Words by Chris Campbell (@soupylife)
Hi, I’m Chris Campbell, born and raised in Southern New Jersey. I have always been passionate about the outdoors and keen for exploration. In college, outdoor exploration took the form of day and overnight hikes in New England and Virginia. My foray into cycling was as a car replacement for my commutes to work; eventually I caught the itch to tour. My partner, Amanda, and I rode nearly a year through the USA and four months in SE Asia, accumulating 25,000km on our Surly Disc Truckers. Looking for less traffic and more scenery, we transitioned to dirt and gravel for our latest tour of Europe.
After this trip (or more accurately during this trip) I am in the process of applying to nursing programs in locales that have an abundance of dirt and mountains. That’s the way you choose a career, right? I have tested out many fields trying to find that elusive work-bike balance has led me to healthcare, where the hours are long and the workweek short! Being able to help patients through their most difficult times and having saddle time to myself to decompress is a strong factor in my move toward nursing as a career.
I’m currently riding a 2018 Salsa Fargo in Royale Purple. After far too much research the trigger was pulled and bikes delivered. The stock builds, uninitiated bikepackers, and #basketpacking were all tested on our inaugural ride The Appalachian (Beer) Trail. The promises of plus tires rang true but the stock cockpit required a swap to a more comfy Salsa Bend. Two five-day rides were the only overnight trips the bike saw before it was shoved into a box and flown to Spain! From rocky, loose Spain to river crossings in Scotland and singletrack in between, the Fargo is “the bike.”
More times than I can remember we have been asked how we are able to embark on multi-month trips. The nature of the question ranges from how to quit a job or how to pay for such an adventure.
Upon graduating from Drexel I was staring down a sizable six-figure burden of debt. Knowing that I would not have freedom to live life on my terms with a monthly commitment, I made it a singular focus to slowly eliminate my debts. Operating at a thin bank balance is good preparation for extended touring, as you prioritize needs and wants differently. Cycling is as much about the enjoyment of the activity as it is about reducing commuting costs. After the debts were paid my lifestyle never changed; instead of paying off interest I save for travel. Amanda has the same interests and we deliberately keep our life expenses/overhead low, which allows us to save for extended expeditions.
- Frame/Fork 2018 Salsa Fargo Rival 1
- Rims SunRingle Duroc 50
- Hubs SunRingle SRC
- Tires Maxxis Chronicle 27.5 x 3.00”
- Handlebars Salsa Bend 23º 740mm
- Headset Cane Creek 40
- Crankset SRAM Descendant (175mm)
- Cassette SunRace CSMS 11-42t + WolfTooth GC49t
- Derailleur SRAM Rival 1 Long
- Brakes TRP Spyke
- Shifter(s) SRAM Apex 1
- Saddle Brooks B17 Imperial
- Seatpost Promax 27.2mm
- Stem Salsa Guide 50mm
- Front bags Revelate Designs Harness with Drybags
- Rear bags Carradice Camper Long Flap
- Accessory bags Salsa Anything Drybags
- Other accessories Never enough Voile Straps & QuadLock OutFront Mount!
As far as actually going on your first long long trip? Pack your bike and it’s time for that “I’m quitting my job to ride my bike” conversation with your supervisor. My experience is: it’s less about the quitting and more about where you are riding.
Too many older folks have told us that they wished they did “X” when they were younger. Your health and time are two factors that can never be reversed, so as they say in latin, Carpe Diem. Get out there and ride. A day. A week. Or a six-month epic journey. No adventure is too big or small.
Send Us Your Bikepacking Rig
Use the form below to submit your bikepacking rig. We’ll choose one per week to feature in a Reader’s Rig Dispatch and on Instagram. To enter, email us your best photo of the bike (preferably at a 90° angle), your Instagram username (optional), and a short description of you and your rig. If your bike is selected, we’ll need a total of five photos and a little bit more info.
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