Can I find my flow on a North Shore classic? - YouTube
Can I find my flow on a North Shore classic? Riding the North Shore of Vancouver, BC with Jeff Kendall-Weed!
Written by Jeff Kendall-Weed
"Flowing" a trail means finding motion and grace even when things are slippery, steep, and unpredictable. Vancouver, BCs north shore is infamous for its trails that are exactly that. Unable to ride the bikes of the time on the rugged terrain, riders began to build bridges over the gnarled roots and jagged rocks to simply get down the mountain. Even with the woodwork, the trails are still a challenge today!
Read the full story and view the gallery at Pinkbike
Riding the new Ripmo above LA! I love this stuff!!! - YouTube
City of Angels, City of Trails? Riding above L.A. with Jeff Kendall-Weed!
Written by Jeff Kendall-Weed
On frequent trips to southern California, we raced within the confines of suburbia. Compared to the beautiful, steep hills of the central coast that I had come to know and love, it was a serious surrender to travel to SoCal race courses, consisting of trails that seemed underwhelming in comparison. Even worse, while on those race courses in the L.A. basin, through the smog we could see legitimate mountains soaring above the city -- almost so close we could touch them.
Fast forward about 15 years to the delivery of a brand-new bike, the first of its kind, on my doorstep. I knew nothing about the bike, and it looked rad, but the snow-covered trails where I now live in western Washington State made it impossible to open up the throttle and fully experience this new ride. A few folks had recently claimed that trail conditions in these mysterious southern California mountains were actually really, really good. I wanted to believe them, but based on my experience, I felt skeptical. But, the snow on the ground around me put my skepticism in check.
I called some friends, explaining that I wanted to try something different for the first few rides on my new bike. John Watson, an L.A. photographer and journalist with a background in architecture and design, answered one of these calls. His descriptions of the juxtaposition of downtown Los Angeles in the distance with the rocky and narrow singletrack of the San Gabriel range painted an intriguing picture. Was I crazy for leaving an actual mountain bike mecca to head to the place that many people leave when they want to go riding? And with this new bike, could we even film an interesting video in these mountains?
Bikepacking is essentially self-supported touring on a bicycle outfitted with lightweight frame-mounted bags. It combines the exploratory thrill of mountain biking with the meditative isolation of backcountry rambling.
A proper bikepacking trip can consist of one short local overnighter or a multi-week expedition into unknown territory. There are many ways to do it and not one of them is wrong. That said, there are certainties – lessons culled from hard-earned, real life experience – that we’d like to share. Whether you’re a novice bikepacker or a grizzled vet, we’ve got some good advice for you.
Ditch the Backpack One of the great joys of bikepacking is making your bike carry the load, not your shoulders. If you think you need a backpack, you’re probably carrying too much. Revise your packlist or increase the carrying capacity on your bike with bigger bags – your back will thank you.
Insulate Minimally A lightweight insulated jacket is perfect if temps drop while riding, but it truly comes in handy once you stop moving. The Alpha Snap Jacket with Polartec® Alpha insulation is best in class for its warmth-to-weight ratio.
Eat Real Food We all enjoy the occasional energy bar or power goop on our daily rides, but that stuff’s no good for lasting multi-day energy and crucial gut health. Here’s a nutrient-rich, easy-carry recipe from Chef Zander of The Cyclist’s Menu:
“If all you've got is a Jetboil, you're doing pretty good! Let's face it: with all the endurance events cropping up, riders are leaving anything at home that's going to weigh them down. We talk about this a lot at The Cyclist's Menu – whether it's a long day in the saddle at Gravel Camp, an overnight 90 miler at our Bikepacking camp, or riding an event like the Dirty Kanza 200 or the Tour Divide – you need real food.
Here's a quick and dirty recipe that will keep you moving and feeling great. Best part is you can prepare this beforehand or make it on the way. You choose!
½ cup dry white or brown rice. White rice is a bit easier on your digestive tract.
1 avocado, on the harder side for transport.
