… and we’ll be back on Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend!
Out of all the places in California, Owens Valley and its surrounding areas are my favorite. You’ve got the High Sierra to the west and Death Valley to the east. Unfortunately, this late in the year, spending time in Death Valley limits you to the air conditioning confines of your car, or Telescope Peak and its extreme elevation and in the High Sierra, this year’s snowfall of epic proportions still has many of the roads and hiking trails closed. With limited options for altitude, Cari and I decided to explore the valley floor after my week in Chico. Once my work “obligations” were finished, I picked her up from the Sacramento airport on Thursday afternoon and made the traverse into Owens Valley.
This June 24th and 25th, on the night of the Solstice, the Swift Campout returns and you can sign up now, for free at the website. Head on over to read about route planning, gear recommendations and to view people’s photo contributions from previous year’s events.
Editor’s Note: When I lived in Austin, Texas, I wanted to bring my friends who were accustomed to racing a training on a weekend outing of camping and riding dirt roads. Since this time of year in Texas, the parks are often crowded, I decided that Super Bowl Weekend would be ideal, since everyone in Texas would be glued to their televisions and not driving their RVs to campsites around the state. Over the past few years, the ride has continued, further morphing into this year’s Seattle-Austin exchange program… Check out the first Super Bro Weekend photoset in our archives.
Part I: Central Texas Excursion (Code name: Vitamin D)
In the past few years, a tradition has formed in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, where the adventurous souls of Beat The Clock Cycling go out to explore the far edges of the cycling universe. This year’s edition brought with it a special layer of stoke. Through a conversation between delegates from Seattle-based Swift Industries and Austin-based Beat The Clock, an idea began to percolate. The delegates were discussing a future trip up to Washington when the idea of a cycling exchange program was born. For the Northwesterners, the pull of the warm Texas winter was too much to resist, and it was decided that the Cascadia contingent would join forces with the Texans. This idea turned into Super Stoke Weekend, where the visitors could experience firsthand what the Texas Hill Country had to offer. Anticipating a sprightly and somewhat daunting 300 miles of mixed surface riding for the weekend, the Seattle crew began an intense training regimen of weekly randos/taco cleanses.
Today, Kyle and I are packing up the ‘Cruiser with mountain bikes and camping gear to spend a week in Utah riding the trails of St. George, Hurricane and Gooseberry with the boys from Angry Catfish in Minneapolis. We’ve got content coming in through the Radar and Reportage, so stay tuned!
An Unexpected Glimpse into Peruvian Culture
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
EDITOR’S WARNING: This gallery contains content that may offend the lovers of fluffy animals. There are slides in the gallery which give you plenty of warning to turn back. Keep in mind, this is part of the Peruvian culture, so please maintain an open mind.
My final stretch on the Peruvian Divide Route started like much of the rest. Incredibly quiet roads lined with as much spectacular scenery and as many furry friends as one can possibly handle. Bobbing and weaving between storms (without much success), and drifting in and out of the occasional small village filled with welcoming locals.
As far as bikepacking/dirt touring routes go, I can’t really think of a more complete experience. Where the Cordillera Blanca to the north wins on pure scenery, the Divide easily wins on way-off-the-beaten-path dirt road riding (if that is your thing). This makes for easier wild camping, and even more interesting interactions with locals who simply don’t see tourists around with any kind of frequency.
I love well thought-out campware and while sometimes they can get a bit cumbersome, this new Full Windsor product looks really well designed. Check out more on the Muncher at their Kickstarter.
Romantic Bicycle Touring: A Primer
Words and photos by Ultra Romance
You can witness all the beauty there is to see in this fine world: Yanni live at the Acropolis, the Venice beach boardwalk, or simply the Sistine Chapel, for example.
While encountering these wonders alone is undoubtedly inspiring and majestic, these enchanting destinations and undulating waves of road in between are enhanced roughly 70-80% of the time when the experience is shared. Add in the romantic element, and that analytic bumps up to roughly 86%, yet fluctuates down to 20% at times. That’s still pretty good!
With the popularity of bicycle touring on the rise in recent years, and justifiably so, the amount of “I’d rather be doing that” inspirational social media content has increased exponentially. It doesn’t take a masters degree in internet browsing to stumble across countless photos of glossy eyed 86% happy couples posing for duck face selfies with their laden touring rigs amidst a backdrop of the romantic unknown.
I must admit, I have gazed at these photos before, incurring wide eyed dreams of one day waking up in the dirt beside a real, tangible lover. Instead I continued to keep company with the likes of my ol’ faithful laminated 8×10 of Matthew McConaughey, propped up next to my inflatable pillow at night. Even still, I continued to tell myself “Bené, you’re tall, strikingly handsome, muscular, your hair is #1, and you have two amazing Instagram accounts… don’t get greedy, you can’t have it all!” And so I was settled into my ways. Just me and my McCaughey laminate, rubbing woolen elbows with the world and it’s mysteries.
The weekend is here and hopefully these Swift Campout photos from their disposable cameras will stoke your flames!
Yesterday afternoon, I rode my road bike up to the mountains above LA to camp with Cari. Since she had to work, she met me up at the campground with my truck, loaded with camping supplies and Max, her dog. We stayed up late and watched the sky explode with the Perseid Meteor Shower. Did anyone else manage to escape the city lights and soak that spectacle?
