2019 Bikepacking Awards: Film, Photography, Writing, and Art

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To reflect on another inspiring year in the bikepacking community, we’re delighted to announce our 2019 Bikepacking Awards. Kicking off this three-part series, we’ll first honor the creative endeavors of talented bikepackers by showcasing their work with 30 awards in nine different categories, including Best Feature Film, Best Trip Photography, and Best Writing…

Introducing the 5th annual Bikepacking Awards. In an effort to recognize all that’s been accomplished in the bikepacking community this year, here’s our first of three retrospectives honoring the individuals, teams, brands, and products we believe had the biggest impact in 2019. Part one looks at the photographs, films, writing, and creative expressions that have inspired our community and kept the stoke alive and well. We’re recognizing the efforts that have shown viewers magical parts of our world both near and far, encouraged folks to creatively document their own rides, or simply allowed the rest of us to share in the journey.

Without further delay, here are the awards for what we consider to be the most impactful photography, video, writing, artwork, and creative documentation of the year. Most categories feature one winner and a few honorable mentions. We won’t deny wrestling over each decision, and every entry deserves applause, so please take some time to admire and enjoy their efforts, just as we have.

Best Independent Film

We identified a unique category to provide an additional set of awards this year, beyond the feature films below. These independent films are all self-funded, self-filmed projects.

Bikepacking the Cairngorms: A Father and Son Fatbike Adventure

By Jeremy Janin. Photographer and videographer Jeremy Janin surprised his father with a five-day bikepacking trip along The Cairngorms Loop in the Scottish Highlands. They had everything planned, but nothing went as planned. Congrats to Jeremy for an incredible film that will serve as a treasured memento for decades to come. Read the original coverage and see Jeremy’s incredible photoset here.

Honorable Mentions

Admissions of an Amateur Bikepacker

By Ben Johnson. With absolutely zero bikepacking experience, Ben Johnson had a brilliant idea: set out on his first solo adventure in the rugged Peruvian Andes. Along the way he shot this honest and beautiful short film. Click here for the original coverage, including a Q&A with Ben and a gallery of photos from the trip.

No Stone Unturned

By Markus Stitz. Markus Stitz set out on a 10-day bikepacking trip through Kyrgyzstan to prepare for the Silk Road Mountain Race. Along the way he made this film, which features thoughtful narration in the form of a journal entry. What’s particularly notable about No Stone Unturned is that it was shot entirely on an iPhone.

Over The Edge

By Kyle Hughes. Over the Edge is a short film that captures the moment when a 10-day bikepacking trip through Peru’s Cordillera Blanca goes terribly wrong. As three friends ride along a high singletrack trail, one loses control and falls 30 feet into a ravine below, miraculously surviving. Find our original coverage here.

Best Feature Film

This year offered a wealth of outstanding films, and we were particularly torn on making a decision in this category. Here are our picks based on lots of discussion and votes by all members of our editorial team.

GBduro

By Rapha/EF Gone Racing. The GBDuro is a 2,000km race devised by The Racing Collective, based on the new GB Divide, which is a mostly off-road bikepacking route that joins the UK’s most southern and northern points. Pro road racer Lachlan Morton set off from Land’s End, not really knowing what was in store, and this film shows what he found. This isn’t the normal type of film that wins here, but it’s hard to deny its sheer entertainment value and compelling narrative.

Honorable Mentions

I Just Want to Ride

By Rugile Kaladyte. This 38-minute film was shot during the 2019 Tour Divide race and beautifully captures the spirit of the race, it’s participants, places along the route, and Lael Wilcox’s unique ride. See the original post and read an interview with the filmmaker here.

Suilven Escape

By Alastair Humphreys. Micro-adventurer Alastair Humphreys escapes downtown London via train on a folding-bike-rafting expedition to Suilven, a remote mountain in Scotland. He and Temujin Doran made this lovely film about the trip, the mountain, and the visual and written poetry that surrounds it.

Wild Horses

By Gianmarco Dodesini and Claudio Rossoni. Wild Horses is the official documentary of the first Silk Road Mountain Race. In 2018, nearly 100 riders took part in the first edition of the PEdAL ED sponsored event. This is their story. View our original coverage here.

Best Cinematography/Editing

We’d like to recognize these films for their videography, editing, and style. In their own way, they’ve all helped define a new standard in the quality of filmmaking in the world of bikepacking.

