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- WISCONSIN GRAVEL BIKING MONTAGE [VIDEO]
Bromandude719 recently dropped a nice little Wisconsin gravel biking montage. Fair warning: this includes lots of snowy gravel shots so if you're strictly basking in your snow-free, mosquito-filled summer of gravel and lemon iced tea, you may want to avert your eyes. And just for fun, here's "Part 1" from last year:
- THE DRIFTLESS LOOP, MINNESOTA
The Driftless region of WI, MN, and IA was missed by the glacial flattening of the surrounding area. Here the rivers cut deeper and the hills roll freely. This route runs both sides of the Wisconsin/Minnesota border and explores the region for 3-4 days. Created By: Nicolette Reker @nikity_nak The Driftless Loop gives an overview of the Southeastern Minnesota Driftless area with a brief jaunt across the cheddar curtain crossing the Mississippi river at LaCrosse and again in Winona. It includes several camping options and passes through towns to reduce the amount of food and cooking supplies you'll need to pack along. If you're from the area, you'll love that our beloved Kwik Trip stores make several appearances on the route where you can pick up some Glazers or a corn dog for your jersey pocket. While the majority of the route is gravel, it stops in several towns. Make sure to leave time for the many coffee stops along the route and Island City Brewing in Winona. Driftless Loop Bikepacking Route Map: Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.
- STRADDLE & PADDLE, MINNESOTA
The Straddle and Paddle bikepacking route traverses the north shore of Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, two of the Minnesota Arrowhead’s finest natural playgrounds. Straddle your bike through the north woods and paddle a canoe on the finest short day-trip loop the Boundary Waters has to offer. Created by: Peter Pascale Originally published on Bikepacking.com and featured here with their permission. From Bikepacking.com: Straddle and Paddle starts and ends on the scenic Lake Superior shore, and travels the gravel, double-track and trails of the Superior National Forest. Dubbed ‘the Minnesota Arrowhead’ for its pointed shape, this region supports some of the best gravel and adventure races in the midwest – the Heck of the North, the Grand du Nord, and the Gravel Conspiracy to name a few. And now this route ties it together to support your northwoods rambling adventure. Lakeside rustic campsites abound (some with well water), and dispersed camping is allowed anywhere in the forest – providing ample flexibility. Straddle & Paddle Bikepacking Route Map: BIKEPACKING.com is dedicated to exploration by bicycle. They inspire and inform through original bikepacking routes, stories, and coverage of the gear, news, and events that make our community thrive. They believe travel by bicycle has the power to encourage conservation, inclusivity, and respect for all people and cultures. More here. Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.
- ON FAMILY, BIKES, & LIFE WITHOUT DAMN: TRENTON RAYGOR'S ADVENTURES ROLL ON
Trenton Raygor closed the books on The Day Across Minnesota last year but continues his race, The Filthy, as well as some other upcoming projects. Here we talk about unforgettable experiences and doing adventures together with family. Interview with Trenton Raygor @trigunw0lf What's it like being done with DAMn? You built something incredible, filled 500 seats in a day, were a Banff Film Official Selection and now it's over. The Day Across Minnesota was something truly incredible. Never would I have thought that going on a birthday bike ride with my friends Carl and Robert would lead to any of this. The DAMn had five incredible years and challenged hundreds of all types of humans from all over the United States (and some from overseas) to push themselves. One of the most special things for me is knowing that each and every one of them has walked away changed, healthier, and primed for new adventures. Yeah, we made a film and were sent to Banff Canada to premier at the famed Banff Mountain Film Festival and then sent to Paris France to show at Tous En Selle in Europe's largest cinema. We even got to hangout and ride bikes with Bernard Hinault! It's all been an incredible honor to be a part of. This year, 2022, definitely feels different than the past five. I knew that it would, and honestly, that was the hope when Erik and I made the decision to shelve The Day Across Minnesota, announcing that 2021 would be our last. I have two children, as does Erik. They needed our time back and we both knew that it was the right thing to