Category Archives: nature
I’ve been stoked on this project since first posting about it! Now you can rent or buy the 11-minute documentary Hunting for Monsters at Vimeo!
“Lake Iliamna, Alaska’s largest lake, is home to many native communities, the worlds largest sockeye salmon run, potential site of the controversial Pebble Mine and the elusive Lake Monster – Illie. On a hot mid-July, Bjørn and Brent were deposited to the far shore of Cook Inlet in a landing craft cargo ship and began their human powered journey through Iliamna country to Bristol Bay, hoping to catch a glimpse of the illusive creature and slice of Alaska where monsters can still roam free.”
It’s that time of month again. I’ve got all kinds of Randomness left over from a Recent Roll. Actually, a few Recent Rolls. There’s some LA, Pasadena, Austin, Moab and Fruita photos in here, all noted in the photo’s captions. Got a favorite? Point it out. Open up some commentary…
Tools of the trade:
Mamiya 7ii / 80mm
Portra 400 / Ilford HP5
Road Cycling in the Valley of Death
Words and photos by Ryan Wilson
Death Valley National Park is one of those places that frequently gets overlooked as a destination for cyclists. Probably because it’s too miserably hot to do just about anything there for a good portion of the year. There’s also no cell service at times for 40 miles in any direction, and some of the best roads in the area are some of the most isolated in the country. That sounded right up my alley, so I planned my first visit in November 2012, when I was looking for some new mountains to ride while the Sierras were snowed in.
Compared to many of the other big road climbs in California, the first thing you notice in Death Valley is how impossibly straight so many of the roads are. You might not know you’re climbing if the pedals weren’t pushing back as hard as they are, and the dotted yellow lines weren’t crawling by. You realize pretty quickly that the end of that straight line that eventually climbs 5,000ft just isn’t getting a whole lot closer.
The first ride I ever did in the area was climbing over Townes Pass from Panamint Valley, just outside the park, into Death Valley itself. It wasn’t until I peaked out of the canyon walls at the top of Townes Pass that I fully realized the scale of this place. A vast sloped valley surrounded by mountains that seem to go on endlessly. The road descends about 5,000ft into this massive open space, and while ripping down a long, smooth descent on a road bike is a blast, I know that every foot of descent has to be made up on the return trip, so most of the time is spent trying to block that thought out of my head. The descent ends at a tiny “town” called Stovepipe Wells. It’s basically one store, one hotel, and that’s it, but it makes a good re-fuel stop. Then it was time for the long slog back over the east side of Townes Pass.
Townes Pass route
If I had to recommend one road ride in Death Valley though, I would go with Dante’s View. This ride starts near Furnace Creek (the other Death Valley town), and climbs from the lowest point in North America (-282 feet), to over 5,600ft overlooking the valley. The first half of the 26 mile climb is gentle, along a smooth road that passes by a classic spot at Zabriskie Point. The road gets a bit more angry when the grade cranks up after turning onto Dante’s View road, and the last half mile is extra fun (if you’re into Masochism).
One detour worth taking is a trip over to the Mars-like, single lane, Artist Drive, which winds about 9 miles through some trippy multi-colored canyon walls before ending near Badwater Basin.
Dante’s View & Artist Drive route
A couple other Death Valley routes worth checking out:
Wildrose / Emigrant Pass
Follow Ryan on Instagram and at his Tumblr.
It’s been real fun! Thanks to Giro for showing me the #SantaCruzEffect, all the participants for the camaraderie and all the frame builders I got to hang out with. Oh and Paul, keep on rocking man!
Today we went on an insanely fun ride from Giro’s HQ through Mount Charlie, Highway 236 and now, we’re in cabins on the coast where we’re staying the night… As always, there’s more to come but for now, here’s a banana slug that enjoys Black Cat fillet brazed stems.
Some of the best experiences I’ve had on “bike trips” haven’t been related to cycling at all. Case in point: in the early talks of the Frostbike agenda, Jeff from All-City recommended that we drive 4 hours north of Minneapolis to the southern shore of Lake Superior.
