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UMaine is now offering the country’s first bikepacking club

The University of Maine Bikepacking Collective held its first meeting at Stevens Hall last Tuesday. This club is noteworthy as being the first university club in the entire country dedicated to bikepacking.

Club president Christopher Brahan is a second-year student currently enrolled in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program at UMaine. Brahan’s passion for all things related to biking, bike repair and bikepacking is what initially inspired him to form the club, as he wanted to facilitate an environment dedicated to those interested in the activity.

But what exactly is bikepacking? To put it in simple terms, bikepacking is an activity in which a cyclist will load their bike with a various number of necessities such as food, water and camping gear and then travel long off-road distances by bike. After a certain amount of distance is traveled, the cyclist will set up camp in the wilderness. A bikepacking trip can last anywhere between one to multiple days, while also providing an avenue of escapism for many people who want to be more mindful and connected with nature. The hobby has slowly but surely become popular among many cyclists, especially with the advent of COVID-19.

Brahan’s interest in bikepacking grew when he went on his first bikepacking trip in April of last year, without even realizing it.. For Earth Day, Brahan had an overnight camping spot in mind, but lacked a car to get there. The only option that he had to get there was by bike, and this eventually sparked an idea. 

I decided to load up a backpacking bag with all of the things I needed to go camping and I left to embark on a 35 mile ride to my camping spot. I learned a lot on this trip, and was drawn to the ability to cover such great distances while not needing a vehicle,” says Brahan.

Brahan wanted to make the club not only welcoming to more experienced cyclists, but also to complete newcomers as well. Whether people have mountain bikes or road bikes, the club is encouraged for cyclists of all skill levels. The club is also open for non-UMaine students.

Maine is notable for having many dirt roads and logging roads for bikepacking trips to take place, such as the trails that surround Katahdin Mountain up north. One of the most popular and challenging bikepacking spots in New England is the Super 8, located across the state of Vermont. The Super 8 has become one of the premiere spots for bikepacking, where cyclists start at the center of the path and travel for days, traveling along a figure eight shape. The Super 8 location was predominantly featured in a short documentary “There from Here” which was shown at the UMaine Bikepacking Collective’s first meeting.

One of the main goals of the club’s weekly meetings will be to educate people on how to properly maintain or repair their bikes. The cost of repairing a broken bike at a repair shop is quite expensive for those who aren’t familiar with how to repair them. The club will offer educational lessons on how to diagnose or replace flat tires, take the tubes off of bikes, replacing handlebars and much more. Members of the club who are more experienced bike repairs will also be given the opportunity to help and educate other members. 

The club is also not gated by requiring a bike to participate, as the club plans to raise money and provide bikes to members who don’t have one. UMaine has faced recent issues with stolen bikes across campus. Because of this, the UMaine Bikepacking Collective will provide people with an opportunity to receive club-provided bikes in order to participate in the many activities being offered.

We have many fun ideas and events coming up in the coming semester and next fall. Personally I am most excited for our first bikepacking trip as a club to a dispersed camping site 30 miles east of campus. I am also excited for future guest speaker talks that are in the works currently,” says Brahan.

One of the main benefits of bikepacking is becoming more connected with the outdoors. The UMaine Bikepacking Collective will help in educating and preparing those who want to travel in a more eco-friendly manner while also facilitating a community along the way. 

The club meets every Tuesday from 6:30-7:30PM at Stevens Hall Room 115. 

You can reach out to and request to join the Google Classroom for the Umaine Bikepacking Collective


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