The plateau passage is a 1200-mile bikepacking route from Durango, CO to Las Vegas, NV. The route travels over 4 states, ascends 120,000 feet, is 80% unpaved and is 20% single track. Bikepacking Roots describes it as such:
Over arid peaks, lush plateaus, deep canyons, slickrock, and stunning mountains, the Plateau Passage bikepacking route features 1,200+ miles of rugged, isolated, and challenging riding that takes you from the low Mojave Desert, across the peerless Colorado Plateau, and into the high Rocky Mountains.
Yup. You shouldn’t take the Plateau Passage lightly. Apart from being very long and technically difficult, the Plateau Passage is also VERY remote. Expect limited water, several hundred miles between bicycle repair shops, extreme heat, and spiky, tire-puncturing, plants. To even consider riding it, you should have completed a previous self-supported multi-day bikepacking trip through technical terrain in remote wilderness. Suffice to say, you should be ready to suffer. Finishers will have truly accomplished the journey of a lifetime.
We are two guys who first met on the 2020 Tour Aotearoa, an 1800-mile bikepacking brevet across New Zealand. We loved the camaraderie of the tour and wanted to do something similar back home. However, there are very few bikepacking events in the US that are not races - even fewer that are team events.
Separately, we'd like to do some good in the world. We are not taking entry fees. Instead, we're asking you to give either $500 or an equivalent amount of time to a charitable cause of your choice. If 10 people ride, that's atleast $5,000 for charity. If 100 people ride, that's $50,000! More details on that below.
While we have several thousand miles of cycling between us, neither of us has hosted a bikepacking event nor have we done this specific route - the Plateau Passage. All that to say, expect things to be a little rough-around-the-edges. Also, we could use some help! We'll be taking photos, making notes, measuring how deep the quicksand is, and counting the snakes in the snake pits. You can help count the snakes or, alternatively, just let us know when the cue sheets are wrong.
We are calling this a “team pursuit”. Everyone will ride on a team of 3-5 people. Ideally, these should be people you’ve rode with before and trust. This is both for safety through the remote desert and for a sense of camaraderie.
Instead of an official start-date, we will have an official end-date - Saturday, October 2nd. This allows teams to travel at their own pace while still (hopefully!) arriving together at the end. On that day, there will be a finishers party with fire and beer.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Even if you don’t have a team, we’ll try to figure something out. Before the event, we’d also like you to raise at least $500 for charity or, alternatively, tell us about the volunteer work you’ve been doing. That will come later though.
We expect that the pandemic will be sufficiently under-control by September. If unanticipated developments cause the risk to participants or the communities along the route to be too high, we will postpone the event until 2022. If you’ve made your charitable donation, we will still count it for the 2022 event.
Self reliance: It is easy to get separated from your teammates. You should personally carry everything you need to survive and manage emergencies in the wilderness. The Pleateu Passage Pursuit and its organizers cannot and do not take any responsibility for your safety.
Help others: This is not a race. If a participant needs help, even if they are not on your team, you should stop to help them. If helping another person causes you to miss the finish party, think of it as an extra honor.
Leave-no-trace: Follow the 9 principles for bikepackers. The wilderness of the Southwest is beautiful and pristine and belongs to all of us. Be especially mindful of cryptobiotic soil - which is common throughout the tour.
Respect the locals: The plateau passage is long and goes through several towns, a few Indian reservations, and plenty of private property. Be good ambassadors of bikepacking. If you can, try to spend some money along the way.
Resources: Bikepackingroots.org has the most up-to-date information including GPS track files and a detailed route guide - albeit in the opposite direction. For navigation, expect more details from us in the next few months regarding navigation as we might tweak the route slightly.
Preparation level: Don't take this tour lightly. You should have completed a previous multi-day bikepacking trip through technical terrain in remote wilderness. Additionally, you should be able to ride a mountain bike for 50 miles per day or a road bike for 100 miles per day for multiple days. The Plateau Passage is 1200 miles. If you achieve 50 miles per day, that would be 24 days of riding.
Search & Rescue: Two of the four states on the route has search & rescue funds that are available for a trivial amount of money. We would recommend signing up for both Colorado and Utah.
GPS tracker/beacon: To actually get the search & rescue, you'll need to call them! Additionally, you shouldn't place all of your trust in maps / cue sheets! Following the GPS coordinates is the recommended way to navigate.
Bicycle: Given the technical single track, for most riders, a hardtail will be the right choice. Either have tubeless tires + a repair kit or be ready to carry a lot of tires.
Self-repair: There are only 3 towns with bicycle stores along the entire route. There are no bicycle stores at all for 600 miles between Moab and Cedar City. Be confident in your ability to repair / replace every moving part of your bicycle or be willing to hitchhike out.
Water: Prepare to carry up to 2 gallons (8 liters) of water at a time. The maximum distance between water sources is 70 miles. Even then, water sources are often low quality so you might need to go further.
Email us at email@example.com! Even if you aren't sure you can make it yet, we'd love to hear from you.