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Why Stub Stewart State Park is (still) the ultimate family bikepacking destination

Why Stub Stewart State Park is (still) the ultimate family bikepacking destination

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-27.jpg

Leaving camp with a 10 mile descent through the forest on the Banks-Vernonia Trail.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you thought bikecamping was a new fad or that it was just for extreme adventure-seekers, consider this: This weekend I joined several other families on a two-night campout at Stub Stewart State Park. We rode 40 or so miles each way from north Portland to the park’s wonderful little cabins nestled in the woods of bucolic Buxton (about 10 miles south of Vernonia).

What gets me so excited about what we did this weekend isn’t about how “epic” the ride was. In fact it’s the opposite of that. I love how accessible and doable it is for just about everyone. Not only did we have kids as young as six riding their own bikes the entire way, we had adults with us that had never done anything like it.

When we did a similar trip (with some of the same families!) five years ago it seemed like a much crazier thing. But with the trend toward more adventure-riding and “overnighters,” it seems like the idea of bikecamping has trickled into a more mainstream audience. Case in point: In the town of Banks we rolled up to a market and met another group of families with young kids doing the exact same thing!

If you’re thinking of giving it a try, Stub Stewart is a great place to start. Here’s why…

You can take a train

By hopping on the Blue Line MAX train you can cut the biking distance from Portland in half. Stub Stewart is about 20 miles north of the Hillsboro Transit Center (end of the line) and 10 of those miles are carfree bliss along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. Keep in mind that big bikes loaded up with gear and trailers and such might attract attention from some TriMet operators. One family in our group unfortunately got thrown off the train on the way out of town. The train was relatively empty and the operator was mean and even called the police when the mom of the family pleaded her case. That’s rare, but it can happen. If you do use MAX, try to use it during off-peak hours.

If you have kids or friends that are on-the-fence about riding all the way, sometimes just knowing it’s an option is enough to get them to commit. “We can always take the MAX if we need to,” is a comforting thing to keep in your back pocket.

There’s a great route to use

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-5.jpg

I like to avoid auto traffic as much as possible — especially when riding with little people.

Five years ago I didn’t have the luxury of GPS and a bunch of vetted routes to choose from. We pedaled on some scary stretches of road that weren’t fun at all. But now we have technology! I found a great route on RideWithGPS.com (highly recommended site/service by the way) that was created by our friends Russ Roca and Laura Crawford of Path Less Pedaled fame. The route uses Willamette Blvd and the St. Johns Bridge to get out of town. Then it rolls up through Forest Park on Saltzman Road. Once on the west side, you’ll hop onto the Rock Creek Regional Trail, a fun paved path that winds through several parks and helps you avoid some of the unsafe roads in Bethany and North Plains. There are still a few sketchy spots, but overall I’m confident in saying it’s the lowest-stress route from Portland to Stub Stewart (and I’m pretty sure 16 other moms, dads, and kids will back me up on that).

Even with the climbs and the distance, we had on six-year-old and a few seven-year-olds who did it! My advice after leading the group: keep the speeds slow so the group always stays together. That makes it more fun for the little ones and it keeps their confidence high because they won’t get demoralized by trying to close a gap to faster riders.

A state park where you can camp in a suburban cul-de-sac

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-20.jpg

Just some kids from the neighborhood.

The cabins at Stub Stewart are out of this world. There are 15 cozy wooden bungalows nestled in a forest clearing that overlooks the coastal mountain range. It feels like a suburban neighborhood with sidewalks, porches, nice people to meet, and plenty of safe places for the little ones to run free. And you can drive there too of course. No shame in that. In fact, we had a few people who drove out, which made our loads much lighter (and allowed me to have a mountain bike to play with, more on that below). Keep in mind you’ll have to reserve cabins way ahead. But even if you can’t get one, there are 111 other campsites scattered throughout the park.

