Meg Knobel on Organizing the Stagecoach 400
Meg Knobel is a staple in the bikepacking community. A down-to-earth, positive spirit, one of her major roles is being the race (dis)organizer of the Stagecoach 400, a popular bikepacking route in Southern California created by Brendan Collier. What makes this route special is the access to the coast, mountains, and desert all in one ride.
Starting in Idyllwild, California, the route drops down toward the coast of the Pacific Ocean and then heads through San Diego. New for this year, the route ventures further south, almost to the border with Mexico, then cuts back east over the Cuyamaca Mountains to the Anza-Borrego Desert. After crossing the desert, the route wanders back up to Idyllwild. Most people ride hardtail with 2.35 to 2.6-inch tires to help deal with the desert sand. Most people prefer something with suspension and probably flat bars.
A tattoo artist by trade, …
PolarRoll Ultra – My First Winter Ultra
Two years ago my husband Al and I watched the documentary Safety to Nome. If you’ve not seen it, it’s about the 350/1000-mile human-powered (by bike, foot, or ski) race through the Alaskan wilderness in the dead of winter. By the way, it’s going on right now. As we’re watching, Al turns to me and asks, “Do you think it’s fucked up that I secretly want to do this?” I have to carefully temper my response. What I want to say is “Fuck yeah it is.” I know what’s going on here. He’s laying the groundwork for something.
I Took an Awesome Frame Building Class at Brew Bikes
I traveled to the beautiful Appalachians in North Carolina to help design and build my latest MTB frame at Brew Bikes. Here are details of the adventure, Q&A style. Why did you take a frame building class? I live in my van and designed the garage to fit 2 bikes: one gravel, one mountain. My mountain bike is geared but I’m racing single speed in a couple of MTB events this year. Since I don’t have room for a third frame, I could either convert the bike with a chain tensioner or replace the frame. To minimize time-sucking mechanicals during a race, I decided to get a new MTB frame with Paragon slide drops. These will allow me to run the bike SS or geared without a dangly breakable tensioner.
Memories From the Cardboard Box in My Closet: Tales and Photos from Alexandera’s First Winter Bike Tour
In the early years of my bike adventuring, I didn’t have a smartphone and chose to bring a 24-shot disposable camera with me on my adventures to document my trips. I’ve shared a selection of photos from that tour. I was supposed to ride the Tour Divide in the summer of 2014. I’d learned about the Tour Divide in 2012; that was the year I set out on my first cross-country bike tour. I’d wrapped up that bike tour anticlimactically, searching out a ride back to Wisconsin on Craigslist. I’d run out of money and convinced a stranger driving from Boulder, Colorado to Madison, Wisconsin to let me ride with him. In fact, I told him that I would help drive and that my boyfriend would give him gas money upon my arrival home. I’d accomplished something that I hadn’t even comprehended I could do – I had ridden my bike across the country. Granted, most of that trip was a disaster. I’d set out with the few things I’d already had – a messenger bag, a Blackburn rear rack, 23cc tires pumped up to 110 psi, and little more than that. Oh, but I learned so much…
Living the Dream: Positive People, Negative Temperatures
I went on my first expedition in 2002; I was a student on an Outward Bound course. Those 16 days opened my eyes to the world of the outdoors and expeditions. Over the past 20 years, I have been beyond lucky and privileged to take part in many expeditions into the mountains and deserts. In 2016 I accidentally got into fat biking, and my soul was again moved. Around that time, I started bikepacking. Both fat biking and bikepacking are the pinnacle of biking for me. Winter fat bikepacking takes riding bikes to another level. Most winter ultra-events might require one night or just a few hours of sleep. Whereas with a longer trip, you need to be able to sleep out for multiple nights, keeping your puffy and sleeping bag dry. You also need to carry food for multiple days as well. To be able to thrive, it takes a lot of different skills, endurance riding, winter skills, and grit.
Conversations in Community: Miss Wendi
In early December, I traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to have a conversation with two other badass women at Freewheel Bike Shop. Mary Ehlers was the last woman standing in the 2022 Colorado Trail Race, and the evening’s emcee was Kate Coward. Kate is an incredible athlete, having finished ten Arrowhead 135’s (eight races and two ITTs), and I was glowing sharing a space with those two women. We spoke about some of our fears, some of our passions, and so many other things in between. One of my favorite parts of these community events is to talk with the folks who come to be in the audience. I met Wendi right away. She has hair like my mother’s, beautiful, black, and bouncy; those kinds of curls are few and far between, and I immediately felt …
Bikepacking Solo Part Four: Benefits of Going Solo
In Part Four of the Bikepacking Solo series, we asked bikepackers about the benefits of going solo and some final thoughts. The consensus from the group is that it’s worth it! Many thanks to the women who contributed their experiences, knowledge, and insights to this series.
Missed the previous Bikepacking Solo Articles? Here are the links:
Part One: First Solo Overnighter
Part Two: Camping Logistics
Part Three: Facing Fears
What are the benefits of bikepacking solo? Can you think of something you experienced or gained from bikepacking solo that you wouldn’t have had you been with another person or a group?
Annie Le: People are way friendlier when you tour alone. I get a lot more good conversations and invites to stay or eat with other people. It’s a great way to hear about local ways of life. The emotions also have bigger highs and …
Bikepacking Solo Part Three: Facing Fears
Part Three of the Bikepacking Solo Series is all about managing fears. It’s clear that even those who go solo often still have to manage fears, from the fear of failure to the fear of ill-intentioned people. We asked our bikepacking friends about the fears they face, how they cope with them, and tips for others to feel safe camping solo. Make sure you check out Part One and Part Two of the Bikepacking Solo series if you haven’t already!
Bikepacking Solo Part Two: Camping Logistics
In Part Two of the Bikepacking Solo series, we asked about how bikepackers choose a place to camp and about the differences between camping out during a race versus during a tour. You can find their answers below. If you missed Part One of the series, be sure to check it out!
Bikepacking Solo Part One: First Solo Overnighter
Many women identify traveling and camping alone as a barrier to entering the sport of bikepacking or bikepack racing. Regardless of gender, it can be intimidating to bikepack solo. We wanted to reach out to women bikepackers and get their perspectives on riding and camping alone. In this four-part series, we’ll share about the first time these women went on a solo overnighter, camping logistics, their fears and how they face them, and the benefits of bikepacking solo. We’re excited to share their insights!