Roll With It, Anytime

Back in 2016, we collaborated with director Dominic Gill to put together a short film, “Roll With It.” The film was intended to be a fresh take on making the most of your time, money and bike set up to get out on a tour with your pals. For the last three years, “Roll With It” was only available to watch if you paid for a download. Now, we’re happy to announce anyone can now watch the film, for free! Just follow the link embedded above.

In addtion to the film, “Roll With It” was also a richly illustrated paperback book filled with tips (like what to pack, how to make a beer can stove and what to expect on a tour), tribulations from the road and tons of originally Chris McNally artwork that brought the story to life off of the written page. We’ve also now made available the book for those interested in downloading by clicking the .pdf below.

The intention of the whole project was to motivate/inspire folks that are touring curious to take the plunge and get out there. Check out the book and the film and let us know what you think! Or better yet, send us your stories from your trip.


Blackburn Roll With It (Book).pdf


WATER CYCLE | CHAPTER 2 – OCEAN, SURF BY BIKE from Blackburn Design on Vimeo.

A Water Cycle  Film Project

Inspired by the 71% of the planet covered by water, Blackburn Design has created WATER CYCLE, a new film project. The project follows different people who use a bicycle to help them further explore their relationship with water, in all its forms.

Chapter 2: Ocean — Surf By Bike

In the second chapter, OCEAN, we follow Ashley Llyod Thompson, a surf shaper from Santa Cruz, California. Ashley took time away from her shaping studio to travel with her husband and son to Mexico in search of quiet surf breaks. Many of the best breaks are tough to access and aren’t on any map. Fat bikes made the most sense to enjoy these secret places. Along the way, she found some beautiful quiet moments with the ocean and with her family. These are the simple joys that life on a bike can bring.

Ashley has been an avid surfer since she was a child, eventually turning her passion into a career shaping surfboards and teaching new riders. As she became closer to her craft and the ocean around her, she adopted an emphasis on sustainable building practices that respected both her ability to ride huge waves, and desire to do as little harm as possible to the planet.

Our fragile oceans sustain life on our planet, but increasingly, they are polluted with plastic waste. This waste can range from single use plastic products like cup lids, and take out bags, to microscopic particulates that kill fish and foul beaches. Protecting our oceans is important to Blackburn and so for this project we’ve partnered with Sustainable Surf to bring attention to the continued need to be stewards of our oceans. If this is something that resonates with you, consider becoming involved with one of Sustainable Surfs initiatives.

OCEAN was directed by Nicole Mackinlay Hahn. Mackinlay Hahn grew up in New York, where she worked at for the family business on Fire Island National Seashore. Curious, adventurous, and with a drive for honesty, she began making films in 8th grade using her brother’s pixelvision camera. Since then, she has collaborated on projects throughout the US, Africa, and the UK.

Brian Vernor, a noted filmmaker and photographer, is provided art direction for the film. Brian has long been a Blackburn collaborator and will be making certain that each story in the project has a distinct point of view, while still holding close to the overall theme and vision.

Ocean was produced by Robin Sansom, a long time Blackburn collaborator and a principal of Offsite Studios, a brand and content agency.

Chris McNally returned for the second chapter of Water Cycle by providing the amazing illustrations.

Rogue Ranger Brad Donze

For 2018 we’ve brought back our Blackburn Ranger Program, but to keep things interesting, we’ve made a few changes to the formula. In past years, we’ve sought out folks wishing to embark on summer long (or longer) trips but this year, we’ve teamed up with 4 riders that will be primarily concentrating on shorter, bite size, adventures. We decided to do this for a number of reasons, the main being we find it a bit more easy to relate to for folks who may just be getting interested in bikepacking. We’re calling these riders “The Blackburn Rogue Rangers” and we’ll be publishing a profile of each of them here on the blog over the next several days. You’ll be able to keep up with their travels via our social media feeds over the coming months, so stay tuned!

Introduce yourself. Who are you? How old are you? Where are you from??

Hey, I’m Brad — just a bloke on spokes from the Midwest. You know the type, a ‘George Bailey’ fighting against the Potters of the world and desperate for adventure outside of ‘Bedford Falls’ (Washington, IL). I’m 46, married to a wonderful wife, father to four great kids and a trail dog named ‘Chappie’ (@itschappie).
Peoria, Illinois is where I bought my first mountain bike and I’ve never loved anything more than single-track since. It’s where I ride, train, sweat and suffer from racing once in a while. Occasionally I go out on calls to clear downed trees off trails or help trim weeds with our local chapter of trail stewards in the Peoria Area Mountain Bike Association. They’re a pretty great group of bike people.

When did you start cycling?