And in case you haven’t heard, Stub Stewart is a trail-biking paradise. It’s a hilly park so expect climbing; but if you’ve got the legs and the enthusiasm, Stub has an impressive network of singletrack trails and logging roads. The nonprofit Northwest Trail Alliance has done amazing work and I can’t wait to go back and ride the rest of the trails.

All-you-can-eat blackberries

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-31.jpg

If you time your trip right, you can enjoy a blackberry buffet that goes on for miles. We stopped and picked several times, stuffing our water bottles and bowls with as many berries as possible.





Here are a few more photos from the road…

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-2.jpg

Fortunately we only had a couple miles on Highway 30. I sure would like to see ODOT and the City of Portland work together to make biking more pleasant here.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-3.jpg

Descending Springville Road just before the Washington County line.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-4.jpg

Pro tip: Try and carry your kids’ stuff so they can just enjoy the ride.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-6.jpg

Rock Creek Regional Trail is a gem!
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-8.jpg

Bethany Lake.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-9.jpg

Fuel.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-10.jpg

One of the many old homes along Meek Road between Hillsboro and Banks.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-11.jpg

Gravel yes, cars no.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-12.jpg

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-17.jpg

Sampling some of the singletrack trails in the Stub Stewart mountain biking area.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-18.jpg

The kids found a playground near the cabins.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-19.jpg

Hollywood Theater and River City Bicycles partnered with State Parks for an outdoor movie showing of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure on Saturday night.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-24.jpg

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-25.jpg

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-28.jpg

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-30.jpg

The Banks-Vernonia Trail is worth its weight in gold.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-34.jpg

Leaving Banks.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-35.jpg

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-36.jpg

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-37.jpg

Yes, these two little seven-year-old superstars rode the whole way.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-38.jpg

WTH?
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-39.jpg

This little six-year-old dude pedaled all the way up Springville Road with a little help from his dad.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-40.jpg

Using Forest Park isn’t just a fun adventure, it’s also another way to avoid auto traffic.
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-42.jpg

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-43.jpg

Smiling and enjoying the St. John’s Bridge is possible when you take the lane with a group of 16 people.

If you have any questions about our trip, feel free to ask in the comments. I’m happy to help more people experience this.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post Why Stub Stewart State Park is (still) the ultimate family bikepacking destination appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Portlander competing in self-supported bike race across Europe

Portlander competing in self-supported bike race across Europe

Nathan in Riverview Cemetery early this week.(Photo: Nathan Jones)

Nathan Jones in Riverview Cemetery earlier this week.
(Photo: Nathan Jones)

Portlander Nathan Jones, who some of you might recall as the energy and spirit behind the weekly Thursday Night Ride, is about to tackle a ride of a completely different magnitude: An 18,0 00 journey around the world.

It’s the World Cycle Race and Jones is currently in Belgium where the riders are about to start. To help fund his four-month journey Jones has set up a GoFundMe campaign where he’s already raised nearly $4,000 from 58 people.

Here’s more from Jones about the task that lies ahead:

“This will take me across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America, India, and the Malay Peninsula.

This will involve me pedaling on average for 18 hours a day. I will not have a support vehicle, the only support I will have will be the random trail angels, and those who are fortunate enough to be watching while I ride through. There will be other forms of support though, mostly family, friends, and great people I have yet to meet but are fascinated by the thrill of global bike racing.

This sort of racing is often referred to as self supported, and to a large part that remains very true. I will be all out on my own, with little more than my wits for months while I endlessly pour every ounce of my willpower into moving a bike aound the planet. That self support stops though in the form of the hundreds if not thousands of people willing to help support this crazy endeavor of mine. That can be anywhere from just watching my progress and relaying it to friends, to meeting me on route and buying a hotel, helping schedule with last minute flights, or helping to box up a bike.







There are endless, countless ways folks can support me without giving any cash. Just looking on in admiration and being inspired to dream bigger dreams is hugely appreciated. Life is really, terribly, tragically short, and my motto these days is “If I can’t aim for the moon, then I’ll aim for around the planet.” I appreciate being able to inspire folks and all the support that I receive in the process, I can’t thank people enough who are happy to see me fullfil my dreams and I hope to return the favor.”

