When I first wanted to get into the world of bikes, adventure cycling and bikepacking really grabbed my attention. It seemed so grand and freeing to jump on your bike and just go into the wild. My first bikepacking trip was in Stanley, ID during the summer of 2018. I drove there in one day — about 13 hours — just to get to the start of my adventure. My following bikepacking trips to San Francisco and Ireland both required big travel as well. That's what I thought bikepacking was: bike trips… with big travel.
It wasn't until I jumped on a townie ride in 2021 with Alter Cycles up in Bozeman, MT that I realized multi-day epic trips weren't really my jam anymore. I love a good trip, but the amount of fun I had on that ride was some of the best biking I've done. I guess that's what happens when you're on the wrong bike but on all the right trails.
At that point I learned what an ATB was. An ATB is an all terrain bike, the one bike to do it all: road, gravel, single track, and stairs. I found townie rides and ATB rides in Boulder, CO to jump on. The fun quota I was hitting without packing out my bike to the nines and having a gear list a mile long was amazing.
At an all-time high, I thought, why don't I rally a few friends and see how much fun we can pack into a day on bikes? Thus the idea of “Funpacking” was born. For some, this is something they may have been doing their whole life. I didn't get into bikes until my mid 20s, and now at 31 I'm more stoked than ever to make excuses to go out and ride. Giving an activity a name can validate participating in it, plus imagine telling friends or coworkers that you went Funpacking last weekend, and their reaction to that!
The first step of Funpacking is to keep the travel minimal, find a central rallying point for all your friends. We began our morning with coffee at Treehouse Cyclery in Denver, owned and run by our friends Alyssa Gonzalez and Kolby Clements. The whole shop feels like the living room you wish you had: bathed in warm light, filled with friends, and enough character that it could put on its own play.
From there you'll need a route. Route planning is always kind of a headache so what I'd recommend is make a plan and two pedal strokes into the ride throw all those plans out the window. A few days before we rode we got hit with a snowstorm so our aspirations of gravel and single track faded and we aimed for dryer terrain with the same rewards, FUN!
If someone on the ride has an idea, hear them out and roll with it! Our “on the fly route” included a bike speed calculator, a double corkscrew climb and descent, a backyard chicken coop pit stop, stair rides, a mega ramp drop-in and sledding hill powlines.
There is one thing you have to take just as seriously in Funpacking as you do in bikepacking, and that's nutrition. My friend once told me “Eat to ride, ride to eat” and I live by that code. Our urban aid stations included Queen City Coffee, Vinh Xuong Bakery, and the aid stations of all aid stations… Cart-Driver. The coffee is for energy, bahn mi is for the soul, and the pizza is a blanket to keep you warm on your pedal home.
In total, we rode 13 miles and took one train. But Funpacking isn't about metrics. It's about creating an excuse to get out with your friends on a ride. It's about making bikes and cycling feel fun and approachable, because 50 mile gravel rides, aero bars and lycra, single track and steep descents can be discouraging to new and seasoned riders alike. Start with packing in as much FUN as you can, then see how far you'll go. On the next sunny day, ask your friends if they wanna go Funpacking and see where that takes you.
Special thanks to our pals at Hudski Bicycle Company. Funpacking features a couple of their Doggler models, the ultimate urban jaunt & sledding hill joyride.
Written by Adam Concannon, Topo Designs Brand Photographer and Videographer