do. We see one another a little less than we used to, but he and I were hanging out last weekend grilling in his backyard and I mentioned noticing that since December of 2021, I've had a lot more time to spend with my kids. Mission accomplished? It's funny though, because in that same conversation, he mentioned that if I was on board and was interested in bringing it back, that he would be all in. It's safe to say that we both miss The DAMn and all of the great things that it's done for the cycling community as well as the small towns like Gary, South Dakota and Hager City, Wisconsin who have welcomed hundreds of us with open arms year after year. I'll go out on a limb and say that I think we both miss the time with each other, burning it at both ends, with little to no sleep for 3 days straight as well. The humanity, the nature, the fortitude, the suffering, the psychology, the disappointment, the elation, I swear...when you're race directing, you're in the middle of it all, and there's honestly nothing like it. You've been a great example of making cycling a family generational activity. What does family and biking mean to you? Biking has always been about family. My dad used to race road bikes regionally back in the 1980s. He was always a hero and inspiration of mine in that regard, though I didn't really start riding long distances or racing until he got back on the bike a little over a decade ago. He had just beat lymphoma, but was pretty unhealthy. Getting back on the bicycle and training for gravel rides like The Almanzo 100 is really what helped get him back to a healthy place and also gave us a wonderful opportunity to better connect. Around that same time, we decided that though all of these 100 mile gravel races were fun, there should be something more attainable to hopefully attract new riders and help grow the gravel cycling community. Nine years ago, together, we put on The Filthy 50 which has now become one of the largest gravel cycling events in the country. My mom, brother, and sisters are all a big part of The Filthy as well and my oldest son who is 14 years old will be riding it this year, so yeah, you could say that cycling is generational and important to the family. That 14 year old of mine has also joined the Six One Two High School Mountain Biking Team this year. He's pretty excited about it and needless to say, so am I. Any secret big ideas you've been working on that you want to talk about? No secrets, but I can talk about a couple of new things that are in the works on the film front. Upon the launch of our film 'Delta of Spirit', my friend Nicholas Kapanke and I started Checkpoint Zero Films. Since then we've released a couple of shorts, but are now working on a couple of bigger, longer running projects. The first is unofficially titled 'The Last DAMn'. You can probably guess what it's about... We are getting close to finishing this one. One of the coolest things about it to me are the contributions that some of our riders have already made to the film. In addition to the riders that we follow and their gripping stories, Ben Weaver, a friend, poet, musician, and DAMn alumni, shared a song and a poem for the film. Tony Thomas, a friend, musician, colleague, and DAMn alumni contributed all of the soundscapes for the score. A few others who have completed The DAMn are also providing us with pieces for the film that will truly make it a community creation. I absolutely cannot wait for this one to drop! The other film that we are working on will be a bit more of a Ken Burns like documentary about gravel cycling in America. If you got into gravel cycling at all in 2022 and are wondering how it got here, well, this film will help you understand how and why things are the way that they are. Believe it or not, it hasn't always been this way. What are your Top 5 "Up North Things"? 1. The Arrowhead 135 It doesn't get much more "Up North" than riding your bike, skiing, or running 135 miles through the woods from International Falls to Tower in late January. 2. Jeremy Kershaw He's a fellow race director and all around good human who puts on the Le Grand Du Nord gravel ride out of Grand Marais as well as Heck of The North. 3. Y-ker Acres As a connoisseur of bacon, this family farm near Duluth is producing some of the best I've ever had. 4. Voyageurs Wolf Project Wolves are my favorite animal and if I haven't had the chance to visit in a while, the internet takes me there. https://www.voyageurswolfproject.org/videos 5. Jay Cooke State Park This is one of my favorite state parks in Minnesota and a place where my family has made some great memories.
