“Why do I keep saying yes?” That’s the thought I had, sitting in the San Jose airport heading to Las Vegas to meet up with the folks at Blackburn to embark on a two-day “InterbikePacking” trip in the desert, organized to coincide with Interbike, the giant annual American bike trade show that attracts, in decreasing numbers it seems, exhibitors, retailers and cycling enthusiasts from all over the world. I hadn’t looked at a map and knew only the vaguest details about the trip, one of the most concerning being that there might be a kayak involved. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly an expert on the bike, but compared to my proficiency in the water I’m Greg LeMond. I also heard there would be sand…a LOT of sand. None of this was making me excited, but when asked if I wanted to go, I just said “yes”. (more…)
Tandemonium at Grinduro / Her Version of the Story
Words by Amanda Schaper, photos by John Watson
Editor’s intro: to commemorate both the 2016 Grinduro happening this weekend in Quincy, California and more importantly, Amanda’s birthday (happy birthdayyyyy!!!!), Kyle and I dug up an old Reportage that Amanda had written after last year’s event… Also, we’d all like to thank Salsa for throwing down a Powderkeg. It’s been one of my favorite photo-generators over the past year!
This whole hairbrained idea for tandem Grinduro came about because I royally busted my shoulder at the Downieville Classic in late July. Major dislocation, fractured humeral head, weeks of immobilization, the works. Initially I hoped I’d be good to go in time for Grinduro, but as the reality of my injury set in, I realized that doing such a big ride only a couple months later was going to be a no-go. But for me, not riding was simply not an option.
That’s when the wheels started turning. Riding my own bike might not work, but stoking a tandem would be totally doable since I wouldn’t have to use my shoulder/arm to control the bike. All I needed to do was pedal. And find a captain. And a tandem. (more…)
For the past few years, a tale has been passed around within our circle of friends about cycling up White Mountain Peak. The story has changed a bit over the years, or perhaps the details have simply been refined, but what I knew was this: three of my friends rode, well, hiked their bikes up White Mountain Peak. A lightening storm hit, they had to vacate the vicinity and retreat to a car, which was waiting for them close to the top. All I ever saw were a few photos from the trip, but it was enough to whet my interest in White.
Fast forward three years or so and I’m now living in California, eager to explore this amazing state in the cooler months. I’ve mentioned to friends various times that I’m willing to take off during the week and do some of these rides that are a few hours drive from LA. Knowing good and well the climate window for the Inyo National Forest is slim, Eric Brunt invited me to accompany him on a return trip to White. Eric was one of the three who summited years ago, the other two you’re probably more familiar with: Ryan Wilson and Kyle Kelley.
That brings me to the background on this ride. White Mountain Peak sits at 14,252′. Still not as high as Whitney or Mount Williamson, California’s other juggernauts, yet it is the only one that you can ride, er… push your bike up to the summit. Hence the motivation with our friends, who are all a little loosely-screwed together if you know what I mean.
Just because we’re all a little crazy, doesn’t mean you’ve gotta make yourself the same in planning this ride, so I’m trying something a little different with this Reportage… (more…)
Beasts of the Southern Blanca
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
After finishing up the circuit around Huascarán, I landed in Huaraz. This is the capital of the Ancash region of Perú and the central hub for all activities related to the big snow and ice capped mountains that dominate the landscape. While Huaraz is not totally flooded with tourists, it is certainly the most visited town in the area, and a “gringo” barely gets a second look there when compared to the surrounding villages. Most importantly, Huaraz has pizza, so it makes for an obvious place to spend a few days taking it easy and swapping stories and routes with fellow cyclists and trekkers passing through the area. (more…)
Where Nebraska Ends: The Champion and the Corner
Photos and words by Parts and Labor
Making the most of the weekends, that’s what we do. Close the shop on Saturday, high-tail it to base camp late that night. The goal, have 2 nights of camping, 2 full days of riding, and well, back to work by Tuesday morning. Ain’t nobody quittin’ their job or getting on a plane to do these trips; it’s all done in a weekend. Slowly but surely, we’ve applied that template to a dozen or so trips throughout our fine state. Aside from the main objective of having a good time, we were intent on a few other things this go around. One. Run out of Nebraska. (Well, not run out of it, but rather, get to the very Northwest corner of it.) B… Err, I mean, Two. Find the largest Ponderosa Pine within the domain known as, Nebraska.
The route was hatched out of a trip that we covered last fall. We had only scratched the surface on this region, so we knew we had to find time to come back. Pine Country. That’s what it is. Well, that, and grasslands. Oh man, the grasslands. Wide opens spaces and doubletrack like you wouldn’t believe. Or maybe ya can. I dunno. Hot, dry, and windy as all get out. But it’s sure worth enduring. Trekking along the prairie, in the company of cattle and wild pronghorn, well, that’s just a neat thing. And when it’s not open pasture, it’s badlands, or rocky escarpments.
