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Margus Riga’s specialty is documenting big, self-supported backcountry epics—trips that require months of preparation, a trusted crew adept in route-finding and survival skills and a willingness to adapt in the field if the route, which often traverses remote, rarely, if ever, ridden zones, becomes too consequential. Everything has to line up perfectly to pull off one of these trips, dubbed a ‘hog’ by fellow adventurer Kenny Smith, and lucky for us, the stars aligned for Riga, Smith, Kevin Landry, Peter Wojnar and Fraser Newton to embark on such a journey earlier this fall. The result is a feature story in the upcoming winter issue of Beta, a film that will premiere at the Beta Film Festival in March, and this cover of Smith ripping a corner, from Riga’s lens.
In Riga’s words, this is what it took to nab the cover shot: “If you can’t beat them, join them. We had just gotten our asses handed to us by the aptly named Venus Flytrap Valley, which forced us to abandon our original route on a late fall bikepacking trip through the Niut, a subrange in the northern reaches of British Columbia’s Chilcotin Mountains. With the toll our bodies had taken from five days of hiking our bikes and overstuffed packs through some rugged-ass, no-fall terrain, it was a welcome relief to set up camp, chill for a bit, lose the burly packs, and devote a couple of days to having a good time and doing what we came here to do: Ride our bikes in otherworldly places. This is Kenny Smith, riding his bike in a most otherworldly place.
In total, we covered about 45 kilometres of ground in eight days. That’s nothing compared to what most people cover on a typical bikepacking trip, but this trip was nowhere near typical, and the ground that we covered was more favorable to skiing than riding, but that was the point. To explore a place that no one else has brought a bike to (that we are aware of), see what we can make of it, and get out alive
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