- TOUR DE CHEQUAMEGON GENDER & BIPOC EQUITY SCHOLARSHIPS NOW OPEN
Tour de Chequamegon event organizer Dave Schlabowske has teamed up with Brooke Goudy & Devin Cowens to offer 5 scholarship spots for riders who identify as gender expansive and BIPOC. Learn more about the Tour de Chequamegon and who is eligible to apply. Photo: Cliford Mervil @cliford.mervil From the Tour de Chequamegon website: Brooke Goudy and Devin Cowens will be ride guides along for all three days of the Tour de Chequamegon weekend trip and help create a welcoming space for BIPOC cyclists of any experience level to enjoy the scenic gravel roads of Wisconsin’s Northwoods. We are holding five of the 50 spots on the Tour de Chequamegon (Sept. 22-25, 2022) for this program, and people from the Midwest will be given preference to provide an opportunity for regionally located cyclists to explore in their own backyard. There will be no charge for those five spots. We can also help with equipment and possibly offset travel expenses. Representation matters so this scholarship opportunity will also aim to create an inclusive space for trans, women, intersex, and gender expansive adventure riders that identify as BIPOC. For more info, visit the Tour de Chequamegon.
- CLOSE THE GAP OR BLOW UP TRYING: CLAIRE O'LEARY'S FREEDHEM 76 & FINDING GRAVEL COMMUNITY
The 2022 Freedhem 76 took place on Saturday, July 2, 2022. Claire O'Leary raced along with a strong field of women. In this story, she shares about her own race along with the push and pull of the gravel community. Story by Claire O'Leary All photos of this Minnesota grave bike race by Markman Outdoor Photography (see the full race gallery here). I slipped out of the family cabin at dawn for the drive south down Highway 371. It was the opposite journey of most of the field, but we were all coming to this tiny crossroads town on July 4 weekend to celebrate the community and competition popping up around Freedhem 76. I put Freedhem 76 on my race calendar because I’d heard great things about the course and the community. But taking a peek at the “Who’s registered” tab on bikereg.com, I was excited to see so many strong riders signed up–and so many women. At the start line, I overheard someone else say they were excited so many women signed up. I’ve been in more than a few races that only had a handful of women, and I couldn’t agree more. It speaks volumes to the team behind Freedhem 76 that so many people on different types of bikes and with different goals felt welcomed and included and made the trek on a holiday weekend. The Race At 9am, race director Don Griggs thanked everyone for coming, and then we were speeding down the pavement for the neutral rollout. We made the first turn onto the gravel and the overcast skies and blowing sand brought visibility to near zero. Tail lights of riders up the road were barely visible. The race was on. About a third of the way through I’m pulling my group of eight when I see another rider standing next to his bike on the opposite side of the road. “You good?” “I need air.” Instinct to look out for other riders took over and I veered off the paceline and dug out an air cartridge. I had just signed myself up for a few miles of chasing in the headwinds to catch up to my group. I made it back to the group and got a few “nice bridge” remarks from other riders. A minute later, Michael, the rider I’d just helped, joined me in the caboose. He said his day was over and told me how he had tried and failed to plug a puncture a few times. He finally put a tube in but didn’t have any air cartridges left. “I owe you one.” I laughed and was still a little winded from making up the gap. “Help me get to the next group?” “You got it.” Michael took the front and set a pace that would help us close the gap or blow up trying. We went through the Oxcart Road MMR fast, and I was grateful I’d just spent a few days riding the rocky ATV trails on the North Shore. The middle miles were a blur, but there was tough gravel and good company. Riders stopped to help an injured rider, and when help had arrived, powered back through the course. People called out cars and obstacles and photographers waiting in the ditches to catch your pain face. We were all trying to accomplish what we’d set out to do that day–and look out for each other in the process. My favorite part of the course was Koering Climb, or rather, the family that took it upon themselves to wear their best stars-and-stripes apparel and hand out cold water and other goodies to riders. What I (and a lot of other people) didn’t realize is that they decided to do that after receiving a flier about the race only the day prior. I dropped my first attempt at grabbing a bottle but they were so nice about it. After a successful second attempt I stuck it in my jersey pocket like a little ice pack. It would come in handy when I hit the sandtrap MMR. I’ve raced cyclocross so I have experience riding sand on skinny tires. I also have experience absolutely nailing it and eating sand. I plowed my way through with a couple other riders, and we cheered for each other when someone found a line and managed to stay on their bike. After a sandpit I started to die a slow death in the sun and wind. Out of nowhere, Michael came up behind me once again. He had made a wrong turn. The guy had a rough day, but his kindness made my day that much better. We rolled through the final miles together and fatigue mixed with thoughts of “this course is definitely longer than 76 miles.” I sprinted out of the final corner, not realizing there was the better part of a mile to go. Ouch. When it was all over, our small group high fived and hugged and I slumped over my bars. The After Party Enough about the race. The best part of any gravel race is watching friends finish, cracking open a beer, and telling stories about the challenges and triumphs of the day. Freedhem 76 took that up a notch with live music and catered food from a local restaurant. I didn’t realize I’d made the wide angle podium with 4th place so I missed the podium shot in front of the Freedhem General Store. The women’s race winner graciously gathered everyone she could find (we couldn’t find the 5th place finisher again) so that I could have a podium photo, too. As riders came in, they gathered in the shade on the lawn next to the general store. Dusty bikes leaned up against the landmark’s white clapboard siding. Riders told stories about their days: who went OTB, who flatted, and who had a lucky break. I’m not sure what the “spirit of gravel” really is, but this was dang close.
