Mostly bikepacking is just riding, touring on dirt and tarmac as the route and ambition dictate, a chance to be indiscriminate about terrain and therefore metaphorically so about destination. A bedroll, shelter, inclement weather clothing, spares tools food: gestures at self sufficiency enough to escape the gravity of worry of failure and perceived needs to reach an escape velocity. So the word is usually a half evocative harmless neologism for something that has happened since the start.
Library of Congress print.
Today different. Oh, sure, an intentional part of it, some would say the best part of it, but it’s not the modal part, maybe it couldn’t be. We begin a gradual descent from our latest high point, can see a ridge extending into the distance with Los Alamos on our right, a more clamant sun than we’ve felt, first a dirt sometimes pea rock gravel singletrack, sandy corners, so inputs to the front end have to be a bit more muscular but still only suggestive. Then more sections of ricochet jostle, rousing a different skill set and a different aesthetic. Start to notice that the bike is sluggish, can feel the alien mass in the lack of hop, all the timing differences punching panic buttons, forcing realtime adaptation, again again again the front tire is not where you expected it to be and is instead the hostile negotiation of your luggage and what used to be your relaxed skill. We press, Cass’s wheel gives me a little preview, but my nervous system is substantially in the millisecond past bending into recalibration. This chunky mildly techie descent, slam, clang, futile manual. Steering is like waving a spotlight into a thick fog while frozen cold.
Don’t know how long it takes us to get to the bottom, but we’re glinting grins about it, we sit on a log to stare at but not see the dirt and scrapes.