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…
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.
I put my bra back on and brush my teeth and walk from the dorm room past the pool table salon to the restaurant and out the door to my bike. It’s four in the morning and still dark outside. It’s a new day. I’m ready to ride. Rue is on her computer waiting at a table and follows me out.
Going into the 5th year of Grinduro California coverage on this website, I really wanted to do something different and boy, did I get just that. In addition to covering Team Brooks‘ debut at Grinduro, a series of events made this otherwise familiar race a little more unpredictable. Things weren’t looking so great the week leading up to this incredible event…
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Last month’s Open House at ENVE was a bit of an experiment. The brand wanted to explore possibilities of showcasing framebuilders that have been building with ENVE wheels and components over the years, while offering up an option to ride in Ogden, Utah where they’re based through an event they’re dubbing Grodeo.
With the long weekend approaching here in the United States, many coastal Californians will head inland and upland to seek the cooler temperatures found along the Tahoe basin, via US Highway 395. This zone has always been curious to me when traveling to or from various races or other events. Having ridden plenty of singletrack in the area, I’m always down to try something new, especially when it has a bit of story behind it. Last year, after our Highway 50 MTB trip and before Grinduro, I linked up with my friend Brooke and her friend Kate to ride the Sierra Canyon Trail, just outside of Genoa, Nevada.
It’s not every day you’re presented with an opportunity to step out of the routines of daily life and to reconnect with a couple of old friends in a beautiful, fairly isolated environment; and to get to fully experience that place from the saddle of your bicycle. When a couple of my oldest friends, Josh and Alex, invited me on a bikepacking adventure – and asked me to assist with a video they planned to produce about the trip – help with logistics, carry some gear, etc. – I gave an enthusiastic and immediate, “I’m all in.” Josh and Alex had secured a generous grant from Kitsbow to capture our time on camera, in hopes that our experience would inspire and motivate others to get outside, unplug from life a bit, reconnect with old friends, and explore an exciting and accessible environment within a reasonable window of time. What cyclist wouldn’t want to throw their bike in a travel bag, fly down to Los Angeles for a 3 day weekend, and spend the bulk of that time pedaling around on Santa Catalina Island with a duo of old friends?
Today is a hot one in southern Idaho, 90 degrees and rising. My partner, Skyler, and I are stopped for snacks under the few shaded bushes along a lonely dirt road.
We hear the tell-tale signs of a lonely car and a white-haired woman drive towards us. She slows down to approach us cautiously. Her window rolls down as the car stops and from inside we hear “There isn’t a road that goes through there.”
If a trail is made by humans, versus game or erosion, does it carry along with it historical remnants of the trail builder’s psyche? Humans use tools to create trails and these tools are guided by feats of strength, both physical and mental. What happens when strength is combined with emotion? Are those emotional remnants carried along the path, forever altering the harmony of its intentional meanderment? Trails are all about control. Direction. Intention. Is there a marking of metaphysical energy within them?
When I started this trip through South America almost 3 years ago I had no idea what to expect. My bicycle “touring” experience could all be summed up in a tumultuous three week trip to Perú where I spent half of the time with my head hovering over a toilet while suffering from typhoid and a quick one week trip through Norway that resulted in an emergency room visit with frostbite on my toes that still affects me today. I was working on roughly a 5% success rate. Would I quit my “stable job” of almost ten years only to head off into the Andes all by myself and realize that this just wasn’t my thing? Come crawling back a few weeks later, asking for a do-over? I honestly had no idea and these were extremely realistic possibilities in my mind. All I knew was that I’d regret it if I didn’t try.
At the top of the hill where the jump lines begin at Big Marsh, I slung back over my pink Nova, joining the crowd of jump regulars ready to hit the medium and small lines and the first arrivals of the Convergence. The only sport I give my all to is spectating, and I’m great with a,“There he goes!”
Long before July’s sweltering heat, we were enjoying the pleasant month of March. I had been sitting on my porch sipping coffee when my friend Todd texted me, “I’m going to email you about the thing, so look out.” We’ve collaborated on many wild ideas, and Todd’s been a good friend for over a decade. I usually perk up when he reaches out about “things” because he’s a great adventure planner, so I kept a close eye on the inbox. Lucky for me, it was an email saying that all the plans were coming together for an idea we had been tossing around for quite a while; a multi-day bike camping trip to uncover the inspiration for the Coal x Swift collaboration project with artist and illustrator, Chris McNally in the Marin Headlands of California.
Photos and words by Sami Sauri
“Det Store Eventyret” is not like most events where more or less you know what you are getting into. The participants had no clue in advance of where they will be cycling to, on what kind of surface as well as where they will be spending the night! All they were promised in advance was awesome riding, food by the one and only Velochef Henrik Orre and a bed under a roof to spend the night. The organizers aim to surprise and excite the participants and judging by the mood before the start, it is apparent that everyone is eager to find out what the fuss is about!