Like many people, I faked my way into bikepacking. A dry bag mounted up here, a rolled up tarp affixed there. Attached with a collection of orange ski straps and cam straps from my raft, I used backpacking, paddling and mountaineering equipment for initial overnights on my bike. A result of those early adventures was the realization that this pursuit was something special and the heavy hook of bikepacking set hard. There was great value in utilizing those early, sub-performing systems and adapting to the awkward gear that composed my first set-ups. Although heavy and clunky, outfitting those sorties gave me a clear view as to what future adventures by bike could look like. There was a vision, but only if I was going to get real with my equipment needs. I began building a proper kit with bikepacking specific gear and bags. Lucky for me, there was small business in town that specialized in getting cyclists (and fakers) of all flavors set up for adventures on the trail. Velorution Cycles is located on Main Ave in downtown Durango Colorado. Featuring a retail showroom filled with all species of bikes and offering a full service world-class repair shop, Velorution is owned and operated by Joey Ernst and his wife, Sandhya. IMG_4036Entering Velorution Cycles is like walking into a bikepacker’s dream. Bags, gear and accessories of all shapes, sizes and colors cover every square inch of the shop. Bikes hang above bikes while more bikes surround bikes arranged in formation on the showroom floor. The store is full but not cluttered. It feels somewhat like Boulder’s Neptune Mountaineering, with relics of mountain biking’s early days mixing with cycling art, maps and race memorabilia on the walls and in the rafters. You can definitely feel the care and the craft the couple have brought to their business. It’s really easy to lose time in a shop like this when attempting to take it all in. I recently attended Fatbiking 101, an evening intended to get folks excited for the winter snow-riding season. It’s a special experience to walk into a bike shop and find it full of people in December! The night began with presentations from Velorution Cycles, Bedrock Bags and finished with a slideshow sponsored by Salsa Cycles. Although Joey had just completed another long day at the shop, he graciously answered questions for Bikepackers Magazine: Trail Name/Nickname/Online Persona? Joey Durango (actually given to me years before I moved to Durango)  Age? 32 Hometown? (or where you most identify home to be) My first memories are from Rifle, Colorado, where we lived in the mid-80s.  Pretty sure that’s why I came back west! Partner/Spouse? Kids? (Family demographics) I’m married to a wonderful woman, no kids, one fat cat! Your job/what are you called to do professionally? Bike shop owner, bike mechanic, bike shop janitor Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like? When did you learn to ride a bike? What was your relationship to cycling growing up?  I grew up in the middle of a 2500-acre nature preserve along the Ohio River.  I was non-religiously homeschooled and spent much of my childhood outside in the woods.  I learned to ride a bike very young (in Colorado, actually) and never stopped – I was working in bike shops and racing mountain bikes by the time I was 14.  This was odd in my town full of basketball, football, and baseball players. My most favorite place to ride my bike is….? IMG_7614Oh sheesh! Anywhere the trail just keeps on going, really… When did you discover the call of bikepacking’s muse?  I’d been doing huge single-day rides for a few years when my friend Doug did the Colorado Trail Race in 2009 and placed second.  The idea of taking that next step and simply staying out for more than a day stuck. Where has bikepacking taken you? Races, expeditions, new routes, pedaling around the world?  Bikepacking’s taken me a lot of awesome places!  I’ve finished the CTR twice. Sandhya and I did a dirt road tour all around the Western Slope last year.  Mostly, though, my work schedule means I’m doing shorter trips (2-4 days) in western Colorado and eastern Utah.  I’d love to get out on the Tour Divide, AZTR, or back to Europe, where I’ve ridden quite a bit in a former professional life as a World Cup wrench. Any accolades and/or achievements?  I haven’t been put in prison yet… as for the things I do well in life, recognition isn’t generally a goal.  I sleep well at night, that’s all the achievement I need. Are you working on any projects or training for any upcoming adventures you care to share?  Oh man.  Projects are always in the works around here.  Only some of them make it to reality.  One big film project is probable for 2015, but I can’t talk about it yet.  I would love to do the CTR again this year, especially since it’s starting at our front door for the second time. Are you sponsored, affiliated with the industry (ambassador/rep/retailer) and/or riding for a team?  I own a shop, have always worked in shops, and I sometimes fly my own shop’s colors… more often incognito, though. Is there a greater mission to your bikepacking exploits?  