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Do It Yourself Bikepacking – Not An Ordinary Vacation

It started as it always does with a simple question in an email.

It started as it always does with a simple question in an email:

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From: Davis, Brett

Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2017 8:38 PM

To: Diana

Subject: What do you think?

Check out the link below and let me know what you think:

http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/oregon-big-country/).   

Love,

b

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My adventure partner in life, Diana, was on the verge of graduating with her master’s in occupational therapy.  Wahoo!  It had been two years of hard work and sacrifice for her and for us as a couple.  Living in two separate residences that are eight hours apart for the bulk of two years, we were in need of some time together to reconnect.  We needed a vacation.  Originally, we had been accumulating airline frequent flyer miles for a trip to Europe.  But, as life would have it, between my work schedule and the start of her final clinical internship, our dreams of a European vacation would have to take a back seat for the time being.  

A western style family vacation photo on Oregon’s Big Country Loop...

For the past couple of years, I have been exploring remote areas of our planet by bike—creating adventures that take me deep into landscapes that few have ventured into.  To do such endeavors is a lot of work—hour upon hour is spent looking at maps; searching Google Earth; reaching out to locals, seeking out potential sponsors, training, etc.  I am my own travel agent and tour guide. 

No planes, trains, or automobiles needed here—just a loaded Salsa Woodsmoke ready for 360 miles of off-road fun...

Climbing onto the flanks of the Steen Mountains...

Our destination in the distance...

The capstone of day one of our vacation...

The word vacation is defined as a “period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel.”  Most people’s idea of a vacation is visiting beach resorts or taking a cruise where the emphasis is on the “rest” part of the definition.  Travel agents are consulted.  Plane fares are purchased.  Diets to fit into that new bathing suit are initiated.  The countdown begins to rest and relaxation.  Diana and I wanted that type of vacation…or at the least our own version of such a thing. 

Descending back to the lowlands...

The Alvord Desert...

Finding solitude...

Fast riding across a dry lake bed...

Given our personalities and inability to not be in motion, ours would have to be an “active” vacation.  The kind where “recreation” is the central focus.  As Salsa enthusiasts, I know that many of you can relate to such yearnings.  I would bet that like Diana and I, if you are not exerting yourself, sweating, and suffering a little bit, then your precious time off is not being maximized.  You know you had a great vacation when your co-workers shake their heads and look at you crazily as you recount what you did over the past two weeks.  You’re crazy, my friend.

It’s not a true bikepacking vacation without a little bike pushing...

The remoteness of the route is firmly felt with the negotiation of a bog after Big Sand Gap...

Diana choosing her line...

The “active” vacation market has become a big one in the recent decades.  Every imaginable recreation experience can be booked from scuba diving in the Galapagos to cycle touring through French wine country.  Open Outside magazine, and you will find a comprehensive list of tour operators just waiting to facilitate your vacation of a lifetime.  Itineraries will be designed.  Equipment lists created. Menus planned. Travel organized. It’s one stop shopping.  All you have to do is pick your price point, and you can be on your way—guided or unguided depending upon your experience level and willingness to pay. 

A highlight of this route is the abundance of hot springs in which to soak in along the way...

What a way to finish a day!

One of the amazing camps we found along the way.​..

Diana and I are cheap.  We can afford the commercial raft trip down the Grand Canyon, but can’t bring ourselves to pay the hefty price tag.  Our budget mindedness and experience don’t allow us to splurge into what most people consider luxury.  Rather, a vacation where all of the logistics are organized and our every need is catered to isn’t as rewarding for us.  It is a little awkward watching a young person set up my river chair when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself. 

A couple of curious friends...

We found a little more hike-a-bike in the Trout Creek Mountains...

Looking into Nevada and the route ahead...

All of the pampering is nice, I guess, but we need some element of “choose your own adventure” in our idea of a “vacation.”  Plus, these typical tour operator trips usually involve groups of people.  Our goal was to reconnect and just be together without anyone to distract us.  All we seek is solitude, exertion, a sense of isolation, and natural beauty.