I was a BMX kid…had a couple rarely used road bikes until 1993 when a buddy introduced me to mountain biking and I traded my Bianchi for a Bridgestone MB-3. I never wanted to come back out of the woods.

When did you start bikepacking?

This year. I’m a complete newbie!

Talk about your best/favorite bike packing trip?

Looking forward to telling you all about it.

Do you prefer solo or group trips? Who do you ride with?

I ride with Chappie most of the time and sometimes with friends. My favorite, though, is heading out solo, discovering new trails and challenges with only the sounds of the woods around me…the wind, the sounds my bike makes romping through the woods and my heart heaving in my chest while tackling climbs and navigating descents.

Describe your worst day on a bike, and talk about how you stayed motivated?

By far, my worst day on a bike is one attached to a trainer — I need to be be out there to feel like I’m biking, regardless of the weather. I regularly ride with a guy who makes it painful enough that I’m tempted to throw my bike in a dumpster, but by the end of the grueling effort I’m glad for the training and I get stronger. Exploring by bike is much more fun when fitness and preparedness doesn’t fail you.

What drew you to the Blackburn Ranger Program, and what do you hope to accomplish this year?

As I watched video after video of Rangers rolling out solo or in groups to discover new places, I thought to myself “I’ve gotta do this!” — I’ve gotta get out there. I get out for shorter rides before or after work and on trips, but I’ve never combined my love of mountain biking with camping. When I was in college, I ventured out with some buddies and my nephew with our bikes for a week between Durango, CO and Moab, UT. The riding was great, the van smelled like hell, we slept out under the stars and bathed in rivers. Nothing mattered but deciding where to eat and where to find the next trail to ride. To me, it’s the essence captured in the Ranger program…offering the goods to help someone get some much needed stoke.
My goal is to master self-supported bikepacking and promote biking for adventure, encouraging people to bike more, to #getoutthere and to let their local bike shop support them in the effort.
I intend to train my ass off and escalate from fair weather bikepacking, include a bit of dogpacking and roll into winter fatpacking – my goal is to end my season as a Blackburn Ranger in Virginia and to race in the RockStar VA, a 270-mile bikepacking race. This December I rode/hike-a-biked my fatbike up one of the ridges near this route on North Mountain and I know a number of folks in the Roanoke, VA IMBA chapter where the race concludes. I’d love for this race to be the Finish Line I cross after bikepacking numerous other locations.

What meal do you crave when you ride, or what meal do you like to make when you bikepack?

After a gargantuan effort, I crave nothing but chocolate milkshakes. I have no idea what I’ll do instead of milkshakes, but as I’ve thought through my light traveling protocol, I’m reasonably certain I’ll follow a cycle of:
● Coffee
● Jerky
● Nuts
● Mexican Food when possible
● Routes determined to include a burger and a shake, if possible

Tell us a crazy riding story?

My favorite ride to date was taking my fatbike up a remote service road to ride the ridge of North Mountain in George Washington National Forest last December after a 3″ snow. The climb was a stout 45 minutes on single-lane service drive just to find the trail head. The following 2.5 hours comprised 3% riding / 97% sketchy hike-a-bike (during Black Bear hunting season). I followed black bear prints a good way up on the way to Elliot Knob, but I started mid-day and they appeared weathered enough to not be fresh. The hike was grueling – I wanted to turn back a hundred times –I was alone and the winter wind increasingly whipped at me with elevation gains.
Trail details indicated the northward six miles following the summit were the best section, but I couldn’t find it to save my life. It was completely grown over even though GPS indicated it was “right there”. I had two hours of daylight left and had to evaluate whether to turn straight back down a sketchy trail or take the nearest service drive down and work a stout climb back to my car. The next 2.5 miles comprised 17 minutes of marginally-controlled fatbike sledding. So much stoke from a route-planning mishap…just the way I like it. The climb at the end was beastly and delicious.

Catching Up With The Kona Adventure Team


For 2018 Blackburn has teamed up with the folks at Kona to sponsor the Kona Adventure team. The team is a collection of elite athletes for whom racing XC just isn’t enough riding. They also rides TO and FROM select races, camping along the way. Recently we caught up with rider Barry Wicks to find out a little more about what makes these guys tick.

How did the Kona Adventure Team get started?

The inspiration for the Adventure Team started 3 years ago. My friend Carl wanted to get into shape after a long snowy winter, so we decided to ride our MTB’s to the first big race of the season. It was a 700 mile journey, and ended up being super awesome. We got lost, rode some questionable routes, and had an awesome time. I decided after that trip I was more interested in the adventure portion of the journey than the race, so the adventure team was born. We travel so much as racers, but never get to really see the locations we travel to completely because we are so wrapped up in the racing aspect of the process. Doing adventure trips surrounding the race events allows us to truly see what is on offer in all the amazing locations we travel to, and also allows us to be relatable to a broader spectrum of people. Racing is awesome and we still take it very seriously, but it is not everything. The Adventure Team project allows us to explore and showcase our athletes in more ways and see the world in new, more complete ways. Those are all good things in our minds.