Are you riding to save the world, end poverty, shed light on injustice?  Nope.  No offense to those who do, but I never understood this approach.  If you want to have a positive effect on some social ill, go work in the trenches somewhere.  Riding around and blogging doesn’t solve anything…  Once upon a time I ran a very small organization that gave bikes to people in need. I helped more folks out in that year’s span than I ever will by blogging about how bicycles are the perfect machine.  No illusions here. 1417050108664Do you share your adventures with others? (photography, writing, video, presentations, blogs, etc.) Yes, to some degree.  I usually post a photojournal of really cool trips on the shop blog.  I keep the details to a minimum and try to let the photos tell the story. Can you share a bikepacking highlight- cool experience, anecdote or triumph?    During the 2011 CTR, I was high on Section 23 outside of Silverton and realized that I needed to hurry if I was going to make the grocery store closure time, which I’d been told was 9:00pm.  So I dug deep into my wrecked self and hit outright race pace, fully loaded, at 11k, running up the hike-a-bikes and rallying the descents for over two hours.  I made Silverton at 8:15pm and was incredibly stoked – and beat to pieces. Can you share a bikepacking low point- mistake, adversity or failure?  After I made it to Silverton, I discovered that the grocery store actually closed at 8:00pm!  I spent the next hour searching for a bar that would make some dinner and ended up eating hot dogs.  I hate hot dogs. What advice would you give someone new to the sport?  It’s easy to get caught up in reading about bikepacking, rather than actually bikepacking.  Make sure you get out there, one way or the other. Why Bikepack?  Personally, I need to get away from civilization once in a while.  I’ve spent a lot of my life outside and if that pattern gets lost in work and home life I get cranky.  More broadly, it’s awesome to break out of your box and experience new places, environments, and cultures- and there’s no better way than from the saddle of a bicycle! IMG_7602 Although Velorution Cycles proved a valuable resource during my introduction to bikepacking, my story is not uniqe. Riders and adventurers of all backgrounds and cycling ability rely on Velorution’s willingness to share valuable wisdom and experience with customers. Lisa Wilk explains, I have a friend who bikepacks all the time. She has the same bike that I do too. I had her come over my house and lay out her stuff and I took a pictures on my iphone. I bring the photos into Joey and he starts pulling stuff off the wall and I was outfitted in like fifteen15 minutes! You know that was it. I was nervous. It was my first time and I’m doing something new. And I came in and it was so easy! I loved that Joey took time to talk to me and then figured out I need this and I need this…laid down the credit card, walked out of the store and I was ready to go! When you make the four corners your home, setting out on the trail is easy and it’s a big reason why Joey and Sandhya located their shop in Southwestern Colorado. Only four miles from the southern terminus of the Colorado Trail, Velorution Cycles is uniquely positioned to support riders from all over globe. But a desire to provide bikepackers with the same grassroots, in-person guidance and personal touch that one finds on the floor in Durango has motivated the shop’s most recent efforts. Joey explains Velorution Cycle’s expansion into the online marketplace  on the shop’s blog and in a thread on After years of getting calls about gear from around the nation and even the globe, …we realized that the bike travel community is underserved.  Most bike shops (there are definitely awesome exceptions!) don’t understand or even care about bikepacking and touring.  What’s someone in those areas to do if they want this gear?  They’re piecing kits together from many sources, often without the benefit of experience.  That’s where we come in.  We’re not selling tires; we’re not selling derailleurs.  We’re specializing in things that most local bike shops don’t even know about, and this is important, because we don’t want to degrade other small businesses.  The other impetus for us to launch this webstore is that we’ve noticed over the last several months that bikepacking appears to be going “mainstream”.  Lots of bike travel articles are showing up in big magazines, and so on.  We’re hearing rumblings of big, corporate interest in the market, and as a small shop that’s been helping people with bike adventure for years, that makes us, shall we say, less than enthused.  We figure that either we can stand up and fight for our place as originators and actual users, or let the wave of anonymous big-money mediocrity wash us away.  Of course we choose to stand up! Hear more from Joey and Sandhya is their own words below:                

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