Big Country...

Dropping in...

The growth of bikepacking has initiated an explosion of publicized routes and opportunities for guided “do it yourself” travel and adventure.  Logan Watts, the founder of bikepacking.com, has built an impressive resource of all things bikepacking related.  A visit to his web site leaves enthusiasts like myself drooling over all of the gear reviews, videos, and stories designed to educate and inspire the intrepid bike packer.  Perhaps the crown jewel of this information hub is the route section.  Enlisting such bike explorers as Mike Curiak, Gabriel Amadeus, Donnie Kolb, Casey Greene, and others, Logan has amassed a plethora of motivating routes in which to dream about.  For those lacking the time, know how, or motivation to put in the hard work to map out and strike out on their own two-wheeled adventures, the route section of bikepacking.com is a virtual tour operator/guide. 

The wildflowers were in full bloom and  abundance...

The colorful life of the desert...

Even the tiniest of flowers were out in full force...

Last year prior to departing on the Hard to Fathom Tour, I had been working on an exploratory route of southern Oregon.  Intrigued by its lack of significant population centers and its variety of landscapes (everything from high peaks to desert), I began to devise a potential route for the area.  Alas though, in a last-minute decision, my partner Travis and I decided to forgo the lengthy drive to Oregon and instead strike out for southern Utah.  The Oregon tour got placed on the back burner. 

A potential re-supply that had long since closed...

Just down the road in Denio Junction, NV we found plenty of sustenance...

Lo and behold at the end of that summer, Gabriel Amadeus submitted “Oregon’s Big Country Loop” to bikepacking.com.  There it was—the route I had been seeking to complete.  The hard work of putting it together was done.  Gabriel and his crew from Limberlost.co had linked everything I was considering together in one continuous loop.  I had to go check it out.

One of the many creatures we encountered along the way...

At the bottom of the loop we turned back north towards the Hart Mountains (seen way off in the distance)—our final mountain range of the trip​...

Thus, the email above was sent to Diana as I started to ponder a vacation for us.  The tour operator had outlined the entire trip…route description, suggested equipment, itinerary including must see and do’s, resupply options, campsite recommendations, etc.  It was all there on my computer screen.  There was even a downloadable GPS track for the entire 357 miles.  Best of all, the price was right.  This eight-day trip could be completed on the cheap.  Not accustomed to such help and ease of planning, I knew this trip exemplified our meaning of the word “vacation.”  Diana’s email response of “I’m game,” affirmed that we were on our way to Oregon. 

The abandoned ranches and homesteads along the route prompted our minds to wander into the past...

A window to the present.​..

For those new to adventuring by bike or seeking to get off of the beaten path with their time away from the office, bikepacking is a great pursuit to try.  As you can see from the photos, Diana and I had a great vacation.  It met all of our criteria, and we arrived home connected and reenergized for the next chapter ahead.  For me, it was a fun endeavor to follow in someone else’s tire tracks for a change—having let them toil away at putting the route together.  Oregon’s Big Country is a great ride, especially on the new Woodsmoke, which was my steed of choice for this route.  The terrain is stunning with nothing insurmountable.  Additionally, the hot springs along the route are a plus for soaking away each day’s tired legs. 

The Woodsmoke makes a great drying rack during its off-duty hours...

Who says there isn’t water in the desert?  Diana found plenty...

Hart Mountain Pass down.  Time to descend to the final hot springs of the route.  Wahoo!

With resources such as blackriver.cc, bikepacking.com, bikepacker.com, adventurecycling.org and other websites, there is plenty of information and “tour guides” out there to make getting out on two wheels an easy affair.  All you have to have is a willingness to exert yourself; a sense of adventure; and the inclination to do something out of the ordinary.  I would be willing to bet that when you return from such a “vacation”, your co-workers are sure to believe you are crazy.  J

Just doing what the sock says we should do...

A toast to a great “vacation”...

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If you enjoyed this tale from Brett Davis, consider attending Salsa RideCamp 2017 where he will be our Saturday evening presenter!

