Our National Forest’s fire lookouts can provide ideal refuge for cyclists looking to take on a large tour, or even a few loops in their vicinities.
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.
This is too good and such a contrast to how I’ve been experiencing Scandinavia.
“A cycling documentary about a group of elderly people cycling nearly 250 miles from Denmark to Norway. Across the Western world, millions of elderly people live in care homes – often lonely, isolated and without mobility. But these elderly people are breaking free!
In particular, Marie, 96, and Finn, 81, overcome their issues and grow closer. The only problem is Marie thinks Finn is too young for her… “
California is in a drought and at this point, it’d have to rain everyday for months to pull us out (11 trillion gallons)…
“In January 2016, a team of two bicycled 1,500 miles around the state of California reminding students and local communities from where their water comes. San Francisco to San Diego, California Water Cycle toured coastal communities, schools, farms, and conservation alliances, bringing urgency to the current water scarcity in California. The duo finished their campaign along our state’s water canals, through the heartland of US agriculture, the Central Valley. With this adventure, the goal was to build community support and to foster a more water conscious California.”
See more at California Water Cycle.
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…)
Got 15 minutes to spare? The full length mini-doc of Mark Maurer’s bikepacking journey through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Iran is a hell of a trip!
Ever so often, a ride goes south and I’m not talking cardinal directions. Cari and I embarked on our first bicycle camping trip this week and I can honestly say it was equal parts hard as it was beautiful. The full story is coming next week, for now check out some preview photos @TheRadavist on Instagram.
Blackburn knows how to party!
Roll With It in the South
Photos and words by Brian Vernor
There’s a shocking casualness to the hallucinatory contradiction of culture that is The South. I’d seen this place in great detail as a child, often visiting family throughout Tennessee and Alabama. Though I grew up in Santa Cruz, and went to college in California, I wanted to reconnect with The South in that awkward period of life right after college, before I could say “I want to do _____ with my life.” In 1998 I had finished school, got heavily into nothing, and spent seven months playing with cameras in Santa Cruz, enough time to forget what my degree was in. (more…)
The touring world is changing, no doubt about it. Steel frames are still the norm for obvious reasons, but disc brakes are now widely accepted and people are venturing far and wide with component choices that only a few years ago may have been considered imprudent.
One group doing this is the young and adventurous among us, arguably oblivious to their equipment’s lack of serviceability. Under these pioneers, bikes go into the wild with sometimes ugly, yet highly functional home-hacked solutions that get the job done. They are out there for the pure experience, pushing the boundaries of equipment that only a few years ago was considered cutting-edge technology.
Another side of this coin is people at bike companies, with access to the newest stuff before it hits the market, building custom bikes to their own specs to push the limits. It’s not uncommon to see mountain drivetrains on road frames, tires that are too big to pass safety standards, and so on. These bikes, however, rarely make it past the engineers’ and product managers’ personal collections.
When product managers spec bikes, they are held to account by bean counters making sure bikes will sell through – and that means sticking to tradition and not taking chances. I love it when companies have the guts to spec a bike in a way that’s pointed at radness rather than tradition. When I see a production bike deviate from industry norms in this way, my eyes light up; the Kona Sutra LTD is one of those bikes. (more…)