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, …
Faces Behind the Dots: Stagecoach 400
The Grand Depart of the Stagecoach 400, a long-running bikepacking race in Southern California, starts this Friday. Created by Brendan Collier in 2012, and now (dis)organized by Meg Knobel, the Stagecoach features the coast, mountains, and desert all in one ride.
We asked riders about their backgrounds, what they’re looking forward to, bike choice given the variable terrain, and more. Some of these folks are riding in the Grand Depart this Friday, and some participated in the Stagecoach Sideshow, a touring Grand Depart that was held last weekend.
Many of the riders who responded have ridden all or parts of the route before, and it’s clear that the people who love the Stagecoach just can’t get enough. As the rest of us watch dots as the race goes on, Meg, the organizer leaves us with a thought, “I would love to encourage more people to tour this route outside of …
Faces Behind the Dots: East Texas Showdown
The East Texas Showdown is a bikepacking event put on by Patrick Farnsworth, the host of the Bikes or Death Podcast. Starting at Bullet Grill in Point Blank, Texas, the route features a 60/40 balance of gravel to pavement and the opportunity to ride through the Sam Houston and Davy Crocket National Forests. With three route options, participants can experience the event as an all-out race effort, as a leisurely overnighter, or something in between. The Showdown is a 400-mile traditional bikepacking race, the Slowdown is a bit shorter at 280 miles, and the Lowdown, a 160-mile route, isn’t a race at all. Lowdown riders will have the opportunity to camp together and swap stories at a designated group site at the end of the day. Seventeen of the rad folks participating in this year’s event answer questions about their backgrounds and goals, and share some creative strategies for addressing the dogs who are rumored to inhabit the course. The event starts on March 17th. For more information about the event and to watch dots, check out the event webpage.
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.
Faces Behind the Dots: Queen’s Ransom
Created by the bikepacking mastermind John Schilling, the Queen’s Ransom is a 225-loop showcasing some of the best trails in the desert west of Phoenix. This non-competitive ride is a favorite winter getaway for desert bikepackers and is considered one of the best loops around. With three nights of camping as a group, it’s as much about the friendships and community created as it is about the riding. There have been known to be surprise margarita stops along the route and ample resupplies to make it a fun romp around the desert. A great group of women are showing up to this year’s event, and we wanted to showcase their stories in this series.
Into the Deep End and Back Again: A Cautionary Tale
The 2021 Utah Mixed Epic, official description: “A self-supported bikepacking adventure snaking through Utah’s alpine and desert regions. With plenty of high altitude climbing and long stretches without services. Favoring unpaved surfaces, be prepared for everything from smooth gravel roads to technical, rocky passages.” In the heart of the sleeping city, the chill of fall made itself comfortable in the still dark sky. I grinned ear to ear about starting my first-ever bikepacking event, the Utah Mixed Epic, a 960-mile, self-supported, mixed-surface route meandering from Salt Lake City, Utah to Moab. Poor thing, she had no idea what was coming.
Jodi’s Huracan 300
I recently completed the Huracan 300 bikepacking route with my husband Mark and friends Cathy and Zach. The Huracan 300 is the Singletrack Samurai’s signature route, featured on bikepacking.com and described as “the ultimate off-road endurance experience in the state of Florida.” The route is a 360-mile loop of singletrack, forest service roads, grass, swamp and sand through central Florida. Over 100 riders showed up for the 13th annual Grand Depart on February 4th.
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!