- VOILE STRAPS VS TAILFIN CARGO STRAPS: WHICH IS BETTER FOR BIKEPACKING?
Strapping things securely to your bike is an important park of bikepacking. Voile Straps have always been the go-to original and today we look at some of the innovative improvements from Tailfin Cargo Straps in this side by side comparison. Voile Strap & Tailfin Cargo Strap Side by Side Comparison Gear straps, like Voile Straps, are a favorite accessory for bikepacking. They can be used for tons of purposes, they're dependable, and are generally great for attaching things to your bike and bags. Now, I'm fully aware that I think about bikepacking straps more than the average bikepacker but I'm really impressed with the innovation that Tailfin as made in their Cargo Straps. To get a better idea of how they compare to Voile Straps and to see if they're a worthy Voile Strap alternative, I tested them both head-to-head and here are my observations along with my own person opinion of who wins in a few different categories. 1. Voile vs Tailfin: Versatility & Variety Voile Straps Voile Straps gives you tons of option. Their standard straps are available in 5 sizes with aluminum or nylon buckles (we always use nylon so it doesn't scratch the bike frame). Then you can get XL straps which are even thicker and wider than their traditional straps or the Nano series which are narrower and as short as 6 inches. They also come in Rack Straps which are specifically for hooking onto bike racks. Then top it all off with the fact that several of their straps are available in as many as 12 different color options so you can match your bike however you'd like. Tailfin Cargo Straps Tailfin Cargo Straps are essentially one strap in three metric sizes: ~15inches, ~20inches, and ~25inches. With gray branding on black straps, they're clean and extremely sharp looking. They look smart and like everything Tailfin makes, they're 100% designed intentionally for bikepacking. WINNER: Voile Straps Voile Straps wins this round. Everyone has their own personal style and some will prefer the look of one over the other, but Voile Straps has 20+ strap options with a large catalog of color, length, width, and material choices. 2. Voile vs Tailfin: Strength & Durability Voile Straps I've been using the nylon buckle Voile Straps for several years and I have had the strap connection occasional slip right through the buckle. The end of the strap isn't very thick and if you pull really hard, you can pull the buckle right off. It hardly ever happens but it is a weak point in the design. Beyond that, the straps are polyurethane with a UV resistant additive to increase their lifespan. Trusted since 1984, they're absurdly durable. Due to my own errors, I've had metal cut the edges of the strap and they still won't even begin to tear in the slightest. Tailfin Cargo Straps Tailfin Cargo Straps are thermoplastic polyurethane. They claim to be virtually indestructible with videos of them trying to unsuccessfully smash the buckles with a hammer. The connection where the strap meets the buckle is more than twice as large as the Voile strap's connection. I couldn't get them to slip at all and I believe it's probably pretty close to impossible. WINNER: Tailfin Cargo Straps I haven't had a problem with the actual strap on either options and they both feel and act similarly under pressure. But the buckle/strap connection is engineered to be significantly stronger on Tailfin Cargo Straps. I use these straps for a lot purposes and I need to know that I can put a massive amount of pressure on these and they won't slip. Tailfin is suited better to do that whereas Voile Straps (at least with the non- marring nylon buckle) are visibly less secure and I've had mine slip. 3. Voile vs Tailfin: Design for Bikepacking Voile Straps Voile Straps are a general-purpose alternative to bungee cords and duct tape. They do an incredible job being easily the most versatile tool in my garage and that obviously includes bike purposes. I tend to collect them and love having different sizes and styles for different needs. Voile Straps are not necessarily built for bikepacking and with a little innovation, this is where I think Tailfin Cargo Straps edges them. One thing that always bugs me, for example, is the hole coverage. The holes stop a little before the end of the strap on one end and way before the buckle on the other end. This means I can't always get them to work even if they're long enough. Tailfin Cargo Straps This is where Tailfin shines