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Simply Propelled: Adventures of the Clark Family

Our goal is to complete extended self-propelled wilderness camping trips with our two young children. We love spending time together as a family outdoors, and we are at the forefront of the trend to get kids into the wilderness on big adventures.

Our goal is to complete extended self-propelled wilderness camping trips with our two young children. We love spending time together as a family outdoors, and we are at the forefront of the trend to get kids into the wilderness on big adventures. As a family we have travelled 6000 km by canoe in the Arctic, and another 6000 km by bike in South America. We've slept under the stars over 500 nights during these journeys and look forward to another adventure.

This 11,200 km route follows the Continental Divide of North America as well as the Baja Divide. It will take us nine months to cycle the whole distance between the Arctic and the south tip of the Baja Peninsula. Most of the route will be on gravel roads in the wilderness near the divide.

This trip is unique in approach and involves considerable commitment, organization and preparation because we are going as a family with children 8 and 10 years of age. This will be our most challenging trip yet and may be the most ambitious bikepacking trip undertaken as a family, being mostly gravel tracks through geographically remote wilderness. The riding will be technically difficult and we need to carry all our water in Mexico and New Mexico.

Our Next Journey

Leg 1: South from the Arctic 

Where: 3400 kms from the Arctic Ocean to Banff

When: July & Aug. 2017

Details: Half gravel and half pavement with long distances between services in the far north.

Leg 2: North through Mexico

Where: 3600 kms through Mexico’s Baja Peninsula along the Baja Divide route. This rugged bikepacking route has never been traversed by a family and is very remote.

When: Feb. thru Apr. 2018

Details: 95% unpaved with little water, this may be the most technically difficult part of the entire route.

Leg 3: Great Divide Mountain Bike Route USA

Where: 4200 km on GDMBR, New Mexico to Banff

When: May thru Aug. 2018

Details: Gravel roads and tracks with 150,000 ft of climbing on the spine of the divide. This will be a challenging conclusion on the world’s longest mapped MTB route! The conclusion of the trip (where Leg 1 from the Arctic and Leg 3 from Mexico and the US meet) will be near Jasper, AB at the geohydrological apex of North America in late Aug. 2018. 

A Couple Other Posts Regarding This Jouney You May Enjoy

Born To Bike

Five Family Bikepacking Strategies

10-Year-Old Koby Speaks At FEAT Kids Canada (to an audience of 700!)

Wish us well on our journey!

Click here to visit our Simply Propelled website...

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Canyons And Coffee On The Kaibab Plateau

As the lunch hour dragged on, we weren’t getting any closer to our intended camp destination on the rim of the Grand Canyon. But none of us seemed concerned in the slightest.

As the lunch hour dragged on, we weren’t getting any closer to our intended camp destination on the rim of the Grand Canyon. But none of us seemed concerned in the slightest.

Eszter sat near a spring in the shade of a fir tree watching the birds above, anxious to catch another glimpse of the colorful western tanager that had just disappeared.

Scott had wandered down to the edge of the narrow grassy meadow in the bottom of the drainage for some better shade. And from my vantage point above, it looked like he had promptly fallen into a post-lunch slumber.

In the dark shade near Scott, Kaitlyn crouched next to her bike, shuffling items around within her bike bags and small pack to make room for more water. With no water available until the following morning, we each were hauling at least five liters from this spring.

And I reclined next to the spring, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of this bikepacking trip and the relatively cool weather of the Kaibab Plateau, while the lower elevations were being scorched by the first real heat of the summer.

As the sun migrated overhead, my shade on the slope became sparse, so Eszter and I wandered down to join Scott. 

“Who wants some coffee?” I asked, excitedly. I had become enamored by the concept of post-lunch coffee while Kaitlyn and I were touring in Patagonia. The little afternoon pick-me-up was nice, but this coffee carried with it a connotation of taking the time to slow down and soak in one’s surroundings with less concern about the destination.

“Me!” Eszter replied with a big grin.

“Well, sure, if you’ve got some extra,” Scott said, sounding a bit groggy.

