Two weeks ago the founders of Bikepacker hosted the first annual Bikepacking Summit in Golden Colorado. Hopefully the first of many future community building events promoting bikepacking knowledge and awareness, this gathering featured many amazing speakers and panels covering a wide swath of topics relating to the sport.
The event was held at the New Terrain Brewing Company, a beautiful location mere yards away from the Table Mountain trail system outside of Golden. An amazing group of 45 participants gathered here for the 3 day event. Plus they make pretty great beer!
The weekend opened with a meet and greet around the brewery followed by a panel of some prominent names in the bikepacking world to answer some general questions. Pictured here (L-R) are: Eric Parsons (Founder of Revelate Designs), Lael Wilcox (current female record holder of the Tour Divide Race), Jefe Branham (many times Colorado Trail Race winner), Casey Green (current chair of the board for Bikepacking Roots), and Kristen Shoup Tonsager (avid bikepacker and wife to Joe Tonsinger of Jpaks.)
Each morning the participants met up for a group ride on the trails of Table Mountain. With the support of Salsa Cycles and Proudfoot Cycles, each person was able to test out a variety of different bikes.
Jon Acuff, owner and operator of Proudfoot Cycles gives a tour of his facility. Coming from an aerospace engineering background, Jon produces some amazing high-end steel frames from full-rigid to full-suspension in all wheel/tire sizes.
Yes, Proudfoot Cycles makes a full-suspension steel mountain bike! The coolest part is that he uses an adapted headset as his pivot bearing, so it’s incredibly strong and durable. Truly impressive designs.
Throughout the weekend, presenters shared their wide variety of knowledge and experience with the group. Here, percussionist Payton MacDonald shares his film, Sonic Divide, in which he personally rode the Tour Divide route, performing and recording 30 commissioned compositions at each of the 30 divide crossings.
I was honored to present about Spoke and Words, my experience of bikepacking from the Arctic Ocean to the Southern end of Tierra del Fuego and beyond, offering some advice about bikepacking internationally, confronting fears and the importance of travelling with intention.
Lael Wilcox answered questions about her history with bikes, bike travel, and becoming a world-class racer. She is currently completing her summer project of riding every public road in the state of Alaska (nearly 5000 miles of them), including some small roads around Nome and finishing with others on Kodiak Island!
Jonathan Houck gave a fantastic talk about his method of bikepacking with kids. Truly inspiring to hear how he has found ways to include his family in his passion for offroad bike travel. What he didn’t share (sorry for the unsolicited promotion Jonathan!) is that while running for re-election as commissioner for Gunnison County he bikepacked between rural communities to interview locals about their wants/needs and how best to help them. He called this route the “Campaign Trail”!!
The weekend closed out with a presentation by bikepacking legend Mike Curiak, who spoke about his various amazing projects combining bikepacking, mountaineering and packrafting.
Given this was the first attempt at a US-based bikepacking summit, it was an overwhelming success. The camaraderie between all participants was palpable in the room. All of the presenters were warm, welcoming, and open to share whatever knowledge they could. All of the participants were curious and excited to learn. Personally I was proud to be a part of this group and I look forward to contributing to any events like it in the future!
Finally, I believe a deep and heartfelt thank you must go to Neil and Lindsay Beltchenko, who tirelessly worked to put the event together as well as keep it running smoothly throughout the weekend. They are also the unsung heroes of Bikepacker.com, and selflessly dedicate what free time they have to keeping this resource running!