2020 Bikepacking Awards: Film, Photography, Writing, and Art

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In the second installment of our 2020 Bikepacking Awards, we honor the creative endeavors of talented bikepackers by showcasing their work with 31 awards in nine different categories, including Best Feature Film, Best Trip Photography, Best Event Documentation, Best Writing, and more. Find them all here…

To recognize all that’s been accomplished in the bikepacking community this year, here’s our second of three retrospectives honoring the individuals, teams, brands, and products we believe had the biggest impact in 2020. Part one was all about the gear of the year, and part two looks at the films, photographs, writing, and creative expressions that have inspired our community and kept the stoke alive during this trying year. 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 inspiring films, photography, writing, and art. Most categories feature three winners delineated by gold, silver, and bronze badges. These are ordered by vote count from seven of our editors and closest contributors who submitted blind ballots based on nearly one hundred nominations. In addition, find a Collective Choice award for Best Film with votes from the Bikepacking Collective, our member community.

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

The Best Independent Film category belongs to projects that are self-funded, self-shot, and inspired by a passion for the project.

Big Lockdown Traverse

By Jeremy Janin. Way back in March, during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, filmmaker Jeremy Janin took on an arduous bikepacking trip he called “The Big Lockdown Traverse.” Along the way he made this delightful film documenting the harrowing “best bikepacking trip I’ve NEVER had…” The Big Lockdown Traverse was a clear favorite among our editors and rose to the top of the list during our internal voting process. The film is a a refreshing and original take on bikepacking and sincerely captures a moment within this unprecedented and trying year. Congratulations Jeremy, and keep up the good work. Find the original post here, complete with Jeremy’s detailed gear breakdown.

Next Top Picks

PUNA

By Fernando Biagioni. Fernando and his riding partner spent two weeks bikepacking into the far corners of the high-altitude Argentinian altiplano. Along the way he made this lovely film that captures the magic of Argentina. PUNA tells the story of a bicycle journey founded on asking questions and trying to understand why we choose to travel through remote landscapes. See the initial coverage here.

Trikepacking: Some Assembly Required

By Cameron Sanders. Trikepacking: Some Assembly Required is a heartwarming short film narrated by a first time bikepacker. It’s a great lesson in friendship, being resourceful, and getting outside. We love it for its positive message. Find some background on how the film came to be and a great set of photos here.

Best Feature Film

This year offered a wealth of outstanding films, which made it particularly challenging when making a decision in this category. Here are our top three picks.

Ruta Chingaza: Bikepacking for Conservation

By Rugile Kaladyte. In February, we traveled to the Colombian capital, in partnership with Conservation International and Wahoo, to launch the Bikepacking for Conservation program and create a route to connect the bustling metropolis of Bogota with rural communities and the high Paramos of Chingaza National Park. The resulting route, Ruta Chingaza, will connect bikepackers to the ecosystems upon which life and livelihoods in this area depend. Along the way, filmmaker Rugile Kaladyte made this incredible and layered film to tell the story. View the film, behind the scenes photos, and an interview with Rue here.

Next Top Picks

Pedal Through

By Analise Cleopatra and Aly Nicklas. Presented by REI, Pedal Through is a lovely film that follows director-lead Analise Cleopatra as she discovers the joy of bikepacking and the healing power of a backcountry bike trip. Prior to this trip, Analise had never camped, or even ridden a bike off road. Even so, she decided to tackle a week-long adventure on a challenging and remote bikepacking route in Central Oregon. Along with fellow beginner Dejuanae Toliver and professional mountain biker Brooklyn Bell, she discovered the joy of sleeping under the stars and the strength that comes with it. Find the film and photo gallery from the trip here.

Matty & Clare: Lost Captures

Filmed by Matty and Clare; edited by Joel Christof. Lost Captures follows Matty Waudby and Clare Nattress on a bikepacking trip across Norway, retracing the route Matty’s grandfather cycled in the 1950s based on snapshots in an old photo album. This beautiful short film follows the couple during their time in Norway, showcasing the challenges and rewards, and providing a glimpse into their dynamic as a bikepacking couple while following the historical tire tracks of a family member. Watch it here, along with photos from their trip and a short interview with Matty and Clare.

Best Cinematography/Editing

The Best Cinematography/Editing category recognizes 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.

Slowvenia

By Renaud Skyronka and PCR Gravier. Every year the PCR Gravier cycling club gets together for a week-long bikepacking adventure. During their most recent outing in the summer of 2019, their crew of nine went to Slovenia and perfected eight key lessons to a successful bike trip. One year later they released this bizarrely fun video guide to unlock their secrets. Find the original coverage here.

Next Top Picks

Bee Wild Bee Free

By Montanus. For the fourth year in a row, Francesco and Giorgio, the bikepacking duo called Montanus, find one of their films in the Cinematography category, and for good reason. In another visually incredible masterpiece, the two combine bikepacking and beekeeping, a process that brought them closer to nature and played a significant role in their environmental consciousness. Find the original post here, along with a photo gallery.