The rules of the race are simple: Riders must pedal around the world by going either east or west without doubling back. There are two checkpoints they must visit and their progress is tracked via GPS.

Jones is no stranger to enduracing riding — whether he’s doing it himself or sharing his passion with others. In addition to his role with the Thursday Night Right (or “TNR” as regulars call it), Jones is also behind the Trans Am Bike Race and his latest project, the Steens Mazama 1000 just wrapped up last week.

To stay inspired by his journey and cheer him on as he goes, follow along via Facebook and Instagram.

Go Nathan! Good luck out there.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Portlander competing in self-supported bike race across Europe appeared first on BikePortland.org.

After Outback incidents and poop-fire, event will teach ‘Leave no Trace’ ethics

After Outback incidents and poop-fire, event will teach ‘Leave no Trace’ ethics

packtrash

Proper pack-out-your-trash technique.
(Photo: Jocelyn Gaudi/Team Komorebi)

This past summer as bikepacking reached new heights of popularity, it also faced its first major PR crisis.

It started as a relatively innocent post on VeloDirt.com about the Oregon Outback. Velo Dirt’s Donnie Kolb (the man responsible for popularizing the off-road route that runs 375 miles from Klamath Falls to the Columbia River Gorge) wrote a headline that stunned adventure cycling fans: The Death of the Oregon Outback.

Kolb heard that trash and human waste had been left at various campsites along the route and the locals were not happy about it. Kolb was understandably upset. “If you can’t follow Leave No Trace ethics,” he wrote, “if you can’t show respect to the folks who live on this route, and you can’t respect the wild nature you ride through, then stay home.”

– Advertisement –


Kolb’s post spread like wildfire. Then, just a month later, an actual wildfire spread. A guy cycling on dirt roads in Idaho’s backcountry relieved himself then lit the toilet paper on fire. That incident went viral thanks to embarrassing headlines like “Pooping cyclist starts wildfire.”

cathole

Do you know how to dig a cathole?
(Photo: Jocelyn Gaudi/Team Komorebi)

It’s with these unfortunate incidents in mind that we’ve decided to organize on a free event to raise awareness about how to bike in the woods without making an impact. Check the event flyer and description below:

LeaveNoTraceClinic

Don’t crap where you eat. A simple concept.

Learn from the experts of Mountain Shop, BikePortland.org, Limberlost, Komorebi, and VeloDirt; do hands-on practice and see demonstrations of proper camp set-up, waste disposal, earth-friendly riding techniques, and more. Trod lightly and clean up after yourself. Listen. Look around. Let the countryside leave its mark on you rather than your mark staining it.

A free clinic on the principles of leave no trace as it applies to camping with your bicycle.

Come and find out what a cathole is and why you should learn how to dig one. Please consider joining us and these other fine folks at Mountain Shop on Sandy Blvd. (1510 NE 37th) at 6:00 pm on October 15th (next Thursday). RSVP and tell your friends to come via Facebook.


The post After Outback incidents and poop-fire, event will teach ‘Leave no Trace’ ethics appeared first on BikePortland.org.

After Outback incidents and poop-fire, event will teach ‘Leave no Trace’ ethics

After Outback incidents and poop-fire, event will teach ‘Leave no Trace’ ethics

packtrash

Proper pack-out-your-trash technique.
(Photo: Jocelyn Gaudi/Team Komorebi)

This past summer as bikepacking reached new heights of popularity, it also faced its first major PR crisis.

It started as a relatively innocent post on VeloDirt.com about the Oregon Outback. Velo Dirt’s Donnie Kolb (the man responsible for popularizing the off-road route that runs 375 miles from Klamath Falls to the Columbia River Gorge) wrote a headline that stunned adventure cycling fans: The Death of the Oregon Outback.

