JOE STILLER (BarYak founder and owner)

I am an Adventure Bike Racer from Sioux Falls, SD.  My wife Tina and I also give clinics and direct bike packing tours in the Midwest. 
    When competing in adventure bike races, whether it be summer, or my favorite winter Fatbike racing I find myself concentrating more on the gear and less on the race.  Maybe this distraction is a blessing to get through the ugly moments we all experience in a century or a multiday event. 
    Most of the products that we have designed and currently are bringing to market have been inspired be events like *Trans Iowa 350 mile gravel race across Iowa. – One finger cue card holder with a light bracket for a Princeton Tec Extreme light system.
*Dirty Kanza a 200 mile gravel race over the challenging Flint Hills of Kansas. Multiday events like * Trans South Dakota 700 mile across the mountainous and open prairies of beautiful South Dakota and the addition of a 4 ½ mile packraft river crossing on the Missouri River make this a truly unique event – partnering with
    The *Tuscobia 150 mile Winter Ultra was the inspiration for the BarYak. This race is an out and back course shared with runners, which creates an all new challenge of tough snow conditions, which leads to gear coming loose and dropping on your front wheel. Another problem with current bar mounting systems is gear mounted directly to your handlebars crushes your shift and brake cables which will lead to sluggish shifting, poor responding brakes and premature wearing of your brake, shifting cables and housing. 
    That’s where the BarYak came in.  It outboard mounts your bar roll which gives you plenty of clearance for brake and shifter cables, also giving you a much more secure mount for your harness, nothing is attached to your head tube.
    During Arrowhead 135 of 2014 Rookie year, the race started with 147 racers with a temp. of -27f  and by the 1st checkpoint at mile 37, 92 racers were out, due to frostbite and gear failure. It was at that point my Red front and rear lights had failed due to wrong battery choice for those temps. If it wasn’t for Todd Mc Fadden from Duluth, MN the race would have been over for me, due to his frost bite he loaned me his front and rear flashing lights which allowed me to continue in the race.  At the beginning of Day 2, leaving MelGeorge check point #2 at 1:00 AM.  I noticed with my headlamp I had 6 wolves keeping pace with me.  I’ve never experienced being tracked before by a wild animal ( very uncomfortable ).  Somewhere around 4 AM. I saw the temp. dip down to -35f and it was at that moment my headlamp and the light on my bike failed at the exact same time. It was a very sobering moment for me, 6 wolves following me, all alone, 4 AM. and the only light I had was the occasional flash from my front and rear red lights. At that point I got off my bike, not being able to see and started walking, an hour later cresting a hill I noticed red flashing lights just off the trail, I was so relieved as I approached I heard creaking in the snow, it was Mark Seaburg and Greg Ames, Mark had been bivied down there since 9PM. and Gregs lights also failed.  As the sky turned from black to grey the temp. dipped to -40f  as Greg and I tried stuffing our over sized 40 below sleeping bags into a standard bar roll.  We almost lost our fingers that morning, nothing is safe at -40f and you don’t sleep, just survive.  It was this race that formed a partnership with:
    Kedan N Kath Griffin of Bike Bag Dude, together we designed a custom winter bar roll bag large enough to quickly re-stuff your sleeping bag with quick pull tabs and a speed buckle.
    Kerry Staite of with Kerry’s dyno hub lighting system charger, that generates usable light at 3 MPH, batteries aren’t an issue anymore. 
    This is just a small list of contributors to what is and is to come. 
Thank you, Joe and Tina Stiller.

Check out our event, 3rd Saturday in July 740 mile Bikepacking / Packrafting event