Line in the Sand

By Elli Thor Magnusson. Produced by Sony Alpha Films, Line in the Sand is a short film from that follows photographer Chris Burkard and his crew (Emily Batty, Eric Batty, and Adam Morka) on a bikepacking trip across the interior of Iceland. Chock full of amazing drone footage and incredible Icelandic landscapes, it’s hard to argue the high production value of this piece. Find the original coverage here.

Collective Choice

Collective Choice: Best Film of 2020

We asked our Bikepacking Collective members for their input again this year, sending them a whopping list of 16 film finalists and putting it to a vote. The people spoke, and here are the top three winners of the Collective Choice award for Best Film of 2020. A warm thank you goes out to all of our members for their participation and continued support!

Choosing to Live

By Jeff Bartlett and Matthew Clark. Choosing To Live is a touching film that follows Sarah Hornby’s powerful journey bikepacking 10 different routes that her late husband researched for his Bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies guidebook. From sadness and loss to a profound celebration of his life and her own unique journey, pedaling these routes was Sarah’s way to connect to her late husband’s greatest passion. And as she pedaled, her story transformed. Watch the full film here, followed by an interview with Sarah and more about the project.

Next Top Picks

Ruta Chingaza: Bikepacking for Conservation

By Rugile Kaladyte. In February, we traveled to the Colombian capital, in partnership with Conservation International and Wahoo, to launch the Bikepacking for Conservation program and create a route to connect the bustling metropolis of Bogota with rural communities and the high Paramos of Chingaza National Park. The resulting route, Ruta Chingaza, will connect bikepackers to the ecosystems upon which life and livelihoods in this area depend. Along the way, filmmaker Rugile Kaladyte made this incredible and layered film to tell the story. View the film, behind the scenes photos, and an interview with Rue here.

Go Solo

By Jenny Tough. Traveling solo is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can be scary to begin a trip on your own. Jenny Tough went on her first solo bike adventure when she was 21, “and while I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and broke down a lot (physically, mechanically, emotionally, etc.), it was one of the most important growth experiences of my adult life.” In December of 2019, Jenny set out on another solo mission through the Nepalese Himalayas. Along the way she made this inspirational video about what it means to go solo. See the original coverage here.

Best Trip Photography

THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT, NEPAL

By Robin Patijn and Sabina Knezevic. Getting rid of their traditional rack and pannier setups in favor of bikepacking bags, Robin and Sabina headed to Nepal to ride the famed Annapurna Circuit, sharing some of the lessons they learned while adjusting to carrying less and riding rougher roads. Read their story here, complete with stunning photos from the Himalayas, and find their full route guide here.

Annapurna, Nepal, Robin Patijn, Sabina Knezevic

Next Top Picks

Lian van Leeuwen, Jelle Mul, Amsterdam

TIME OUT: WHAT QUARANTINE CAN TEACH US

By Lian van Leeuwen. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lian van Leeuwen documented the eerliy quiet streets of Amsterdam while riding through the city. She also penned some reflections on what we can learn from lockdown. See more here.

Huw Oliver, Bikepacking Greenland

Slow and Precious

By Huw Oliver. Huw Oliver and Annie Le arrived in Greenland for a bikepacking trip at the tail end of last winter, not long before COVID-19 lockdown measures went into effect. Slow and Precious provides an exceptional and rare look at the Greenlandic landscape from the saddle in winter. See it here.

Antonio Gallardo Photography

Rider’s Lens

By Antonio Gallardo. In March, we shared a look at the work of Mexican photographer Antonio Gallardo, who put together a vibrant collection of shots from a yearlong ride through Iran, Central Asia, India, Southeast Asia, South Korea, and Japan. Find his feature here.

Best Event Documentation

INTO THE RIFT: THE STORY OF THE ATLAS MOUNTAIN RACE

By Brady Lawrence. Set during the inaugural 1,200-kilometer Atlas Mountain Race across Morocco, Into the Rift is Brady Lawrence’s excellent 40-minute documentary that paints an intimate portrait of several participants, the fastest of whom managed to finish in just days, overcoming sleep deprivation, mechanical issues, and sweltering desert temperatures. See our full original coverage here, including an interview and behind the scenes photos.

Next Top Picks

Onboard The Transcontinental Race Full Film

ONBOARD THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RACE

By Antonin Michaud-Soret. Capturing the largest ultra-distance bikepacking race across Europe was no easy feat, but Antonin Michaud-Soret did a masterful job of telling the Transcontinental Race’s story with this film, being present as racers experienced the full gamut of emotions. See our coverage here.

Safety to Nome

SAFETY TO NOME

By Jonathan Hunwick and Kenton Gilchrist. Safety to Nome showcases the unimaginably trying conditions participants had to face to complete the 2017 Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 1,000-mile race across a stunning and remote stretch of Alaska, following the legendary Iditarod Trail. Simply filming in the extreme environment is an accomplishment unto itself. See more here.