1-2 pinches flake sea salt.
1 handful golden raisins. Pre-soak them in water if possible to aid digestion.
Sprinkle of hemp seeds.
Splash of Olive Oil & Tamari. These can be transported in small, plastic containers or stored in your food bowl with a lid.
Extra: Hard boiled egg! Prepare this beforehand for easier transport.
Place all of these amazing food items into a bowl and chow down! Then keep on truckin’!”
Wool is Ideal Choose nature’s perfect material, especially for first layers. Wool keeps your body temp in check with breathable insulation that stays stink-free for days, even months on end – just ask the participants of the #Icon64 Challenge. The hardy Merino Ride Tee in combination with the wool Icon V2 is unbeatable for 90% of your adventures, no matter what the forecast calls for.
Tyvek® Floor Bring along a rectangle of lightweight, cheap, super-durable Tyvek® to use as a tidy ground cloth. Great for a post-ride stretch session, sitting while preparing your food, or sleeping under the stars. Find it on zPacks.
Framebags Everyday Once you go framebag, you’ll never go back – even for everyday rides! There are a ton of companies making bags right now, from large-scale productions to single-sewer cottage creatives, and most of them are great. We recommend Porcelain Rocket, Revelate Designs, or Outershell Adventure. Check out Bikepacking’s Bag Reviews for in-depth coverage.
Do Your Research Bikepacking is a goldmine (and occasional black hole) of route knowledge, expert feedback, gear reviews, and ride inspiration from all over the world. This is one of our favorite bike-related sites to browse for its consistent quality and authentic, inclusive vibe.
Bikepacking isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth a try for anyone with an appetite for outdoor adventure and an interest in self-supported, sustainable exploration. Start with a local overnighter and then see how far you can go!
Life’s wildest adventures always start with that one word. After that, all that’s needed is momentum and flexibility. Just last week, a phone meeting with a coworker about the unseasonably warm winter in Mammoth led to a loose plan to hit the road. Could I make an impromptu solo journey to explore trails, unwind in the geothermal springs of the Eastern Sierra, hoist a few pints with the Kitsbow clan, and properly launch our new Icon LTD in the volcanic landscape that inspired its creation? Yes. Would I like to take the Kitsbow Sprinter on a roadtrip? Hell yes.
After only a day of prep and planning, the Sprinter was eastward bound – since the Cyclocross National Championships were taking place in Reno that day, a long detour was in order to catch some high-level racing. Several hours of mindless freeway cruising ended at Peavine Mountain, a trail system near the race venue where a brief blast of sagebrush-lined singletrack soothed my roadworn soul enough to go socialize and watch the battle for the Men’s Elite title.
Afterwards I met some friends for burgers, met some other friends for roller skating, and then pointed the Mercedes behemoth southward and rolled into the night.
I woke up roadside to a brilliant sunrise illuminating Genoa Peak, then drove over snow-dappled Monitor Pass, past aspens that parted to reveal butter-yellow, rust-red, and oregano-green Mono Valley. At Bridgeport, I took a detour to serene Twin Lakes for some trail time.
Starting from the desolate off-season lakeside camp, I started pedaling up Horse Creek and didn’t stop for over three miles, up 1475 feet, past awestruck European climbers in full winter kit, past the snow line, past frozen waterfalls and severely tight switchbacks, until I hit Hoover Wilderness.
I disembarked from the bike and hiked to an open creekside meadow and basked in the views of the looming snow-covered Matterhorn Peak. Then back to the bike, back to the Sprinter, and onward to Mammoth.
Mammoth Lakes is a hard-working, hard-partying resort town. During my sampling of watering holes, I met folks who worked on the mountain as ski patrollers, wildland firefighters, mountain bike guides, and ski instructors. No pretension, just real mountain people. My hosts Kevin and MJ, both part-time Mammoth locals, gave me a solid sense of what goes down after the ski day comes to a close: great beer, bar games, and a real sense of community among the locals.
