May 4, 2016
The Rite of Spring debuted to packed audiences at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on May 29, 1913 featuring music by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. The controversial performance, whose narrative pivots around themes of seasonal transition and pagan sacrifice, was not well received by audiences. During the second act — at which time a young woman literally dances herself to death to usher in the Spring — audiences began to riot. It is now recognized as one of the most influential cultural works of our millennium.
So what does 19th century Russian ballet have to do with bikepacking?
Pretty much nothing (aside from them both being ahead of their time). I do however think of The Rite, without fail, each spring when I cut myself a fresh pair of jorts and head out into the mountains for an unseasonably early bike overnight. A yearly ritual and practice of unpleasantness that often leaves me beat-up, breathless, and very, very muddy.
The motivation for last weekend’s rainy solo in Lolo (National Forest) was to shakedown a new bikepacking set-up for an upcoming ride this July from Banff to Missoula along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Growing up just outside Yosemite National Park, I’d been introduced to backpacking at an early age and with about a decade’s worth of experience touring by bicycle, the transition to bikepacking seemed like a natural one.
For this particular trip, I’d borrowed some loaner gear from a friend and was able to outfit myself with pretty much everything else I needed from Adventure Cycling’s Cyclosource store — I was set. Since it was my first shakedown with the new gear, I decided on a quick out and back in the Sapphire Mountains along Rock Creek Road. Following the route, I had planned it would be a 160-ish miles round trip out to one of my favorite primitive hunting camps near Skalkaho Pass.
Sure, I could have picked a weekend with better weather, but I don’t have that kinda time and I’m not that smart. Regardless of the rain I had a blast, as I do every year, and am already scheming next weekend’s ride. I’m hoping to get in a few more weekend trips with loaded miles before heading out for a few weeks to join our TransAm76 tour beginning in late May. There’s still one spot left, btw.
Thinking about your next bike trip? We have several mountain bike tours coming up this season and they are filling fast. And if you’re interested in joining up with Adventure Cycling’s self-contained Epic Great Divide this summer, we still have space — and I promise we won’t dance you to death.
Images and story by Whitney Ford-Terry.