When did the partnership with Blackburn get rolling?

Blackburn was one of our very first sponsors. The ethos and ideal that Blackburn creates of getting out there is very in line with the way we go about our adventures. We want to explore, see the world, and share our experiences with others. Partners like Blackburn help us out with the equipment that makes these trip possible, and help us spread the stoke through the world.

What is your favorite (mis)Adventure story?

Every Adventure Trip we go on seems to be labeled as “The Best Trip!” Creating the memories with close friends is the real bonus of these journeys. Each trip has a unique flavor, and so far we have been blessed with incredible fortune when ever we venture out into the world. A recent example is finding an intact bottle of water laying a road bed in the middle of the desert right when we were in desperate need of it. Its amazing how the universe provides things in unexpected ways. We feel fortunate to be there to observe and appreciate them.

Who is on the team? What interesting characteristics does each rider bring to the table?

The team is made up of Six Athletes, all from an endurance background. We have 2 Canadians, Kris the Tug Boat Captain and Cory the former Juniour Hockey Player, We have Kerry the southern Gentleman, Spencer the Nerdy scientist, Patrick the photographer and Myself. The athletes that make up the team truly are the special sauce that enable us to get these trips together and make them happen. I come up with the most trips, but we would not be able to execute any of them without the team drawing together all our experience and abilities.

What are some of the team goals for 2018?

The team goals is to do rad shit! We are always searching and scheming new ideas and projects, and with each successful completion we are spurred on to even loftier journeys.

Favorite bit of Blackburn Kit?

My favorite bit of Blackburn Kit is the Tire Plugger tool and the Outpost Handlebar Bag. With these two items, we can basically do anything.

How can folks keep up with your adventures?

You can follow along on our journeys here:

Instagram: @konabikes
Facebook: The Kona Bicycle Co

Athlete Instagram:
Kerry Werner: @kerryw24
Spencer Paxson: @slaxsonmtb
Cory Wallace: @wallacesworld
Kris Sneddon: @krissneddon
Patrik Means: @patrick_means
Barry Wicks: @wicknasty

Photo by: Patrik Means

Behind The Lens River


Last year we started our documentary film project, WATER CYCLE. Our first installment, River featured the stunning lens work of Dominic Gill. For a week Dom followed Blackburn Ranger Brian Ohlen as he rode along the Pacific Coast while bikefishing for steelhead. Though we’ve been working with Dom for years, it had been a while since we caught up with him. We sat down with him over the holidays to learn a little more about what he’s been up to and what is next.

Where are you from? Where are you living now?

I’m from the U.K. though people say 8 years in L.A. makes me sound a little like I’m an Australian trying to sound like an Englishman. I’ve started elocution lessons again…

How/when did you get into A) Making movies and B) Bicycles?

In 2003 I was an Environmental Consultant in Manchester taking way too much unpaid leave to climb, ride bikes and take photos. After winning a tiny adventure film competition with a very amateur film about ‘buildering’ – the art of bouldering on buildings – I decided adventure and making films was my calling. So, I did what every sensible person would do in this situation; I quite my job. I did odd jobs for a couple of years and climbed a lot, then bought a tandem bicycle and travelled up to Prudhoe Bay Alaska. For the next two years, I pedaled south inviting random strangers to join me on the back seat of “Achilles”. The book and TV show “Take A Seat” that emerged from this journey were what ultimately set me on the path to starting Encompass Films and making friends with the likes of Blackburn!

What hair products do you use to make your hair so flowy?

None, actually. I attribute its glossiness to a night near the end of that first tandem bike journey in 2008. I was cycling through a Patagonian winter and crept into an isolated barn to sleep. When I switched my headlamp on I found out I was surrounded by sheep carcasses hanging from the rafters. Ever since that night my hair felt fantastic. 

Who is the biggest influence on your work?

Visually, we have so much to choose from these days when it comes to outstanding photography and cinematography. I’m inspired to push my filmmaking further by a lot of artists in the adventure space, Renan Ozturk and the folks at Felt Soul Media, to name a few. However, in terms of the art of storytelling I look further afield, sometimes drawing off people like Wes Anderson (particularly in some of the Blackburn Ranger videos) or authors like Antoine de Saint Exupery (the Little Prince etc) who encourage me to try and see the world forever through the eyes of a child, curious about everything and taking nothing for granted.    

