Our Reader’s Rig of the week comes from wildland firefighter Brett Baldwin in British Columbia, who built up a Salsa Fargo as the ideal vehicle for making the most of his limited time off from work. Learn more about Brett and find photos of his Fargo taking on our Tree to Sea Loop here…

Words by Brett Baldwin (@hikeyourownbike), photos by Miles Arbour

Hey folks, my name is Brett (he/him) and I, too, cry on my bike sometimes (and that’s okay). I grew up in southern Ontario dreaming of a much different lifestyle, so I disappeared to the Yukon as soon as I could. Several years later, life in the mountains happened, and now I’m living on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in British Columbia.

Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin

For the last seven years, I’ve been working as a wildland firefighter. I recently listened to an episode of The Dirtbag Diaries podcast that suggested this makes me a dirtbag. Wait until they find out I’m also a thru-hiker. Now, before you stop reading, it’s important you know I aspire to one day become a cyclist, but for now, we’ll see how many people I can fool with my cool bidons. I’m used to travelling at a much slower pace, which has its drawbacks. Don’t get me wrong, hiking is one of the best ways to take in your surroundings, but come on… Have you ever ridden a bike!? That’s why we’re all here right? Going further in debt for the joys of riding a bicycle?

After completing a couple of long-distance trails in New Zealand and Wales, I knew there was no going back from self-powered travel. My cycling interests mostly stemmed out of necessity for me. I’d been searching for a way to go further and faster to make the most of my limited time off. Bikepacking was the answer.

  • Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin
  • Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin

Soon after that realization, I bought my bike as a result of spending way too much time inside during the pandemic. I had already gotten a “pandemic puppy,” and it was only fitting that I got a bike too. Right!? After countless long nights on BIKEPACKING.com, I decided on the 2020 Salsa Fargo Apex 1. Looking at my build kit, I should have just bought the frame. Does anyone else feel this way? While it’s not exactly unique, I built it up purposefully for the long, hard days we would encounter in the future. I wanted a bike that would go anywhere and last a lifetime if taken care of. Steel is real.

  • Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin
  • Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin
  • Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin
Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin
  • Frame 2020 Salsa Fargo Steel (Medium)
  • Fork Salsa Firestarter 110 Carbon
  • Rims We Are One Composites Convert 29” (Not Pictured)
  • Hubs DT Swiss 350
  • Tires Teravail Sparwood 29 x 2.2” + Teravail Coronado 29 x 2.8” (Not Pictured)
  • Handlebars Salsa Woodchipper 44cm + Redshift Top & Drop Grips
  • Headset Cane Creek 40_
  • Crankset 1X SRAM GX Eagle Carbon DUB 32T + SRAM XX1 Eagle Chain
  • Pedals OneUp Composite – Flat
  • Cassette SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-Speed 10-52T
  • Derailleur SRAM X01 12-Speed 10-52T
  • Brakes TRP Spyre-C – 160mm Rotors
  • Shifter(s) SRAM Apex 1 + Ratio Technology 1×12 Wide Upgrade Kit
  • Saddle Selle Anatomica X2 (Tool Leather) + Carbon Rail
  • Seatpost Redshift ShockStop Suspension Seatpost
  • Stem Redshift ShockStop Pro Suspension Stem + ShockStop Utility Mount
  • Front bags Bedrock Bags Entrada Handlebar Bag
  • Frame bags Bedrock Bags Custom, Waxed Canvas
  • Rear bags Revelate Designs Terrapin System 8L
  • Accessory bags Revelate Polecats, Mag Tank 2000, Feedbags, Jerrycan
  • Cargo cages King Cage/Agave Ti Bottle/Manything Cages, Widefoot CargoMount
  • Other accessories Ride Wrap Tailored Protection Kit, Marsh Guard, Spurcycle Bell

My Fargo already has an upright riding position, but in order to make it truly comfortable for long-distance bikepacking, I wanted to upgrade the contact points. First came new flat pedals, saddle, suspension seatpost, and stem, grips, and 3.2mm bar tape. Eventually, a new 12-speed drivetrain, carbon wheels, and cushy plus tires. While a bit spendy, I’d highly recommend the 12-speed upgrade for those who love climbing or those who avoid the gym like me. The Ratio 1 x 12 Wide Upgrade Kit allowed me to keep my mullet, was easily installed and is of the highest quality.

  • Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin
  • Salsa Fargo, Brett Baldwin

I recently got to test out some of the upgrades on a small sample of the newly published Tree to Sea Loop with Miles. Even though my 52-tooth granny gear still couldn’t get me up every hill, the Salsa Fargo is the closest thing I could find to human legs. Seriously, this thing can go anywhere. I will be putting us both to the test very soon along the Baja Divide this winter. Using my experience from thru-hiking and combining it with everything I’ve picked up on this site so far has me very excited for where this rig will take me. Time to head South and get this thing sandy.

You can keep up with Brett on Instagram @hikeyourownbike.

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