Revelate Designs

It’d be really hard not to love Revelate Designs.  I’ve been riding with their stuff since I first got into bikepacking many years ago.  Despite the abuse, my original bags are still going strong.  So I jumped at the recent chance to bring Revelate into the VeloDirt family as our latest sponsor.  The fit is pretty perfect – as our shop sponsor 21st Avenue Bikes is a stocking Revelate dealer.  And for those of you in Oregon who are into buying “local”, most (all?) of his bags are hand sewn right here in Oregon.

Big thanks to Revelate for helping us keep the dream alive here at VeloDirt.


Breadwinner’s B-Road

Here’s the video James Wilson put together for Ira and Tony at Breadwinner Cycles about Ira’s experience at the recent Oregon Outback.   Great work to all three of these fine gents!


Breadwinner B-Road and the Outback from Breadwinner Cycles on Vimeo.

The Oregon Outback 2014 – In Aggregate


Well that was one wild ride…  I’m exhausted both mentally and physically and frankly, I’m ready to move on from talking about the Oregon Outback.  But before I do, I wanted to do a quick recap and begin aggregating links to photos, stories, etc.  While I tongue-in-cheek quoted someone else saying that this was going to be the “most well documented bikepacking event ever”, it’d be hard to deny it now.  There were enough video crews, professional photographers, writers, bike fabricators, and industry folks mixed in with the rest of us normal people that nothing happened that wasn’t documented to the n’th degree.   And if you missed the live show on Instagram, I highly recommend going back and looking through the 1,200+ photos posted under #oregonoutback.   It was wicked fun following along with everyone before and during their rides.  So there’s that.   And it’s admittedly all pretty rad.

I had a few comments I wanted to include without going into too many details.  First, Amtrak was great.  They were super friendly and cooperative and made sure everyone was able to get their bikes and gear on the train.  They even went so far as to put everyone coming down from Portland in one big passenger car so we could all hang out together.  Color me impressed.   Second, I was taken aback by how responsive, friendly and cooperative all the small towns were along the route.  They let us take over their churches, parks and other open spaces to camp, businesses stayed open late and opened early, and overall everyone was very receptive to our bunch of spandex-clad city folks traipsing through.  And while I acknowledge there’s always an economic incentive to opening doors to people who intend to spend money, I thought the response we received all along the route went above and beyond that.   Again, color me impressed.

Lastly, I’ll just add that I’m humbled and honored with the overall response to the route.  You folks put a lot of time and effort and money into doing this, and it’s a relief that everyone seemed to enjoy it.  It’s always nerve wracking doing something new, especially something this big and committing.  However, we seem to have mostly pulled it off and folks are already talking about coming back to ride next year.  That’s awesome.  Plan on it – same 7:00 a.m. start time the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

Also, for those interested, the crushers came in as follows:

  • (1) Ira Ryan – 28:04
  • (2) Jan Heine – 29:58
  • (3) Ethan Stehley – 32:00-ish
  • (4) Owen Murphy – 35:00
  • (5) Blake Bockius – 36:28
  • (6) Rick Hunter – 37:00-ish
  • (7) John McCaffery – 37:56

Send me your time if you want it included, crusher or not –

Read more →

Interview with Western Bikeworks

The fine folks over at Western Bikeworks interviewed Donnie about bikepacking, gravel, and the Oregon Outback and did a great job putting together a short video.   Enjoy!


Western Bikeworks Conversations: Donnie Kolb of Velodirt from Western Bikeworks on Vimeo.

The Oregon Outback – Guest Post by Britten

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We’re doing a series of guest posts by riders planning to tackle the Oregon Outback.  Look for new posts as long as we keep getting them.

As they tend to do, a one-way flight completely changed my life 3.5 years ago. After graduating from the University of Washington I moved to Central America, where I’ve cycled thousands of miles all over the isthmus as a cycling guide. Now, I’m starting my own bike touring business that will allow me to combine my passions of traveling by bike, Latin America, and community development. Read more →

Hart of Darkness: A Bikepacking Journey into the Sheldon and Hart Nat’l Antetlope Refuges



“Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, `When I grow up I will go there.’”

