An Unexpected Glimpse into Peruvian Culture
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
EDITOR’S WARNING: This gallery contains content that may offend the lovers of fluffy animals. There are slides in the gallery which give you plenty of warning to turn back. Keep in mind, this is part of the Peruvian culture, so please maintain an open mind.
My final stretch on the Peruvian Divide Route started like much of the rest. Incredibly quiet roads lined with as much spectacular scenery and as many furry friends as one can possibly handle. Bobbing and weaving between storms (without much success), and drifting in and out of the occasional small village filled with welcoming locals.
As far as bikepacking/dirt touring routes go, I can’t really think of a more complete experience. Where the Cordillera Blanca to the north wins on pure scenery, the Divide easily wins on way-off-the-beaten-path dirt road riding (if that is your thing). This makes for easier wild camping, and even more interesting interactions with locals who simply don’t see tourists around with any kind of frequency. (more…)
The history of Derby is riddled with ups and downs. In 1874, it began as a tin mining outpost, on the East Coast of Tasmania, employing lots of Chinese immigrants who began building mines and excavating land in search of this precious mineral. Prosperity came with a booming tin industry and in the late 19th century, the population of Derby topped 3,000. That might not sound like a huge number, but keep in mind the people living in Derby were served by and worked for the tin industry.
In early April 1929, heavy rains caused the tin mine’s dam to burst. Consequently, the Cascade River flooded the town, killing a dozen or so people and wiping out most of the buildings. Eventually, the mine re-opened, but never reached the same output, forcing it to close in 1948. For almost 70 years, Derby was a sleepy town, offering no real appeal for tourists, Tasmania’s 1.3 billion dollar a year industry. Then, in 2015 the Blue Derby mountain bike park opened and suddenly, things began to change for this sleepy town. (more…)
An entire gallery of just a single climb? Why not. When I first saw photos of Jacob’s Ladder, many years ago, it solidified my desire to ride bikes in Tasmania. There’s something about a series of switchbacks or hairpins cascading their way down a mountain pass that is not only incredibly photogenic but a very satisfying feeling to tackle on the bike. With each corner resulting in a feeling of accomplishment, the climb always feels a bit shorter.
The Ben Lomond National Park attracts all kinds of tourists, but I’d argue cyclists might appreciate the final approach a bit more than any motorists… Enjoy! No matter which way you ride it, Jacob’s Ladder is an out and back.
Many, many, many thanks to Tourism Northern Tasmania for funding this jaunt, Scott for being a model and Rob for providing the shuttle from Derby to Ben Lomond. Also, thank whatever kept me from falling 100′ to my death while I was scaling up the rock faces to find a new vista…
After a cold and wet previous 48 hours, we were keen to seek the sun in one of Eastern Tasmania’s most beautiful landscapes: the Bay of Fires. While many believe the Bay of Fires is named after the bright red lichen that grows on the rocks surrounding the blue waters of the Tasman sea, it was in fact named in 1773 by Captain Tobias Furneaux, who upon anchoring off the coast of Tasmania, saw the fires of Aboriginal people on the beaches. Out of all the landscapes we have visited thus far on our journey, this region was by far the most beautiful. To boot, we had a wonderful place to lay our heads after a day of riding and exploring the land’s many backcountry fire roads and tracks.
The Bay of Fires Bush Retreat was recently opened by Tom and Anna, a couple who have spent the past few years working in the hospitality and restaurant industry in Eastern Tas. Tom had worked for a local dinner spot for years before making a name for himself and his cooking. Through utilizing his connections and a with the help of a few contractors, he was able to slowly build out this exceptional piece of property, while subsidizing his endeavors through catering private events in the area. His vision was simple: offer a bush camp-inspired getaway with all the luxuries of a resort but with a rustic edge.
