exciting new Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route.
Winter is coming, and that means adjusting our cycling wardrobes to include some slightly warmer apparel. But just because it's winter, doesn't mean you can't keep touring! Chillier temperatures at night require fluffier sleeping bags and warmer fires. Here are equipment tips for staying warm and toasty on your next overnight ride.
Made famous in large part by the fabulous documentary Ride the Divide and its subject, the unsanctioned, winner-takes-nothing-but-bragging-rights Tour Divide race, which runs the route's entire 2,774 miles, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route has received incredible media coverage over the last few years. The route's solitude and beauty is accessible to cyclists of all kinds. Watch this video to see why you might want to ride the Great Divide.
After becoming a papa in August of 2012, my drive to race bicycles and train for racing literally disappeared over the remainder of the year. I missed my old hobbies of photography, fly-fishing, and nature study. In many ways, my old favorite hobby of wilderness travel — backpacking — had been disregarded for all the time on the bike. But thankfully, there is a way to combine the two!
Well in the midst of some adventure chatter, and a libation or two, I said what the heck, and I signed up for the 2013 Togwotee Winter Classic! I decided on the 25-mile race. Bill had great time at last year's race, although that race was a bit of a slog with soft snow contributing to a slow course on which most of the 35-mile racers needed 6 hours or more to finish. I was definitely hoping for firmer conditions this year.
A peculiar looking fork, Salsa's Enabler first caught my eye a few years ago when introduced as their rigid 29er "adventure fork." It has since become the stock fork on their Mukluk line of fat bikes and it is becoming a go-to option for a fatbike frame build. While putting together a fatbike build earlier this winter, I took an opportunity to purchase one and put it to use with my setup. Although I haven't tested it to it's fullest potential for overnight adventures and gear hauling, it has steered wonderfully so far and I have thoroughly enjoyed some of the features of this unique fork.
Through all four seasons and twelve months of 2012, I rode a fat bike, exclusively. I commuted through a winter in Alaska, toured south through Canada, followed the Great Divide Route and the Colorado Trail, and eventually settled into New Mexico for the winter -- all on big rubber, all on an old, purple Surly Pugsley. But I don't need big tires for every ride, and I have built a Velo Orange Campeur frame into a capable urban commuter, touring bike, and light dirt-road machine. However, with the opportunity to spend a few days riding out of town this past week I immediately knew which bike to take.
According to presenters from QBP this weekend at the second annual Fat Bike Summit, there are around 10,000 fat bikes out in the world today. They expect that number to double in the next twelve months. Where will they be used? What is the future of fatbiking?
As I was ringing in 2013, I found myself contemplating the best adventures of 2012. By far, at the top of my list was the big adventure in my own backyard: a self-contained (together with Bill ) bike-packing trip to the top of a few high points near Missoula, MT.
I glanced back, squinting into the blinding snow, to make sure Bill was still riding behind me, the snow was getting heavier and visibility was much worse than when we had started earlier that day. But there he was, right on my tail with the biggest grin on his face. The riding was wonderfully quiet with a fresh two inches on the ground and piling fast. "This is awesome", I heard him say, as my Surly Nates made fresh tracks. I couldn't help but laugh.
The loop sounded awesome, 160 miles of single track and logging roads around Missoula, MT, typically accomplished in 24 hours, hmmm .... well, maybe not?
The plan was to drive 4 hours north, take a right up Graves Creek, then hopefully make it to the Clarence Creek Trailhead before the storm hit. From there we'd skin up to Stahl Peak Lookout in the dark, and the next day head to Mount Wam Lookout. Then, back to the 4WD Durango which would be able to make it downhill, 15 inches or not.
Now that spring has officially arrived, many of our thoughts are turning to summer adventures. Most of us may still be stuck at our desks, but there's an online game to help fuel the stoke (and mentally prepare for the hardships) of bicycle travel. Ray Swartz recently created "Armchair Bike Touring" to virtually recreate the experience, complete with scenic photo stops, broken spokes, and endless snacking.