It wasn’t easy to stick to low-elevation trails in the shadow of Mammoth Mountain, historic birthplace of skinsuit-wearing, Kamikaze-bombing, modern American DH. But with the mountains covered in white stuff, I made my own fun by pedaling moto trails to Shady Rest, across town to a formidably icy Mammoth Rock Trail, then hitting the 395 South to soak in some mineral-laden, geothermally-heated earth juice.
Next on the agenda: who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? We celebrated the arrival of the limited edition, Inyo-inspired Icon V2 by hiding a Yeti Rambler bottle in the obsidian- and granite-flecked landscape at the Lower Rock Creek trailhead. Whoever found the bottle (with a winning ticket inside) would win a peerless Pendleton® built for mountain biking.
After hiding the bottle, I dropped in to LRC with a dumb grin plastered on my face throughout the eight-mile descent. Creekside canyon cruising, flowy bermy goodness, and incredibly technical big-rock moves are all on the menu at LRC.
When I made it back to the Sprinter, I happened to meet the winner of the treasure hunt: a Mammoth local named Brett riding a bikepacking rig. Great guy. He was stoked to win, and I was stoked to meet another member of the Kitsbow squad.
The next day was a blur of blacktop as the Sprinter and I hightailed it back to our corner of Northern California. Where will the Sprinter go next? As long as we keep momentum and stay flexible, adventure is ours for the taking. We just have to say yes. See you out there.
Our ambassador Jordan decided to trade in life in a Sprinter for life in the Swiss Alps – a trailbuilder's dream come true. Here's his report from Helvetia:
“Grüezi (Hello)” I exclaimed as I rolled up to a group of hikers on a rainy October afternoon as I made my way down from a day of work in the Swiss Alps above Davos, Switzerland. The clouds hung low and fall colors glistened on the surrounding trees and grasses. I’d narrowly missed my window of sunshine as the looming clouds quickly drifted into the narrow valley and the once blue sky was engulfed in a late day storm system.
I was working as a contractor for a trail business in Switzerland to help improve trail experiences for mountain bikers in this legendary trail mecca. I was excited for the work, but also to experience the culturally rich mountain lifestyle. Most of all, I looked forward to riding historic trails and then consuming all the cheese, chocolate, and espresso this beautiful country had to offer.
After working throughout southern Swiss Alps for more than 60 days, I’ve compiled some of my favorite places and experiences in hopes of sharing this smorgasbord of trails, great food, and amazing experiences.
Mountain Biking the Swiss Alps
Switzerland is unlike any other place I’ve ever been on a mountain bike. Rugged mountains, lush valleys, cable cars from most villages and other endless amenities offer an array of experience opportunities. To top it off, the country offers a free database* highlighting the singletrack trail routes crisscrossing the country, making riding, touring, and exploring fun yet daunting at the same time. Many of these singletrack routes are old mining, farming or trade routes that have been slowly adopted as recreational routes although many still benefit the surrounding farming operations. The trails are spectacularly diverse, with everything from steep technical descents to mellow grassy doubletrack traversing through the beautiful valleys.
My time in Switzerland was spent mostly in the canton (state) of Graübunden based in the southwestern corner of the state bordered by Italy and Austria. This area is home to ski towns Davos, St. Moritz, and Lenzerheide, among many other amazing historic villages. When I had time off I gravitated toward Davos, due in part to its amazing hotel mountain bike packages that offer free transit in town. It quickly became a favorite of mine after a great experience at the Davos Enduro2 event, which provided one of the most scenic and enjoyable race experiences I’ve ever participated in.
With so many incredible trails to ride, it's difficult to choose a favorite. In Davos, the Alps Epic Trail that begins from the top of Jakobshorn certainly tops the list.
Switzerland not only offers an exceptional offering of scenic, world-class singletrack, the amenities make for a truly relaxing and enjoyable trip. Public transit around the country is extremely easy to use and can get you to even the remotest of places, whether train, cable car, or bus, getting around once there is a breeze.
