Category Archives: Ryan Wilson
El Camino de Los Huasos: A Ride Through the Central Chilean Andes – Ryan Wilson

El Camino de Los Huasos: A Ride Through the Central Chilean Andes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

More than anything else, I’ve learned two things in my time in Northern Argentina and Chile. First and foremost, never trust a zipper. Little known fact: over 8.9 million zippers have been destroyed in Argentina’s desert in 2018 alone. OK, so maybe I made that up, but if I owned 8.9 million zippers that would definitely be true. The second lesson? Avoid shipping here at all costs, but if you must, you’d better have it planned out well in advance. Unfortunately, after damaging my derailleur and a number of other pieces of equipment in the harsh northern desert, planning and shipping in advance were not really on the table, so upon arriving in the sprawling urban center of Chile known as Santiago, my trip was in the notoriously slow hands of the Chilean customs offices and postal system. (more…)

Nov 12, 2018 20 comments
Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour – Ryan Wilson

Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Packing for a trip that spans multiple years can be a bit daunting.  Especially when you’ll be passing through just about every zone of climate you can possibly imagine, from the humidity and heat of the Peruvian jungle to the bitter cold of winter in the mountains of Patagonia…  Dragging the bike up rugged 16,000ft hiking trails, across remote dirt roads, or even the occasional stretch of asphalt. Walking the fine line between having an excessive amount of stuff or too little is a tricky balance.

My setup has been gradually refined since I first started this trip two years ago, and while it’s far from a “minimal” or “ultralight” setup you might take on a trip that spans a few weeks or less, I think I’ve struck a reasonable balance between having everything I need to live and work on the bike in the long-term, while still being a rig that is fun to ride no matter how rough the terrain gets.

As time has gone on, I’ve found that the overall weight doesn’t really matter as much as how everything is packed.  It’s when bags are bouncing around loosely or swaying back and forth where the size and weight really becomes a burden.  When everything is tight and dialed, it’s just another bike.  “How much does it weigh?” is a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times along the way and to be honest, I don’t have a clue.  Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

There are some things on here that would be overkill for many people (large camera, computer, etc), and some things that would be a bit too minimal for others (clothes, sleeping bag, etc), but this is what works for me at the moment…

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Sep 25, 2018 59 comments
Sand Traps and Mishaps in the Argentine Puna – Ryan Wilson

Sand Traps and Mishaps in the Argentine Puna
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

There are few things in this world that excite me more than a faint checkered line on a map, meandering through wide open spaces.  As I’ve come to find out over the previous month, Northern Argentina has quite the collection of them.  While my completionist tendencies want to pull me in all directions, down every last trail, there are really more than one could ever explore in just one trip.  Often these tracks are meticulously sculpted into a bone-shattering washboard.  If not, they’re plunging you through pits of ankle-deep sand.  Either way, they’re always filling your eyes with sights unlike any other in the world. (more…)

Sep 10, 2018 23 comments
The Forgotten Pass of the Atacama – Ryan Wilson

The Forgotten Pass of the Atacama
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

The Atacama Desert can be an intimidating place when you look at it on paper. There’s a certain mystique in the cycle-touring world that comes with being labeled the driest place on Earth. The lack of water also means that populated settlements are rare, which makes the vast 128,000 square kilometers of salty, sandy, and rocky terrain seem all the more inhospitable to someone looking to pedal their way through.

To be honest, the prospect of having to carry more than a week’s worth of food along with 3+ days worth of water at any given time didn’t just seem like a logistical challenge in trying to over-stuff bags and strap things to places where they shouldn’t be strapped… It seemed wholly unappealing. Just the thought of watching those liters disappear while you keep your fingers crossed that the next potential water source actually exists was enough to make me wonder if it would even be worth the stress. Still, I’d heard enough praise about the solitude and beauty of the Puna de Atacama that I just couldn’t pass up the chance to see what the hype was all about. (more…)

