Author: Annie Le

  • The Pink Dots: A Story from the Highland Trail

    The Pink Dots: A Story from the Highland Trail

    I enjoy a bikepacking film, especially ones that follow races. But often feel a little disappointed that the films inevitably only follow a select few fast riders. Whilst I appreciate how hard it is to follow an entire field as they split up, I often feel slightly cheated out of seeing stories from further back in the group.   The Pink Dots is my attempt to create the type of film I want to see. I’m not a professional film maker and used a week off work to trot about the hills with my camera to try and catch the racers. I hope you enjoy the results.

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  • Sand and Snow: Bailing from the Mojave Road

    Sand and Snow: Bailing from the Mojave Road

    By: Katie Strempke

    Katie’s first-person footage from her day on the Mojave Road

    Prefer to listen? Here’s Katie reading her story.

    “Is this a good idea?” I wondered as we drove on I-15 toward the Camp Cady Wildlife Area in Newberry Springs, California. The wind was blowing violently and I had a white-knuckle grip on the arm rest as Andrew drove through the whirling sand. My sights were set on the western point of a popular offroading route, the Mojave Road. 

    The road, originally established as a Native American trade route between the Colorado and Mojave Rivers linking up the water sources through the Mojave Desert, has been used for centuries. Explorers, missionaries, and colonizers all used the route to traverse the harsh desert landscape. Due to tensions in the area, the road was eventually utilized by the US military. There’s a lot of history in the area, and a

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  • Meg Knobel on Organizing the Stagecoach 400

    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. 

    Photo by Jesse Boudart

    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, …

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  • Faces Behind the Dots: Stagecoach 400

    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 …

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  • Faces Behind the Dots: East Texas Showdown

    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.

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  • I Took an Awesome Frame Building Class at Brew Bikes

    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.

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  • Faces Behind the Dots: Queen’s Ransom

    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.

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  • Into the Deep End and Back Again: A Cautionary Tale

    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.

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  • Jodi’s Huracan 300

    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 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.

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  • Bikepacking Solo Part Four: Benefits of Going Solo

    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 

    Photo courtesy of Mary Elhers

    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 …

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