Some folks that follow along with Blackburn are probably familiar with some of our previous collaborations like Comes With Baggage and the really great video you made of Sam And Kurt. How did you come to originally work with Blackburn?

It was a lucky break when my wife, Nadia, (who I met in Bolivia on that ‘Take a Seat’ journey) and I founded Encompass Films together in 2011. As a self-proclaimed bookworm, Nadia braved the unfamiliar world of the Interbike tradeshow to see if we could garner some clients in need of video content. There she found our first ever client, Blackburn Designs, through Robin Sansom. We had no idea back then that it would be a lasting (and loving?) relationship that would have us sharing pie and supping bourbon with Robin and Blackburn’s many rangers over campfires from Canada to Cambodia – well, the Mexican border anyway….

Is your hair as soft as it looks?

Please. This is making me extremely uncomfortable. Ask Chris McNally.

When you are thinking about a project, what interests or motivates you?

Earlier in my career the first thing that would pique my interest was the project location – the more mountainous the better. That still motivates me. Now though, above all, its the depth of character of the film’s subject. A general rule with a good story is if its told well it can become fascinating, no matter the subject. So these days, while still attracted by the wilderness, I try and remain open to what I make films about – it kind of comes back to having a childlike curiosity, being interested in everything.

Tell us more about Coming To My Senses? It looks amazing!

Well, it’s our first ever feature length documentary (anything over about 70 minutes) which means it has been a monster to make – a process that started back in 2014. It’s about a chap called Aaron Baker who broke his neck in a motocross accident, leaving him completely paralyzed from the neck down. Despite doctor’s grim prognosis over the next 16 years, Aaron decided not to listen to those who said ‘he had a million-to-one odds of ever feeding himself again’ and instead  endeavored to regain as much mobility as possible. This journey through the unknown took him from the depths of depression to the joys of cross country road tripping via tandem bicycle with his mother and friends, and finally, culminated in his opening a socially conscious low cost gym focused on increasing mobility for the disabled. Tying the story together in a kind of reflective and extremely challenging ‘vision quest’, Aaron attempted what for him should be impossible; to cross a 20 mile tract of Death Valley unsupported on foot. So, there’s a lot of overlap in subject with nearly all the films we make, which address in some way not succumbing to the status quo, and grabbing life by the balls.

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on to date?

Ooof, really? thats an impossible question to answer! Watching someone fight paralysis is fascinating (as with Coming to My Senses), but so is filming McNally breaking a canoe paddle trying to dig a poop hole (as with ‘Roll with It’). I have very special memories from nearly every project we work on! Technically I suppose the project I got most absorbed in was as the Director of Photography on ‘Riders of Destiny’ (still being edited) about 5 year old jockeys racing horses on an far flung island in Indonesia. Harrowing but fascinating getting so close to that subject.

How do you keep your hair so soft looking under a helmet?

Gaaah!!!! This again?? I sandwich a thin fillet of raw mutton between my helmet and my hair…  

What are you working on now?

Well, I’ve just got back from a fascinating trip to Puerto Rico. We followed a small group of climbers who, immediately following Hurricane Maria, formed a ‘brigade’ to help those around them with skills largely learned through climbing. It was fascinating seeing small groups of people come together after such a life changing event and get on with life, everyone bringing to the table different skills and tools to get their community on its feet again. Look out for the content on Outside TV or Black Diamond’s website in the next month or so.

What is your dream project/subject?

Hmmm, I often think about this and never come up with the perfect answer. I always come back to a love of working with children or older people. These groups have the most wisdom it seems and I love having the opportunity to record that wisdom. The call of the wild is strong, too, which leads me to believe a story about a very old Man and his great granddaughter in the depths of the Pamir mountains in China where they harvest alpine moss for medicinal purposes from exposed rock high above glaciers… that might be a nice combination of my interests….I made that up but I think you get the picture…

The McGnardog Interview

Blackburn Get Out There McNally T-shirt

In mid-November, we had a chance to sit down with Chris McNally, known around here as McGnardog. Chris has worked with Blackburn as an illustrator for the past several years, and joined in adventures throughout North and South America. In many ways, his storytelling has become integral to the brand. (Recently, one of Chris’ illustrations for Blackburn has been immortalized on our newest product, the “Get Out There T-shirt.”)

When did you start riding?

I got a bit of a late start; I think I was about 8. I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, we didn’t have a cul-de-sac so much as a really steep hill. I started riding ‘for real’ in elementary school. We had a babysitter/house painter at the time named Steve. My parents would go on long trips overseas and leave us with him. He taught me to mountain bike in the mountains of Colorado.

