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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Michael Brown shows how he'll pack his gear or an upcoming bikepacking trip.

  • Brown shows how he’s packed water and other gear into a pouch located inside the frame of his bicycle.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017 1:00 am

Local riders get geared up

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

On the Web

To see a video of Michael Brown talking about packing his bike for an upcoming bikepacking ride, go to www.journalgazette.net/media.

Bikepacking was the next challenge for Brenda Wiley, who has been a road biker for many years.

She just got back from a spring break trip where she rode from Savannah, Georgia, to Jacksonville, Florida. Now, she has many other trails she wants to do.

“I've been a road biker for the last 30 years,” Wiley says. “I just wanted to … make my vacation biking instead of just making it a day or part of a day of my vacation.”

Wiley started reading about bikepacking and began slowly, doing weekends where she would camp out and then come back. She locates potential trails all over the country on the Adventure Cycling Association website, which is where she found her most recent trip. The site also recommends places to camp or stay and places to eat while on the road.

On her most recent trip, Wiley camped out some nights and stayed in a hotel on others.

Michael Brown, a bike fitter and sales associate at Summit City Bicycles & Fitness, is planning a bikepacking trip in June. As a backpacker and cycle tourist, doing bikepacking seemed like a logical evolution, he says.

He is currently trying to figure out how to pack his bike. He has already been through nine different setups, he says. Brown is trying to figure out whether to go with a rack or go lighter for his upcoming ride.

Part of it is working to integrate his bags into the nooks and crannies of the bike, which helps maintain the bike's center of gravity.

Wiley uses an 18-pound, carbon fiber bike when traveling. The bike is lighter, which allows the 5-foot-3-inch, 105-pound Fort Wayne resident to carry it. “I'm small, I don't have the muscles to haul a 70-pound bike around,” she says.

Wiley bought racks for her bike to hold her bags, which are packed light. She tries to use about 22 pounds of gear for her rides.

Brown says Summit City Bicycles has several customers who bikepack come in looking for items for upcoming trips. Many of them have done many of the popular trail rides. He says the staff there spends time with the customers to find out what they want to do as far as riding.

Wiley enjoys biking alone, or at times with the Three Rivers Velo Sport. However, when bikepacking, she wanted to do it alone so she could stop and go whenever she liked.

She says when traveling through Georgia, she was never on the interstate, instead traveling on the secondary roads which allowed her to see the countryside a lot better.

“(It's a) great way to see the country in a different light,” Wiley says of bikepacking. “(It's a) good way to create memories by doing something physical.”

trich@jg.net