We’re excited to bring you this piece from Sarah Sturm, but first a note from all of us at Revelate Designs. As leaders in the bikepacking industry, we’ve decided it’s time we make a dedicated effort to support and recognize women in the sport. That’s why we’re launching BIKEPACKHER. It is an ongoing mission to celebrate, recognize, and encourage more women to participate in cycling and bikepacking. We will tell the stories of women in bikepacking, we will share their adventures through writing, photography, video, rides and events, in hopes to encourage more women to participate in the sport we know and love. Help us make change now by sharing this article with a woman you know who has an interest in bikepacking. Ok, now on to the great read…
My first bike packing trip was inspired by nothing more than friendship. Riding through the desert with good friends was enough a reason to try something new than any. That same notion, the inspiration, and the motivation hasn’t changed much with each bike trip I’ve planned. Sure we want to see new places, challenge ourselves physically and mentally, but mainly I want to deepen the connections with my friends. And what better way to do that than in the middle of the mountains or desert with limited water and food, on bikes, carrying all of our gear?
The Black Canyon Trail in Arizona was my first time exploring the world on a bike while also carrying all of the gear and food and water I needed for a few days. I remember being scared I wasn’t strong enough or tough enough and that I’d just end up hiking next to my bike the entire time. Essentially I was nervous I was embarking on a backpacking trip that I had to drag my bike along for. The reality of what transpired was that I learned some things and I was closer with my friends at the end of the trip. You forget how quickly you pick things up, how you adjust to your bike being heavier than you’re used to, you adjust to the climbs, descents, and the sweat. You enjoy the cold mornings and packing your gear into all of the appropriate bags, nooks and crannies. You learn how it feels to have everything in its place and that you need no more than you have at that very moment.
All of those feelings were the things that inspired me to plan the next trip, this time I was the one showing my two girlfriends the ropes. In retrospect we were all a bit underprepared, but there is honestly nothing like problem solving with your best friends in the middle of the mountains. There will always be imperfections of the trip, food might run out, water might be too heavy or seldom found, tent poles forgotten, sleeping bags ripped, routes lost, climbs underestimated, scrapes, bites, fatigue, you name it. There is always the potential for “failure” and this is where your crew comes in. This is why I choose the women I choose, they’re the ones I want to be out there with. They’re the ones I trust and who trust me to keep me out of peril danger and vice versa.
It is both by happenstance but also by strategic planning that 99% of my bike packing trips have been with women. I seem to feel the draw to go into the wild with my closest friends and it turns out that they are women. Perhaps it’s because women are inherent creatures of endurance, but I never have a doubt that we will tough something out or make the right call in trying situations. These women are the people I not only trust with my life, but the ones who I have the most fun with. Whether we’re sitting out terrifying lightning storms atop a mountain, or cursing the foot-deep sandy wash we’ve been riding through for hours, these are the women I choose.
Sarah Sturm is an avid cyclist, racer, artist, and dog lover. You can follow her adventures at @sarah_sturmy.