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Our Favorite Long Reads of 2021

Pull up a couch and dig in.

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In-depth feature stories are a pivotal pillar of Beta’s foundation. We love nothing more than a compelling pitch—a story that’s never been told, a personality profile on someone who’d never stand out from the crowd of character unless a writer dug into their backstory, a travel story that puts the reader right there on the trail with the writer, even if it’s halfway around the world. So before we officially close the books on 2021, we’re taking a look back at some of our most compelling long reads from the past year. Like many of Beta’s premium stories, these features are largely available exclusively to Beta Pass and Outside+ members (sign-up here). For those of us who became members this year, a heartfelt thank you for the support—it’s folks like you that make it possible for us to tell these stories. See you back here in ’22. 

The Future (of Freeride) Is Female

Veronique Sandler by Sam Needham.

One of Beta’s first feature stories focused on the state of women’s freeride—a discipline of mountain biking previously dominated by men, and rarely represented a legit career path for women. That started changing with the first Formation event in 2019, and in 2021, the doors finally swung the doors wide open for women.  

The Industrial Re-Revolution

Old Fort, North Carolina. (Photo: Ben Ward)

In a forgotten corner of Southern Appalachia, Kitsbow Apparel is helping to usher in a new era of U.S. manufacturing. By Graham Averill.

Key to the Kingdom

Photo: Dave Trumpore

The smooth, sinewy Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont, draw riders in droves, but in 2019, some local landowners decided they’d had enough and changed the face of one of the nation’s most popular trail networks forever. Devon O’Neil reports on how KT is surviving its own mountain bike boom.

How Political Waters Seed Trail Growth in Southern B.C.

Jake Stanfield, Columbia River at low water, Revelstoke, BC. Photo: Ryan Creary

The Columbia Basin Trust, born through compensation to communities displaced by dams in the 1950s and 1960s, is helping to create some of B.C.’s best trail networks. By: Andrew Findlay.

Layers of Sound and Vision

Clay Porter by Ian Collins.

Clay Porter’s inspired filmmaking has profoundly impacted the visual representation of riding and racing. Mike Rose delves into the mind behind the master.

Big Backcountry Days in the Gifford Pinchot—Adventure Panties Not Optional

The EBitches’ guide to the best eMTB rides in one of the PNW’s most glorious (and most motorized) forests. This story by Anne Keller and Leslie Kehmeier is just plain fun.

Fight or Flight

Photo: Anthony Smith.

A tangle over heli-bike access in Revelstoke, B.C. raises questions about how we profit from public trails. By Matt Coté.

No Time to React: Reliving A Harrowing Grizzly Attack

Tom Kennedy. By Baxter Redfern.

As he rode through Chilcotin bear country last summer, Tom Kennedy came face-to-face with a sow protecting her cubs.

Bravery In Solitude

Photo: Dan Milner.

Brave or stupid? Or perhaps both? Three adventurers test their mettle with their own twist on the Megavalanche. By Dan Milner.

Gravitational Push

Illustration: Sam Needham.

Writer Matt Coté grapples with earth’s most powerful force on British Columbia’s Mount 7, as he seeks to overcome loss through a grueling solo mission.