All in all, it was a scenario that would never happen these days, but ended up being hugely influential. I remember he had this junker of a car that we’d take the the trailhead. The door latch didn’t work, so it was held closed with a bungee cord instead. But if we went around too big of a right hand turn, the door would swing open. It was my sister’s and my job to hold the door closed. It was worth it though. He also bought my my first cassette tape, Wizard of Ozz by Ozzy Osbourne.

When did you start drawing?

Baby, I was born this way. Honestly, growing up in the mountains had some serious perks. But it also meant that it was difficult to get anywhere without harassing my parents. Once I showed interest in art, there were always supplies around the house to keep me busy, and I was regularly receiving colored pencils and whatnot for my birthday. It kept me occupied.

Why professional art? What else would you be doing?

I’ve thought about that question a lot, to be honest. And I can’t think of anything else I’d want to be doing. At one point, I thought about building bikes. But I took a class and read some books, and built the worst riding bike I’ve ever seen. And at the end of it all, I still wanted to be drawing instead. It’s funny, we’re always hearing ‘follow your passion!’, yet sometimes I wish I had a laundry list of backup plans. Something that might pay the bills a little easier. But in the end, I’m happy.

Why illustrate bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a slow way of moving through the world that allows a perspective that racing or driving don’t. There’s lots of time to look around, stop, and think. And that mindset works really well with drawing.

What’s the most rewarding part of illustrating?

I suppose getting to hang out with Brian Vernor. But really, I have a fascination with drawn line. It’s almost like a desire that needs to be fulfilled, a deep satisfaction, in seeing a line come to life on the page. And, I love storytelling. It’s easier through drawing than words.

Why don’t you STRAVA?

I do.

Why is your STRAVA on private?

(Chuckles) I just use it to record, more for my own memory. It’s not because I don’t want people to see that Vernor might be faster than me.

What draws you to the west? (Pun intended)

I grew up in Colorado and came to California for school. I had a small stint in New York after that, but the climate drew me back to California. I suppose I’m just most comfortable out here. And I have a visceral visual connection to the landscape here. The stark contrasts of large and small, dark and light, are captivating.


Water Cycle Chapter 1: River


A Water Cycle  Film Project

Inspired by the 71% of the planet covered by water, Blackburn Design has created WATER CYCLE, a new film project. The project follows different people who use a bicycle to help them further explore their relationship with water, in all its forms.

Chapter 1: River — Bikefishing for steelhead

In this first chapter, we follow Brian Ohlen, an avid fisherman and hunter from Montana.  Brian also has a passion for cycling and he combined the two by loading his waders, tackle and rod onto his bike, to go in search of Steelhead along the rivers on the Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico.  The best Steelhead fishing happens to be in the dead of winter.  Brian faced nearly constant rain, snow and ice for a chance to spend but a moment with one of these elusive creatures.  Along the way, he found some beautiful quiet moments and the simple joys that life on a bike can bring.

Public access to rivers and streams is important. As Ohlen states in the film, “if we ever lost that access or lost our public lands, it would be the death of the West.” Blackburn has partnered with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to bring attention to the continued need to preserve this access. We encourage folks to participate and sign BHA’s pledge to protect public river access.

Join Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in helping to uphold public access to your public waters. Sign our stream access pledge.

RIVER was directed by Dominic Gill of Encompass Films. In 2006, Dominic bought a tandem bicycle, a heavy video camera and a plane ticket to the northern tip of Alaska. From there he spent two years pedaling south, inviting random strangers to join him on his tandem as he documented the journey on video. In 2009, he helped create an award winning one hour special about his journey entitled ‘Take A Seat’, and subsequently wrote a book of the same title. Since then he has blossomed into a talented film maker, has always been a fine human being and was a natural fit for this project.

Brian Vernor, a noted film maker and photographer, is providing art direction for the entire project. Brian has long been a Blackburn collaborator and will be making certain that each story in the project has a distinct point of view, while still holding close to the overall theme and vision. Look for more talented film makers to create the upcoming chapters of WATER CYCLE.

Chris McNally provided the amazing illustrations. G.C. Johnson & Acoustic Labs created the score.

For Now I Smell The Rain: Reflections On The Oregon Ramble Ride


“We didn’t go so much to the south
As to the west
Following the hills
Beating the bad
Greeting the good.”
-Gary Snyder “The Route”

I found myself thinking about that Gary Snyder passage while I lay on an old pew in the basement of an old church in Mitchell, OR trying to find sleep. Routes can be random or maybe relative, I reckon. But what I did figure that night, is that the route for this years New Belgium Ramble Ride was anything but random.