and really pulls ahead of Voile Straps. The details really matter and Tailfin got them all perfect. First, there are holes all the way to the end of the strap which means I can carry bigger loads and DIY more randomly attached bags. Second, the buckle profile is offset and rounded. They hug bike frames, Nalgene bottles, bags, and car racks beautifully and look great doing it. The strap keepers are also a nice touch. They keep the straps looking very clean even when the strap is much longer than needed. But regarding the strap keeper, I have almost lost them about 20 times since getting them so I'm not getting too attached to them and know they're almost certain to fall off and not get noticed. WINNER: Tailfin Cargo Straps Tailfin's tagline is Technical Bikepacking Equipment and from my perspective, they're really the best company to have innovated on the Voile Strap concept. They certainly don't have as many varieties, but they're designed to function perfectly for bikepacking and they're basically bombproof. I've always liked adding a splash of color to my bikes with the bright orange Voile Straps, but the Tailfin Cargo Straps are actually really sharp and I love the way they accent a bike and gear setup. A Voile Strap Alternative Both Voile Straps and Tailfin Cargo Straps are excellent tools for adventuring on bike. Bikepackers are known for cobbling gear together and always looking for new ways to attach a pack to a random part of the bike and that's why these are indispensable for me. Bikepacking Straps: Securing Your Adventures & Gear The thing I especially love about great straps is that they minimize the need for expensive bikepacking-specific bags. Seat packs, frame bags, and direct-mount fork packs can get really expensive when you add it all up. I've always just strapped a dry-bag to my seat and homemade rolltop bags to my forks using little more than Voile Straps and inexpensive mounts like Problem Solvers Bowtie Anchors. Don't get me wrong, I also love bikepacking specific gear but these straps give you the option to experiment and minimize. To add some straps to your own toolset, learn more at Voile Straps or Tailfin.
- 25 YEARS OF BORAH: HOW CHRIS JACKSON WENT FROM COPIER SALES TO BUILDING ICONIC TEAMWEAR
In 1997 Borah shipped its first products. Now an iconic made-in-the-USA teamwear brand, they celebrate their 25th anniversary. Today we catch up with Founder Chris Jackson to chat about the company's history and his favorite up-north bike things. Learn more about Borah Teamwear on their website. How did you start Borah? After graduation from UWL, I moved to Minneapolis and took my first "real" job as a copier salesman. They say to hit up your family and friends first, so I called on a riding buddy who was managing a bike shop in the Twin Cities. I did not manage to sell him a copy machine, but he did suggest to me that I might want to try and sell bike stuff instead of copiers. So, I took his advice, purchased a suit, and drove down to the Chicago Area Bicycle Dealers Association (CABDA) show and managed to talk a few sales managers into letting me represent their lines in the Midwest. After a 5 year stint as an independent sales rep, I thought it would be cool to develop a casual line of mountain bike apparel and call it Mt Borah Designs. I have always enjoyed well designed clothing and I felt the market at that time had room for another brand and that was the beginning! Am I right that Borah turns 25 this year?! Borah's first shipment of product was in 1997, so that is 25 years already! I can hardly believe it has been that long, the bike industry has never felt like a "real job" to me, so time flies when you are having fun I guess! You started the Borah Epic (Now "Epic Bike Fest") and seem to be really supportive of your employees being active athletes. How important is active community to Borah's success? Our internal mission at Borah is to create and promote a positive and healthy work environment. This mission has proven to serve us well in many ways. Of course, encouraging employees to be active is very important to us. We provide extended (paid) breaks to our staff so they can take a walk, play an outdoor game, garden, or ride bikes on our 3 miles of single track behind our office. We have had a few employees who have had real lifestyle changes due to our culture, that is the most rewarding thing for me to see! Founding the Borah Epic was really an exciting time for me. That said, it was really a team effort and I