-Charles Marlow, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

The dichotomy of my life is never more clear to me than when pouring over maps and planning trips.  Raised on fictional characters like “Smoke” Bellew and Charles Marlow, my dreams have always been those of the solitary traveler, heading off into the unknown, fragile and alone but inevitably poised to become the hero (anti-hero?).  The ever-constant themes of liberation from the yoke of a stifling society and evolution (if only in psychological terms) drilled into me by Jack London, et al. molded me over decades.   Add in a childhood dash of Big Sky Country, tales of the Old West, and its no wonder my dreams are solo endeavors in the classic man-against-nature mold.  But dreams are just that, and despite my insistence on the hatching of each new plan to go it alone, invariably each successively bigger trip results in an invite and a mild sense of disappointment in myself. Fear and the desire for companionship (even from a self-professed loner) are strong motivators. Read more →

The Oregon Outback – Guest Post by Jason


We’re doing a series of guest posts by riders planning to tackle the Oregon Outback.  Look for new posts as long as we keep getting them.

The Outback is just about a month away and I’m feeling pretty calm about the whole thing, even though I keep forgetting what weekend it’s supposed to take place. The initial interest was huge and it kinda freaked me out; would 300 people really show up in Klamath Falls? I guess we won’t really know until the morning of, but I’m really excited to see what happens, and to be a part of it.

I started bike touring about 6 or 7 years ago when my wife and I moved to Portland. I didn’t know very many mountain bikers at the time, and my road bike was much easier pick up and get lost on. I have always enjoyed camping, and I soon realized how accessible the woods were. Touring became a big thing in my life pretty quickly. Before too long I was looking for smaller roads and better views. In 2010 I rode the Stampede and something really clicked. I had unlocked a door to a style of riding that was completely my own and all I had to do was keep pedaling. On longer rides, I find my mind wandering and floating along. I look forward to routes where I don’t quite know what lies ahead, but I am always excited to get over the next hill; who knows what might be there (hint: it’s usually more sagebrush). I’m looking forward to the Outback for the ride as well as the preparation leading up to it. The planning and packing before a big trip is something that occupies multiple days before departing and I enjoy putting the puzzle together. Read more →

The Oregon Outback – Guest Post by Donnie


We’re doing a series of guest posts by riders planning to tackle the Oregon Outback.  Look for new posts as long as we keep getting them.  And yes, we know technically Donnie isn’t a “guest”, but we wanted to stick with the same format, regardless of who was doing the writing… 


We’ve been putting on rides for 5 years now and each year organizing them brings new twists on the familiar themes of bike and tire selection, weather, and seeing new and old faces. We consider it an honor to ride with you all, and love how stoked everyone is to come out and suffer together on some of the most beautiful roads anywhere.

I expected much of the same for this year’s Oregon Outback. Yes, it was more ambitious than anything else we’d ever done before – but generally the longer the route, the fewer people want to do it. So we figured it would be relatively simple to organize. Little did we know that the response would be overwhelmingly positive.

I’ve been asked over and over why I think so many people want to ride the Outback route with us next month. After months of making shit up so I didn’t sound ignorant, I think I’ve actually figured it out. Read more →

The Oregon Outback – Guest Post by Ashley


We’re doing a series of guest posts by riders planning to tackle the Oregon Outback.  Look for a new post about every week or so as long as we keep getting them. 

  • Why are you doing the route?

Really, I don’t know!  I was asked if I wanted to this, by a giant  of a man, Robert “Rando” Trombley. He pulled out to prep for the Dirty Kanzaa 200, so that leaves me and Matt.  I have always loved self supported travel and this is a cool objective. I need to do this ride just for the sake of it, and the promise of internal greatness. No prizes, no results board, just finishing. That is why I want to do it.

  • What is your goal, if any? (race, casual ride, etc.; how many days or hours)

Matt’s plan is to ride casual – 3 days of riding, two nights of camping.   I really want to just experience Oregon, and push myself as hard as I can. 3 days seems legit, maybe four if weather goes to shit.  200k day is nothing to sneeze at and we know each other well enough to know when we can go on or call it.

  • What experience do you have doing ultra endurance races, multiday backcountry touring, and/or bikepacking?