In this frozen land, there were caves, which during the summer months, held many great alcoves and vistas out over the lake, but in the winter, when it’s cold enough, they became in chrysalis. This isn’t an annual occurrence either. This year was the first year in a decade that the water has been cold enough to freeze.
Everything is frozen, even the water that typically seeps through the sandstone cliffs, causing cascades of icicles, many of which are big enough to deliver a fatal blow if they were to fall. Behind these curtains, lie numerous caves, most of which are covered in a solid 3″ of ice on all surfaces. It’s really something else.
Tuesday morning, Jeff, Kyle and I ventured out into the madness and at some point I expected to see 7′ tall albino penguins or at least a shoggoth. But alas, the Old Ones are long gone.
See more in the Gallery!
I had a blast at Frostbike, riding fatbikes, drinking, eating and hanging out with my dudes Jeff and Kyle! There’s much more on the way…
When Erik and I met at Eurobike last year, we talked about doing a ride to celebrate the Specialized AWOL release. Originally, we talked about Oregon, then LA, but after some research, we realized there were plenty of roads, tracks and trails literally in SF’s backyard.
With the help of Jared from Riv Bike, Erik began to think about a three day route from SF to the Diablo Range, Morgan Territory, Henry Coe and finally, into Morgan Hill where we’d share our story and watch the premier of the Transcontinental film. It seemed like an achievable goal. We’d pack for camping, which included cold nights and mornings and most importantly, we’d take our time.
Rather than actually planning our route, we decided to take trail maps and meander a bit off the beaten path. Digital maps don’t have all the trails marked and some of the current maps of the Diablo range revealed a path none of us had taken. We were set.
Unfortunately, as it tends to go, unexpected elements came into the equation and our plans changed. At first, I was pretty upset about it, seeing as how I was planning on pulling a few stories out of our ride, but after reviewing my photos, I decided it made for a good story…
Part of what the Specialized AWOL project represents is an escape, a desire to get out of your normal ride routine and try something new. Taking a chance if you will. While we didn’t complete our ride, we had fun and saw some incredible displays of color as Mother Nature impressed us all.
Seriously, the sunrise the second day rivals all in my past experiences…
Read on in the Gallery!
There’s more to come, including my review of the AWOL Transcontinental Limited Edition and a Beautiful Bicycle post on Erik’s own bike.
Nature is so metal…
While you’re reading this, I’m most likely sleeping, recovering from a long day trip down to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Hey, driving all day really takes it out of ya. Apologies for the slow weekend, it’s my last few days in Melbourne and I’m trying to squeeze in some riding time. I’ll catch up on Monday with more Photosets…
For now, check out more photos at my Flickr and get out on your bike today!
Photos by Andy White
Look, I don’t deal well with foul weather. Not anymore, anyway. The years of living in NYC have dwindled away as far as my body is concerned. Now, I’ve adapted to desert life in Texas. So when spring rains come, the trees are blooming and it’s grey outside, I succumb to all kinds of allergies and moody blues.
Maybe that’s why when Andy from FYXO mentioned doing 160k today in the rainy, muddy hills of Kinglake, I opted out for a shorter, more manageable ride. Or maybe, as destiny would have it, I’d be content with 100k. For whatever reason, my “man cold” was a perfect excuse to opt out of one of Fyxo’s fabled tough rides.
We began heading out to the familiar hillside, before approaching what I’m calling “cuntbuster”, or in the native tongue “Pine Ridge Road”. The first hundred meters or so was totally rideable, but we scaled 300 meters in elevation in just under 3k (1,200′ in 1.2 miles). Basically, we hiked up the 30+ degree, rutted, nasty “road”.
At the top, we quickly descended into a glorious stretch of gravel aptly named Watson’s Rd, got lost and then saw a very rare site…
From there, the ride became an animal rescue mission. Head over to FYXO for the full scoop on how we saved a rare Wedgetail Eagle and check out numbers and such on my Strava.