“Of course!” chimed Kaitlyn as she came over to sit down after getting her gear repacked.



“Excellent.” I dug the coffee and sugar out of my pack, Kaitlyn grabbed the pot, and Eszter contributed their stove since she clearly didn’t want to wait for our little alcohol stove to gradually warm the water.

Minutes later, we were all relishing our cups of coffee, watching swallows darting about in the sky above, and eagerly anticipating the upcoming singletrack of the Rainbow Rim Trail. But clearly, none of us felt any sense of urgency to get moving.

The prior couple days of the trip had the same relaxed atmosphere. Our initial crew of six hadn’t started the trip until mid-afternoon on the first day, and once we started pedaling south on the Arizona Trail, we were distracted into stopping often for the views, the Kaibab ground squirrels, the beautiful meadows, and photographic perspectives that couldn’t be passed up. We stopped well before dark to camp next to an old corral and, over dinner, shared stories of bikepacking misadventures – trails overgrown by bamboo, being chased by Howler Monkeys, strings of flat tires, and endless hike-a-bike. Fortunately, all those challenges seemed so distant that evening.

On the second day, we were treated to more flowy singletrack, more meadows, more big views, and a stupendously clear spring. But we were eager to get to Grand Canyon, so we rode a bit more steadily until reaching the rim. And then the relaxing commenced – a late lunch from the café, snacks and cold drinks from the store, more cold drinks around our picnic-table-with-a-huge-view in the campsite on the rim’s edge, closely followed by dinner-with-a-huge-view. So far, this particular trip had a misadventure quotient of nearly zero, and the riding-to-hike-a-bike ratio was through the roof.

Miles of deserted rolling two-track through Grand Canyon National Park on the third morning carried us to intermittent vistas and ultimately our lunchtime spring. Lee and Pascal had opted to take a more direct route back to our starting location near Jacob Lake, and the remaining four of us aimed due east for more singletrack and another night of canyon rim camping. After nursing our coffees for the better part of an hour, the shadows had grown longer, the air had cooled down a bit, and we all decided that it was probably time to chase down the Rainbow Rim Trail. And it sure did not disappoint.

Huge scenery. Stellar riding. Minimal pushing. Long lunch breaks. Great company. Entertaining wildlife. Good food. Ample route options. Perfect weather. These are the ingredients, in no particular order, for my ideal bikepacking adventure. What’s your ideal bikepacking trip look like? 

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Salsa Cycles Presents: Instruments Of Adventure

Salsa Cycles is pleased to present a new short film: Instruments of Adventure.

I'm pleased to introduce my new film, Instruments of Adventurepresented by Salsa Cycles.

In Summer of 2016, five friends traversed a large swath of southern Alaska via sea kayaks, fatbikes, and packrafts. Through interviews and footage shot along the way, the adventurers share their experiences and reflections about the journey.

Why instruments? It’s easy to be lulled into thinking bicycles, kayaks, and packrafts are tools - they are - but as any craftsperson knows, handling a tool with expertise is akin to masterfully playing a musical instrument.

The Sea Kayak: An ancient vessel of Arctic origins, adept at carrying heavy loads and efficiently covering ground, but also well suited for surfing, rock-garden play, and unrivaled near-shore exploration.

Packrafts: Light and packable one-person rafts suited for both flat and moving water, with or without expedition gear.

Fatbikes: Mountain bikes with oversized tires, capable of rolling over terrain no other bicycle can.

With dedication, each of these tools can be transformed into an instrument of adventure.

Traversing wild landscapes by human-power isn’t a quest to achieve enlightenment. You might, but that’s not the point. Counteracting a cresting wave with a high brace, wheelie dropping into a ravine, or surgically executing an undiscovered line through beach boulders will cause you to lose yourself in single-minded focus and flow.

The instruments of adventure are meant to be played…ideally, with like-minded friends in primordial hinterlands. 

