Thursday, November 22, 2018

Ten Years and Thirty

Last week I went to Revelate Designs' Ten year anniversary party. Revelate is to bikepacking what Alpacka is to packrafting: the tool-maker for the sport.

Anyway, thirty years ago this year (2018) Carl Tobin, Jon Underwood, and I did a trip (1988) I wrote up as "Live to Ride, Ride to Die, Mountain Bikes from Hell!"

That route, Nabesna to McCarthy has been repeated three times now, by Revelate's founder Eric Parsons and his protege Dylan Kentch, and by Mike Curiak, Doom Fishfinder, Bret Davis, and John Bailey as well as some Euros.

But how did that ride inspire Underwood, Tobin and me? Well, it sent us off to pedal, paddle and push 250 miles from Mentasta to Healy, Alaska the following summer.

I couldn't sell the story to a national magazine for four years, but eventually it came out in the February 1994 issue of Mountain Bike. You can see it mentioned down in the lower left next to other "Incredible Adventures!" like beginner night riding.

Here is that story in the form it was published. It also came out in the Anchorage Daily News' Sunday insert, We Alaskans, as a chapter in an adventure cycling book nobody ever bought, and as a bunch of Patagonia Catalog photos, ads, and garment hang-tags.

In many ways that trip was a proof of concept trip, one that allowed me to pitch riding the entire length of the Alaska Range from Canada to Lake Clark in 1996 as a story for National Geographic Magazine ("A Wild Ride", May 1997), a trip that in some small way may have helped get bikepacking and packrafting started.

For me, this trip below was the most amazing adventure of my life to that point, maybe ever, even if nobody but Carl and Jon could appreciate it at the time: 1989.

But maybe now, more can and it might even get somebody out to repeat what could be called, tongue-in-cheek, "The Sliprock Trail".


  1. a lot of your stories are inspirational. especially when told within a sodden 'mid while waiting out weather or for the tide to recede.

    this one? i'll choose the porcupine.

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  3. Found your book on packrafting by accident and started following/copying a few of your adventures while my wife and I lived in Alaska. Those little rafts took us all across the state. Super fun when combining fatbikes and rafts! Oh Man! You couldnt get me out of the damn things once I got started. My wife, friends and I did a video blog like your of some of our trips. We hope to do the Aniackchak river trip one day. Your trip looked AMAZING! Also ran into Dick Griffith, what a cool guy! Thanks for the inspiration! BTW cracked me up that your epic Alaska mountain bike adventure was next to night riding lol! Cheers!


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