Bikepacking is pure freedom for me and about as much fun as it’s possible to have.” Sami Sauri
We all have different definitions of what it means to be free, but being out on the open road with just a bike and a pack is high on our list. For Sami Sauri, freedom is her bike. In theory, she lives in Girona, Spain but in reality, she lives on the road, seeking out as many adventures on two wheels as she can while juggling many different creative roles. “Bikepacking, she says, is pure freedom for me and about as much fun as it’s possible to have.” Put together her love of adventure and her cycling career, and it’s no surprise that bikepacking became her passion in life. For her old friend Anthony Richelot, living in Paris and working as an art director, the chance to escape urban life is what pushed him towards bike packing.
There's something magical about cycling all day in wide-open spaces. You feel so small out there. It makes you feel you got a gift from nature.”
They share a passion for bikepacking and a love of nature, but a different kind of cycling and environment brought them together as friends. When they first met, they were both competing on the fixed gear circuit, but these days, their focus is on bikepacking rather than racing and using it to create their own adventures.
We would always see each other in these cool cities to take part in the Criterions, so we would meet up in Brooklyn, London, Milan or Barcelona and apart from cycling we always kind of gravitated to each other because we are both creatives, that love to make films and take photos, so we had a creative bond as well as a cycling one. But we had always met at races; this was our first chance to meet for fun, and on this trip to Bardenas, we got to really connect in a different way”
Crossing the desert landscape of Bardenas was a chance for both of them to reflect on why bikepacking is about much more than sport, on how in paring everything back to the essentials, they feel connected to the landscape and appreciate the simplest things more deeply.
Being out in Bardenas, there is a moment when the sun hits the rocks, and all these colors appear from yellow, red, gray, and even green. I don't know if I can describe what that vibe is, but it’s a very special energy and one I really only get on my bike.”
Traveling light might be the bikepacker’s motto; it’s never about taking the easiest road when there’s a more challenging one to discover. Pushing the boundaries comes naturally to Sami and Anthony, and for them, the heat and dust were forgotten in the joy of the journey.
We both took a lot of photos and footage. There were so many beautiful moments”
Traveling by bike is, of course, not just good for mental and physical health but a smart environmental choice. As more and more people reject airline travel, the bikepacking world will only expand as an obvious sustainable way to see the world. The term Bikepacking was first used in an article in National Geographic back in 1973 by Dan Burden to describe his epic ride across Alaska and Canada. Traveling and touring by bike goes back many years before that, but he is generally credited as the first person to use that name in print. Some people love to debate the difference between touring and bikepacking, but words and narrow definitions matter less than the joy of getting on your bike and hitting the trails.
No other sport gives me the same amount of fun or freedom; bikepacking is just my way of life now.”
For us, bikepacking lies somewhere in that happy place that connects trail biking, backpacking, cycle touring, and camping. For Sami and Anthony, it is every bit as thrilling as their racing days were, a different kind of thrill for sure, but most definitely their shared happy place.