Day 1 found a ranging group of mostly strangers converging on the small high desert town of Prineville, OR. Loads were lashed to bicycles, breakfast burritos were consumed and we were off and rolling towards the distant mountains. The first day, like all subsequent days, was a mix of everything weatherwise; sunny and warm in Prineville, then a cool breeze, then a steady drizzle climbing up into the Ochoco National Forest. We arrived and set up our afternoon camp and by the time I had my tent set up, we were treated to a full on hailstorm. These weather patterns would turn out to be a foreshadowing for the entire trip. The weather certainly encouraged a bonding of strangers, as we were all in this together, for better or worse.

By the nightfall the temps fell, the mood was relaxed, food and conversations were rich and warm. The beer flowed freely. The night echoed with laughter and our fire lit shadows danced into the darkness of the forest.

Dawn seemed to come too early for me on Day 2. My stomach was in knots as I forced down oatmeal and fruit. My fingers froze packing up the frozen rain fly of my tent. We knew of the 70 or so miles we needed to cover, so our small riding group loaded up and rolled out early. The first miles were mostly downhill, and allowed us to get back into the rhythm of bikepacking; the rhythm where you can tell yourself “All I Have To Do Today Is Ride My Bike.” A half dozen creeks were crossed, our feet froze. Gradually, almost magically, the ponderosa pine forest yielded to sagebush and juniper. The forest became rolling range land, pock marked with volcanic rock.

At Ashwood we shed layers and started to climb. And climb. For hours, in fact, all we did was climb. But the views were stunning and the cool breeze was consistent. By this time, our little group had been ground to dust and scattered on the wind. I ground slowly upwards, alone. I longed for frozen fingertips as the sun baked my shadow into the gravel crunching under my knobby tires.

At about the midway point on the day, near the highest pass, we were offered the salvation of cold drinks, peanut butter sandwiches and the soothing sounds of the E Street Band drifting from a van stereo. In the shadows of a long abandoned ghost mine, we convalesced, regrouped and reconnoitered.

Before us lay the vast John Day River basin, and beyond The Painted Hills. The next hour was spent wrestling our Joad-like steeds down a swooping, rock strewn descent and across the dusty frying pan of the valley floor. Goat heads stabbed at our tires. Flats were fixed in the scrubby shade of junipers. Onward we pushed as the miles melted away. The weather had turned against us once again as we climbed into the Painted Hills. I turned every pedal stroke with a wince, as my knees reminded me of my age and lack of form. But the view from the top was stunning. From on high, the ochre seemed to melt to maroon and then to green. The wind redoubled, and distant thunder rolled. It was clear we needed to move or risk being caught by a desert thunderstorm.

Rolling into Mitchell, after a full day on the bike, I was shattered. Upon arrival at the finish lot I sat gingerly on the ground next to my bike and leaned against the chain link fence. A new friend placed a cold can of beer in my hand, and a few frosty sips later, my world came back into focus. That night I had no taste for campfire, or camaraderie, only for warm food and sleep. Both of which I found in spades curled up on the aforementioned pew in the basement of the Spoken’ Hostel.

Day 3 dawned with sunny promise. My mindset was rosy, but my joints ached. After a welcome hot shower, and more hot food everyone seemed optimistic and ready to tackle the last stage. Small groups took off at staggered intervals, after our rider portraits. We all knew and dreaded the biggest climb of the day came first, and we set into chipping away at it right away. All morning the clouds rolled thru. No one, it seemed, could ever get their clothing layers correct. Many stops for gear adjustments, and whisky, became di rigour as we climbed. At last we connected with ride director Peter Discoe where the route turned off the graded forest service road and turned to a rough two track as it climbed jauntily off, and up, into the dark woods. NF 2630, or “Summit Road” as they call it, climbed up into a darkening hail squall. I pushed as much as pedaled. Survival became the prevalent theme.

Here again I pondered the route. “Were we on the right route?” also “Who in God’s name made this route?” and lastly “I hope this is almost the top of the route.” The route turned out to be correct, and wonderful beyond words. Soon we topped out, and again were rewarded by peanut butter sandwiches and a van in which to warm ourselves. Though there were still 30 some miles left to ride, as I put on all of the clothes I’d carried with me to descend to Prineville, I knew the worst was behind me. Descending from wind-swept vistas above 6,000 feet, we were soon again enveloped in Ponderosa pine forest. We wound and dropped for miles before spilling back out onto Highway 26 for the 25 mile slog back into Prineville. By then again 20 some odd miles, and having climbed nearly 12,000 feet, I had to make deals with my body. “Get me to that barn, and we can have a Gummy Bear.” Then “Make it around that bend in the road and we can stop for a minute.” Each moment was a tiny skirmish in my mind. Psychological Warfare on a microscopic battlefield.

But soon before arriving back in town, our small riding group had found each other on the wind. We limped in together, and devoured BBQ from a trailer the moment it came into view on the outskirts of town. Finally, we rolled back into Prineville for hugs and high fives and beers at Prineville’s Good Bike Company.