Ultra endurance? Ummm nope.  I like sleeping. I don’t think the goal here is first place, just finishing. Backcountry touring. Yep, I used to ski tour, multiday self supported in the coast and interior ranges.   I will be running in 2+ Bikepacking trips this spring with meat and it should be a solid breakdown of the gear. 

  • What bike/tire combo are you planning to use?

Brodie Monster, either 40c Knards, 40c Clement MSO, or the 2.0 29r Slant Six. I am digging the MSO right now. Stock Tiagra 10sp triple groupset; and discs.   The frame is heavy, but seemingly solid.  27 lbs doesn’t make a spritely climbing bike.

  • Other relevant gear choices:

Relevate frame bag and seat bag, Salsa Anything cages on the fork. Maybe a Relevate gastank, loads of chamois cream, and decent bib shorts.  Teva touring sandals(j/k)

  • Training plan

Lot of miles.  A bit of Strava segment hunting and some liquor.   I need to get up to 300k per week and two back to back 100 mile days before I am ready to hit it.  Mountain bike on weekends and a long fast ride once a week with the club.    I am a Clydesdale Mule, so I will just keep plodding along until I get there.
I ride with Mighty in Vancouver BC and Hodala in Seattle, so if any one from PDX can complete or at least attempt the ride, so can I. 
Thanks for putting this ride on and finding the route. I am stoked to put the power down and ride.


The Oregon Outback – Guest Post by Matt

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.40.52 PM

We’re doing a series of guest posts by riders planning to tackle the Oregon Outback.  Look for a new post about every week or so as long as we keep getting them. 

·      Why are you doing the route?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have work (Brodie Bikes) support me in this endeavour, so that’s the full disclosure of me working for a bike company. Back in 2005, when I was a dumb trackbike/alleycat kid in Seattle, we used to come down to PDX to play mini bike polo and hit Zoobomb; it was always the hope that I would do more bike camping and racing. I’ve been serious about my CX and road racing, for Mighty Riders in Vancouver, and organizing for Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition. This sounded like the best way to really get a big trip in on a tested route and enjoy myself in the middle of the beautiful state of Oregon while not too far into the race season.
·      What is your goal, if any? (race, casual ride, etc.; how many days or hours)
Our plan is to ride casual – 3 days of riding, two nights of camping. It could change, say if we feel super hardcore, but the intent is for a bit of a sightseeing trip and to be in the woods.
·      What experience do you have doing ultra endurance races, multiday backcountry touring, and/or bikepacking?
My touring and multiday riding has been mostly road – things like one-day STP on trackbikes, riding through Yellowstone, 3x over the Great Divide and into Grand Teton with backpacks on road bikes, riding Seattle to Vancouver. I also have experience with stage racing (road) and multi-day road races. I will have two bike-packing trips under my belt by the time we do this!
·      What bike/tire combo are you planning to use?
The plan currently is to run the Brodie Monster – a monstercross bike with drops, 29er wheels, Tiagra grouppo. I’ll be switching out the stock Clement tires for some Kenda 2″ Slant Six tires, to handle the loose gravel. I could run it as a flatbar MTB, with 650b (it has sliding drops) and wider tires, but think the 2″ will do the job, and I’m pretty used to the drop bars.
Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.41.26 PM
·      Other relevant gear choices
Scott at Porcelain Rocket did me up a beautiful pack setup; Mission Control handlebar bag and a custom single-compartment frame bag. It matches my existing saddle bag in white VX07 fabric, which looks rad and will show mud really well. I’m borrowing a SPOT from one of my Rando friend, Ryan, so people can be sure we’re moving.
·      Training plan
I’ve been training already for the road and cyclocross season with about 250-300km a week. We’ve hit Spring Series here in Vancouver, so we’re putting in some fast 115K days doing the road races, and some MTBing in the woods to keep us sane. There are two tester trips planned, one on Vancouver Island, from Nanaimo towards Nanaimo Lakes and around Lake Cowichan to Duncan or Victoria, and the other might be Sunshine Coast or Interior BC. This is more for the gear choice than for the legs… every day is leg day.
Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.41.48 PM
I am excited you guys put this together, and though the response to it was overwhelming, it’s certainly a great sign that people are willing to test themselves and get out there and enjoy the wilds.
See you on the trail!
matt “meat” hornland