Editor’s intro: I met these two randomly a few weeks ago. They stopped into Golden Saddle while they were in Los Angeles and I took them up into the Verdugo Mountains at sunset one evening. They had been on the road for a week or so, soaking in California’s mountains and bikepacking around various trail networks. For me, seeing photos and reading, albeit brief, words from visitors to this great state is always entertaining. So, without further adieu…
Words by Thomas Larsen Røed, photos by Hans Petter Hval and Thomas Larsen Røed
Up, up and up. The gravel road leading us from South Lake Tahoe towards Star Lake is ridiculously steep. And straight. Defeat is inevitable. With loaded bikes we have to resort to pushing. We’ve flown into Oakland from Oslo, thrown the bikes in a rental and headed for the mountains. We’re not on a bikepacking mission from A to B, but instead using bikepacking as a trick to get the most out of our 14 days in California. (more…)
Practice makes perfect. After a string of late starts, mishaps and consequently even later evenings, our group pushed through the sleepless nights, finally hitting the road before 8am. It took a while, but so it goes in brevets like this. 2100km in 177 hours is no walk in the park, yet it doesn’t have to be a panicked sprint either. There’s a balance to be achieved and oftentimes, it takes a bit of on-the-bike rehearsal. (more…)
At a certain point in brevets like this, it becomes a game of catch up. You’re either catching up on sleep or mileage. Think of it as a scale. On one end is hours slept and the other, mileage ridden, with events on the road either adding to, or subtracting from the balance. In our rider’s case, mechanicals on the third day made for a long night in the saddle. (more…)
In the world of brevets, or randonneuring, Paris Brest Paris is probably the most infamous, with its total length of 1200km and massive rider roster. However, if you travel further north in Europe, something more sinister awaits. The Sverigetempot is a ten year old, officially-sanctioned brevet, totaling 2100 kilometers. It begins on the Sweden and Norway border, in a small town called Riksgränsen, which can barely be categorized as a town, it’s more of an outpost. From there, a small group of riders have either 144 hours or 177 hours to make it to the southernmost point of the country, Smygehamn. Along the way, there are checkpoints, or control points, at which point the riders will have to have their brevet cards time-stamped at designated places as proof of their mileage. There are other rules, such as there is no roadside assistance allowed and the riders are to be self-supported. While the organizers will transport a bag from the start, to the finish, every entrant must carry their clothing, food and water on their bikes. The countryside offers many hotels and hostels for shelter, so luckily, no camping equipment was necessary, allowing for lightly-packed bikes, with one thing in mind: efficiency. (more…)
The Musky 660 and Touring the Northwoods of Wisconsin
Photos and words by Kevin Sparrow
Last summer I bought the Twin Six Ti Rando and after sharing my stoke with the bike I received an email from Jesse of T6 that said, “I’m recruiting you for the Musky 660 next year.” At the time, I had little idea what that meant but it sounded like the perfect prolog to a long tour of Wisconsin, my home state. The Musky 660 is not as official as it sounds. It’s just a ride with a starting point (T6HQ in Minneapolis) and a destination (Copper Harbor Michigan) with no specific route to stick too. It was true to it’s name, the ride is 660 kilometers (423 miles) long. (more…)
A little over a month ago I left my job of ten years and was in the final stages of moving out of my Los Angeles apartment. I was putting together the final pieces of the puzzle that would eventually result in me riding through South America for 10 months or so (more on that soon).
As luck would have it, a tiny hitch in my setup resulted in me having about 9 days without a job or home in California. So, I did the first thing that came to mind (the thing that typically comes to mind)… Road trip. (more…)
For the past 25 some-odd years, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association has claimed Henninger Flats as the official, yet unofficial campground for cycling enthusiasts in Los Angeles. In that time, various events have brought men and women to its cliff’s edge overlook of the city to share stories and bond. The great outdoors are like that.
So when Swift Industries announced the Swift Summer Solstice Campout again this year, Golden Saddle Cyclery, along with Ray and some MWBA OGs proposed Henninger be the destination. It’d be a perfect way to introduce bicycle campers, bicycle tourers and bike packers to this age-old tradition. Think about it this way: for as long as mountain biking has been a thing, people have been bicycle camping up here! (more…)
South African Dirt and the Karoobaix
Photos and words by Stan Engelbrecht
On the third morning we came across two kudus, dead, and partially eaten. During the intense drought in the area over the last months, many animals had been breaking through fences to get to this dam, only to find it completely dry. In their search for water, these kudus tried to cross the dried dam floor, and got trapped in two mud sinkholes. They must have struggled there for days, before dying of thirst and starvation. And maybe something had started eating them while they were still alive.
It was a stark reminder that the Karoo is a dangerous and remote place. This semi-desert region near the Southern tip of Africa is known for its searing beauty, but also its harsh and unforgiving environment. Get caught out here without water or shelter at the wrong time of year and it can be the end of you. (more…)
Jay Barre’s Bike-In Birthday Bash!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
A couple weeks ago I heard that the boys from Topanga Creek Bicycle were heading to Mt. Lowe Trail Camp for their Unpredict Your Wednesday event. In case you aren’t familiar with the event – TCB goes camping every Tuesday night and then does some kind of epic ride wherever they might be on Wednesday. It is basically one of the coolest things that any bike shop has ever done. I am not able to make it to these events very often because of my work schedule and/or the location mixed with my lack of car. So when I found out about the proximity of this particular Unpredict Your Wednesday, along with the fact that my buddy Jay Barre from TCB celebrated his birthday a few days before, I knew I had to be there.
Topanga Creek is open on Tuesday so it made the most sense to meet above Mt. Lowe Trail Camp, off Mt. Wilson Road, and drop down into camp rather than riding from the city. After setting up camp I asked if anyone wanted to head up to Inspiration Point with me and was surprised that so many of the people with us had never been. We took a quick moonlit ride up there before returning to camp to kick back, have a few beers and tell stories until we couldn’t hold our eyes open anymore. (more…)
Oftentimes during trips like this, you just go with the flow and don’t ask questions. When the team at Circles began planning our bicycle tour around Mount Fuji, the only things I asked were what kind of roads we’d be riding and what to expect in terms of weather. This would answer every other question in terms of my gear and bicycle selection. We already got the run down on how this trip was faring on yesterday’s post, so I’ll spare you the re-introduction here but what I will say is, sometimes rides like this present a pleasant surprise when you’d least expect it… (more…)