This collaborative film is the work of several Salsa sponsored riders: 

-Shot and edited by Bjørn Olson 

-Original hand-drawn artwork by Kim McNett 

-Original soundtrack by Ben Weaver 

Sit back, enjoy the film, and let your imagination run wild. Then get out there and get after it.

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Course Adjustments: Greg Gleason and the Tour Divide – Part Three

With June 9th looming just around the corner, all of Gleason’s training will soon be thoroughly tested. Aspects of the TDR just can’t be replicated though. Will what he’s been imagining, and talking and reading about match up with reality once he starts turning pedals?

We conclude our series, Course Adjustments: Greg Gleason and the Tour Divide...

Click here to read Part One...

Click here to read Part Two...

Part Three

With June 9th looming just around the corner, all of Greg Gleason’s training will soon be thoroughly tested. Aspects of the Tour Divide Race just can’t be replicated though. Will what he’s been imagining, and talking and reading about match up with reality once he starts turning pedals? “I’m still trying to get my head around two-plus weeks of constant riding. How do you prepare for something like that?”

Luckily, Gleason has a lot of past experiences and successes to draw from. “I would look at races like Trans Iowa when I first got into gravel racing, and shake my head saying to myself, ‘Who would do that crazy nonsense?  320-plus miles of gravel in the cold, yucky spring weather? Crazy! But I keep reminding myself that every time I thought something would be almost impossible, I did it. Trans Iowa, seven centuries in a row, Leadville, etc.” When asked how he’s feeling now, he’s got his range of emotions covered: “Calm, excited, nervous.” But, he quickly follows with, “Can’t wait to start!”

Gleason has also thoroughly researched his bikepacking legs, bike, and mind. Turns out his region provided him with some pretty arduous testing grounds that you can read about here, here, and here. “Right now, my gear is good – light and fast, and as far as fitness, I’m in the best shape of my life. Legs are starting to feel really great.”

In terms of what he’s looking forward to most, the beginning and end rank the same. “I’m excited for Banff and meeting everyone, but experiencing the finished result will scratch an itch I’ve had for a long time. ‘My destination is no longer a place, but a new way of seeing.’ - Marcel Proust…. This…this is what I think everyone talks about after finishing.”

He continues, “The scenery will be amazing, I’m sure, as well as experiencing all the different geographical regions and ecosystems of each state. I am just excited to have the chance to ride the Divide. I will start each day with a massive grin on my face.”

Worries are to be expected for an endeavor of this magnitude, and Gleason has a few. “I think I worry most about singletrack. I have never mastered singletrack so I ride like a stiff old man. No flow going on here!” He’s also concerned about the thin air. “All the altitude! I live at 1,200 feet so altitude has always been an issue with my asthma.” And lastly, “Water crossings.  It’s mainly because I hate wet feet. I know it is part of the gig but I don’t have to like it.”

So, what does riding the TDR mean when Gleason thinks of his previous life? “Courage. When I made the decision to ride the Divide, I did it to push myself into doing something that I was terrified of doing – basically I had no clue! I picked 50 because it felt appropriate to do something epic when I reached that age. The journey has connected me with some pretty amazing people and organizations, like Salsa Cycles. This journey has enriched my life in ways I cannot explain but it has been truly special.”

We here at Salsa Cycles wish Gleason the very best for this pursuit, and we’ll be glued to his Trackleaders “dot” for the duration of his ride!

Good luck, Greg!

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Course Adjustments: Greg Gleason and the Tour Divide – Part Two

With the rediscovery of his mountain bike, and “The Thing” to help him meet his fitness goals, Gleason began his training for 2006’s Chequamegon 40 in May of that year.

We continue our three part series; Course Adjustments: Greg Gleason and the Tour Divide

Click here to read Part One...

Part Two

With the rediscovery of his mountain bike, and “The Thing” to help him meet his fitness goals, Greg Gleason began his training for 2006’s Chequamegon 40 in May of that year. “I started riding with a race date of mid-September knowing I needed to get out enough to be able to complete 40 miles of rolling, nasty off-road hills.” He started riding two to three times a week with short rides at first, slowly increasing the distance and time. “It was painful. My lower back would start hurting 10 miles into the ride, every time. By mid-July, I could finally ride 23 miles non-stop. It was time to celebrate! I was pumped. Still a long way from 40 off-road miles, but I started to believe I was going to be able to finish.” 

