The Future Of Bikepacking/Dirtbagging

This isn’t a post about some super new bike or gear that will make your dirty adventures better. This is a real post speculating the future of what we do, and whether it will be any longer.

We have “made it” through what is being called the First Wave of COVID-19, states are reopening and some of the small communities us dirt baggers rely on in our travels are beginning to welcome us into their towns. I have personally traveled through most of the southwestern states since the reopening began and it’s still really weird out there. It has an almost Andromeda Strain kind of feel at times, while other times it feels like nothing ever happened aside from moving some restaurant tables away from each other and a few masks here and there. Some states have required a Plexiglas barrier between cashiers and customers, probably a good move which should have happened years ago, yet some places are business as usual. No masks, no barriers, just people awkwardly trying to avoid each other, shooting some seemingly judgmental sideways glances. It’s good to be back to doing some travel, but at what cost?

There is a purported new wave of COVID-19 happening as you read this, credited to the activities of people during the reopening process. One of my neighboring states (and a state I travel through frequently), Arizona, had 4400 new cases in the last 24 hours. The streets of Sedona had the social distancing of a bee hive. It was slightly disturbing. I’ve see the same thing on the news in coastal cities. People were sick of being cooped up, so now they act like nothing happened. It’s a very human reaction: Not being personally harmed by a thing means it didn’t happen and won’t happen to you. The “freedom loving” people of the US couldn’t give up their freedom to go to COSTCO long enough to actually free us from a global pandemic. Thanks, Karen and Chad.

This NWOC19 (New Wave Of COVID-19) could cause the gateway towns that have reopened to once again close themselves off to us traveling types. I’m part of a group helping solidify a new route for Bikepacking.Org, and we are in a holding pattern waiting for word from pass through towns as to whether they are going to let people come through or not. The stretch I’m planning on doing is probably going to be way too hot to ride until fall, so personally it’s no big deal if we have to safely wait out Wave 2, but it also makes me very uneasy for any travel, period. It also makes me wonder if we of remote travel will ever get back any normalcy.

I suspect that we are in for a very long haul, possibly a permanent haul, when it comes to being limited in our bike travel. The Canada/US border closing has been extended, so the Tour Divide is off this year. Will it be back next year? Gravel races are going the way of ITT, and the country’s oldest and largest bike tour, RAGBRAI, has even cancelled. Clearly I haven’t had enough coffee to be either informative or funny, so let’s try to wrap this up.

What do you think the future holds for our brand of cycling?

Published by wiz

Nomadic Wizard, First of Their Name, Two-Wheeled Tourer of Earthen Worlds, Destroyer of Equipment, Salty of Word. Vicariously ride through the mountains and deserts of this mortal realm via the scritch-scratching of my modern-day petroglyphics.

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