But back to the common corner. The one that rubs elbows with South Dakota and Wyoming. We were out to find it. The end, as I said. We located it via GPS, decided to throw camp within a couple hundred feet and finish the trek by hoofing up to it at sunrise. Well, there ain’t much to it. Just a piece of granite dropped years ago by the BLM, and a sign-in register. Now, if pronghorn could write, that thing would be full. But as far as I know, they can’t. Within the last few years, there are only a handful of names. Humans. Mainly dudes out fixing the border fence. Or the “damn fence” as they referred to it. We signed the sheet, stood in WY and SD for a bit, and moseyed on our way. Next up, the Pine Ridge.
Located on the high plains, the escarpment is home to, arguably, the only native pine found within the state. The mighty Ponderosa Pine. Now, we ain’t got the mature fellers that y’all have out west, but there are some decent ones. And for one in particular, the Champion, we were out to find that sucker. Situated within Monroe Canyon and along the creek, there it was, standing tall. It was a goddamn beaut’, Clark. I smelled the bark, grab a few fallen pine cones, and we were on our way and onto the climb out of the canyon to start the trek back to Toadstool. Which is where we started the trip. Objectives met, good times had, and as usual, back to fixin bikes on Tuesday.
Check out the route at Bikepacking.com.
Bikepacking British Columbia’s Chilcotin Range
Photos and words by Gabe Tiller
I merely whetted my appetite for the Chilcotins last year. It was a fun, albeit short trip. It was challenging in its own right, but really gave me an appreciation for Canada’s mountain ranges and how, errrr, ‘fun’ it is to drag your mountain bike through them. Regardless, in recent years the Chilcotins have become quite popular. They’re one of the few Provincial Parks to allow mountain biking and one of the few places to ride alpine terrain.
I mean: push your bike through alpine terrain. Scott from Porcelain Rocket once told me “The Chilcotins are a perfect place for a singlespeed. You’re either pushing your bike, or grabbing handfuls of brake lever. There’s very little pedaling to be had.” And he’s right. Regardless, the payoff is worth it. Once you push your bike—or more frequently the case—lift and hoist and scramble your bike to the top of a pass you’re rewarded with hordes of giant vicious biting horse flies. (more…)
With group rides in Los Angeles, ya never know what you’re going to get. As I was packing the night before for this ride, my girlfriend asked me how many people I thought would show up. My response: either 20 or 4. In my experience, the latter is easier to manage, especially when rides like this include around 30 miles of inner-city road riding, yet I have wrangled enough cats to know how to deal with larger groups as well.
While half of this ride is indeed on sealed roads, the 30 that is on dirt is some of the finest Los Angeles has to offer. Dirt Mulholland takes you in the Santa Monica Mountains and intersects miles upon miles of singletrack and fire roads. You could literally spend days riding in the mountains, provided you’ve got access to water.
Four people showed up in the morning. Four new faces, two of which were tourists, who happened to find themselves in LA this weekend. We met up for coffee and left 15 minutes behind schedule to allow any Saturday morning stragglers to roll up. Confident with our group’s size, we headed out through Hollywood and up Nichols Canyon Road, a climb that is often hectic during the week, yet at 7:30am on a Saturday was quite peaceful. With our heads down and in a paceline, we snaked our way to the dirt and that’s where the fun began.
After casually spinning through the mountains, we dropped down to the Pacific Coast Highway via Topanga Canyon HWY 27 and met up with Found in the Mountains at the Reel Inn for fish tacos, margaritas, and stories.
The ride home is always interesting. If you’re visiting LA as a cyclist, it’s a great way to see the places you’ll probably never want to visit again. This includes: Beverly Hills, Melrose, Rodeo Drive and most of Hollywood. As we zig-zagged our way back to the east side, I found it funny how our caravan of cyclists were keeping pace with luxury cars, busses, motorcycles and other vehicles, once again proving that the bicycle is always the best form of transportation in a city.
Transportation and a vehicle for socializing along 60 miles of fun on a Saturday morning.
It all started over beers in Colombia last fall. We had just crossed the pass over Nevado Del Ruiz and we were on our way to Medellin and of course we got to talking about what the next adventure was gonna be before the one at hand was even over. Kurt really wanted to get to Missoula for Adventure Cycling’s 40th celebration and he thought we should ride the section of the tour divide from Banff to Seeley Lake. I was pumped because I missed riding that section with him a few years back. The plan was set, get to Banff on July 5th and get to Missoula by July 15th. (more…)
There doesn’t have to be a fire to have our mountains scorched all summer here in Los Angeles. “June Gloom” didn’t come this year, not in June, nor in July and come August, the overbearing warmth cast from afar by our sun has certainly required our vegetation to abstain from hydrating.
It is however the desert. We’re just lucky enough to have the ocean to cool everything down each night. Yet, the lush green mountain tops we had all winter have certainly changed their hue. Yellow flowers made way to yellow plants and those intense purples and greens we had shifted to red, leaving our tracks and trails lined with red, yellow and green. Now if you look out across the landscape, it looks like everything has been anodized Rasta like some MTB skewers from the 90’s. (more…)
The Beginning: From Peru’s Desert Coast to the Cordillera
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
I started trying to scheme up a way to make this return trip to the Andes happen while I was sitting in the Lima airport last November, waiting for my return flight to California. With the most significant cost involved being purely the cost of getting there, and with all of the opportunities for riding throughout the entire range of the Andes, I knew I had to make this an open ended trip. (more…)