One day out of the blue, my buddy Craig (@OneofSevenProject) called me up and asked if I’d be interested in heading up to Alaska to do a bikepacking trip. The only correct answer to that question is always yes. Having done some bike touring in Alaska previously (in 2000 a friend and I pedaled from Prudhoe Bay, AK south to Southern California over about 5 months), I was eager to get back up north and explore more dirt roads and trails that I had missed on my previous trip.

A couple months later, we both agreed that we just needed to pull the trigger to make this happen. We both jumped online, looked at flights and debated dates—and before we knew it tickets were purchased. He was flying from Boston, and we would rendezvous in Portland, OR in the airport before taking separate flights about 40 minutes apart up to Anchorage. Game on.

Bikepacking in Alaska | Heading North from Valdez
Bikepacking in Alaska | Heading North from Valdez

We flew with our bikes to Anchorage and then pedaled north from Valdez to Fairbanks. It was a trip full of tough miles, lots of HAB (hike-a-bike), one curious brown bear inside our comfort circle, lots of rain, a couple head colds, and endless amazing views.

Bikepacking Alaska | Roadside Camping
Roadside Camping

We had heard about the possibility of bikepacking the Alaskan Pipeline access roads, and having both done previous bike touring across Alaska, we decided we needed to check it out. The pipeline is a monster, and requires a ROW, which is a permit to access this sliver of secured, private property that runs across the state of Alaska. Heavy rain and countless steep grades kept our average speed low as we settled into our first few days on the bikes. Not knowing if there would be bear or moose around the corner while riding through dense vegetation also kept the excitement level high.

The geography of Alaska (and starting down south on the coast) meant we faced the majority of our climbing in the first days of the trip. The same mountains we would climb over were also acting as a barrier for Pacific storms, keeping us wet and muddy until we made it over Thompson Pass in the Chugach Mountains. Better weather and flatter roads were the payoff as we continued north.

Bikepacking Alaska | Carrying the bikes over a landslide
Carrying the bikes over the landslide
Bikepacking Alaska | Steep has a different meaning in Alaska
Steep has a different meaning in Alaska
Bikepacking Alaska | Pedaling the Pipeline access roads and trails
Pedaling the Pipeline. Thanks to Outdoor Research for the support and keeping us warm and dry.

We attempted to follow the ROW as much as possible, but between the over-zealous beavers, endless HABs, and the unknown conditions of remote dirt roads, our timeline to make it to Fairbanks and catch our flights home in a little less than 2 weeks meant we had to put in some highway miles.

The Richardson Highway took us north into the vast Alaskan interior. We had views of the Wrangell–St. Elias mountains to the east, and then the Alaska Range as we worked our way north to the turnoff for the Denali Highway.

Bikepacking Alaska | Denali Highway
The start of the Denali Highway
Bikepacking Alaska | Dirt for Happiness
Dirt for Happiness
Bikepacking Alaska | Airing out the tents after several days of rain
Airing out the tents after several days of rain

The highlight of our trip had to be the Denali Highway. Both of us were blown away by the scenery along what is said to be one of the top 3 highways in North America. Forward progress was constantly interrupted by one view after another as the highway switched between sweeping pavement and dirt. It’s hard to put into words the scale and beauty of this route as it cuts east–west across Alaska, ending at the Parks Highway, just south of the entrance to Denali National Park.

Bikepacking Alaska | Pedaling towards Denali
@ScottyIDG Pedaling towards Denali

We decided to take the time to stop in the park and play tourist for a couple days. Despite the rain the first day that kept us in our tents, sleeping well into the late morning, Denali came out in grand fashion. It was spectacular and a well-spent 2 days of rest and recovering off the bikes.

Bikepacking Alaska | The view from here
The view from here
Bikepacking Alaska | The view from here
@OneofSevenProject enjoying the view
Bikepacking Alaska | Denali National Park
The mountain comes out! Denali National Park

Inclement weather, physical discomfort, and challenging terrain are part of any big trip into the mountains, but despite these, bikepacking in the Great North was incredible. We both agreed it was a success and we were ready to keep pedaling rather than get on planes to return home, as our bodies and minds were just settling into the daily ritual of moving ourselves long distances through the mountains. Unfortunately, the ‘real world’ was calling us back.

