Bonus time: My journey back from the edge
Please note: this article contains material of a highly sensitive nature, including mention of suicide, that may be triggering for some individuals. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please contact your physician, go to your local ER, or dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
I can’t f*cking believe that I am actually out here doing this.
That thought passed through my head hundreds of times during the 2021 Pinyons and Pines bikepacking race. It was sandwiched in between the more typical long race thoughts such as:
I’m so f*cking tired.
My ass hurts.
I should probably eat something.
I wish I had brought a raincoat.
After 82 hours of pedaling 302 miles through headwinds, epic Arizona sunshine, rain, and temperatures ranging from 20 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I arrived back at the Flagstaff Bike Revolution shop. I was the last finisher, but half the …
Faces Behind the Dots: Pinyons and Pines 2023
Starting this Thursday in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Pinyons and Pines has a strong field of women lining up for either 300+ or 500+ mile routes. This event is fast becoming one of the classic bikepacking races in the west. In fact, it’s become so popular that it filled up in a matter of hours when registration first opened. Luckily, everyone on the waitlist ended up with a spot in the end. This year’s Pinyons and Pines could serve up some interesting conditions. With high levels of snowfall over the winter and unsettled spring weather, there’s a good chance for some high-quality mud slogging out on the course. The women of this year’s race have a wide variety of goals, experience, and outlooks. You can follow the dots over at Trackleaders.com.…
Lilly (Frances) Hacker (she/they)
Home: Madison, WI
Bike: Salsa Woodsmoke
Solo or Duo? Solo
Past Pinyons and
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.
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.
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.
Good Things Come in Threes: Jill Martindale Reflects on Her Unsupported Arrowhead 135 Win
I ripped dead branches off a pine tree just off the side of the Arrowhead Trail. I was trying to get a fire going inside a three-sided shelter so I could warm up a little bit. I wasn’t having great luck burning anything thicker than a pencil because the moisture in the branches was just so frozen. I had used all of the Fatwood I packed to get the fire started. I managed to soak up a little heat from my fire as I melted snow with my alcohol stove to fill one of my bottles. The plan had been to make it all the way to the third checkpoint before having to melt snow for more water, but in the deep cold, I found myself guzzling faster than I’d anticipated. I had started with 105 ounces of water in GSI MicroLite insulated thermoses, which were doing a fantastic job of keeping all of my water hot! Drinking calories was a lot more palatable than trying to eat frozen bricks of food.
Faces Behind the Dots: Huracan 300
This Saturday, February 4th, a group of bikepackers will depart on the Huracan 300 bikepacking race. This 370-mile loop in Central Florida includes 100 miles of singletrack, dirt roads, abandoned paths, and occasional pavement. Racers also have the option to take on the “Lite” version of the route which is 340 miles and avoids singletrack and river crossings. Described on the event website as, “the ultimate off-road endurance experience in the state of Florida,” the participants are certainly in for an adventure! We’re excited to introduce you to some of the folks who signed up for the race. Find out what motivated them to sign up for the Huracan 300, what is on their playlists, whether they’re concerned about alligators, and more!