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New Mexico Chillest Known Time (CKT) Attempt: A Bike Tour from Santa Fe to Las Cruces on 35mm

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New Mexico Chillest Known Time (CKT) Attempt: A Bike Tour from Santa Fe to Las Cruces on 35mm

I have written, deleted, and rewritten this article several times now. There was the version that leaned in hard to trying to be funny, the version that tried too hard to be philosophical and deep, the version that was a cut and dry day by day account of the trip, and finally this one – some words written less about the trip itself and more about why I am so thankful we approached it the way that we did. 

This past fall, my very good friend Kevin and I shipped ourselves and our bikes halfway across the country to New Mexico for what was essentially a repeat of the same trip we’d done 3.5 years prior. Back in spring 2018, with our Tony, we went on a very similar New Mexican grand adventure. We had ridden a serpentine route from Las Cruces in the south – through Truth or Consequences, Magdelena, Mt. Withington, Magdalena, Moriarty, and all of the salty stream crossings, scrublands, savannas, forests, mountains, and mesas in between, to Santa Fe in the north. Now, Kevin and I were repeating the journey – only this time going from north to south in the fall instead of south to north in the spring. With Covid-19 vaccines in arms, three local DC area airports, and the world at our fingertips it did seem like a lot of trouble to repeat our last big trip with only minor variations on a theme.

Finding Purpose Through Photography

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Finding Purpose Through Photography

As the sun was setting on 2021, my good friends Greg and Nikki – people who constantly seek out adventures – invited me on one more trip before cold winter conditions reared their ugly head. In a year that contained a lot of personal firsts, they asked if I wanted to ride the White Rim Road in Moab. This was my first year of backpacking, so most routes were still unfamiliar to me and almost every trail is as exciting as the next. The only thing I knew about the White Rim was that it’s located in Moab – an area that always yields stunning photos. In a world that feels pre-apocalyptic, sometimes a weekend bike ride, with a focus on the shutter button, helps to reset my appreciation for life. Saying goodbye to the shitshow that was 2021, this ride was a time to reflect on what a struggle the year was for me, individually (and for everyone else), and how bikes and photography contributed to keeping me afloat mentally.

The Lighthouses Route of Spain’s Galician Coast

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The Lighthouses Route of Spain’s Galician Coast

Spain’s Galician coast is extensive, beautiful, wild, abundant and it is feared for its mightiness since  ancient times. The Atlantic Ocean beats the Galician cliffs and rocks with a fascinating strength.  Fishermen and their families are in close contact with this Ocean’s powerful force. The potent  waves often attempt to drag nightmares into these shores, but the coastline is dotted with lights of  hope. One lighthouse after another sends signals to sailors and fishermen alike, these are the  large torches that illuminate the way back to terra firma.

The Carry Cage by Restrap

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The Carry Cage by Restrap

Restrap, the UK-based cycling bag and accessory makers, have released their first foray into mounting hardware. The Carry Cage is manufactured with the same core principle as all Restrap products – functionality first. Designed in house and produced locally, the Carry Cage has been rigorously tested on and off road in the formidable terrain of Yorkshire. It’s a secure and versatile carrying solution that allows increased cargo capacity, whether you’re bikepacking, touring or just exploring. Head over to Restrap to see the Carry Cage and other storage solutions.

Touring Turkey’s Lycian Coast

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Touring Turkey’s Lycian Coast

From the comforts of the coastal city of Antalya, I took to the surrounding hills for short rides between the abundant days of rain that come with the wet season in this region. Turkey had imposed significant covid restrictions for the first time since I was in the country, including full weekend curfews, so this gave me plenty of time to plan out what kind of route would still be possible when the situation improved.  Accepting sudden changes in plans and having some patience has always been important for bike touring and that is especially true these days.

A First Look at the Tailfin Suspension Fork Mount and Cargo Cages

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A First Look at the Tailfin Suspension Fork Mount and Cargo Cages

I always have my eyes peeled for new ways to mount, strap, and stuff things on my bike. Conjuring up ideas in my head of what the perfect setup would be, to meet my needs on a particular trip. First, I want enough space for everything I need without having to mash it all into a few tiny bags. Second, I don’t want anything constantly rattling around or shifting and sliding. The more options the better! So, when a package showed up from the UK-based brand, Tailfin, with a few new mysterious pieces of kit inside, I was intrigued to check them out.

Improvising in the Aladağlar

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Improvising in the Aladağlar

I rolled into the small village of Çamalan. There was a lone shop at the main intersection of town that had a steady flow of locals driving up in their cars. Typically they’d grab bread from the cupboard outside, maybe some Ayran from the fridge, and (most likely) a few packs of cigarettes. These are the Turkish staples.

It was almost dark and I had no clue where I would spend the night.  This is a fairly typical situation for me at this point. I’ve grown comfortable with the feeling.  That’s not to say it can’t be stressful, but when you’ve felt that uncertainty dozens of times before, it gives you more confidence that you’ll be able to make it work out somehow.

Everything Ryan Wilson Packed for His Turkish Bike Tour and Six New Favorite Pieces of Gear

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Everything Ryan Wilson Packed for His Turkish Bike Tour and Six New Favorite Pieces of Gear

Narrowing down my setup for Turkey was a bit tricky compared to some of my previous trips. In particular, because half of my gear that I was using in Central Asia was stranded in Nepal on lockdown, I’d have to try to piece together a rig using older equipment I had lying around as well as a handful of new additions to round it out.