On a mountain bike, space is often at a premium. One of the most effective places to cut both space and weight on a bicycle camping trip is your shelter. Even light solo tents usually weigh two to three pounds and take up quite a bit of space. Bivy sacks can feel claustrophobic and don't always provide the best protection from the weather. A great method is to use a SilNylon or polyethylene "tarp," rope, and stakes to construct a barrier from the elements.
Who makes the smallest pack-size solo tent? If you're traveling lightweight and only carrying two pairs of shorts maximum, how do you prevent saddle sores? What's the weather like on the Colorado Trail in August? Find out!
While the Rocky Mountains and West Coast have a greater range of possibilities for long-distance trail rides than other regions, there also are good options for dirt touring with mountain bikes in the Midwest and eastern United States. The following article details five routes to get off the highway and into a new adventure.
It's the end of the year, which seems to me to be a great time to make a list. The following is a list of the top 10 routes on which to take a mountain bike trip in the American West.
Imagine an overnight bicycle trip in the northern winter, perhaps on a nondescript snowmobile trail in the woods near your town. Moonlight illuminates a thick powder coat of snow on the trees, so much so that you don’t even need to use a headlight, despite the inky hue of the sky. The squeak of packed snow under your tires indicates the level of cold — probably about 5 degrees F and dropping. But you’re not concerned. You have warm boots, warm mitts, and panniers full of winter camping gear. You’ve been riding hard and working up body heat for several hours, ever since you left work on a nondescript evening in December, to venture into a black-and-white world that few ever see.
I’m just going to admit up front that I think hot camp food is overrated. It’s messy, time-intensive, and often less appetizing than most people are willing to admit (Freeze-dried entrees are not tasty. They’re just not.) Yes, if you have the time, it can be fun to cook up a big elaborate meal on the trail. And yes, hot food does warm the soul after a long day in the saddle (until it’s time to do the dishes.) But sometimes it’s also nice leave the stove, fuel, and mess kit at home and save time, space and arguably weight by packing cold meals (unless you eat only freeze-dried food).
When I’m traveling by bicycle, I like to keep camping as simple as possible. Especially when I’m traveling alone, I try to maximize my time on the bike and minimize the time I spend doing “camp chores.” For this reason, I usually opt to eat sandwiches over cooking an evening meal, don’t usually build fires, and don’t like to spend time constructing elaborate shelters.
There was a time when most bikepackers were literally backpackers with bikes, hoisting top-heavy, backbreaking loads on their shoulders while riding mountain bikes through the woods. These days, mountain bikers have several different options for hauling camping gear, from traditional racks and panniers to trailers. However, racks and panniers are more difficult to adapt to suspension systems on mountain bikes, and also increase the profile of the bike, which can make it more difficult to maneuver through tight singletrack and heavily forested trails. Trailers are more versatile, but also add another layer of difficulty and weight to technical terrain. Also, as with any mechanical component, racks and trailers are just another thing that can break or otherwise fail — a problem you want to avoid when traveling far away from civilization.
For decades, climbers and backpackers have embraced “ultralight” as a strategy for moving faster and farther on difficult terrain. And while cyclists are constantly trying to shave grams, bicycle travelers have been much slower to jump on the lightweight bandwagon. This could be because many of us don’t really care that our extra-large air mattresses and portable espresso makers are slowing us down on the hills when it means a comfy night’s sleep and energized morning. But for others, the image of a loaded cyclist laboring up a hill, face strained beyond recognition beneath the weight of four bulging panniers and a trailer, is daunting enough to discourage the idea of a multi-day ride. Add technical terrain, such as singletrack trails, rocky jeep roads, and muddy logging routes to the mix, and it’s no wonder that mountain biking has long been a single-day affair. That’s all changing with the growing trend of “bikepacking,” whose enthusiasts understand that one can’t clear the gnarly stuff with a trailer swinging from their rear wheel, but they can pare their belongings down to a manageable size.