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Adventures in Bikepacking

07/01/2020 09:19PM ● By Ryan Spitz

Bike Up

By Ryan Spitz
Photos by Eric Leslie
July 2020

For many people, when growing up, riding a bicycle was their first taste of freedom. Of adventure.  Of uncertainty. Creating experiences with friends, families or solo that would last a lifetime. For some, biking continued and expanded as a day-to-day function in life. Others still enjoy it, but hopping on your bike and taking off happens much more rarely. Mainstream cycling falls into road biking or mountain biking, and is usually limited to a one-day timeframe. When most people think of multi-day adventures, they generally center on backpacking or thru-hiking, where they pack the essentials (tent, sleeping bag, pad, food, clothes, water, toiletries)  into a backpack and set off into the forest for a few days. The experience challenges you and allows you to get back to the basics of life, connect with nature and those you are with and see the beauty and untamed nature that surround you.  

“Dream Bigger and Go For It” has been a cornerstone for creating experiences for people who are unsatisfied with being complacent, reminding them that there is a whole world out there to experience. Joy and connections can be found through adventure. We are all stronger than we think we are, life is meant to be lived, and by trying new things and pushing past the walls of insecurity and doubt, you may surprise yourself by discovering that your only limitation is the creativity inside. 

The running community was touched through the introduction of California Untamed 330, and with the continued effort to showcase epic adventures and experiences that can be had in Northern California’s California Adventure District, it’s time to shed light onto the awesomeness that can be had with the biking community.  

And with that, we bring you bikepacking. It is the best of both worlds. Your bike allows you to travel further in distance, thus allowing you to experience more that nature has to offer. And you have all your supplies and equipment that you would bring backpacking – you just put it on your bike. The bikes and gear available today are pretty remarkable and are designed for just this type of adventure. You can place multiple bags on your bike (seat pack, frame pack, top tube bag, handlebar roll, fork bags, feeder bags) and carry everything you need without really sacrificing comfort and rideability. It allows you to cover many miles and immerse yourself deeper and faster than you could by foot. You get to spend your day riding, eating, camping and then waking up and doing it all over again. Experience places and routes that are laid out for you already, or become your own pioneer and create your own adventure.  

Simplicity. It’s a secret key to life and happiness, and it’s one of the benefits of bikepacking. To get started, you don’t need a super expensive bike and top-notch new gear. Take the camping/backpacking gear you already have, strap it to your bike and/or wear a backpack.  Then hit a route where you can enjoy biking for the day, find a spot to camp for the night and then bike back the following day. Through these smaller experiences, you will gain the understanding and knowledge on how to tweak and customize your bikepacking setup to become more efficient and capable of going longer. Especially within the California Adventure District, get your hands on some forest service or OHV maps, take a look at what fun singletrack trails, forest roads or county roads connect into an epic adventure, and all you have to do is GO!

Odyssey 700: A California Adventure District Itinerary

The California Adventure District, with 38,000 square miles of outdoors, is perfect for bikepacking. Odyssey 700 is a 700 mile bikepacking course created by Ryan Spitz. It takes you from the southern tip of Oregon all the way down to Stinson Beach, just north of San Francisco.

Odyssey 700 At A Glance

700 Miles // Over 90k Elevation Gain // Over 100k Elevation Loss

Mountains, Valleys, Rivers, Creeks, Lakes, Ocean, Gravel, Pavement, Dirt

8 Counties: Siskiyou County •Trinity County • Humboldt County • Mendocino County

Lake County • Napa County • Sonoma County • Sonoma Valley • Marin County

3 National Forests: Trinity, Mendocino, Six Rivers