Kolb heard that trash and human waste had been left at various campsites along the route and the locals were not happy about it. Kolb was understandably upset. “If you can’t follow Leave No Trace ethics,” he wrote, “if you can’t show respect to the folks who live on this route, and you can’t respect the wild nature you ride through, then stay home.”

– Advertisement –


Kolb’s post spread like wildfire. Then, just a month later, an actual wildfire spread. A guy cycling on dirt roads in Idaho’s backcountry relieved himself then lit the toilet paper on fire. That incident went viral thanks to embarrassing headlines like “Pooping cyclist starts wildfire.”

cathole

Do you know how to dig a cathole?
(Photo: Jocelyn Gaudi/Team Komorebi)

It’s with these unfortunate incidents in mind that we’ve decided to organize on a free event to raise awareness about how to bike in the woods without making an impact. Check the event flyer and description below:

LeaveNoTraceClinic

Don’t crap where you eat. A simple concept.

Learn from the experts of Mountain Shop, BikePortland.org, Limberlost, Komorebi, and VeloDirt; do hands-on practice and see demonstrations of proper camp set-up, waste disposal, earth-friendly riding techniques, and more. Trod lightly and clean up after yourself. Listen. Look around. Let the countryside leave its mark on you rather than your mark staining it.

A free clinic on the principles of leave no trace as it applies to camping with your bicycle.

Come and find out what a cathole is and why you should learn how to dig one. Please consider joining us and these other fine folks at Mountain Shop on Sandy Blvd. (1510 NE 37th) at 6:00 pm on October 15th (next Thursday). RSVP and tell your friends to come via Facebook.


The post After Outback incidents and poop-fire, event will teach ‘Leave no Trace’ ethics appeared first on BikePortland.org.

6 questions for the man behind Oregon’s bikepacking revolution

6 questions for the man behind Oregon’s bikepacking revolution

Donnie Kolb’s new site, OregonBikepacking.com
is sooo good.

People have been sleeping in the woods with their bikes for over a century. It’s nothing new. But in just the past year or so, doing off-road overnighters — a.k.a. “bikepacking” — with a few frame bags attached to a mountain-bike (or a beefy road bike) has skyrocketed in popularity. Especially here in Oregon.

There are a number of things to explain this phenomenon; but one inarguable catalyst has been VeloDirt.com. Now Donnie Kolb, the man behind the site the has done so much to help popularize gravel riding and camping-by-bike, has launched OregonBikepacking.com.

Kolb launched VeloDirt in 2010 with his friends Suzanne Marcoe and Aaron Schmidt. It began humbly as a blog to catalog rides on “those lonely dirt roads you pass on your regular road rides.” That same year, Kolb organized an unsanctioned, 123 mile race on one of his signature backroad routes called the Oregon Stampede. It was a huge success, so Kolb added a few more events the next year and he hasn’t looked back since.

His latest and greatest route is the Oregon Outback — 360 miles (mostly dirt and gravel) of pure backroad goodness from Klamath Falls to Deschutes State Park near the Columbia River. That route, and the event he organized on it back in May, catapulted Kolb and VeloDirt even further.

Suddenly he was making news and being asked to give bikepacking seminars to the eager masses.

Kolb’s latest endeavor is OregonBikePacking.com, a fantastic resource that’s rich with photos and details of great adventure rides throughout the state. The site feels like a natural progression of his Kolb’s work and the design is top-notch. It’s a site that’s guaranteed to stoke your wanderlust for wild places.

I recently asked him to share more about the new site and where he thinks this bikepacking craze is headed next…

Donnie Kolb-1

Kolb in his natural environment, alongside his friend (and supporter) Harth Huffman of Wabi Woolens. (August 2013)
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)


Why OregonBikepacking.com? What the heck is it?

In short, it’s an online guidebook to bikepacking in Oregon. We currently have 6 full routes spread around the state ranging from 2 to 7 days. Most of the routes are intermediate level, a few are advanced. We ultimately plan to expand the offerings to around 20-25 routes, encompassing the entire spectrum of routes from weekenders to several weeks, from beginner to very advanced.