Friends for 15 years, we agree that vacations, and even life, aren’t about sitting in a resort or behind a desk, but about getting outside one’s comfort zone and sleeping in the dirt. We also realize how lucky we both are to have a buddy who is down for the big ideas and crazy outdoor adventures we dream up while stuck in the daily grind. Cheers to all the crazy friends and plus-ones out there who are down for adventure at the drop of a dime!

Bikepacking Alaska | The view from here
The view from here
Bikepacking Alaska | Thanks to Big Agnes for the support
Thanks to Big Agnes for the support
Bikepacking Alaska | Denali Highway
Denali Highway
Bikepacking Alaska | on the Denali Highway after catching the Croatia World Cup Match (in the middle of nowhere!)
In the Interior of Alaska after a warm breakfast and catching the Croatia World Cup Match

Once in a while you meet someone and you know from that first smile: this is something. There’s magic. There’s an extra spring in your step. You’re in it for the long haul. It’s a dream when this happens in the design world.

This pretty much sums up my first meeting with Wasatch Mountain Arts, the folks who put on the Wasatch Mountain Film Festival. When I met these guys last year, we discovered that we had already connected in multiple places online. The WMF is a new film festival here in Utah, with all the enthusiasm of youth and a healthy respect for their big brothers (like the Banff Mountain Film Festival and Telluride Mountainfilm). The WMF is run by Wasatch Mountain Arts, an organization whose goal is to promote arts and mountain culture in Utah—this was like the best Tinder match a bunch of mountain-loving creatives could hope for!

After an initial chat about WMA’s purpose and vision for the festival, I went to work on designing logo comps and identity ideation. Creating a new logo and visual language for a client that lives and breathes both the outdoor and art worlds, just like us, was a dream project. But it quickly turned into one of the more challenging branding projects I’ve taken on. There is a very fine line to walk when taking on a project like this: you want to have an immediately recognizable logo and you want the identity of your client to be understood at first glance, but you also want to steer clear of the trite and over-done. They needed a logo that looked “film festival” enough but that didn’t look just like every other film festival logo out there (some better than others)—to convey the film aspect without showing an actual film reel or strip. And then we needed to tie in the Wasatch Mountains, something that was also important to me personally because they are my favorite spot in the Lower 48. I had to do this logo justice.

Looking to the Wasatch for inspiration, I found Mt. Nebo to be particularly inspiring. With twin summits a little under 12,000 feet, it isn’t the tallest mountain in the state, which means there is always room for improvement and something bigger to strive for. It’s a non-technical walk up, which means any skill level can conceivably summit, but it’s also a big day in the mountains and you have to be committed to it. Mt. Nebo has that iconic Wasatch silhouette and is a peak that many people who drive north along I-15 are familiar with; for some of us it represents home, for others it means arrival at the doorstep of adventure.

As we worked through design revisions and honed in on the final Wasatch Mountain Film Festival logo and identity standards, we also ended up with a new logo for Wasatch Mountain Arts. With more of an art focus and modern design feel that could appeal to a wide audience, we built the WMA logo on the silhouette of Mt. Olympus: the most prominent peak from Salt Lake City and one that is approachable, close, and aesthetically pleasing.

From here we turned our attention to event design and print materials, with a major focus on the event magazine. In past years, the magazine was created in-house and quickly printed; but it became apparent that festival goers would throw away the magazine as soon as a film screening was over. With our collective outdoor focus, we decided that creating this book for digital consumption made much more sense. We would still print the magazine—but a smaller number and higher quality that people would actually want to keep—and then sell it at the event. With so many incredible creatives and filmmakers submitting work as this event grows (including the likes of Chris Burkard, Brody Leven, Sender Films‘ Peter Mortimer, and Fitz Cahall of the much-loved Dirtbag Diaries), we have access to some world-class imagery and stories that enable us to build a magazine that anyone in the outdoor community would be excited to get their hands on.

