Imagine finishing your 9–5 job on a Friday afternoon and being able to bike from work right up into the foothills. You can decompress for the night, enjoy an evening with some new friends and still make it back down to the city for your Saturday commitments. Owner Mark Kennedy and Director of Social Media Engagement Steve “bykmor” Wasmund of Saturday Cycles want to help make that dream a reality for the commuter bikers of Salt Lake City with their overnight bike-touring trips.
Kennedy founded Saturday Cycles in 2005 to cater to commuter and beginner- to mid-level cyclists, whom he found shops in Salt Lake were neglecting in favor of the high-end road and mountain bikers. Their mission is simple: “Just get on your bike and ride,” says Wasmund, who’s also been with the shop since 2005. Through these overnight bike-touring trips, Saturday Cycles’ aims to grow a stronger cycling community in SLC and expose those who might be everyday bike commuters to the other possibilities a bike can expose them to.
Bicycle touring is essentially backcountry camping, but instead of carrying everything you need on a pack on your back, you attach it to your bike and ride as far from home as you like. Saturday Cycles’ overnight bike trips take root in an idea created by the founder of Rivendell Bicycles based out of California. “Sub-24-hour outings are intended to get bikers out in their own backyards camping, wherever that may be,” says Wasmund. The point of the trips is to show people what’s accessible less than an hour from where they live. By getting riders out on trips like these, the two hope that riders will become more confident in their skills and decide to start taking longer bike-touring trips to Moab and further.
“There’s enough community involved that everyone’s supported and no one gets left behind.”
The trips leave on Friday nights when the shop closes at 6. Being located in the Northwest corner of the city makes it easy to access the foothills above the Shoreline Trail where attendees can enjoy killer sunsets, good company and maybe a few beers (which I find is always deserved after any sort of physical activity). In the morning, the campers usually enjoy a cup of coffee before riding back down into the city. Through these trips, Kennedy and Wasmund highlight how easy it can be for Salt Lake residents to escape the city and enjoy the great outdoors, even if this time is limited.
Regarding a favorite memory from one of the overnight bike trips thus far, it doesn’t take Kennedy long to recall a woman who came with her 30-year-old mountain bike and struggled the whole way up. That same woman proceeded to have such a great time that she upgraded her bike and is currently bike-packing the entire Continental Divide Trail, which is typically a six-month commitment. It’s fair to say that attendees of the overnight trips must have a good time.
Kennedy’s example perfectly highlights why Saturday Cycles wanted to start these trips, to expose Utah residents to the outdoors they love in ways city commuters typically don’t experience. Often after I watch some sort of outdoor-adventure movie, I get an urgent feeling that I need to go out and do something I deem cool immediately. Talking with Kennedy and Wasmund about the overnight-bike-packing trips left me with a similar feeling. It’s easy to see their love for biking while talking to them. Their passion to help expose new people to bike-packing and share the outdoors with more people is not only good for business but great community-building as well.
The biking experience needed to participate on an overnight bike trip is low. However, the Shoreline Trail does get steep, so a certain level of physical fitness doesn’t hurt. “There’s enough community involved that everyone’s supported and no one gets left behind,” says Kennedy. A trip like this would be ideal for those wanting to keep their skiing legs strong this summer, or for people who enjoy camping and want to add an extra element.
Wasmund also assured me of the benefits of it only being an overnight trip. If you forget anything, nothing that terrible will happen to you. Worst-case scenario, you forget your sleeping bag and you just bike home to go to bed. In my personal experience, however, the trips where something goes wrong are always the ones I look back on and can laugh at the most. It’s a great test of ingenuity and resourcefulness as well.
One of the biggest perks of living in SLC that’s helped the city grow in recent years is the proximity to the mountains. Saturday Cycles is making that close access more attainable to those with busy schedules or those who have maybe never done a trip like this before but are interested in trying with a group. I meet a lot of people who say they moved to Salt Lake for the winter and stayed for the summer sports. Bike-packing could be the summer activity that you’ve been missing. If you’re interested in signing up for one of their overnight bike trips, the easiest way to reach them would be calling the shop or visiting the Saturday Cycles Facebook page.