I’ve always been frustrated with the VeloDirt.com website… I’ve always hated our inability to present detailed information about routes. Even something as simple as a day ride was limited to a few photos and a GPS link, which really isn’t enough information if the idea is to encourage folks to get out and ride. My frustration came to a head during the Oregon Outback preparation; I had information spread around multiple places on the website, with no easy way to link them all together. I decided that if I was going to do this, I needed to do it right. So I hired a friend of mine to develop the new website.



How is it different from VeloDirt.com?

VeloDirt.com will continue to hold most of our day-to-day content – day routes, organized rides, blogging, gear reviews, etc. It’s also a good place for sharing photos and details from bikepacking trips that may not be ready for primetime on OregonBikepacking.com. It allows us to maintain a presence beyond bikepacking since that’s not all we do: fatbiking, gravel, even some road riding and touring, we do it all.



Some people like to keep their best wild spots secret, or at least on the down-low, so they don’t get overrun by a bunch of newbies. You’re like the opposite of that. The Pied Piper of bikepacking. Why do you get such a stoke out of sharing your best routes and getting other people out into the backcountry?

At this point I approach how I do this more like bike advocacy than anything else – but instead of encouraging people to get out of their cars and commute to work (as an example), I’m encouraging them to get out of the city altogether and go experience Oregon. I am continually amazed travelling around this state just how diverse it is and how many unique, interesting places there are.

The absolute best part about doing this and helping organize rides is when people tell me during or after their ride how excited they are and how much fun they are having. Providing an avenue to have that kind of experience is extremely rewarding in its own right. When someone tells you afterward that they just had the best day they’d ever had on a bike before – it makes all the hard work worth it.

Bullshit 100 ride-45



You still have a full time job that has nothing to do with bikes? As you launch more projects and existing ones gain popularity, do you ever think you’ll be able to make “bikepacking guru” into a career? Would you even want that?

Yes, while it might not look like it, I’m a working stiff just like everyone else. I actually work a lot – way too much. It’s not always easy to find time to ride or do longer trips. It takes a lot of advance planning to make time for the bike.

I have no idea what will happen with all of this, but I get that question more and more these days. It’d be sweet to figure out a way to make a living out of this – though I don’t know quite what that would look like. For now at least I’ll just keep doing this because I love doing it and if it eventually leads to something interesting, I’m certainly open to it. It sure would be beat my day job…

Bikepacking and gravel riding have really blown up this year. Why do you think this type of riding has struck a chord with so many people?

There’s a little bit of a “fad” aspect to it right now, especially with all of the outdoor companies suddenly promoting it and trying to grab a slice of the potential market (REI, Blackburn, etc.). Once companies like that start promoting something, it jumps beyond the hardcore niche users and suddenly everyone and their grandma wants to try it. That’s not a bad thing per se, as long as people understand what they’re getting themselves into. Getting people outside participating in physical activity is generally a positive overall.

Really, bikepacking is just backpacking on a bike. Because just about everyone in Oregon has been backpacking at least once they can relate to the idea of bikepacking. And really it’s a pretty simple transition. If you are a competent backpacker, you’ll be a competent bikepacker – just trade your moleskin and boots for a tire pump and a bike. So I get why it’s folks are getting so excited about it and its catching on pretty quickly.



What do you think is next? Will bikepacking just keep getting bigger? Or is the bubble set to burst and we’ll soon all be talking about bikescubadiving or some other twist on the sport we all love?

Bikepacking is here to stay. Much like when backpacking exploded in the 90’s and then leveled off, I think bikepacking will do the same. The biggest difference is you can outfit yourself for backpacking on a much smaller budget, so if only for that reason bikepacking will always be a smaller market. But now that outdoor companies and outdoor retailers have discovered bikepacking, we’ll never stop seeing it.

