Bikepackers to visit Lawrence, share about their ‘life on wheels’

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Lovers of the outdoors are invited to hear bikepackers Katie and Andrew Strempke speak on Friday at Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop. The couple will share about their life exclusively on wheels.

The high school sweethearts have been married for seven years. Both originally from the Kansas City area, adventuring became a staple in the life they created together, so they based their lifestyle upon living out of a van full-time.

The Strempkes share a love for bikepacking, which is essentially riding their bikes on long routes and camping throughout. Katie said she and Andrew are excited to share about their life experiences with fellow adventurers in Lawrence.

“We’re looking forward to talking about bikepacking and bikepack racing and how we do that riding singlespeed — which is when our bikes just have one gear — and then just sharing a little bit about the realities of van life, what’s good about it, and some of the sacrifices that we do have to make,” Katie said.

In 2018, the Strempkes completed a bike tour on the Great Divide mountain bike route that starts at Banff, Canada and goes down along the Continental Divide to the border of Mexico. That trip was the catalyst for them, Katie said. 

They now live out of and travel with their remodeled van, which has exposed them to wildlife and nature scenery all around the country.

Andrew and Katie Strempke live, work and travel out of their van, which they’ve remodeled to fit their needs. (Contributed photo)

“After that trip, we realized that those are the things we really wanted to be able to do, [like] bikepacking more,” Katie said. “So we see the van as a vehicle for doing those things. We don’t have to pay rent, we can follow the good weather and be in places that have good riding and and outdoor activities.”

One of their favorite destinations is Moab, Utah in the spring and fall, Katie said, where they love to bikepack, hike and packraft, which consists of riding their bikes down to a river and then using their packraft — an inflatable boat that fits in a backpack — to travel down the river. 

They also love spending time in Colorado in the summer, especially up in the High Rockies. One time, Katie said, she was hiking on the Colorado Trail and found herself around 50 feet away from two mountain lions.

Katie Strempke packrafts through a river. (Contributed photo)

Along with taking trips, the Strempkes have participated in a plethora of bike races. This year, they both did the Tour Divide mountain biking race. Andrew has also completed the Triple Crown challenge, which consists of racing the Tour Divide, the Colorado Trail and the Arizona Trail all in one calendar year. Not many people have achieved that, Katie said, and Andrew set the new record for the fastest singlespeed time.

The Strempkes also own and operate a business called Dispersed Bikepacking out of their van. They sew custom bikepacking bags as well as share blog posts about their travels.

Katie said she hopes their story encourages and empowers others who are considering van life, trying out bikepacking or just traveling more.

“You don’t need the perfect vehicle or the perfect anything to get started,” Katie said. “For people who want to get into bikepacking, you don’t need all the fancy bags and gear and everything. Throw your stuff in a backpack and strap stuff to your bike with bungee cords, and just head out there.”

The free event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30 at Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, 804 Massachusetts St., Suite 100. No registration is required to attend. Visit the Facebook event page to learn more.

Andrew Strempke is pictured after finishing the Colorado Trail bike race. (Contributed photo)
Katie Strempke is pictured during the Tour Divide mountain biking race this year. (Contributed photo)
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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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