An hour or two later the suffering had been relegated to the recesses of our minds. Over a final huge meal of steak tacos and canned New Belgium beers the climbs all seemed a little easier, the views all a little more breath-taking. The laughs were all a little louder, and the desire to sign up for the next Ramble a little stronger.

“Roll With It” Movie

Roll With It

Going on an overnight camping trip with just what you can carry on a bike seems scary to most people. This quirky, yet artful film debunks those fears, by pulling together strangers with different backgrounds to show how truly joyful and enriching travel by bike can be.

The film is accompanied by a book that explains, in more granular detail, how anyone can use their bike as a portal to a world of adventure. Look for both the book and the film at theaters, bike shops and other venues worldwide.

Upcoming shows

  • Fort Collins, CO: Sept. 15
  • Asheville, NC: Sept. 16

Blackburn Film Debut: “Roll With It”

Roll With It

With over 40 years of experience building products that enable cyclists to go further, Blackburn is proud to introduce this short film in partnership with New Belgium Brewing and Niner Bikes.

The film "Roll With It" embodies the culture of adventure while stripping away any fears of camping by bike. This quirky, yet artful film brings strangers with different backgrounds together to show how joyful and enriching adventuring by bike can be.

"Camping by bike is an adventure everyone can experience without over complicating it" says Robin Sansom, Blackburn’s brand manager. "This film, at the core, is about the unexpected rituals strangers have when they embark on a bike and camp adventure together. We look forward to bringing this to communities all over the world in hopes of inspiring more people to get outside."

Great Lakes Premiere

East Coast Premiere

World Premiere

  • Where: XIX Studios, Los Angeles, CA
  • When: Friday, June 17, 2016 | 7 p.m.

Additional screenings are being planned worldwide. If you don’t see a screening at a theater, bike shop or brewery near you, ask your local bike shop or perhaps host your own screening!

The film will also be available for purchase, which will include a beautiful book that explains, in more granular detail, how anyone can use their bike as a portal to a world of adventure. The book and film will be available this July from Blackburn.

Summit to Siesta

Blackburn 2016 Ranger Camp

Today’s ride was incredible.

Leaving our wooded camp and then riding through thick groves of ancient and staggeringly tall redwoods seemed to mitigate any pain from the sometimes steep climbs. It was like riding through a stunning tunnel of nature and the light at the other end was the wind swept and dramatic Pacific Ocean.

Taking a break to eat at a local organic farm, not only fed our muscles, but also satiated our palette … so freakin’ delicious. We marched on, riding along the cliffs of the Pacific and eventually rolling into Santa Cruz.

Our friends at Verve Coffee hosted us with a night of music, a slide show from John and a screening of Comes With Baggage. It was with mixed emotions that we wrapped up the ride, glad to have made new friends, exhausted from the journey, but sad that the trip was over.

This has been just a taste of the adventures from the Blackburn Rangers this year. Stay tuned to our website and social media starting this summer and follow along AND plan your own trip!


Blackburn 2016 Ranger Camp

Today we did a lot of book learning about how Rangerdom works and all the great gear that goes along with it.

Apart from all the Blackburn bags, racks, lights, pumps, etc., we also heard from the good folks at Niner Bikes, Kitsbow and Big Agnes … so much thought and hard work goes into the details of all the gear.

There was more great food that was cooked over a campfire. You don’t have to always eat granola and bananas. The day wrapped up with a competitive, yet friendly hatchet throwing tournament. The winners walked away with a trophy and bragging rights, but everyone carried a smile into their tent at the end of the night.

Follow live on Instagram #blackburnrangercamp.

Silicon to Silence

Blackburn 2016 Ranger Camp

With most people arriving by plane from places near and very far, we decided it would be easiest to just gear up and leave directly from the airport.

Riding out through the urban spaces on bike paths and neighborhood trails, that ended up on windy, steep mountain roads. Gathering our breath at vistas overlooking Silicon Valley, it felt great to see how a couple hours on a bike allowed us to escape the mass of technology and be somewhere that felt so remote.

Once we arrived at the secret Blackburn Ranger training camp, we were greeted with a hot meal cooked over the fire and delicious libations, which were exactly the images dancing through our heads on the climb. Friendly, embarrassing and scary stories were told around the campfire … strangers turning into friends.

Follow live on Instagram #blackburnrangercamp.

What is Ranger Camp?

Blackburn 2016 Ranger Camp

Ranger Camp is where our newly christened ambassadors are introduced to the brand, our culture and our products during three days of riding, campfires and shenanigans.

It’s just like a pro cycling team’s training camp, but fun. The camp will start out at the San Jose airport, as a group of strangers gearing up to ride from parking lot 6. We’ll then disappear into the nearby mountains and under the mist hope to locate the secret Ranger training facility.

