Donnie Kolb at the Cowboy Dinner Tree, a restaurant along the Oregon Outback route with 30oz steaks. Photo by Gabriel Amadeus.
Simply stated, bikepacking is backpacking on a bike. Rather than using touring bikes with panniers, bikepackers use mountain bikes with frame and seat bags that allow them to maintain agility on singletrack trails. And though people have been using bikes to explore trails and dirt roads for about as long as bikes have existed, bikepacking’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past several years with new races and events popping up all over the country and long running events seeing record participation. In Oregon, Donnie Kolb is a central figure in the bikepacking world. In his own words he is, “spreading the gospel of dirt and gravel riding throughout the Pacific Northwest.” His website VeloDirt serves as a resource for bikepacking and gravel road routes throughout Oregon, a travel journal for Kolb’s adventure stories, and a hub for loosely-organized, semi-official bike events. In May, VeloDirt is putting on their largest ride yet, the Oregon Outback. It is a wild, 360-mile route tracing most of the distance of the state south to north. I spoke to Kolb about the history of VeloDirt, his love for bikepacking adventures, the unexpected popularity of the Oregon Outback, and the future of bikepacking in Oregon and beyond.
Photo from konaworld.com.
There’s something of an adoration–occasionally bordering on idolatry–for the working men and women of professional bike racing. We hold high racers such as Erik Tonkin, Tristan Schouten, and Mo Bruno-Roy who put in a full week’s work and still make it to the podium on the weekends. That esteem is, in part, a recognition of their serious dedication to the sports we love and their willingness to sacrifice time to compete at the highest levels. But it is also that we can see ourselves in working pros, unrealistic as that is. Few of us will actually spend the time training to compete at that level and even fewer have the genetics to do so. But their success feels just a little more within our grasp, a little more aspirational to those of us finding time to train and race in between all of life’s other commitments.
And though he eschews the notion that his full time job is a badge of honor or an excuse, Spencer Paxson falls squarely among that top tier of American working pros. He routinely places in the top 10 at national-level professional cross-country mountain bike races, placed 5th at the 2012 cross-country nationals, has made the US World Championships selection, and was on the 2012 Olympics long team. I spoke to Paxson about the challenges of balancing his office job with his bike racing job, what it means to have a career as a cross country racer in the ever evolving world of mountain bike racing, coming up under the mentorship of Erik Tonkin, and much more.
Posted in Bike Industry, Cyclocross, Interviews, Mountain Biking, Racing
Tagged barry wicks, bellingham mountain biking, cross country mountain biking, Cyclocross, erik tonkin, kona bicycles, spencer paxson, world cup
It’s Friday. It’s summertime. It’s time to plan some awesome bike adventures. These three videos showcase incredible trips that kickstart wanderlust and make me want to get out and explore.
The Road from Karakol is about professional alpine climber Kyle Dempster’s solo biking and climbing tour through Kyrgyzstan. He spent two months biking (and sometimes dragging, pushing or carrying his bike) 1200km on remote roads to climb Kyrgyzstan’s massive peaks. There were times when he didn’t see another human for a week straight.
Posted in Bike Touring, Cycling Media, Everything Else, Mountain Biking
Tagged bike packing, bike tour, bikepacking, british columbia, dave roth, ducttape then beer, fitz cahall, kyle dempster, matt hunter, mountain biking, road from karakol, seb kemp, tour mont blanc
Arguably, Thom takes cycling as serious as it needs to be taken.
Thom Parsons plays a lot of roles in the New England cycling world. The self-proclaimed dirtbag mountain biker is a former professional racer, co-founder and primary content producer for DirtWire.tv, and works as Operations Manager for Boston Bike’s Roll it Forward and Youth Cycling programs. Thom and I discussed his history as a racer, the opportunities he’s had to travel far and wide as a video interviewer, his work with and eventual departure from Cycling Dirt, and his experience trying to get more kids and low-income residents into biking.
Posted in Advocacy, Cycling Media, Cyclocross, Interviews, Mountain Biking
Tagged boston bikes, cycling dirt, Cyclocross, dirt wire, dirtwire.tv, endurance mountain biking, roll it forward boston, thom parsons, UCI, youth cycling program
Barry Wicks at the 2012 TSE. Photo via TSEpic.com
A lot of people love cycling. For one reason or another, it’s a sport that lends itself to obsession. Mike Kuhn has been showing his love and obsession with over two decades of riding, racing, race promotion, and advocacy. He’s perhaps best known for putting on the Transylvania Epic, a seven day mountain bike stage race in the heart of Pennsylvania. He’s also the man behind IronCross, an endurance cyclocross race, along with many more road, cross, and mountain bike races through the years. And though two decades of race promoting is inarguably an example of giving back to the bike community, Mike is also heavily involved in trail advocacy. He and Transylvania Epic co-founder Ray Adams launched a nonprofit The Outdoor Experience Organization in 2009 to raise funds for mountain bike trail building, maintenance, documentation and outreach in Pennsylvania. I had the chance to speak with Mike about his history in bike racing, the rapid growth of the Transylvania Epic and endurance racing, his vision to revive a small PA mining town with a high-quality trail network, and more.
Posted in Advocacy, Cyclocross, Interviews, Mountain Biking, Racing
Tagged bikenomics, endurance mountain biking, endurance racing, gravel grinding, iron cross, mike kuhn, ray adams, state college mountain biking, transylvania epic, tse, wilderness 101