Bricks and Bikepacking: The Hub Cyclery
A SoCal bike shop that’s home to a movie star, the start of an amazing route, hard to find bikepacking goodies, and possibly, the father of the term ‘bikepacking’.
Back in March we found ourselves at a Bikepacking 101 clinic in San Diego, CA put on by Salsa Cycles. Amidst the pre-event elbow rubbing we tried to get some intel on the Stagecoach 400 bikepacking route. At least three locals told us that we have to go meet Brendan and Mary Collier at The Hub Cyclery, which also happens to be the starting point of the route. A few days later, we were on our way to the quaint mountain town of Idyllwild, CA.
I knew things were off to a great start when we were offered a round of IPAs moments after we darkened The Hub’s doorway. As I looked around the shop, I realized I was in my own element with walls full of bikepacking gear, and a little wood-burned sign depicting a bike with a frame bag and seat pack. Oddly enough, I was convinced that I knew Mary, but just couldn’t figure out how. About five minutes later I realized she was one of the main characters in the Ride The Divide movie.
The Colliers created the Stagecoach 400 and were more than happy to share a bit of insight on the route. After getting the latest GPX and cue sheet, as well as a crash-course in all things Stagecoach 400, the Colliers recommended a nice place to camp in town and we made a date to meet for a pre-ride breakfast. After breakfast the following day, we took off on a multi-day odyssey through southern California.
Several nights later as I limped in on the last leg of the route, Brendan spared me the final brutal road climb back up to Idyllwild. He met me on the roadside and we loaded the bike and gear into his pickup truck. Awaiting me in the cab was a banquet of treats assembled to soothe muscles, all prepped by Mary (thanks again Mary!!). A hot thermos of Thai soup brought me back to life as I blabbered on about all of the route highlights. We stayed in Idylwild for a couple more days and were treated with incredible hospitality by our new friends. It was a bit hard leaving them, their neat little mountain town, its amazing trail system, and The Hub itself. It’s the kind of shop that simply feels welcoming and warm. Next time you’re in southern California, stop in; the Colliers are wonderful, Brendan is a class AAA mechanic, and The Hub is a sensory overload of artwork, memorabilia, and a multitude of great bikepacking accessories. Here are a few questions I asked Brendan:
When did you first start bikepacking?
My first bikepack was in 2004, with Mary along the Kokopelli Trail from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT. I was leading wilderness therapy backpacking trips for at-risk youth at the time, and Mary was working at a gear shop. I’d been racing XC bikes for a good long while by this point and combining the overnight aspect of being outdoors with the bicycle mode of transport just seemed brilliant. We called it “bikepacking” with our friends and thought that name was so clever.
How does your shop cater to bikepacking?
We sell a variety of bikepacking gear, and work with our customers to help figure out the best system for what they’re looking to achieve. We have hosted a number of “Bikepacking 101” classes for the last few years and have led a number of first timer 24 hour overnighters. We also help our customers design their own route plans and try to share some of our secrets when we go out.
What does your shop carry that might be hard to find elsewhere? Do you ship?
We carry all the Revelate & Apidura stuff, but the most hard to find is probably the Siren Fred bars, which I designed back in 2008 for Mary to race Tour Divide with. They mount aero bars in a more comfortable spot. Also, we carry Wingnut Gear, which is in my opinion the most comfortable backpack on the market. Also we are having our own “bar bags” custom made as I type this. We ship, and it’s free over $100.
Has the popularity of bikepacking changed the dynamic of your shop?
We opened the shop in 2011, and we were a teeny tiny bike shop back then but we had 10 custom made bikepacking seat bags in inventory on opening day. We’ve always been a bikepacking shop, so I don’t really know how much different we are because of it.
What is your favorite bikepacking route or trail?
The Stagecoach 400. But then maybe I’m biased, because we designed it ourselves. But I just love riding that route. Maybe it’s because I’m from Chicago and when we moved out here to California the diversity of the landscape just blew me away. Aside from that route I adore the AZT.
Are there any new bikepacking related products that you are excited about?
I am excited about all the B+ stuff that’s coming out, but then again I suppose everyone is excited about that. I have recently started to convert from riding 29ers all the time to a 27.5″ trail bike. It is just so much fun. I am also excited to see more trail bike riding coming into the bikepacking fold. That’s what I’m into myself these days- good handling, fun bikes with good suspension articulation. Can’t wait to see where it all goes.
P.S. Don’t give your hard-earned dollars to the big guys… support your local bike shop when you can and keep places like this alive and well!