I personally love combining bikes with other things. Packrafting, hunting, fishing – you name it. Bikes give you access to so many new places that it’s a natural fit. And bikepacking gear facilitates combining some of these traditionally more remote activities with bikes. It’s awesome. As an example, I recently traded emails with a guy who flies his bush plane out into remote parts of Oregon, takes his bike along, and goes riding in new places all the time. I was blown away by the possibilities. Plus I’ve always wanted to get my pilots license. So yeah, the next big thing will be bikeflying and I already bought the web domain – OregonBikeFlying.com – just in case.

OregonBikepacking.com

The post 6 questions for the man behind Oregon’s bikepacking revolution appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Documentary bikepacking expedition will track famous wolf OR-7

Documentary bikepacking expedition will track famous wolf OR-7

A team of documentary storytellers is getting on mountain bikes to trace the trail of Oregon’s most famous canine.

Though they don’t want to actually find the wolf, known as OR-7 since 2011, when he became the seventh wild wolf to be electronically tracked on his journeys up and down the West Coast, the goal is to tell “a story not based on old European tales, opinions and hearsay, but the story of an actual wolf.”

“Our thesis is that wolves are heading westward,” organizer Rachael Pecore-Valdez writes in an email. “The more we all know about wolves the easier coexistence with wolves, tigers and bears will be.”

As you can see in the project’s Kickstarter video above (as I write this they’re halfway to a $20,000 goal), it’s a winding 1,200-mile trip from the mountains east of Baker City down to Klamath Falls and into the Californian Cascades. Expect some spectacular footage and photos of wildlife off the beaten path from the six-person team.

“For the most part we’re going to be on gravel and dirt roads,” Pecore-Valdez said. “Our goal in physically moving through the landscape will let us viscerally imagine OR-7’s journey, and bicycles are going to allow us to have that direct connection to the landscape.”

They’ll be supported by a van that’ll carry most of their equipment and meet the team where possible.

In her email, Pecore-Valdez mentions that they’ve found “a number of sponsors, but are still looking for a donation, loan or discounted rental of 5 bicycles.”

“I’ve been pedaling around here and there since I was a kid, but it took a wolf to finally inspire me to take training, bike maintenance and safety seriously,” she said. “It will literally be a steep learning curve.”

What I learned at the Bikepacking 101 seminar

What I learned at the Bikepacking 101 seminar

Bikepacking 101 event at Chris King HQ-3

A big crowd absorbed knowledge from
a trio of experienced bike adventurers.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A much larger than expected turnout at last night’s Bikepacking 101 Seminar confirmed that interest in backroads and adventure bicycling is at an all-time high. Either that, or people just jumped at the chance for some great free beer, catch up with friends (and make new ones) and a peek inside the headquarters of Chris King Precision Components.

In all seriousness, the 200+ people that packed the King Cafe was yet another reminder that we’ve hit a tipping point in this type of riding. From “gravel grinding” on beefed up road bikes to multi-day trips on fully decked-out fat-bikes, it seems like everyone is getting excited for two-wheeled adventures these days.

How big was the crowd? It took me a few shots with a wide angle to get it all…

Bikepacking 101 event at Chris King HQ-4

Bikepacking 101 event at Chris King HQ-5

Bikepacking 101 event at Chris King HQ-1

Both the interest in this type of riding and the big crowd last night was due in large part to the three guys who hosted the event: Nick Sande, Donnie Kolb, and Alan Gunn. Each one of them has explored an enviable amount of Oregon’s backroads by bike and they each share a sense of enthusiasm that manifests itself in a strong desire to share what they know and get more people out there with them.

Nick (a bike industry veteran with former stints at Surly and who know works for Cielo), Donnie (an attorney), and Alan (a mapping and GIS specialist for Metro) presented a lot of information last night on a huge array of topics. We heard advice and tips about gear, bike set-up, route planning, remote survival techniques, how to have good interactions with people you come across in remote areas, and more.

Below are a some of best tips I heard:

Bikes:

  • Almost any bike can be used for bikepacking. Road bike, mountain bike, cross bike, hybrid… Just ride what you have!
  • Put another way by Donnie: “Take what you have, strap some shit to it, and go ride.”

