My name is Sophie DeGroot (she/her). I’m a bicycle tour guide with a newfound love of bikepacking and big dreams of becoming a hobby mycologist. I spend my summers in the northern latitudes and my winters wherever seems suitable to ride a bike. Whether it’s day trips in the Alaskan rainforest or long-distance tours traversing continents, I feel lucky to get to call my bicycle seat home, though it only carries the roof I put over my head. What I love most about my bike is how it opens me up to the world. I’m at the hands of the natural environment and the human beings I meet along my way – and discovering that vulnerability is the most freeing feeling in my known universe.
After having done a handful of mixed road tours through the US and across Africa, I was keen to point my tires off the beaten path. Looking for a new rig for my two-month tour of Australia earlier this year, I decided on a Salsa Fargo; a bike that could conquer just about anything. This was a must, as when my plane took off from Seattle, I had done just about no route planning. I was set to ride the Tasmania Trail with some friends for 10 days, but everything after that was an unknown.
Naartjie (‘tangerine’ in Afrikaans), has become a most loyal steed. Together, we rode across the Australian Outback for two months. Around every corner she was groovy on singletrack, fast on gravel descents, and a comfy couch on pavement (the Brooks saddle worn in over about 10,000 miles might help!). While I’m usually drawn to more earthy tones, the mish mash of color aboard this bicycle has not only grown on me, but makes me feel right at home on the road. Standing out of almost every natural landscape, the rainbow palate of steel and canvas makes me smile – a constant reminder that bike life doesn’t have to look or fit into a certain mold.
Though a stick did get the best of the rear derailleur near mile 200 of the Tassie Trail, Naartjie proved beyond capable as a singlespeed. Naartjie and I carried on for 65 miles until Davenport, a city with one of the few bike shops on the entire island. The shop had a replacement derailleur, but not the replacement hangar I desperately needed. With some very careful bending and $4.00 epoxy, we straightened the old one and were once again on our way.
- Frame 2019 Salsa Fargo (Small)
- Fork Carbon Salsa Firestarter (110mm)
- Rims 29” WTB ST i29
- Hubs Salsa
- Tires Maxxis Ikon 2.6”
- Handlebars Salsa Woodchipper
- Headset Cane Creek 15
- Crankset Shimano Deore 2x (26T/36T)
- Cassette Shimano 11-34T
- Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
- Brakes TRP Spyre-C
- Shifter(s) Shimano Tiagra
- Saddle Brooks B17 Women’s
- Seatpost Salsa
- Stem Salsa
- Front bags Road Runner Jumbo Jammer
- Frame bags Leavenworth Mountain Products
- Rear bags Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion
- Accessory bags Makeshifter Stem Bag
- Other accessories Salsa Anything Cages, assorted Voile Straps, Safety Pizza
After a successful debut in the Australian outback, it was time to return home to the temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska. This summer has been filled with wet gravel rides to the toe of glaciers and high alpine rides over mountain passes. Overall, the Salsa Fargo has been the perfect and capable beast I dreamed of. I’m hungry for more off-road miles and excited to continue progressing with fitness and skill on the tracks and trails. Though I’m still new to the bikepacking community, I am grateful to have a supportive and knowledgeable community, a bike I love, and an endless imagination for where those gravel roads might take me. Hope to see you out there!
You can see more from Sophie on Instagram @_digroot.
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