As mountain biking continues to explode in popularity, so does the next evolution of the sport called bikepacking. In a nutshell, bikepacking is the fusion of mountain biking and minimalist backpacking. You’ve probably heard the term. Bikepacking allows riders to have the freedom to enjoy backcountry camping, but with the range and excitement of riding a mountain bike. Over the weekend we joined forces with Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Bluestone Bike & Run, and Stokesville Lodge & Campground to host a beginner friendly tour. In this particular scenario, we were the beginners.
It’s no secret that mountain biking isn’t our strongest sport. We jumped on the bandwagon a little late in the game. Lucky for us we were teamed up with some serious experts to lead the way. Jess Daddio, the travel writer for Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, and Adam Ritter from Bluestone Bike & Run promised a beginner friendly and informative bikepacking mission from the Bluestone shop in Harrisonburg to the Stokesville Campground and back. It was our first time bikepacking and we’re glad we did it.
Since we are total beginners at the sport we needed to track down some gear. Jess and Adam hooked us up with a couple of upcycled Green Guru bags that we could attach to our bikes that would ultimately carry all of our gear. The idea with bikepacking is to let your bike do most of the work. The more gear that your bike holds, the less gear that your body needs to hold. We were able to fit the essentials: a Sea To Summit sleeping bag and pad, a camp stove, dinner for the night, and a lightweight tent. We shuttled the van to the Stokesville Campground so we had some goodies for us and all of the participants waiting in a nice shaded camp spot next to some killer singletrack.
Our route was as wonderful as the weather. A few minutes after leaving the shop on a beautiful late-April afternoon we found ourselves in the rolling farmland of Virginia, heading to the George Washington National Forest. We rode over a mixture of paved roads, gravel roads, and some really nice singletrack. Our planned route was 30 miles in and thirty miles out the next day. Roxy and I took our time because it was our first ride since last fall, and Jess and Adam took their time because they are nice and wanted to wait for us.
As the day went on we turned left onto the home stretch, a quiet gravel road in the National Forest that, in the right lighting, really reminded us of being back home in Colorado. We rolled up to our campsite just as the sun was dipping behind the trees. We lit a fire, had a celebratory drink and crashed early.
Honestly, the ride wasn’t easy for us. But the quality time with good friends, in a beautiful place made it all worth it. We picked up some new skills and from here on out, it’ll only get easier.
Our next event is the Cheat River Festival in Albright, West Virginia. If you’re in the area stop by and say hi! We’re hosting a Backpacking 101 workshop, where we’ll be sharing stories, tips and free gear from our sponsors, finally something we’re experts on!
There is one way for this tour to be a reality, our sponsors! Sending a thank you shout out to our title sponsor Nite Ize, and all of our other awesome sponsors like Crazy Creek, National Geographic, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, Lowe Alpine, Old Town, Leki, HydraPak, UCO Gear and Wenzel. If you like the gear that keeps us groovin’ click here to enter for a chance to win our Grand Gear Giveaway!