M Bikepacking at the Cusp

by David Chenault

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Article Summary:

It's been two years since I last wrote about bikepacking in these pages. A lot has changed in that brief span of time. Not about bikepacking itself; riding-focused multiday bike travel off pavement is as fun in 2014 as it has ever been. Not about the term bikepacking; which was used by as staid a publication as Backpacker back in April of 1995 (Mark Jenkins. "The Cycles of Nature" p. 80-86). What has changed about bikepacking is that it has become very cool. How-to articles have proliferated, and companies use the word as a major fulcrum for marketing. When an REI brochure combines a recently esoteric term with spick and span models in order to sell stuff, you know the activity has jumped the shark.

Unfortunately, this proliferation of publicity has followed the quintessential internet age phenomenon, where "look at this nifty thing you might like to do" has morphed into "how can I use up a ton of your free time to get you to research things you don't need." People locked away in office jobs (without which internet culture would not exist) are prone to fall more in love with the idea of the activity rather than the activity itself.

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