Next week, I’ll be participating in the inaugural Alberta Rockies 700. It’s Alberta’s first bikepacking race and the route follows Highway 40 along the eastern flanks of the Alberta Rockies from Hinton to Coleman.
It’s my first-ever bikepacking race, too, so I want to introduce readers to this type of racing and give you the information required to understand, follow, and ideally participate in the event either this year or next!
Bikepack Racing 101
Bikepacking is the cycling community’s fast growing subculture thanks largely to the Tour Divide’s reputation as the world’s hardest bike race. Almost all bikepacking races follow the same rules and the Alberta Rockies 700 is no exception.
In general, these events are unsanctioned, single-stage, self-supported races that follow these basic rules:
- Attempts are self-supported and self-timed in a single stage, ultimately measured in days, hours, minutes.
- There are no required checkpoints, rest stops or resupply points.
- No outside support is permitted, except publicly available services that are found along the route.
- This ride is not an official event, nor is it sanctioned in any way, there is no entrance fee, and there is no prize for finishing.
- All riders are solely responsible for their own safety and security along the route.
- Racers are encouraged to finish as fast as possible (ie: It’s a race, not a tour)
If you’re interested in learning more about my experience on the route commonly called Tour Divide, check out my 10 Unofficial Rules post on Steller or grab a digital copy of the June/July2016 Canadian Cycling Magazine.
General Info for the Alberta Rockies 700
Grand Depart: June 19th at 7AM from Hinton, Alberta
Northern Terminus: Hinton, Alberta
Southern Terminus: The Rum Runner in Coleman, Alberta (7902 20 Ave)
Current Course Record: 2 Days, 9 Hours, 11 Minutes by Dean Anderson
Route: Ride with GPS Map
Follow the Race: Trackleaders.com
If you are keen to follow my progress, look for the blue “JB” dot beginning Sunday morning.
My Equipment for the Alberta Rockies 700
Last summer, I biked the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff to Mexico on a Surly Krampus. It was the ultimate bikepacking gear check, so I’ll be riding the same bike for the Alberta 700.
Despite riding the same bike, I’ve shaved nearly 10 kg from my Tour Divide setup. Since we’ll only be on the route for one or two nights, I took a minimalist packing strategy opting to leave all off-the-bike clothing, spare cycling kit, and my sleeping pad at home. This eliminated the need for the handlebar roll, so I’ll be running only my frame and seat bags.
Bike changes since Tour Divide include new wheels (running a Hope rear hub and a SON28 Dyno hub on carbon rims) and new handlebar grips designed for the swept back handlebars. While that might not seem like a big deal, since making the switch my hands have stopped going numb.
Stay tuned for new details about the Alberta Rockies 700 next week!
If you’re brand new to bikepacking, my overview of bikepack racing and equipment to carry isn’t the best starting point. Lots can go wrong when you start favoring speed over preparedness (carrying less = going faster).
For an entire overview of Bikepacking, check out this lengthy guide from Call to Adventure that serves as a Bikepacking Ultimate Guide.