2008 and making a course adjustment...

Gleason finally reached his 40 miles goal a couple of weeks before the race was to begin. “I figured then was a good time to do a weigh-in to see if this silly goal of mine was working. 225 pounds. Success!”  It was time to start planning the trip to the race. “I started asking others what they wore in a race like this to stay comfortable. Everyone told me that it depended on the weather. I thought to myself, ‘Oh yeah! The weather!’ Now I’m panicking. I forgot to check the weather. RAIN!  And a starting race temperature of 34 degrees. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?”

At that point, Gleason had never ridden in rain, mud, or the cold.  He called a friend of his in Butte, Montana that was a year-round bike commuter for some advice on clothing and how to ride in those conditions. “He was awesome. He told me what to get and told me to never give up. It was all I needed to hear because I had worked way too hard to give up!”

The day of the race came, the rain cleared, and it warmed up to a steamy 37 degrees. Gleason was slightly less worried at the start line. “Gary (Crandall) the race director started the traditional countdown 10…9….8… I hear crack of the gun and I was off. I was racing again! It had been years and it felt great! I felt free and relaxed. This was the start of my adventure!”  

“I was 39 weighing in at 225 pounds. My Chequamegon finishing time was three hours, 17 minutes, and 22 seconds. I finished 193rd out of 340 in the 35 to 39 age group, and 876th out of 1677 finishers. And when I finished I could hardly walk or talk. I had given that race every ounce of energy I had.”

For anyone who’s only known “Greg Gleason the Cyclist,” hearing the story of not only his 2006 Chequamegon, but the years prior probably seems hard to believe. Accomplishments from the last five years would lead one to think Gleason has been pedaling non-stop his whole life. 

2011 at the Chequamegon Forty...

2012 climbing Nederland...

2013 Highlights:

Winter Ultra Cycling

  • Tuscobia 75 Mile Winter Ultra, 1st Overall
  • RiddleBox 100k, 1st Overall

2014 Highlights:

Winter Ultra Cycling

  • Triple D Winter Race, 2nd Overall

Gravel Road Racing

  • Trans Iowa v.10 – 1st Overall
  • Dirty Kanza 200 15th Overall/ 2nd age group
  • Filthy 50, 3rd Overall
  • Omaha Jackrabbit 125, 2nd Overall

2015 Highlights:

Winter Ultra Cycling

  • RiddleBox 100k, 1st GC
  • JayP’s Fat Pursuit 200k - Finished

Gravel Road Racing

  • Land Run 100 3rd Overall
  • Trans Iowa v.11, 1st Overall – race stopped
  • Almanzo Royal, 3rd Overall
  • Gold Rush Mother Lode, 1st Overall
  • Odin’s Revenge, 1st Overall

2016 Highlights:

Gravel Road Racing

  • Trans Iowa v.12 – 1st Overall – Tie
  • Gold Rush Mother Lode, 1st Overall
  • Omaha Jackrabbit 125, 1st Overall

Bikepacking Racing

·    Black Hill Expedition – 1st Overall

2017 Highlight:

·     Trans Iowa v.13 – 2nd Overall, only 6 finished out of 78 starters, rode with a loaded bike to prep for TDR

·     Almanzo Royal 162 – 1st Overall – with a full Tour Divide load on my Salsa Cutthroat

Personal Milestone Accomplishments

      ·    2010 Triple Bypass 125-mile road ride - 1st major long ride

  • 2013 Blue Ox Trail Expedition Fatbike, 217 miles, temperature range 46 to 36 degrees, 40% rain, 8 miles of route was under water sometimes waist deep. Time: 15 hours (Note: This is the ride that gave me the confidence to sign up for Trans Iowa v.10 and start the ball rolling to go all in on the Divide.)
  • Trans Iowa Masters – 380 Miles of gravel river to river across Iowa – 2014 Only ITT to finish, 2016 Training Ride that I learned what “sleep biking” was all about.