We will emerge from the mountains days later, and descend into the golden city of Santa Cruz, which is home to Blackburn. Riders will have been galvanized by steep climbs, shared vistas and the earnest slumber that only comes from pedal weariness and the sound of the deep forest. These people will no longer be strangers, but instead friends and comrades. Family.

Follow live on Instagram #blackburnrangercamp.

Meet the 2016 Rangers

The field of applicants for the Ranger program this year has been amazing, making our job of selecting new Rangers exceedingly difficult.

We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of people wanting to be a part of the program and are also flattered and humbled by the amount of time, energy and passion that has been put into the applications and videos.

Thank you to everyone that applied and we sincerely hope that regardless of whether you were selected that you have an amazing year of discovery on your bicycle!

We would like to also welcome, and introduce, the new Rangers for 2016:

Brian Ohlen

Cody, Wyoming, USA

Brian has an unusual combination of passions as he is both an avid cyclist and fisherman. He intends to combine these passions and bike-fish his way from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast, in search of the elusive Steelhead Trout. When we asked what he hoped to get out of the trip, he said “This trip will provide the type of physical and mental challenge that I crave. One that leads towards the discovery of amazing places, people, and coastal streams.”

Watch Brian’s application video.

Katie Hawkins & Laura Brigham

East Palo Alto, California, USA

We are delighted to welcome Katie and Laura to the Ranger family. These two kindred spirits met as neighbors in East Palo Alto, CA and decided to apply together to tackle the Great Divide this summer. One thing they promised on their application was “HIGH ENERGY” and we know that they will deliver!

Watch Katie & Laura’s application video.

Ivan Kilroe

Lancaster, Great Britain

Ivan has a great approach to cycling that is based on sharing beauty and joy with friends that we can appreciate. We also felt compelled that his case of “outdoorism” is nearly terminal and wanted to help him out! When asked what his goal was for the route, he replied: “ … to have as much fun as possible, see and explore as much as I can, wake up to great views, hopefully make some friends along the way. Pretty much absorb as much of the American experience as possible. …”

Watch Ivan’s application video.

Courtney Lewis

Brooklyn, New York, USA

“I’ve followed the Blackburn Ranger program for the last few years, and the variety of their backgrounds and approaches were immediate inspiration for me to tackle the same path in my own way. “ Courtney’s ‘own way’ includes stepping off the bike and hiking nearby summits along the route, and maybe even bringing her dog along. Courtney works as a mechanic for New York’s famous Bicycle Habitat and is part of their women’s cycling program.

Watch Courtney’s application video.

Christian Ayoob

Watkinsville, Georgia, USA

Christian’s goal is to advocate for self propelled travel and as such has ridden the Great Divide and other routes with a positivity and enthusiasm that we love. He hails from the robust , but often overlooked, cycling community around Athens, Georgia and is one of the first Southerners that has been selected as a Ranger.

Watch Christian’s application video.

Be a Blackburn Ranger 2016

Be a Blackburn Ranger 2016

The application deadline has passed, and we are carefully reviewing each one to select the best Rangers for 2016.

New Rangers will be announced via Instagram beginning March 7 … stay tuned!

“Comes with Baggage” Movie

Comes With Baggage

“Comes with Baggage” is a lighthearted history of bicycle travel in the Americas, that makes you want to sell your possessions, quit your job and escape on a bike.

Past and current footage, along with interviews of bike pioneers, makers and historians are combined to give a unique perspective on where bicycles can take you, both physically and spiritually.

We will be screening the film at select festivals, bike shops, and back yards everywhere … check the schedule.

Photo by: Greg Siple, Adventure Cycling Association

Blackburn Film Debut: “Comes with Baggage”

Comes With Baggage

A history of bicycle travel, from boneshakers to bikepacking.

Since 1975 Blackburn has been making products that help cyclists do more, go further, and be ready for anything. For our 40th anniversary, we wanted to step back at the history of bicycle travel in the Americas. Our lighthearted film includes stories, footage and interviews with bike pioneers, makers and historians. Watch the trailer …

You’re invited!

Join us at our debut screening during the Sea Otter Classic!

  • When: April 15, 2015, gates open at 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Garden Stage at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Rd, Monterey. Main Entrance (Gate 5): Follow the signs to the Garden Stage
  • Free Admission: Drinks for sale with proceeds to benefit the Adventure Cycling Association
  • Also Presenting: “The Black Canyon Trail” & “A Bikepacking Primer,” brought to you by Limberlost and Rocky Mountain

Special thanks to Rocky Mountain & Adventure Cycling Association!

Photo by: Greg Siple, Adventure Cycling Association