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Reflections on the Border: Bikepacking the Wild West Route Part 02

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Reflections on the Border: Bikepacking the Wild West Route Part 02

The grass grows steadily, towering over us until we can no longer see the San Pedro Trail. My partner and I hadn’t seen anyone else that day and it was peacefully quiet. We can only hear the bees buzzing, ignoring our presence among the thicket of yellow flowers growing wildly across the trail. It was still early in the afternoon and we already had an eventful morning – dodging thorny bushes cutting both our arms and legs, navigating muddy streams covered with overgrown grass, surprising a few jackrabbits from their homes, and getting startled by two rattlesnakes lying across the gravel path.

Jambi Jambi and the Soft Time Tour d’Idaho with Friends

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Jambi Jambi and the Soft Time Tour d’Idaho with Friends

It has been a month since returning from the most recent trip to the US. That’s 4 weeks to digest all the colours, flavours, energy and emotions that come from every foray into the wild world of the United States of America. For this write up I am picking my favorite part – Soft time Tour d’Idaho w. Friends – Not the official name but rather what I recall it as. It was a modified version of the Idaho section of the newly formed Wild West Route. Pioneers of fresh route from Bikepacking Roots!

Throwback Thursday: the 2014 Oregon Outback

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Throwback Thursday: the 2014 Oregon Outback

When we lost our image server bucket from 2014-2016, it was a devastating blow to the visual catalog of bike portraits, rides, events, and other cycling ephemera. I felt like a piece of my own body was taken away since so much time, energy, and in this case, physical effort was put into making that content.

That era, even though it was only a few years back, was a unique time in cycling. Instagram hadn’t quite caught on yet, not at the capacity it carries today. The whole gravel and bikepacking trend was just ramping up.

Erik Nohlin was working on the now-defunct Specialized Adventure lineup, including the AWOL – he was riding the “secret” Poler edition prototype at the time – and I was just beginning to fine-tune my abilities as both an athlete and photographer. I will admit, resurrecting stories like this is painful, partially because I feel like as a website, we’ve grown to present more refined ride Reportage, and also because it was a different time in my personal life. Yet, so many people request that these galleries get a re-up, so here we are on a Throwback Thursday post, digging up old content and re-presenting it. Rather than just re-inserting the images themselves, I culled the selection down and compiled all three ride reports into one. Enjoy!

Into the Caldera: the Bishop Volcanic Tablelands Overnighter

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Into the Caldera: the Bishop Volcanic Tablelands Overnighter

Long Valley, the Volcanic Tablelands, Lake Crowley, Mono Lake, and in general, the graben known as Owens Valley hold timeless stories beneath the silty soil, sage, and rabbitbrush. This area has long intrigued me, looking past its main attractions: Instagram-famous – or infamous – hot springs and world-class fly fishing. The landscape is rugged and steep, with unsuspecting silt traps enveloping your wheels up to the hubs as winds flex their prowess as shape-shifting forces spanning eons. Yet its magnetism, beauty, indigenous, and geologic history make it prime for bikepacking, touring, gravel riding, and road riding. It will take some planning, the right equipment, and some determination.

Summit to Sea with Salsa Cycles, a Grinduro Japan Warmup

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Summit to Sea with Salsa Cycles, a Grinduro Japan Warmup

I arrived with a crew from Salsa Cycles a few days before Grinduro Japan was set to go down.  With the impending storm putting a slight damper on the length and rideability of the course for the weekend, I started to look for some alternative riding in the immediate area around the mountain.  While the mountain offered plenty of dirt roads, they remained forested-in which didn’t do the Japanese landscape justice.  On the map, I noticed that the coast wasn’t too far away and would be a big ole descent for most of the way.  Once we secured some fellow folks to shuttle us back from the beach in our rental cars, I got to work cobbling together a GPS track for us to follow.  I connected the small bits of off-pavement and tried to string them together with bike paths as well as a visit to a city park that had a castle, duh. Lets go to the beach!

Grinduro Japan: Soaked n’ Stoked

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Grinduro Japan: Soaked n’ Stoked

With Grinduro spreading its wings across three continents this year, landing on the western side of Japan at Madarao Kogen with Salsa Cycles this fall. A resort mostly known for its deep powder and tree skiing welcomed some early season visitors as over 300 cyclists descended upon the ski town. The resort’s main chalet served as the staging ground for the expo and meals for the event. With the threat of Typhoon Hagibis on the horizon, the largest Typhoon to hit this region of Japan since 1958, people were nervous about the viability of the event. The storm was forecasted to reach the resort and produce very heavy rains and strong winds midday Saturday, right during lunch between the two planned rides for the day. With safety and ride-ability in mind, the organizers decided to swap the afternoon ride to the morning and add a segment. This was the more dirt/singletrack focused portion of the day which I don’t think anyone was bummed about. At 19 miles the route still has over 3000 ft of elevation gain.