Tugende Film Ryan Le Garrec

TUGENDE: RACE AROUND RWANDA

By Ryan Le Garrec. Impressively weaving together the story of a 1,000-kilometer race across Rwanda, Ryan Le Garrec’s Tugende shares perspectives from the riders who traveled to the country to compete in the race, as well as members of Team Rwanda, for whom bikepacking was new. Find our original coverage of this moving film here.

Best in Art/Multimedia

Studio Ghibli Campout

By Erik Binggeser and Alison Mae Bonham. Studio Ghibli Campout is a truly unique animated film created by Erik Binggeser and Alison Mae Bonham. The film does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of a bicycle-powered campout during a time when so many of us have been mostly trapped indoors. Watch the full film here, followed by some thoughts from Erik regarding the project.

Next Top Picks

UyokSuryo

Bicycle Illustrations

By UyokSuryo. We were immediately captivated by Indonesian artist UyokSuryo’s drawings of bicycles, which he started creating while locked down with his kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. He shared his story of experimenting with drawing in a Rider’s Lens feature, which you can check out here.

Julia Vallera's Baja Divide Artwork

BAJA DIVIDE CREATIONS

By Julia Vallera. During and after her ride along the Baja Divide, artist Julia Vallera created a series of lighthearted illustrations and animations that lovingly capture her time spent pedaling through Mexico with a ragtag group of friends, both new and old. We caught up with her for a Rider’s Lens to learn more about her artwork. See the original feature here.

Bee Wild Bee Free, bikepacking video

Bee Wild Bee Free Poster

By Montanus. Driving home their message of being conscious about the complex ecosystems in the areas we bikepacking through, Giorgio and Francesco of Montanus painted this beautiful watercolor poster to accompany their film Bee Wild Bee Free, which we love for its creativity and use of traditional media.

Best Writing (Web)

Again this year, 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.

AAKOZIKWE: ALEXANDERA HOUCHIN ON THE COLORADO TRAIL

By Alexandera Houchin. Always a crowd favorite, Alexandera Houchin’s Aakozikwe offers a refreshingly honest and deeply personal look at her attempt to set the new fastest known women’s time on the Colorado Trail, accompanied by a fantastic set of photos from photographer Eddie Clark. Free of pretense, it’s an immersive piece of writing that transports readers to the Rockies to accompany her on her ride. Read it here.

Alexandera Houchin Colorado Trail ITT

Next Top Picks

Andrew Chapman, Three Sisters, Three Rivers

BACK TO BEFORE: SICKNESS, HEALTH, AND REDISCOVERY

By Andrew Chapman. A wonderfully written story of redemption after a battle with illness, Andrew’s Back to Before is a touching reflection on slowing down to appreciate good health and good company. This one flew relatively under the radar but is worthy of a closer look. Read it here.

Sustainability Series

By Cass Gilbert. Throughout the year, Cass has been publishing insightful pieces on the subject of sustainability, and we think they add up to something important and well worth reviewing. Rummaging in the Forest for Breakfast, Fantastically Plastic Free, and A Guide to Low-Waste Bikepacking are great posts to get started with.

Bjorn Olson, Caribou Hunting, Alaska

TUNDRA NUTRITION

By Bjørn Olson. An exceptionally thoughtful piece on what it means to hunt and gather for sustenance in the 21st century, Tundra Nutrition provides a unique perspective on pedal-powered connection to food, something that has been almost completely lost in our era of industrialized agriculture. Find it here.

Best Writing (Print)

Although 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.

La Sed

By Taneli Roininen. One of the opening stories in Issue 04 of The Bikepacking Journal this spring was Taneli Roininen’s La Sed, which tells the incredibly gripping story of his increasingly urgent search for water while traversing Argentina’s otherworldly landscapes, high in the puna. Taneli’s gift for telling great stories clearly comes through as he recounts battling hallucinations and uncertainty about whether or not he can trust his own judgement.

The Bikepacking Journal 04

Next Top Picks

The Bikepacking Journal 05, Slower, Josh Meissner

Slower

By Josh Meissner. Restricted to the areas immediately surrounding his home in Berlin due to COVID-19, Josh shares the sense of wonder that came along with rediscovering and developing a renewed sense of appreciation for his own backyard. Slower is essential reading in the time of lockdowns and limitations, especially as we look ahead. Our members can find it in Issue 05 of The Bikepacking Journal.

The Bikepacking Journal 05, Chosen Family, Jalen Bazile

Chosen Family

By Jalen Bazile and Adam Pawlikiewicz. Returning to an area of Colorado he long called home, Jalen Bazile shared in the year’s joy and grief while on a bikepacking trip with other Black and brown riders. In Chosen Family, Jalen and friends unpack 2020’s tumultuous events and claim space as a group in hopes of bringing healing and relief. Read this powerful piece in The Bikepacking Journal 05, which is hitting our members’ mailboxes now.

Stay tuned for parts three of our 2020 Bikepacking Awards: People and Routes. You can also dig into #bikepacking-awards to find all of our annual awards roundups since 2015.

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