If culinary decadence appeals to you, the Swiss Alps are a goldmine. Each village has its own unique offerings, whether it’s cheese, wine, beer, or the extensive assortment of baked goods. Nüsstorte (essentially a dense version of our pecan pie) is a buttery, nut-filled specialty torte from the Graubünden region of Southern Switzerland. It became my go-to ride food for days out in the mountains.
No matter where you choose to visit on your mountain bike adventure in Switzerland the massive Alps coupled with the unique culture, welcoming people, and decadent local delicacies will surely fill your brain and your photo book with many lasting memories as it did mine.
Thanks to Jordan for the report. Have you dreamed of exploring the legendary trails of Switzerland? Check out this awesome interactive map to get a few ideas. In the meantime, stay dry – but not too dry. We'll see you out there.
What was your favorite moment on two wheels in 2017? We hope you find inspiration to fuel further journeys as we make our next trip around the sun. Happy holidays and Happy New Year from all of us at Kitsbow.
When it comes to minimal, well-designed, tonal mountain bike clothing, one brand stands out above the rest: Kitsbow. The Petaluma, CA based brand is making some of the best mountain bike clothing on the market. Pieces like the Origin A/M short and the Trials Softshell waterproof jacket epitomize thoughtful design and have become staples in my mountain bike kit. — AJ Powell
While we were putting our latest gear to the test on the craggy, fog-laced singletrack north of the border, we made the acquaintance of a couple of good-natured Kiwis who are living the dream in Squamish. Matt Harris and Florian de Vries are New Zealand natives who are building and riding trail for a living. Though their current project is somewhat hush-hush, we were able to acquire some vital info from these laid-back duff diggers. Our first question: how the heck did you do that? Matt was kind enough to share some background info and inspiration for any of you aspiring pro trailbuilders.
Background: Both Flo and I grew up riding bikes and digging trail in New Zealand. We've worked on similar large projects internationally for the last five years. I've been riding bikes for over 20 years now, 12 of which on one brand (Kona). I've competed and coached internationally, and of course designed and hand-dug plenty of ribbons of dirt. I really view myself as a bicycle enthusiast who is keen to get a pick in the dirt. When I’m not working in the mountain bike circles I work as a carpenter in Squamish and run a food truck with my wife, Katie.
Skillset: work ethic is the clincher in this job. Digging trail by hand is not easy. Staying motivated, learning to read terrain and how to best use it is key.
Current project: I manage and lead a team of fifteen trailbuilders in a remote area of B.C.'s coastal mountains. The project is for private use and I have been involved in this project since the beginning. We have a great network of trail that has been 100% hand-dug and designed. I had been offered a job to build on the chain gang years ago and have progressed that initial role into a leadership position.
Our work days are at the mercy of the daylight hours. Our day begins with coffee, then a commute via boat to the trailhead from camp. We hike-a-bike up 1100m to the current trailbuild. A full day of pick swinging, bridge construction, and dirt slinging keeps us busy. We take everything we need for the day on our backs. The EOD ritual is to pad up and rip the trails (roughly 40mins / 1100m elevation drop / 8-12km) to the boat. By the time we arrive home to camp for dinner, 12 hours have passed. Shower, dinner, sleep – rinse and repeat for 2 weeks.
What’s next? Continue to keep things fresh by juggling trailbuilding, food truck life, and carpentry. Trailbuilding will always be a large aspect in my life, whether professionally or for pleasure.
We're grateful to Matt (and every other hard-working digger out there, pro or underground) for creating and maintaining our favorite tracks on Earth. Next round's on us – until then, just keep doing what you're doing! Cheers.
Kitsbow is based in Sonoma County, where wildfires continue to ravage over 86,000 acres of land and trails in our home and neighboring Napa County. Our friends, family, and neighbors are deeply affected – all have lost some, and some have lost all.
Amidst the rubble and ash, we’ve witnessed moments of incredible compassion that inspire us to roll up our sleeves and help in every way we can. If you’d like to pitch in, here are some trustworthy local organizations that are providing much needed aid to the victims of this disaster.