Shred Gratitude with Mt. Tam Bikes Camp

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Shred Gratitude with Mt. Tam Bikes Camp

Years ago when I first met Trevor, he came to a photography show I was showing at and without much on an introduction related to me a story of how stoked he was to be a counselor at a camp for kids learning to ride mountain bikes. Ever since then I’ve always wanted to check out what he was jabbering about way back when. Bikes, cool. Kids on bikes, even cooler. Kids on bikes learning how to explore on bikes and have water fights, the coolest…

If Only They Could All Be Arabel: Living and Riding in Central Asia

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If Only They Could All Be Arabel: Living and Riding in Central Asia

We arrived in the Kyrgyz city of Karakol in what has become a familiar state after a stretch in the wilderness… tired, hungry, desperate for a shower, and in need of clean clothes. It’s true that civilization never feels better than when you’ve been away from it for a handful of days, and for us, the timing was perfect to reset and not think about the bike or riding for at least a moment.

From the End of the Road to the Kyrgyz Silk Road

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From the End of the Road to the Kyrgyz Silk Road

Three years ago when I was tossing around the idea of a long-term bikepacking trip, I had two primary options on my mind. There was Peru and the Andes of South America, which I had a tiny bit of familiarity with given my short previous stint there, and then the wild card… Kyrgyzstan. A small former Soviet country dotted with lakes and covered in glaciated peaks as tall as 24,400 feet. With a rich nomadic history due to its place on the ancient Silk Road trading route that passed through from neighboring China, it makes for an ideal locale to load up your bike and get lost in the mountains. So even while I was still in Patagonia, I was scouring maps of Central Asia for the possibilities that awaited in the faraway lands of the Kyrgyz Republic.

The Route des Grandes Alpes

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The Route des Grandes Alpes

A historical route and tourist attraction, the Route des Grandes Alpes allows one to cross the French Alps from Thonon-les-Bains (North) to Nice (South) via the most important mountain passes featured in the Tour de France: Cormet de Roselend, Iseran, Galibier, Izoard or even La Bonnette. On paper, it is a bit like the best-of of the Alps in one week, akind of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela for cyclists. Something that makes cyclists all over the world dream and that the French have within reach, but the grass is always greener… Thus, among the fifty or so cyclists with whom we ride regularly in Paris, no one had “ticked” the box off this crossing, whose starting point is only four and a half hours by train from the capital. L’Amicale Cycliste (the name of our crew) had to set an example, but not in any which way: we decided to attempt it when the passes opened, i.e. just after the last snowplow passages that open these closed roads all winter and push the valleys into a summer as sudden as it is temporary.

Ogichidaakwe: Alexandera Houchin’s Reflections on Her Tour Divide Race

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Ogichidaakwe: Alexandera Houchin’s Reflections on Her Tour Divide Race

Ogichidaakwe

I was always insecure about the fact that I was “uneducated” before I entered academia. Growing up in a trailer park and as the first person in my family to have ever attended a university, I was certain that I was something less than my entire life. The apple never falls far from the tree. And in attending University, I’ve learned that everything I was taught whilst growing up was lessons in obedience. I, an Anishinaabe woman, celebrated the Pilgrims at Thanksgiving time and Columbus on Columbus day. I always thought that I wasn’t Indian enough because I didn’t grow up on my reservation, I didn’t know my tribal language, and I didn’t look Indian. Tell me, what does an Indian look like? How could I trust a system that denied the lived history of my ancestors?

LACK OF FOCUS AND ORGANIZATION: BFFs, Bikes, and the Alps

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LACK OF FOCUS AND ORGANIZATION: BFFs, Bikes, and the Alps

The following trip report is also available on Amazon Kindle, for ease of bookmarking…

Day 1: Wienerwald or bust!

JEN: Good decisions can be made on a whim. That’s how I found myself on this spontaneous bike trip in Europe. It all started in Vienna, Austria. My friend Bun Daniel, also from Los Angeles, was there, visiting and working with BBUC (short for Brilli Brilliant Unicorn Club), and had offered for me to stay with him. I had plans to go to Spain 3 weeks later but the space in between was yet to be determined. That space in-between turned out to be a great adventure. My bike partner in crime and fellow California Girl, Erin Lamb, flew out from Santa Barbara to meet me. We had one mission – to satisfy our appetites for some asphalt spaghetti draped on the Alps.

Red Velcro, Skipping Vortices, and Heavenly Sandstone: Riding in Sedona, Arizona

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Red Velcro, Skipping Vortices, and Heavenly Sandstone: Riding in Sedona, Arizona

With cooler temps approaching, I really wanted to circle back around to our late spring trip to Sedona. Colin and I bugged out for a bit, camping just outside of town, riding bikes, 4-wheeling, and enjoying the local cuisine. While this isn’t necessarily a “Guide to Sedona” nor will it dive into history, both colonial and indigenous, it is meant to spark a desire to ride in this veritable mountain bike theme park.