Interbikepacking with Blackburn Design

We’re here in Las Vegas this week for the bike industry’s annual tradeshow of brands, suppliers, dealers and media slime. Most of our time is spent inside a giant conference hall with confusing booth numbers and overpriced rubber sandwiches.

Blackburn Design wasn’t having any of that though. Last year they invited us on a ride down to the Hoover Dam, which is an insanely impressive piece of engineering (aside from the ecological ramifications) that is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. Anyway, Blackburn upped the ante (that’s a Las Vegas pun) and invited Bicycle Times on an overnight bike camping adventure.


We started by fueling up on some Vitamin T.


The Hoover Dam is a major source of hydroelectric power for Nevada, Arizona and California. There is quite a bit of infrastructure surrounding it.


While the dam has a road atop it, the highway now passes by on the bridge. The Black Canyon forms the border between Nevada and Arizona.


We hung out for a bit spitting off the side of the 726-foot side of the dam and taking in the scenery.


Some of the tourists were quite quizzical about our bikes.


Opened in 1936, the dam includes some beautiful art deco details including the black marble public restrooms inside the intake towers. It’s hard to imagine a government project including such nice details these days.


The water in Lake Mead also sits 50-60 feet below the historic level, creating a dramatic bathtub ring.


Back to the bike riding. This custom painted Santa Cruz belongs to one of the Blackburn employees.


We left the bridge and headed out into the desert for some backroad exploring just as the sun was setting.


The incoming thunderstorm had us dodging lightning and racing for lower ground.

blackburn-interbikepacking-14 blackburn-interbikepacking-13

Nature’s light show was pretty impressive. We rolled into camp just at dusk and set up our Big Agnes tents and polished off some sandwiches before heading to bed.


Being woken up in the middle of the night by a howling pack of coyotes was a memorable experience.


The sun soon rose above Lake Mead and I couldn’t be happier to be further away from the bright lights of Las Vegas.


Once the sun was up it was time for coffee.


Jason from Limberlost kept the caffeine flowing with hand-ground beans and pour-over brewing.


We filled our hydration bladders with filtered lake water and tried to keep our distance from the nudist kayaker guy.


Made some new friends that morning, including this guy, if you can spot him…


… and some desert bighorn sheep.


Finally it was time to load up and ride back uphill and back to reality.


Our time in the desert was just thing we need to revitalize our spirit.


  • Our bikepacking bags, lights, multi-tools and other assorted items were provided by Blackburn.
  • Our tents, sleeping bags and mats were from Big Agnes.
  • The bike I rode was a Niner RLT.


Keep reading

We have a lot more coming from Interbike this week, including new products and new insight. Keep your eyes peeled here as well as our Instagram and Facebook pages for up-to-the-minute updates.



Enter to win a free Big Agnes Slater UL2+ tent


If you’re touring or bikepacking you know how important it is to shave as much weight as possible. The Big Agnes Slater UL2+ is light and fast, but offers extra floor space across the board. Whether you’re flying solo or bringing a dog or partner, the extra space comes at little cost in these minimalist free standing shelters. We’ve replaced the mesh walls on the tent body with lightweight breathable nylon rip-stop for that extra bit of weather protection and privacy or just to keep the sand and wind out when you’re headed to the desert. The large vestibule is perfect for storing all your gear while out on multi-day bikepacking missions.

big-agnes-slater-2 big-agnes-slater-1

Enter to win today by filling out your contact information below or by opening it in a new window here. You can find the contest terms and conditions here. Don’t delay, the drawing will be held Thursday, May 14.

Create your own user feedback survey


Enter to win a free Big Agnes sleeping bag and pad

Get ready for your spring and summer bikepacking adventures with this awesome combo from Big Agnes. We’ve partnered with the leading outdoor gear and apparel brand to give away a Fish Hawk sleeping bag and Green Ridge pad to one lucky Bicycle Times reader.


The Fish Hawk sleeping bag has been updated for 2015 with 650 fill DownTek water-repellant down, offering warmth, compressibility and the Big Agnes Sleep System design. A Classic Series bag, it combines a roomier contour shape with a narrower pad sleeve to provide a more comfortable and cozier sleep experience. It’s also been reshaped to be wider across the top so you can roll over more freely. The ergonomic hood has more range of motion so you can move unrestricted while staying hooded too.


The Green Ridge sleeping pad is a superlight, warm weather pad that’s constructed with Big Agnes’ I-beam technology to eliminate cold spots and provide a stable and comfortable surface to sleep on. It will quickly become a favorite of your bikepacking arsenal.

Enter to win by filling out the contact information below. If you’re having trouble with the form you can open it in a new window here.

No purchase necessary. See the complete terms and conditions here.

Back to Top