Stoke-Worthy Bikepacking News of 2021

As the year wraps up, I thought I’d look back at the news from around the bikepacking world that inspired us most here at Campfire Cycling. These are the events, products, stories, and films that really stoked the fire, igniting fun conversations among our team as we got it done in the shop and warehouse throughout the year.

All Bodies On Bikes – March 29th
This inspiring film looks at how warped ideas about sport and athleticism have created a cycling culture that is unwelcoming to fat people. The story of the two cyclists is one of joy and discovery and tells the story of how these two cyclists were able to persevere and develop their own path into cycling despite the inadequate support of our cycling community. It is time for a change in how under-represented people are welcomed and included in cycling and this film boldly advocates for everyone to start seeing a fat cyclist as a fellow rider to be embraced and celebrated.

AZT 300 Records – April 1st – 5th
Something was in the air this spring in southern Arizona as 3 of the 4 AZT 300 records were reset. It would seem the combination of excellent conditions and pent up energy from a year of limited events laid the path for these great rides. Alexandera Houchin set the women’s single speed record in 2 days, 19 hours and 25 minutes. Jefe Branham set the men’s single speed record in 2 days, 1 hour and 24 minutes. And Timon Fish set the men’s overall record in 1 day, 14 hours and 52 minutes.

My Binary SuperB while out riding at Parker Canyon Lake, AKA: The start of the AZT 300

Eastern Divide Bikepacking Route Announced – May 13th
The 5000+ mile Eastern Divide Trail brings the promise of an expedition-length bikepacking journey within close reach to east coast bikepackers. Modeled after the GDMBR and Western Wildlands Route, this route starts in Newfoundland, Canada, and meanders all the way down to Key West Florida. The route has been broken up into 8 segments with various sections scheduled to be introduced over 2022 and 2023.

The Alt Tour – June 28th
How does an established pro cyclist ride the Tour De France in an attention-grabbing and inspiring way? They do the entire route, completely self-supported, including all of the transfers at the same time the race is going on, and end up finishing 5 days ahead. Pro Racer Lachlan Morton, did just this on a road bike loaded up with bikepacking bags. It was a lot of fun to see this bikepacking version of Le Tour unfold.

Surly Corner Bar – July 15th
How many possible handlebar configurations are there? And can something new and useful still be thought up? The Surly Corner Bar revealed that there is probably always another configuration that is worth considering, addressing a request we hear frequently at our shop, can I put drop bars on my mountain bike? Previously the answer was yes, but it’s gonna get pretty expensive to switch to road brake levers and potentially other drivetrain changes to accommodate. Now the answer is a bold YES, it’s easy with these Surly Corner Bars which are available at our shop.

Some Surly Corner Bars we setup here at the shop

Apidura introduces a frame bag waterbladder – July 27th
This is one of those products that many folks have probably imagined. It seems so simple and obvious but when was some company going to make it happen?. I can’t say I’ve used the Apidura Waterbladder. I don’t yet know how I feel about how it functions. I’m simply glad they gave it a shot.

Lael Encounters a Mountain Lion – Aug 14th
Lately, a year doesn’t go by without Lael Wilcox’s bikepacking adventures generating a plethora of inspiring moments. This year was no different and the moment that stood out for me was when she posted a video of her encounter with a mountain lion while attempting an Individual Time Trial of the Tour Divide. As typical, she handled the situation with poise and joy for the experience. Her attempt ended early due to all of the smoke.

The New Tumbleweed Stargazer – Aug 18th
Daniel at Tumbleweed has captured the imagination of expedition bikepackers with the purpose-built Prospector, that purpose being prepared for the most rugged of bikepacking in remote corners of the globe. It was hard not to take notice when the Stargazer was announced. A bicycle built for gravel road bikepacking is a fitting complement to the Prospector and nicely fills out the Tumbleweed “lineup”. While comparable to a range of other dropbar gravel bikepacking bikes, Tumbleweed’s design ethics of simplicity and ruggedness shine through.

It has become beauty again – Sept 28th
Jon Yazzie has been doing great bikepacking advocacy work on the Navajo nation, starting a youth bikepacking group and running a bikepacking touring company, Dzil Ta’ah Adventures. This film beautifully introduces Jon’s story.

It Has Become Beauty Again. from Austin Smock on Vimeo.

Inaugural Dangerbird – Oct 23rd
We didn’t hear about this event until right before it took place, but being a 4-hour drive from Tucson to Las Cruces it’s most definitely on our radar for next year. A combination of the newly introduced New Mexico Bikepacking Summit and an ultra-endurance race of the Monumental Loop, this event looks like it had it all; fun, inspiration, and epic riding. Have a look at this remarkable photography and poetry about what went down.

New Bikepacking Roots Director, Ally Johnson – Nov 2nd
Since its founding in 2017, Bikepacking Roots has been doing an amazing job at advocating for bikepacking and developing new routes. Bikepacking Roots co-founder, Kurt Refsneider, had been leading the charge but decided he could better serve the mission by stepping down as director and focusing on new route development. To fill his shoes, Bikepacking Routes brought in Ally Johnson. Ally’s enthusiasm for bikepacking and her new leadership position comes through in this Bike’s Or Death interview. While Kurt was an amazing founder, it is great to see someone come in with a non-racing background and bring the #partypace perspective.

Lal’s New Split Derailleur Drivetrain – Nov 16th
When I first saw the photos of this, my reaction was that this wild drivetrain was destined for the part’s bin of bad ideas. But when our bike shop manager, Toby, brought it up as a promising new direction in drivetrains, I had to take another look. While it could definitely use the refinement that comes with production adoption and scale, this drivetrain system offers some real advantages in durability, reliability, and performance by splitting the tensioning and shifting systems into separate functions and tucking everything up higher on the frame.

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