Mountain Biking Cross Country Accomplishments

  • Chequamegon 40 – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Butte 100 – 2011
  • Barn Burner 100 – 2013
  • Leadville Silver Rush – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • Leadville Trail 100 – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

USA Cycling Road Accomplishments

  • Twin Bing Road Race – 2 Time, 1st Overall
  • SD State 40k Time Trial Championship, 1st GC, Cat 3
  • SD State 20k Time Trail Championship, 2nd Cat 3
  • Nebraska State Time Trial Championships, 3rd Cat 3
  • Chris Lillig Memorial Cup/Old Capitol Criterium-Time Trail, 3rd Cat3
  • Bicycle Blues and BBQ – 3rd Overall Omnium Cat 3

Will racing the Tour Divide be as challenging to a rider that’s achieved so much in such a short time? Gleason’s not taking any chances, although he admits, “When I declared I was going to do the Divide it was just to finish. Now I’m preparing my rig to go as fast as my 50-year-old body will allow! Just crazy what can happen over five years!”

When asked how he’s been preparing for TDR, Gleason shares the, “little tests or challenges I made for myself.”

  • Hard work, a strong mental attitude, and mileage in the range of 12-14k a year
  • Ride Leadville MTB 100
  • Ride Almanzo 100
  • Ride over 200 miles in the nasty fall time weather
  • Ride a century every weekend for a year
  • Ride seven centuries in row in a week after working all day
  • Ride Trans Iowa 
  • Ride in early spring weather lasting over a 24+ hour’s period
  • Ride several 200-plus-mile events: Trans Iowa Masters 380 miles, Dirty Kanza, Gold Rush Motherlode, and Odin’s Revenge
  • Participate in bikepacking tours and races
  • Ride multiple trips around the area: Trans South Dakota 700 mile; Ponca, Minneapolis, and the Black Hills Expedition (BHX) practice multiple times
  • BHX practices with different setups each time

That’s a lot of crossed “t’s” and dotted “i’s” for a fast border to border run this June. Barring any unforeseen problems, Gleason looks set up to surprise again – maybe himself most of all.

Check back Friday for Part Three of Course Adjustments: Greg Gleason and the Tour Divide, to see how he’s feeling for this year’s TDR run…

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Salsa RideCamp 2017: Registration Is Now Open

We’re excited to announce that registration for Salsa RideCamp 2017 is now open!

We’re excited to announce Early Bird Registration is now open and in effect until July 14th for the third annual Salsa RideCamp—Wisconsin Northwoods 2017, September 8–10. Register at salsaridecamp.com.

We're returning to the beautiful Wisconsin Northwoods near Seeley, just off the world-class CAMBA trail system. We have a lot of new and exciting adventures this year that we're excited to share. Look forward to:

Shuttles to maximize longer singletrack and gravel rides with different routes daily. We'll organize rides for two experience levels (beginner/leisure and moderate/experienced riders).

YETI Coolers mini film festival both Friday and Saturday nights.

Bikefishing opportunites with Redington Fly Fishing.

Clinics with RideCamp partners Skratch Labs, Osprey Packs, and Ruby Coffee.

Evening presentations from sponsored rider Brett Davis and Lucas Winzenburg from Bunyan Velo.

Kids and family events with the Dirt Dawgs of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Beginning Mountain Biking clinics with sponsored rider Lindsey Carpenter.

Nightly bonfires, yard games, the Bike Art Parade, scavenger hunts and more!

In addition to the all-inclusive camping experiences listed above, we’re offering THREE Thursday overnight bikepacking experiences with Jay Petervary, Greg Gleason, Andrea Cohen, Brett Davis, and members of the Salsa Crew. We’ve set them up this year to accommodate first-time bikepackers, as well as those looking for longer mileage on singletrack or gravel. Ranging from 20-mile to 60-mile roundtrip mixed-surface rides to remote campsites, these experiences will include on-trail lunch/dinner/breakfast, with a return to RideCamp HQ by the start time of most regular activities around noon Friday. Be sure to watch for this Ala Carte item when you’re registering, but do so quickly, as each bikepacking overnighter will be limited to just 15 guests.