Apr 3, 2018 15 comments
Once Upon a Time in the Bolivian West – Ryan Wilson

Once Upon a Time in the Bolivian West
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After spending a year riding the constantly undulating roads in the Cordilleras of Perú and Bolivia, it was time to switch it up just a bit and head out for the altiplano of Bolivia’s volcano-laden western region. This is the area where most cycle tourists head when passing through Bolivia and it’s also the place where the country really earns its reputation of vast open spaces with an endless array of sandy/corrugated roads, and other-worldly landscapes. (more…)

Jan 10, 2018 30 comments
12 Pieces Of Gear I Wouldn’t Go Without In The Andes – Ryan Wilson

12 Pieces Of Gear I Wouldn’t Go Without In The Andes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

In a little over a year’s worth of time on the road in the Andes, I’ve had the chance to really put my gear through some serious torture. Luckily, the vast majority of it has stood the test of time, but there are some pieces that have really stood out as items I’ll have in my setup for a long time to come. Obviously, some of this comes down to personal preference and the type of riding you’re doing, so it’s not one-size-fits-all, but the majority of these would work well with just about any type of bikepacking/touring… (more…)

Dec 13, 2017 64 comments
The Endless Fiesta in Bolivia’s Kimsa Cruz – Ryan Wilson

The Endless Fiesta in Bolivia’s Kimsa Cruz
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

The best part about riding in the Andes of Perú and Bolivia is that finding a great route is about as simple as pointing to a couple of interesting looking spots on the map and connecting the dots.  Chances are good that you’ll end up on a rollercoaster of dirt roads through quiet valleys and over dramatic mountain passes.

While it’s fun to follow the tracks of fellow cyclists that have sought out these remote roads and trails previously, if I see a chance to head through an area with little to no info readily available, there’s definitely an extra element of intrigue.  Is there water?  Anywhere to find food along the way?  Is there actually a bridge over that giant river?  After all, the mystery of what lies around the next bend or over the next pass is what keeps me wanting to turn those pedals. (more…)

Oct 24, 2017 18 comments
Out of the Bolivian Yungas and into the Cordillera – Ryan Wilson

Out of the Bolivian Yungas and into the Cordillera
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After plunging into the depths of the Bolivian Yungas, your brain likes to trick you into overlooking the relatively low altitude ups and downs of this area, while focusing in on the inevitable slog back to the thin air of the high mountains. But these Yungas roads have a way of telling you right away that just because you’re not at 16,000ft anymore doesn’t mean you’re getting away unscathed here. What the Yungas lacks in pure altitude, it easily makes up for in relentlessly steep, hot, and dusty roads that zig and zag across the rippled terrain. Make no mistake, the challenge here definitely stacks up with just about anything else in the area. (more…)

Sep 19, 2017 32 comments
Taking the “Death Road” to the Edge of the Bolivian Jungle – Ryan Wilson

Taking the “Death Road” to the Edge of the Bolivian Jungle
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Coming into Bolivia, it’s hard to know what to expect. Where Peru’s reputation is pretty much all happy people, ancient ruins, and fluffy alpacas, the stories you hear about Bolivia prior to visiting are a bit more of a mixed bag. Some are very positive, but one thing repeated pretty often (other than how bad the food is) is that outsiders aren’t quite as popular with the locals. Rather than the welcome party you get in nearly every village in the Peruvian Andes when you roll in on two wheels, the Boliviano response is a bit more tepid… At least that’s the reputation. (more…)

Aug 14, 2017 52 comments
A Goodbye to Perú Through the Ausangate – Ryan Wilson

A Goodbye to Perú Through the Ausangate
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

For my final stretch through Perú (for now), I jumped onto the instant-classic route that Cass Gilbert and Michael Dammer founded one year prior (http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/tres-cordilleras-boliva-peru/), with a few tweaks. The highlight of this area is unquestionably the circuit around the 6,384m aka 20,945ft wall of rock and ice known as Apu Ausangate. The majority of which is pure backcountry single track through seemingly endless glacial peaks and pristine lagunas. (more…)

Jul 6, 2017 20 comments