Wasatch Mountain Film Festival 2017 Magazine Design and Production
With the opportunity to create distinct assets like this high-quality magazine and award laurels for filmmakers and adventurers who excel at their craft, this project has pushed our creativity as a studio and allowed me personally to spend more time sketching and flexing that same creative muscle that used to get me in trouble as a kid (how many artists out there remember being scolded for drawing on homework?). I like to think this creative strength training has elevated the quality of all the other projects we have on deck at IDG right now too.

Wasatch Mountain Film Festival Award Laurels
The Wasatch Mountain Film Festival is still pretty young. I’m so excited we’ve had the opportunity to partner with them in this early stage as a sponsor of the 2017 festival, and I’m looking forward to growing that partnership and role with the organization in the years to come.

 

Wasatch Mountain Film Festival screenings are taking place June 17th–21st in Park City, Salt Lake City, Sandy, and at Snowbird Resort. If you want to go and haven’t gotten tickets yet, you’re in luck—use the code ILOVETHEWASATCH to get your tickets 50% off! Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Late last year I got a call from a friend in California asking if I wanted to take on a design project that he didn’t have time in his schedule to handle. I hopped on a call with him and the client and was immediately in—this was a project for a retail-designed jersey for Swiss cycling apparel maker ASSOS. Well known for their quality, ASSOS is a small company and my favorite kind of client: bike related, design related, focused on quality.

About a week into the project they told me that it wasn’t really the most pressing project they had on their docket and asked if I’d be interested in helping with the leaders’ jersey designs for the Tour of California. Uhhh—YES. And also—YES.

Classic Bike Jersey Design

Leaders’ jerseys in the Pro Peloton are fairly straightforward. Tradition dictates: Yellow for the Race Leader (unless you’re in Italy this week), Green for the Sprinter, Blue for the Most Aggressive, White for the Young Rider, and of course Red Polka Dots for the Climber’s Jersey. This could have been a very simple project, but I wanted to push it a bit; this is ASSOS’ first year sponsoring the venerable Amgen Tour of California—the largest professional bike race in North America.

I took cues from each leader’s jersey sponsor and created themes around them that also related to California as a destination. Then I worked through creating tonal color relationships so the primary color of each jersey was consistent with ASSOS’ inline 2017 retail jersey line, while still keeping the overall look of the jersey consistent with the traditional color themes.

Amgen Leader’s Jersey—Yellow rays of sunshine for the Sunshine State. It is upbeat and positive, which reflects Amgen’s cancer research and their work towards curing cancer.

Visit California Sprinter’s Jersey—Green vertical lines reminiscent of the forests and parks that millions of tourists flock to California every year to visit.

Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider’s Jersey—Blue technical shapes representing circuit boards and electronics, the visualization of data, and the innovation that California is known for around the world.

Lexus Climber’s Jersey—Red polka dots with the silhouette of the Sierra Nevada—one of the world’s most famous mountain ranges—at the bottom hem, keeping the design modern and sleek.

TAG Heuer Young Rider’s Jersey—ASSOS had a special opportunity to work with world-renowned artist ALEC on the artwork for this jersey, making this a sought-after piece of art as well as a jersey that reflects the spirit and energy of the young riders in the peloton. ALEC’s team provided us with original artwork and then I worked this into a design that sat on the clothing pattern and kept the most unique pieces of the artwork represented in a space that would print well.

I also got to design the L’Étape California Jersey, the Chairmain’s Jersey, and the Commemorative Retail Jersey. Hop on over to the ASSOS webstore to pick up any of their retail jerseys »

It’s always exciting to see the work you’ve produced out in the world, alive and breathing. But this is next-level. Watching the live stream [here] every day of the race and seeing work that we’ve designed on some of the fastest cyclists in the world, rolling through towns and cities that have been my home stomping grounds for much of my life, is pretty great.