Here are a few of the bikes on display last night:

Bikepacking 101 event at Chris King HQ-10

Donnie’s custom DeSalvo road bike can be loaded up for 3-4 night trips.
Bikepacking 101 event at Chris King HQ-9

Brand new Salsa Fargo will set you back about $1,900.
Bikepacking 101 event at Chris King HQ-7

Nick’s Surly ECR with 29+ wheels.

Packing:

  • Keep all your gear “light and tight.”
  • The space an item takes up in your bag is more important than weight.
  • Ultralight backpacking gear won’t hold up to rigors of bike trips.
  • Frame/saddle/handlebar bags are preferred by these guys over the more traditional racks/panniers set up.
  • Buy extra straps for cinching things down.
  • Stuff sacks and dry bags can be cheaper alternatives to bike-specific bags.

Gear:

  • Two bag makers highly recommended by Nick are Revelate and Porcelain Rocket.
  • Don’t skimp on tire size. 2.0-inch and larger seemed to be the preferred set-up for loaded, multi-day off-road adventures.
  • In Portland, Andy & Bax was called a “superstore for bikecamping” by Alan.
Bikepacking 101 event at Chris King HQ-6

Nick giving the low-down. (MYOG stands for make your own gear.)

Routes, Mapping and Navigation:

  • Roads seen on Google Maps often don’t exist or don’t go through.
  • Make sure your maps are updated recently. Logging roads in the Pacific Northwest can grow over quickly, sometimes in 10 years or less.
  • Good sites to get routes: While Out Riding, Gypsy By Trade, and Swerving Excursions.
  • Buy and use real maps. Then print out the sections for your trip.
  • GPS devices can be unreliable.
  • Bike-specific GPS devices are not good for navigation. Use the models made for hiking.
  • Smartphone map apps by Gaia and Benchmark are excellent.
  • Printed maps from Benchmark are the best.
  • You can download free, updated maps from USGS.gov.
  • Make your route interesting by connecting things like epic roads, hot springs, geological formations, cool towns, and so on.

Planning:

  • Nick swears by using a spreadsheet to list all your gear and to make notes about how/if it works.
  • Keep a notebook during your ride and write down what works and what doesn’t (then add it to your spreadsheet).
  • Good average mileage on a loaded, off-road trip is 35-40 miles per day.
  • “Shakedown” rides are key. Test your set-up by riding through the neighborhood.

Water:

  • Camp near a water source.
  • Filter or purify everything before drinking.
  • Know your route: One portion of the Oregon Outback goes 80 miles without any water.
  • Do research before your trip to find where the services are, then print out the information and take it with you.

Human interaction:

  • Wave and say hi to everyone you come across.
  • People will be surprised to see you.
  • Most importantly, don’t wear spandex! Especially in remote and rural areas. “No one wants to talk to you if you’re dressed like that,” Donnie warned.

Random:

  • There’s no shame in walking.
  • Make sure your bike shoes are comfortable because you never know when you’ll get stranded and/or have to walk several miles.
  • To be ready for anything, don’t just train by riding, keep your core and arms strong too.
  • Learn to repair flats, tire gashes, broken spokes, derailleur adjustments, and broken chains.
  • “Knowledge weighs nothing.”
  • Strap a pair of Crocs to your bike.
  • Don’t wear a backpack.
  • Solar power isn’t effective for recharging devices.
  • The cool bikepackers these days are using dynamo hubs with USB outlets built in like the Luxos U.

Three recommended routes:

  • Nick: Scappoose to Vernonia via the Crown Zellerbach Trail.
  • Alan: The Deschutes Rail Trail
  • Donnie: Around Mt. Hood

I’m excited to see what this adventure riding enthusiasm leads to next. And I’ve also got to start packing for the Oregon Outback in May!

For more info, check out the gorgeous Bunyan Velo magazine and stay tuned to Donnie’s website, VeloDirt, for more resources and great local routes.