First bikepacking trip of 2016: Fargo Sub-48

Early summer 2015 I spotted a poster in the window of my local bike shop… “Fargo Sub-48” was the title. Of course, this obscure poster caught my eye because my bike is a Salsa Fargo. Inspecting the poster a little closer, discovered it was for up-coming bike ride taking place in Michigan. Asking the kid working the shop about the poster, he had no clue what it was for. It was quickly established he did not know that ‘Fargo’ was a bike made by Salsa. Also if I had to guess, when he heard “Salsa” rather than the popular bike brand coming to mind, he was thinking tortilla chips. On the way out the door, I snapped a quick pic of the poster to do a little research later.

A search of the good ole internet quickly brought up the Fargo Sub-48 description as “A bikepacking adventure that is under 48 hours in duration.” Went on further to explain that it was; “two days of riding the gravel back roads of Kent County, MI and two nights of rustic camping. Participants will Adventure by bike carry their camping gear, water, energy food, tools… etc”. Sounds perfect!

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At this point my 2015 ride of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride (GDMBR) was a couple of months from even beginning. Even though the GDMBR was still a dream to yet be realized, the September date of the Fargo sub-48 had me pondering signing up. Figured I could easily return from the holy grail of mountain bike rides and do the same type of ride in my home state of Michigan.

Well I never did sign up for the 2015 version of the Fargo Sub-48 and it was a good thing too. When that ride took place I had just completed the GDMBR and was waiting a few days in Tucson to catch a flight home.

Fast Forward to Late summer 2016. The bike that served me so well was now collecting dust in storage. Between work and buying a new home that needed much attention, it wasn’t until later summer before logging a single mile of riding since coming back from the GDMBR.

Barely a day passes that I don’t think about being on the trail. Desperate to change the injustice of not getting on my bike and doing some bikepacking, it was back to the good ole internet to see if the ride I pondered the previous year was happening again. Just a couple clicks of searching brought up the info requested, there indeed would be a Fargo Sub-48 part two. This year’s event would take place the first weekend of October in the Manistee National forest near Cadillac, Michigan. The ride will involve 42 miles of riding the first day and 25 the second.

Would also discover the unfortunate news that the ride had been sold out for a couple of months. Not to panic though, figured there is always somebody, due to life events, that will need to give up his or her spot. With fingers crossed a quick email was sent off to a person in charge and soon enough my suspicions were confirmed. There indeed was somebody who needed to drop. A couple emails later yours truly was a registered participant.

A few weeks prior to registering for the ride I helped a good friend buy a new mountain bike. On her first outing with the new bike, we logged over 20 miles on some single track mountain bike trail as well as back roads. Even though she was physically able to match my riding, her knee was not happy with this new endeavor. In fact, it was downright ticked off, and let her know it for many days after.

After a little rehabbing of the knee, we subsequently were able to log many miles together on the back roads here in southeastern Michigan. Was very enjoyable to be riding with a friend. Always willing to add some extra miles to our rides, she had become a fundamental element for me getting back to ‘bikepacking condition’ by the first weekend of October.

A few weeks out from the Sub-48, I expressed to my riding partner that it would be fun if she could join me on the ride. It was merely wishful thinking because she did not own the essential gear to make an overnight bikepacking trip happen. She would need ultralight gear such as sleeping bag, sleeping pad, rain gear, cool weather gear, etc, not to mention the bags to carry it all on her bike. Essentially she needed all the stuff I spent months researching and buying in preparation for the GDMBR.

Well, the Monday morning before the ride I get a text from her that said, “what is the name of that ride?” After replying, her next text was, “it’s all sold out”. To shortcut a lot of detail… She too found somebody not able to go and between the guys at Treefort bikes in Ypsilanti, MI, and REI in Ann Arbor, she was all equipped to go on her first bikepacking adventure by Wednesday. And I had a two-person Big Agnes tent on order set to arrive before Thursday.

Was thrilled to have my friend and riding partner joining me on this weekend adventure.

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