Shoulder Season Bikepacking in Europe

Spring and autumn should not be ignored for cycle travel. There’s a real joy and satisfaction that you can find with “out-of-season” travel that you’ll never get if you think of summer as your only option for cycling and adventure. However, the moods of the weather and route choice need thought, so I compiled a few ideas and tips to maximize the enjoyment of shoulder season cycle travel. I’m Andy Cox, creator of the European Divide Trail bikepacking route, and I’ve been bikepacking mostly around Europe for the last five years. Before I started out on this Grand Adventure I’d done quite a few shorter trips around the UK and into Europe, but I was always focused on the summer as my main travel season. While I don’t often travel…

Read More

MSR Backcountry Cafe: Tomato Pasta

Though it was early September when my husband and I were cycling through the Po River Valley region of Italy, the summer sun still blazed, dry and scorching, lending a golden light to an already golden landscape. As well as being oppressively hot, the afternoon was also deathly quiet. We were used to this Italian riposo by now, that time between about two and four in the afternoon when shops closed, the buzz of activity at the local café dwindled, and the wooden shutters on everyone’s homes were shut tightly against that flaming sun. And so, it was with some surprise that I happened upon an elderly man who was up and about, despite the riposo. He was standing in a field that was parched, barren, and brown, walking carefully through the…

Read More

More than Bikepacking: How to Help Foster Environmental Sustainability

My introduction to bikepacking was unintentional, which is perhaps why it never felt like my two-wheeled adventures needed to focus on me. My first forays didn’t involve much more than a backpack filled with fishing gear and a tent, riding my 90’s era mountain bike down dirt roads toward reservoirs in Truckee and creeks in Davis, California, intent on fishing for the weekend. As an undergraduate in Bozeman, Montana, my lack of a driver’s license left me peddling up Hyalite Reservoir Road, touring skis strapped to my backpack as I rode that same bike from my dorm to a weekend basecamp. These days, I still avoid putting together routes based on their distance or elevation gain, choosing instead to find purpose in escaping from my normal routine at a slower…

Read More

Cycling Around the World: Lessons from Living a Nomad Life

Oscar Wilde said, “If you want to be a grocer, or a general, or a politician, or a judge, you will invariably become it; that is your punishment.” Long before living a nomad life, I had wanted to be a software engineer. But when I became one, it felt like a punishment. It is not to say that a Ph.D. in computer science and a software development career in Germany were not dreams that came true. But those dreams were no longer mine. Now, I have no career, permanent address, fixed phone number, bank balance, spouse or kids. Everything I own fits inside my bicycle panniers. Every day is a new adventure. Despite all the uncertainties and difficulties I face on the road, I find a new home, a new…

Read More

The Carretera Austral by Bicycle: A Wild Ride through Chilean Patagonia

In Chile, they have a saying: Only those who hurry through Patagonia waste time. For any enthusiast of the great outdoors, it is one of the world’s truly great wildernesses—and somewhere to explore at a slow pace. The very word “Patagonia” stirs up images of grand mountains, thick forests, shimmering lakes and icy glaciers interspersed with a sparse population and lonely roads. The Carretera Austral is the iconic road running through Chilean Patagonia and has earned something of a lofty reputation for road-trippers of all means of transport. National Geographic Traveller dubbed it “the perfect road trip” with similar praise coming from Conde Nest Traveller. In the two-volume account of his around-the-world cycle, British adventurer Alistair Humphreys dubbed the Carretera Austral as “the most beautiful road I have cycled”. There’s…

Read More

Bikepacking Through Death Valley: A Loose How-To Guide

Something about bikepacking Death Valley drew us in—maybe it was the iconic sand dunes, the deep canyons, salty-dry basins, or moving rocks, but more likely it was just the empty space and lack of cell service. After a year of chaos, we all wanted a break. What better way to get out the angst than to hammer pedals for a week in the middle of the largest National Park in the country? After getting tested for COVID (a qualifier that’s nearly a prerequisite these days), the five of us met at Saline Warm Springs, a hidden gem in the northwest corner of the park. The pools were closed and the wind was gusty, but we had work to do anyway. That afternoon we went through and packed all our food,…

Read More

Escape the Snow: Where to Hike, Bike and Climb this Winter

EDITOR’S NOTE 12/20: The gist of this article is travel – the safety of which is questionable right now, given the current and uncertain trajectory of COVID-19 pandemic. That said, we are dreamers and optimists at heart and we trust there will be brighter days ahead. In the meantime, read on to make some great future plans. As always, please do what’s best for you and those around you by follow current guidelines for travel from the CDC, state and local authorities.    Not everyone embraces the onset of winter. If you’re hardcore about warmer weather outdoor pursuits, from hiking, biking, trail running and climbing to paddling, there are parts of the western U.S. that offer respite from the polar vortex. Whether you’re looking to escape the snow entirely or just avoid hauling extra gear, the following places feature exceptional- and diverse- terrain…

Read More