Hellbiking with Roman Dial – March/April ’24 Bikepacking News

It’s hard to call this a Spring news roundup seeing as how those of us in the desert are already enjoying consistent 90-degree highs. While many folks in the Northern Hemisphere are still thawing out, we’re looking to get in as much riding as we can before it uncomfortably warms up. Whatever the case may be for you, we’re hoping that you’ll enjoy our news roundup and feel inspired to get out and ride. As always, we’ve got a collection of gear, stories and articles to share, with a feature coming to you from a hellbiking expedition in the 80s. Enjoy and happy pedaling!

Roman Dial’s Pioneering Perspective

My first introduction to Roman Dial came a few years ago when researching cross-country travel tactics in mountainous terrain. If the name doesn’t immediately jump out at you, then many of the terms and styles of travel associated with him, and now common in cycling and adventure vernacular, surely will – packrafts, bikerafting, adventure racing, and to some, hellbiking. Dial had a hand in the early iterations of all of these and has lived a life full of adventure that questions what’s possible, feasible, and sometimes, sane. 

Far from the information-laden trips many of us embark on when we go out, Dial’s account of a hellbiking expedition through the Alaska Range in the late 80’s relied on maps, compasses, and a level of outdoors know-how that feels almost inaccessible. There was no pre-determined route, and critical decisions were made by looking up, thinking, and acting.

Along with two other friends, the trio pedaled and traversed glaciers, rivers, and hundreds of miles of off-trail travel on bicycles that, by today’s standards, seem wholly unsuited to the task. Perhaps it’s better described as mountaineering with a bicycle in-tow. As you read through the article, take a moment to look closely at the photos, at the amount of gear they carried for the task. It’s (little) enough to make an ultralight racer feel heavy-laden. 

Covering great distances at great speed seems to be the majority of what catches our attention in bikepacking these days. Perhaps no less adventurous, this style of riding lacks a certain amount of creativity embodied by hellbiking, roughstuffing, and the early cycling culture of the 1980s. What I love most about this article and Roman’s writing is the creativity and focus on the types of terrain covered by bike, pushing, oftentimes literally, the bike into use-cases that are far removed from what we think is possible. 

Give it a read, go for a ride, and maybe make it a hellride. 

Thanks to Adventure Cycling Association for reprinting this piece and photos from “Wheels on Ice.” To read more from Dial, I’d suggest “The Adventurer’s Son,” his staff bio at Alaska Pacific University, and anything else with his name on it.

More news!

  • Beyond selfies with Laura Killingbeck: I hosted Laura several months ago as she came through Tucson on her way to the Divide. Here she talks about her approach and mindset to making images while on tour.
  • Sofiane back on Bombtrack: To launch the re-launch of their partnership, a quirky video about retrieving a forgotten bike in Reno.  
  • Short films about Seoul’s cycling culture: Nearly an hour’s worth of peaceful watching about folks who pedal in the South Korean capital.
  • Da Brim reviewed: Rife with puns, this review comes at an opportune time for those of us in the Southwest already experiencing early Summer conditions. 
  • To TPU or not to TPU?: Do you prefer a compact repair kit, or a reliable one? A few thoughts here on the standard Tubolito vs. Alibaba knock-offs.
  • Dispersed’s Handlebar Roll: I’ve been using bags from Dispersed for a little over a year now and really appreciate Andrew and Katie’s take on riding and bag making. Here, Miles reviews their new handlebar roll with dry bag and external accessory pocket.
  • Dexter at the Doom: Tucson resident and friend of the shop, Dexter Kopas crushed this year’s Doom, covering the full route in one go. Read a few words from him and other finishers here. 
  • Restrap’s North Race: I love seeing all of the creative ways companies encourage people to get out there and ride. For those living in or traveling to England anytime soon. 
  • 12 Hours of May: Another creative push from an English brand to get out there and pedal in the coming Month. Not location-specific, so anyone can participate!

Leaving you with a sunrise scene from our Tombstone Hustle ride we hosted a few weekend’s ago.

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