10 Years of BAM! – May/June ’24 Bikepacking News

Dang, half the year gone already and summer in full swing! We’ve been feeling the heat here in Tucson but have luckily been hit with an early monsoon, albeit during our Swift Campout a couple of weeks ago. If you’re looking for some reading material to pass a hot afternoon, then we’ve got you covered with a handful of articles, videos, and gear selections to consider. We hope you’re staying cool and enjoying these long summer days wherever you’re reading!

The Bicycle Adventure Meeting

I didn’t keep up much with bikepacking news over the last couple of months, so when I sat down to catch up and peruse the backlog from May and June, it struck me that much of it was the same as any other two month period. Races are in full swing, and people won them. Other people went on epic trips and made beautiful films about the journey. Companies released more stuff, most of it iterations of what already existed. I have a ton of respect for big efforts and the creative minds who tell stories and develop gear, but sometimes there’s a sameness to the content that just feels a little dull. 

Then this article celebrating 10 years of Bicycle Adventure Meeting (BAM!) caught and held my attention. From its inaugural gathering of a few hundred people to this past June’s attendance of several thousand in Mantova, Italy, BAM! has grown to be the largest event in the world celebrating travel by bike. There are vendors with booths showing off gear, and part of this writeup comes from speedster Sofianne Sehili who pedaled from Paris to attend, but it’s not a tradeshow and by no means a race. By and large, the event focuses on the simplicity and joy of traveling by bike – whether it’s slower or faster, around the world or from across town, minimal or maximal. 

From what I gather, most folks who attend BAM! arrive by bike, a concept that’s been at the core of the event from the beginning, and with that, you immediately have common ground with thousands of other strangers who also arrive with stories to share from the get-go. If not by bike, then at least by train, as Sofianne did his first year. Given its location in northern Italy, you can hop a train from Zurich, Munich, Rome, Nice – among others – and then finish off with a pedal into Mantova. The dense European population and efficient train system make an event like this doable for a large chunk of the continent, so it got me thinking – do we have anything like this in the United States? Could we have anything like this here given our public transit options and the size of the country? What would be the epicenter that could realistically draw people within a reasonable biking or train distance? Could it be Tucson?

More news!

  • Apple iOS 18 and satellite messaging: I’ll still carry my Garmin inReach for more remote trips, but the ability to send messages via satellites could be game-changing technology for the future of bike travel.
  • The LifeStraw Sip: Slimmer and sleeker than most water filters, better for you than bleach, and definitely better than risking Giardia.
  • Maverick by Necessity: A look into Tailfin’s painstaking approach to making framebags – a fascinating watch!
  • “Ride the Divide” Re-issued: We have a poster hanging in the shop from the original release, and it’s super exciting to see a re-issue coming soon with additional footage and a new edit of the iconic film.
  • Bags X Bird Side bustle Panniers: I recently picked up one of Jay’s Tail Grabs for a new build, and now seeing these, they look to be a great option for extended touring when you’d like to carry a bit more.
  • Anton: A mountain athlete that I’ve respected for a long time now. The film doesn’t even touch the surface of his most recent pedal+climbing journey, but it’s artsy and peaks your interest.
  • “Reroutes:” In search of the Royal Road, an intricate road system that once connected Andean communities from Chile to Colombia. Full film out later this year.
  • Cycling Kindness: Indiana Schultz is a name many folks know from bikepack racing, but he’s now off on what will be a 7-year ride around the world.
  • Lael’s Ride Around the World: Podcast series is well underway documenting Lael’s Guinness record attempt, but if you haven’t been following, you can listen to the first episode here.

Leaving you with a scene from our wet and soggy Swift Campout a couple of weeks ago up on Mt. Lemmon.

Swift Bailout 2024 – photo credit Ellie Kaszniak

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