Alongside local contractors, Tom spent a few years shaping this retreat into exactly what he envisioned to be the perfect weekend getaway spot with a beauty only rivaled by the majestic coastline, only a few kilometers away. (more…)
Things don’t always go as planned. I awoke after our Central Highlands ride with what I can only describe as the worst allergies I’ve ever experienced. Or as the locals say, “pissa hay feva’ mate!” Turns out, a rather wet winter, followed by a series of storms brought on a serious amount of allergen-related illness this summer in Australia, so I didn’t feel so bad, at least not socially anyway. Still, I had a bloody job to do. We had an agenda and I was sticking to it. For the most part anyway. After all, I’ve been wanting to travel to Tassie for years to ride bikes and I was finally here… (more…)
Tasmania, or Tassie for short, has long been on the list of places I’ve wanted to visit my whole life. Even as a kid with his nosed pressed in nature magazines, the landscape, flora and fauna of this island inspired many daydreams about trekking throughout the backcountry. Over the past few years, trips to Australia came and went, never allowing the extra time to explore this island, its roads and tracks. Each time, locals would say, “mate, you’ve gotta go to Tassie next time!” Everything I’d seen made it look like an exceptional place to ride bikes and with a handful of newly-opened mountain bike parks opening, I began to make moves… (more…)
From Clouds to Cacti: Three Southern California Ranges in Three Days
Photos by John Watson, words by David Bangor with notes by John Watson
Intro: I’ll just jump into this before I let David do his thing. The idea of a multi-day road tour hasn’t popped into my head in years. These days, I want to be away from cars and people, on dirt roads, hauling my own shit. What was proposed to us with this ride was very different. We’d be taking on a lot of climbing and distance each day on road bikes but because we’d be in the mountains, we’d have to carry our food, clothing in case of inclement weather, and all necessities like tools or spare tubes. Our duffel bags, containing clothes, laptops and other on-the-road necessities would be shuttled from day’s end to day’s end. We’d stay at a hotel, a friend’s mountain top cabin, and ultimately in Palm Springs at our friend’s Air B&B listing for a few days of post-ride R and R. I have been riding road a lot lately, mostly because it’s easy to get out and get back in a few hours, but was I ready for this kind of ride? Much less, was I fit enough to document the whole damn thing with a camera and a few lenses? Check back in after David’s words and read on in the captions…
Ever since I moved back to Southern California, I have been scheming to take on a mini mountainous ride across all the Transverse Ranges of the glorious classical terrain encompassing the Los Angeles and Inland Empire basins. With all my maps and possible routes planned out, it was just a matter time until I found some like-minded people to take on such a journey. Finally, at the end of September I got a call from Sean Talkington from Team Dream, expressing a need for the exact route I had been planning out in my head for months. He put out the word and we soon had rough plan of three days in the saddle and a solid group of eight cyclists, all willing to take on a solid amount of elevation and miles. (more…)
Taking the Scenic Route to Peru’s Great Divide
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
Continued from “Beasts of the Southern Blanca”
Following my trips through the Cordillera Blanca, I knew I would be heading for the Peruvian Great Divide Route. This route was established fairly recently by the masters of all things cycling related in the Andes, Neil and Harriet Pike (andesbybike.com). Their website and books are absolutely invaluable resources if you have any interest in riding in the Andes, so I would highly recommend checking them out.
The divide route is almost entirely along quiet dirt roads that endlessly undulate between 10,000′ and 16,500′. It also passes through many remote villages that are far off the tourist trail, where the locals are always excited to see you (and probably welcome you into their home for a hot meal and coca tea). (more…)
I reiterate this a lot, so apologies if I’m sounding like a broken record here but we’re lucky here in LA. There are a lot of mountains within a quick drive. To put it in perspective, most of the out-of-town riding is in the opposite direction of traffic. So, if you leave in the morning, you’re on a freeway, in a carpool lane, with no traffic. Then, upon returning home in the afternoon, it’s the same. This leaves a lot of options for riding mountain bikes in the National Forests surrounding our very own Angeles National Forest.
The most diverse, ATMO, being Los Padres and one area in particular that has quickly become one of my favorites is Mt. Piños. Named after, you guessed it, the many pine trees that cover its faces, this day-trip jaunt from LA delivers riding that is uncharacteristic of our local trails. Namely shade, and ground substrate. When you’re used to riding on sand, covering decomposed granite, the idea of riding on actual ground covering, even if it’s just pine needles, gets a lot of us stoked.
Sean from Team Dream has spoken highly of this trail over the years and to be honest, I don’t know what took me so long to follow his advice to come ride it. At any rate, I rallied some troops and we planned on visiting Mt. Piños on a Tuesday morning. (more…)
Romantic Bicycle Touring: A Primer
Words and photos by Ultra Romance
You can witness all the beauty there is to see in this fine world: Yanni live at the Acropolis, the Venice beach boardwalk, or simply the Sistine Chapel, for example.
While encountering these wonders alone is undoubtedly inspiring and majestic, these enchanting destinations and undulating waves of road in between are enhanced roughly 70-80% of the time when the experience is shared. Add in the romantic element, and that analytic bumps up to roughly 86%, yet fluctuates down to 20% at times. That’s still pretty good!
With the popularity of bicycle touring on the rise in recent years, and justifiably so, the amount of “I’d rather be doing that” inspirational social media content has increased exponentially. It doesn’t take a masters degree in internet browsing to stumble across countless photos of glossy eyed 86% happy couples posing for duck face selfies with their laden touring rigs amidst a backdrop of the romantic unknown.
I must admit, I have gazed at these photos before, incurring wide eyed dreams of one day waking up in the dirt beside a real, tangible lover. Instead I continued to keep company with the likes of my ol’ faithful laminated 8×10 of Matthew McConaughey, propped up next to my inflatable pillow at night. Even still, I continued to tell myself “Bené, you’re tall, strikingly handsome, muscular, your hair is #1, and you have two amazing Instagram accounts… don’t get greedy, you can’t have it all!” And so I was settled into my ways. Just me and my McCaughey laminate, rubbing woolen elbows with the world and it’s mysteries. (more…)