Early Bird Prices for RideCamp cost are $125/adult and $75/child ages 4–12 (cost increases to $200/adult after July 15). Note that the optional Thursday night bikepacking overnighters cost as additional $50 and no Early Bird discount is available. To guarantee receipt of the Awesome Schwag Bag, all registrations must be in by August 8. 

Check out the full agenda and register by visiting salsaridecamp.com

Questions? Email salsaridecamp@salsacycles.com

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Course Adjustments: Greg Gleason and the Tour Divide – Part One

Salsa sponsored rider Greg Gleason just turned 50, and as a birthday present to himself, he’s embarking on 2017’s Tour Divide Race. But his route to the start line of this monumental endeavor has had a few turns along the way.

“The Tour Divide. I had no clue what I signed up to do. I sit here now shaking my head thinking about it. This IS BIG!” – Greg Gleason

Part One 

Salsa sponsored rider Greg Gleason just turned 50, and as a birthday present to himself, he’s embarking on 2017’s Tour Divide Race. But his route to the start line of this monumental endeavor has had a few turns along the way.

Gleason keeps a blog about his racing life, and in 2015 he shared, “A moment of inspiration came to me while watching "Ride the Divide" – a movie about the Tour Divide, the longest mountain bike route in the world that traverses over 2,700 miles along the Rocky Mountains from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border.” He set 2017 as his goal to sign up. “I turn 50 that year, so I wanted to celebrate 50 years of life by doing something epic. One thing to note is that the thought of doing this event terrifies me. But I love thinking into and about the future, and all the prepping I will be doing to go on this amazing journey.”  

There’s the saying that the focus isn’t on the “destination” but the “journey.” Gleason’s journey to this point has seen ceiling repairs, countless mile markers, loads of determination, and an awesome attitude.

Pedal Backwards a Bit

Mid-30's and the whole family has matching kit...

Over the last ten years, Gleason has amassed some pretty impressive bike racing results in some truly grueling events. But getting to the place he’s at as a cyclist wasn’t a straight shot by a long shot.

Throughout his early years, he was drawn to the experiences that riding his bike provided him. “Growing up in Rapid City, South Dakota, I spent all my days riding my bike out in the open prairie and Ponderosa pine forests. I loved wandering, discovering, being free...I guess today we would say I loved adventure!” He ran in high school and enjoyed it, and in college, he bought his first mountain bike and was immediately drawn to riding in dirt.

In his early 20’s though, the athletic course he was on took a bit of an all too common detour. “I stopped biking and got very busy with a career and a young family. I went from 180 pounds at 24, to 245 pounds in my 30’s. I had a knee that was giving me fits from a torn ACL that I had never repaired, and I missed how I felt when I was in shape.”

Once I'm done with this I think I'll head up into the attic...

The motivation he needed to take control of his health came rather unexpectedly. “With the bad knee and all the added weight, my quality of life was being negatively affected. I discovered just how much one day in the attic of my newly built house. My knee buckled and I fell partway through the ceiling causing a lot of damage. Not good! Time for some changes.”

Gleason tried dieting, weight lifting, and even some running, but saw little success. Changing the habits he’d adopted was hard. He needed “a thing.”

Hidden in plain sight was the solution. “One day cleaning out the garage I looked up to realize I still had my old college mountain bike. A flood of memories of riding my bike everywhere while I went to college rushed through my head. I remembered a race I did back then called the Chequamegon 40 – a 40-mile mountain bike race in Hayward, Wisconsin. At that instant, I realized my new thing to try: I would train to do the 2006 Chequamegon 40!”  

Gleason’s life on two-wheels was about to get back on track.

1989 Chequamegon Forty...the first major course adjustment...

Check back Wednesday for Part Two of Route Adjustments: Greg Gleason and His Tour Divide,,,

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