To start, I picked up a Surly Bridge Club.  I originally had intended only to have it as a do-it-all bike while I was home, but when I found out I was heading to Turkey, I was intrigued to see how an off-the-shelf $1150 bike with entry-level components would fare compared to higher-end setups like my 44 Bikes Marauder and Tumbleweed Prospector. I’ll post my full thoughts on the Bridge Club soon, but in the meantime, here is my full kit list along with six pieces of gear that stood out in the Taurus Mountains.

The Taurus Mountain Traverse: An Unexpected Introduction to Turkey

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The Taurus Mountain Traverse: An Unexpected Introduction to Turkey

The world works in mysterious ways. Until 2020 hit hard and crashed my plans to return to Nepal (and beyond), I never really had Turkey too high on my radar. Off the top of my head, I could have probably listed at least ten or fifteen countries that I was clamoring to ride in before I’d mention the Mediterranean nation that hugs the border between Europe and Asia. Then a series of events kicked off that resulted in me booking a last-minute flight to the Turkish seaside city of Antalya.

The Frozen Trail to Thorong-La

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The Frozen Trail to Thorong-La

(note: this story took place before the pandemic)

The Annapurna circuit has been around as an established trekking route for over 40 years, but parts have existed for trade between the Tibetan plateau and the Manang and Muktinath valleys for far longer. Today it’s one of the most famous places to hike in the world, and one of Nepal’s primary tourist draws. Over the last decade or so it has become famous for the herds of backpackers and yaks that often fill the trail during the peak seasons (spring and fall), and slowly the trail is being replaced by roads to make it easier to bring supplies to these tourist-filled villages.

Out of the Comfort Zone and into the Nepali Mid-Hills

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Out of the Comfort Zone and into the Nepali Mid-Hills

Note: This story took place before the pandemic

The wheels hadn’t even touched the runway on our flight from Kyrgyzstan to Nepal and I already knew we were in for something completely different than the summer and fall we spent in the quiet and remote regions of Central Asia. As we began our descent, I could see the rolling hills that separate the lowlands from the high Himalayan mountains. This area, known as the “mid-hills”, was where we’d spend the bulk of our first couple of weeks in Nepal.

From the air, I watched an endless sea of zig-zagging roads, villages, and terraced hillsides that stretched as far as the eye could see. This tangled web of life came to a dramatic crescendo of tightly-packed buildings and chaos as Kathmandu finally came into view. These were certainly not going to be the untouched and sparsely populated valleys you might find while roaming the countryside in Kyrgyzstan, but change is a good thing. Being thrust into new and sometimes even uncomfortable situations is what makes bike touring so rewarding.

In the Shadow of the Fann Mountains

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In the Shadow of the Fann Mountains

(Note: This story took place before the pandemic)

Following our ride along the Tajik/Afghan border, Chrissa and I paused for a few days in Tajikistan’s capital city of Dushanbe to soak up the local culture and stock up at the grand bazaar. Even in the biggest city in the country, the outgoing personality of the Tajik people comes through. Where in a typical city of this size the locals would mostly keep to themselves, here it was very common for people to stop and chat with us on the street, asking what brought us to their country and giving us tips about places to visit in the city.

Ryan Wilson’s Rig in Review: 8 Months in Asia on the Tumbleweed Prospector

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Ryan Wilson’s Rig in Review: 8 Months in Asia on the Tumbleweed Prospector

I’ll be honest, the thought of a new bike is not something that really gets me terribly excited these days.  The places it can take me and the people I will meet along the way?  Definitely!  But when a post pops up on this site or any of the other bike-related sites I visit that starts getting into new-fangled hub spacings or microscopic geometry tweaks and angles, my brain tends to glaze over and forcibly pushes my hand toward clicking on the next article.  The things I look for when selecting a bike for my next big trip are based almost entirely on practicality and reliability.  I just want a bike that I don’t have to think about.

Bike-Camping Along Michigan’s North Country Trail on the Bombtrack Beyond+ ADV

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Bike-Camping Along Michigan’s North Country Trail on the Bombtrack Beyond+ ADV

The North Country Trail

Way back in the mid-80’s I was born about 30 minutes outside of Detroit, Michigan. The area I was in did not exactly lend itself to cycling becoming a hobby at the time, so I really never became interested in bikes and the outdoors until I moved to California and found the mountains as an adult. Fast forward to 2020 when my plans to ride through far-flung mountains in Asia all summer came grinding to a halt along with everyone else’s lives, I found myself back in Michigan for an unknown period of time.

Frozen in Time: Riding Tajikistan’s Bartang Valley

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Frozen in Time: Riding Tajikistan’s Bartang Valley

2019. It feels like an entirely different timeline at this point. For months as the Coronavirus has shifted the focus of our lives, I sat on these articles covering the rest of my time in Asia, wondering if they felt relevant at a time like this. Or when the next time would be that I’d see a photo that reminds me of when kind-hearted villagers would invite a random weirdo like me into their homes with open arms and not find it as bitter as it is sweet.

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Tuscany Touring

Colt Fetters and his partner toured from Bologna to Rome last June. Alternating between following the Italy Divide and the Tuscany Trail, they embraced the credit card style of touring and spent time experiencing the culture of this beautiful country… check out the first of five videos here! Simply play the playlist to watch them all.

The Unknown Road to the High Pamir

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The Unknown Road to the High Pamir

Up to this point, the route-finding came easy in Kyrgyzstan. The North-Eastern zone of the country has seen its fair share of bikepackers floating along its gravel tracks to weed through the wealth of options available. As we made our way south from the small oasis city of Baetov, our direction was less clear. We knew we’d be heading for Northern Tajikistan, but had no real idea about how we’d end up there or what type of riding we’d be in for along the way.