Home Wild Home

By Montanus. The Montanus duo made another visually dazzling film this year. This time, the two rode from their home in L’Aquila, Italy, and set off into the magnificent Apennine Mountains. Click here for our original post, featuring a beautiful set of stills from the trip, and see the new Corvid Corax, the bike they used on the trip….

Honorable Mentions

The Postman

By Sam Needham. The Postman is a short film from Sam Needham that takes viewers to Scotland’s Isle of Harris to meet Kenny Mackay, the last postman to walk the rugged and remote singletrack trail to the tiny village of Rhenigidale. Sam and friends ride the former mail route and learn a lesson about connection and community. Original coverage here.

Ice & Palms

By El Flamingo Films. Ice & Palms follows Jochen Mesle and Max Kroneck on an ambitious six-week bikepacking and skiing trip through the Alps, starting from their home in the south of Germany and ending at the Mediterranean Sea. Check out the original coverage here along with a Q&A with Jochen, Max, and director Philipp Becker.

Rideable

By Steven Mortinson. Rideable is a new film from Steven Mortinson that follows two friends on cheap bikes hauling a surfboard 250 miles around Oregon in search of idyllic surf spots. See the original premiere here and find a Q&A and some behind the scenes photos from the filming.

Collective Choice: Best Film

New this year, we decided to ask our Bikepacking Collective members for their input. We sent the Collective a list of a dozen film finalists and put it to a vote. The people spoke, and in a sweeping victory, Rue Kaladyte’s I Just Want To Ride wins the inaugural Collective Choice award for Best Film.

I Just Want to Ride

By Rugile Kaladyte. This 38-minute film was shot during the 2019 Tour Divide race and beautifully captures the spirit of the race, it’s participants, places along the route, and Lael Wilcox’s unique ride. See the original post and read an interview with the filmmaker here.

Best Trip Photography

Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archive Book

By Isola Press. The Rough-Stuff Fellowship’s archive contains an incredible collection of photos (as well as maps, articles, and journals) shot between 1955 and the 1990s, and this year it was all gathered up for a beautiful 208-page coffee table book that was published by Isola Press. You can pick up a copy of your own here.

Rough Stuff Fellowship

Honorable Mentions

Todd Palmer. Khangai Mountains Traverse, Mongolia

Khangai Mountains Traverse

By Todd Palmer. Todd Palmer and his partner traveled to Mongolia to ride our Khangai Mountains Traverse route as their first overseas bikepacking trip together, where they spent 10 days pedaling through the country’s vast, rolling landscapes. See their full trip report here.

Family Bikepacking the Kettle Valley Railway

Making Time for the Trail

By RJ Sauer. A year after racing the entire BC Trail during the BC Epic 1000, RJ Sauer returned with his wife and nine-month-old son Oliver in tow to see it with a fresh perspective. In Making Time for the Trail, he offers an intimate view of their time on and off the bikes together.

Donalrey Nieva, Bikepacking Journal

White Rope

By Donalrey Nieva. Featured in the third issue of our printed publication, The Bikepacking Journal, Donalrey Nieva’s photos pair perfectly with author Sophie Edmondson’s words to transport readers to the winding roads of Peru’s Cordillera Blanca.

Best Event Photography

Silk Road Mountain Race

By Rugile Kaladyte. We were thoroughly impressed by Rugile Kaladyte’s timely coverage of this year’s PeDALED Silk Road Mountain Race. Be sure to check out her route reports from days 1-4 and days 5-10, as well as her 70 portraits of 2019 SRMR riders. She put in an immense amount of hard work and we’d like to thank her for sharing her original coverage with our readers.

2019 Silk Road Mountain Race Report

Honorable Mentions

2019 Tour Divide Recap, Eddie Clark

Tracking Down the Divide

By Eddie Clark. Veteran photographer Eddie Clark has been covering the Tour Divide for 10 years now, and no one does it better. This time around, he put together a two-part series for us. Don’t miss part one and part two of Tracking Down the Divide.

Bikepacking the Tuscany Trail

Tuscany Trail

By Franzi Wernsing. Franzi and nine other Bombtrack Bicycle Co. riders took on the Tuscany Trail together, attempting to negotiate long days in the saddle and accommodate varied skill levels as a cohesive group. Her coverage perfectly captures that dynamic and their experiences in beautiful Italy.

