By Becka Roolf — We’ve pedaled through desert basins, traversed mountain ridges, and explored deep forests and volcanic landscapes – carrying all our camping gear. We’ve camped on high ledges, next to alpine lakes, near desert rivers, and in many spectacular places where we were the only humans for miles.
While this is often the stuff of epic quit-your-job adventures, these are mostly overnight or long-weekend trips, hosted by the SLC Bicycle Touring & Bikepacking Meet-Up group.
Meet-Up is a website that turns on-line connections into real-life adventures. It’s less formal than traditional “outdoors clubs” but more formal than just connecting on Facebook. We have regular socials in the Salt Lake area, and frequent overnight and weekend bikepacking trips. Most of our trips are on mountain bikes, using ultra-light frame bags instead of panniers.
“Bikepacking” is different than road touring. More like backpacking, there are often no services. We wild camp, pack in our food, and treat drinking water from springs, ponds, or mud puddles – or carry water for the weekend when there is literally none along the route. Any type of mountain bike will do; we’ve ranged from sub-$100 used hardtails to carbon-fiber 29+ wonder machines, even on the same trip!
These are not guided trips: the trip host provides a route but participants carry their own gear, navigate using map or GPS, and generally take self-responsibility for the adventure.
Want to Try Bikepacking?
An introductory class is offered each spring and fall semester through Lifelong Learning Program of the University of Utah, taught by the lead organizer of the Meet-Up.
Four evening classes will draw on lessons learned from our 8 years of trips, and walk you through everything you need to know for your first bikepack adventures, including overview of essential gear and organization, bike selection, route finding and map making, carrying water (for desert trips), and preparedness. A beginner-suitable overnight trip is offered on a weekend soon after the class.
Find out more: http://www.meetup.com/SLC-Bicycle-Touring-and-Bikepacking/
Becka Roolf is the lead organizer of the SLC Bicycle Touring & Bikepacking Meet-up. Her day job is the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the Salt Lake City Transportation Division.