could not have done it without the hard work of several key employees and volunteers. In the end, we donated o ver 130K to CAMBA, along with a few other organizations such as Wisconsin and Minnesota NICA leagues. I am really looking forward to watching the event continue to grow and I fully expect the Epic Bike Fest, under the leadership of the ABSF, to become the premier Midwest mountain bike event. What about you, what kind of biking gets you excited? Pretty much all kinds of biking get me excited! I am lucky to have so many great options right out my back door. I love riding the gravel roads south of Viroqua, they are some of the best in the country in my opinion. Then, I have endless miles of paved dairy roads with more Amish buggies than cars, so riding my road bike is always a good choice. And, of course, off road riding around here is always fun and continues to get better every year. Up north, I find myself mostly riding my mountain bike and fat bike, but I am hoping to explore more gravel up there too! Where the heck is Coon Valley and what do you love about it? Coon Valley is in the "heart of the Driftless", approximately 20 miles southeast of La Crosse. The town is surrounded by large bluffs with a class A trout stream running through the middle of it all. When I was attending college at UWL, our training rides would often take us through Coon Valley, so that is how I became aware of it. Then, when we lost our office space in La Crosse, I ended up finding an old grocery store in Coon Valley which we rented for less than $500.00 per month. Eventually, we ended up in the Industrial park on the southwest edge of town, so this little village has been great for us! What are your Top 5 'Up North Things'? The Driftless area and the Northwoods are both very special to me, I am very grateful to be able to call them both home! I grew up spending summers at my Grandparents cabin near Channing, Michigan and developed a real love of the Northwoods through this experience. Some of my favorite Northwoods things are: 1. CAMBA trails (both dirt and snow) 2. The Cheqamegon MTB festival 3. Rivers Eatery in Cable, WI 4. Sawmill Saloon in Seeley, WI and, of course... 5. Epic Bike Fest!
- REGISTRATION OPEN FOR GRAVEL PIZZA OVERNIGHTER
The Gravel Pizza Overnighter is a 2-day community bikepacking event that starts in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin. We'll all start together, follow The Nxrth's handpicked gravel route at your own pace and then camp together at Wedges Creek pizza farm before biking home the next morning. To join us, explore ticket options here.
- BIKEPACKING MINNESOTA: CHIPPEWA NATIONAL FOREST [VIDEO]
Rachel and Abi recently went to the Chippewa National Forest for a quick bikepacking trip. As their first bikepacking trip ever, they kept the route short at less than 40 miles round trip. The forest roads were perfect for riding, and they were the only ones in the campground that night. Video by: RAAD Things Outside
- CRUD CLOTHS FROM DULUTH: A SHOWER-IN-A-BAG FOR DIRTBAG GRAVEL BIKERS
When showers and wild swimming aren't an option after endurance activities, Crud Cloth from Duluth, Minnesota has a shower-in-a-bag solution. Today we we test it out and share our thoughts for gravel riding and bikepacking. Crud Cloths for After Long Dirty Rides Crud Cloths are from Duluth, Minnesota and are a vacuum packed pouch that contains a dry cotton towel as well as a sealed liquid/soap pouch. When you're ready to combine them, you get a wet towel with natural soap ingredients that they say is like a "shower in a bag". I just tested it after a 50-mile ride on a Sunday morning. Now, when I used it, I was at home but intentionally chose not to shower before heading to church to see how I felt. I expected it to clean up pretty well but fully assumed that I'd feel soapy and smell overly like citrus cleaner afterwards (they also make unscented) but that really wasn't the case. I didn't even feel like I needed to take a real shower and am planning on taking these with after longer races or nights where I'm camping away from bathroom/shower amenities. The cloths are 100% cotton and are definitely not disposable rags. They're small but really strong. If used as a disposable option, then these are not very sustainable. But if used as a cleaning rag or garage rag after initial use, then these can have a full useful life after being used as a shower-in-a-bag. How do you use it? You use it by following these steps: Smack Squish Tear Scrub