Best in Art/Multimedia

Bikes or Death Podcast

By Patrick Farnsworth. The Bikes or Death podcast features interviews with a diverse array of people who make the bikepacking community what it is, from notable racers, to bag makers, to everyday riders. Host Patrick Farnsworth has already published more than 30 episodes, and we’d like to recognize all the time and effort he’s put into sharing stories and conversations from our corner of cycling culture. Learn more about Patrick and his podcast here.

2019 Bikepacking Summit

Honorable Mentions

Gosia Black Bike Illustrations, bikepacking rigs

Bikepacking Rig Watercolors

By Gosia Black. Gosia Black found a creative way to fund a mother-daughter bikepacking trip across Scotland: creating postcard-sized watercolor prints of the bikepacking rigs of women who inspire her, that she then sold on her Etsy shop. Find a gallery of her work here.

Printed Tour Divide Map, Alex Hotchin, GDMBR

Tour Divide Map

By Alex Hotchin. We commissioned Melbourne-based artist Alex Hotchin to create a hand-drawn map of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route as a gift for our Bikepacking Collective members, and it turned out to be one of the coolest maps we’ve ever seen. See the map in more detail here.

Best Writing (Web)

New for 2019, we’re recognizing the best community-contributed stories we’ve published on the site. These nominees reflect the most honest, gripping, and reflective examples of storytelling from the saddle.

Back to Basics on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

By Rajiv Dhaliwal. Just weeks after first hearing of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Rajiv Dhaliwal purchased a $250 mountain bike, cobbled together a basic set of bikepacking bags, and headed to Banff to begin riding south. Back to Basics on the GDMBR is his story of not letting a lack of gear or experience hold you back from taking the leap and attempting something remarkable. Read it here.

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Basics

Honorable Mentions

Trans-Uganda, Evan Christenson

Wild Times on the Trans-Uganda

By Evan Christenson. Evan Christenson took a blind leap and cycled the Trans-Uganda alone. Along the way he found much more than he expected and the experience was beyond life-changing. Read his passionate reflection on the trip here.

Raising Riders, Bikepacking with kids, Baja Divide, Dan Clark

Raising Riders

By Dan Clark. Clark family set out to ride the 1,700-mile Baja Divide route, and something extraordinary happened along the way. They watched as their kids made the transition from passengers to partners, growing up and growing into their own as riders. Click here to read their story.

Jessica Kelley, Bikepacking Alaska, Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award

River Meets Road

By Jessica Kelley. As the recipient of the 2018 Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award, Jessica Kelley mapped out and attempted a bikepacking and packrafting route across Alaska. In her trip recap, she talks about confronting real fear, grapples with disappointing others, and more.

Best Writing (Print)

While we think every story that makes it into our biannually printed publication, The Bikepacking Journal, represents the very best in pedal-powered writing and photography, we want to highlight a few of our favorites as we look back on this year’s issues.

Mar Sin Leat

By Huw Oliver. Mar Sin Leat is a farewell letter addressed directly to the Cairngorms, a mountain range in the Scottish Highlands, penned on Huw Oliver’s final trip there before leaving the country indefinitely. Huw has cultivated a deep appreciation for the timeless beauty found in the Cairngorms during his many trips there throughout the years, as well as a sincere thankfulness for everything they’ve given him. Both shine through in his beautifully written letter.

The Bikepacking Journal 02

Honorable Mentions

Holiday in Transylvania

By Ben Page. Two years after finishing his ride around the world, Ben Page dusts off his bikepacking gear and heads on a short trip to Romania. In Holiday in Transylvania, he reflects on how he’s able to find the same sense of freedom in a two-week trip that he thought he’d need to embark on another three-year ride to experience again. We appreciate Ben’s reminder that not every trip needs to be a massive undertaking to have a big impact.

2019 Bikepacking Awards

Chronicles of Aralar

By Cass Gilbert. In Chronicles of Aralar, Cass Gilbert and his six-year-old son Sage head to the Spanish Basque Country for their first father-son trip as equal partners, both hauling their own gear as they spin the pedals. We love the way Cass puts Sage’s sense of wonder into words as they discover the area’s culture, landscapes, and animals together, giving us a glimpse of bikepacking through a child’s eyes.

Stay tuned for parts two and three of our 2019 Bikepacking Awards: Gear of The Year, and People and Routes. You can also dig into #bikepacking-awards to find all of our annual awards roundups since 2015.

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