When you smack it (and you have to smack it hard), it breaks open the sealed water/soap solution so that you squish it around and get the towel wet and wash up after a long gravel ride or day of bikepacking. Ingredients for the citrus Crud Cloth include: Distilled Water, Cleanser (Coco Glucoside, made from plants), Essential Oil Blend (Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Orange, & Bergamot), Potassium Hydroxide. What about bikepacking; would I take this with? When I first started looking at reviews of the Crud Cloth, I noticed some folks who said that some of their Crud Cloths had burst open during shipping and weren't usable when they arrived. This made me come to the early conclusion that it wouldn't be worth the risk of shoving this in a pack on a long grueling bikepacking trip. But in reality, the packaging was far sturdier than I expected and even quite a bit sturdier than I wanted it to be at times. It's possible they've updated the packaging since those malfunctions. Even after several hard blows that I assumed were too hard, there were times the inside still hadn't broken open. I never had any break unexpectedly and I would feel really great about tossing one at the top of a seat pack to use during a 3+ day bikepacking trip if I wasn't expecting any proper showers or swimming holes along the way. Wrap Up I've always just accepted the long dirty car ride home after bikepacking events and races. So it's nice to have a natural and packable option for cleaning up without bathroom/shower facilities. If you're just going to toss it in the garbage afterward, then these will get wasteful. But in my house we go through a lot of rags for cleaning at home and in the garage and will make sure these get put to good use after initial use. Learn more at CrudCloth.com
- SUSTAINABLE, LOCAL, & BIKEPACK-ABLE: BIKING WITH HIKER'S BREW COFFEE
Hiker's Brew was founded in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on the values of sustainability fo the outdoors. Noticing an issue in the modern-day coffee industry, they created a solution for outdoor enthusiasts. Their packaging is compostable and their sizes are perfect for bikepacking. For bikepacking ,Hiker's Brew comes in Venture Packs which are 1.25oz packs of ground coffee that make 2-4 cups. Flavors include Hazy Hiker, Some Mores, Red Rocks, and Van Life. Non-flavored options include Mike Marker and Yurt Dirt. Their coffee also comes in 12oz Basecamp bags. Learn more at hikersbrew.com or visit them @hikersbrew Hiker's Brew Review by Garrett Denney Confession time: I am a total sucker for coffee on the trail. At home, my coffee routine is eclectic: I regularly rotate between a French Press, Chemex, and even a venerable Mr. Coffee for when we have company. Heck, there is even the rare day where I brew a latte on the Nespresso. But away from home when I’m looking for a fresh cuppa, I am always reaching for a packet of ground beans. It hasn’t always been that way. I’ve been similarly eclectic in how I pack and prepare coffee on the trail while bikepacking. For years I relied on instant coffee – the tiny packets of fine-ground beans that dissolve into boiling water – largely because of a friend’s recommendation. Dissolvable coffee worked well enough and even saved me a bit of weight and space on my rig because I could leave my coffee press kit at home. But it wasn’t perfect either. Many of the blends that I packed in those early years lacked the rich flavor and smooth consistency that are hallmarks of my home-brewed coffee. That changed when I stumbled on Hiker’s Brew, a boutique coffee company has been making sustainable coffee since 2016. Founded in Eau Claire, WI by a pair of outdoor enthusiasts, they fuse a wide palette of coffee beans with artistic packaging and slim form factors. Tried and true favorites like regular dark roast are complimented by flavored varieties like s’mores and hazelnut. No matter your coffee preference, they’ve got you covered. The best part? All products are available in single-serve pouches, meaning you can take as many as needed for your next trip. The company also makes a point of incorporating sustainability into the core of their mission. With compostable packaging and carbon neutral shipping, Hiker’s Brew is trying to do its part. Next time you’re packing your saddle bag for an overnighter, grab a packet (or two…or three) of Hiker’s Brew for the journey. Just remember to toss in at least one extra pouch so you can help spread the good word.