“Who’s ready for the #goldensaddlecyclery chapter of the Swift Industries Campout this weekend in LA!?!? We know we are! We’d like for everyone to meet at the bike shop on Saturday, June 25th around 2 and we’ll be rolling out around 3. There will be short stops for food and maybe a drink while we meander to the base of the mountains. We’ll be then taking the Mt. Wilson Toll Road up to Henninger Flats for the night!!! There is a 3 1/2 mile dirt road up to the campground, so bring to bike you feel most comfortable riding off-road.”
Oftentimes during trips like this, you just go with the flow and don’t ask questions. When the team at Circles began planning our bicycle tour around Mount Fuji, the only things I asked were what kind of roads we’d be riding and what to expect in terms of weather. This would answer every other question in terms of my gear and bicycle selection. We already got the run down on how this trip was faring on yesterday’s post, so I’ll spare you the re-introduction here but what I will say is, sometimes rides like this present a pleasant surprise when you’d least expect it…
… we began ours a little early!
Yesterday, we drove up to the Bandito campground in the Angeles National Forest with Salsa Cycles, Topanga Creek Outpost and Golden Saddle Cyclery for a quick camping trip and mountain bike ride(s). It was a short overnighter but that didn’t keep David, one of the mechanics at GSC from bringing his vintage Campagnolo banner he uses as a sun shade for his van… Meanwhile, I took the scenic route home.
There’s never a perfect time to escape. Chores, obligations, monetary deficits, or priorities—it seems the doldrums of the day to day too often take hold with gripping force. We can’t always hop on plane to the backcountry of the Chilcotins or ride ribbons of trails through the Alps; sometimes planning a trip can seem more complicated than landing a rover on Mars.
And in some instances even more so.
But on the rare occasion a trip can manifest itself without a formalized plan or strategy. The right players show up with the right gear and seem to have a rare abundance of time to spare. It’s like watching ripples forming from the wind blasting a sand dune. From a seemingly chaotic environment comes a perfectly organized pattern: from entropy emerges order. We’re not going to pretend to understand it, but that is what happened with this trip. A few emails were sent to a handful of folks and almost magically we were standing speechless in awe of Northern California coastal viewshed. No itinerary, no schedule, no obligations, and no reception.
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.
There’s been a lotta camping going on here in Los Angeles and unfortunately, I haven’t been able to partake in the festivities due to either work or other obligations but tomorrow, that’s all changing. The guys at Topanga Creek Outpost invited Kyle and I on a two-day bicycle camping trip Wednesday and Thursday, so I broke the Indy Fab out of my storage unit and loaded it up with my Porcelain Rocket bags.
This go round I’ll be traveling pretty light, relying on a sleeping bag, pad and a minimalist bivy for warmth during the cool coastal nights. My packing is pretty dialed at this point, with lighter items like clothing in the rear saddle pack, my “bed” in the front and food, utensils, tools and camera lenses in the frame pack.
I always want to do a knolling photo, but I figured it might be fun to do in-field rather than before I take off. We’ve got content scheduled for the next two days, so stay tuned and hopefully we’ll have some great stories on Friday when I return.
Feel free to see some more photos below and leave any questions you might have in the comments!
Sea Otter, ORNOT
Words and photos by Nich Barresi
Sea Otter is great. There’s lots of new bike stuff, racing, camping, beer, and friends, but we had a hankering to get out on some dirt roads after hanging out with Ritchey on Friday. We had heard of an abandoned dirt road down in Los Padres National Forest and we felt this was the perfect opportunity to check it out (and maybe test out a few new products). Indians Road can be accessed by Arroyo Seco Campground and leads south into the wilderness. Our plan was to camp near the trail, ride it in the morning, and then get back to Sea Otter in the afternoon.
We spent the evening in the woods and woke up to birds chirping and warm morning light kissing nearby hilltops. Try waking up like that at Laguna Seca campground… After a bit of camp coffee and ride preparation, we were on our bikes and headed up the hill.
The pavement ended first, and then our ride, temporarily.
Matt managed to slash a nice hole in his brand new tires’ sidewall 10 minutes into the ride. We booted with a greenback, threw a tube inside, and were on our way. Enter ‘day long anxiety about being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a blown out tire’. We knew we were on borrowed time with a boot, but we weren’t about to give up so soon.
Indians Road is a pretty special place. The road was shut down in ’94 after winter storms caused two landslides along the road, and it remained closed due to pricey and non-ecological repair estimates. The military finalized the closure after 9/11 when the stated the road, which is right next to Fort Hunter-Liggett, would ‘require an increased law enforcement and USFS patrol’. The double track road is now overgrown and full of fallen rocks and sand. There is some dodging of said rocks, and of course a climb over the landslide, but it is certainly rideable on skinny(ish) tires. All together, it is an extremely enjoyable ride very similar to what you might find in Marin, but with a more Southern Californian look.
While you’re only 20 miles from Arroyo Seco campground, the remoteness of the ride and the great expanses you see along the way make it feel like you’re really “out there”. Be sure to pick an instagramable lunch stop…don’t worry, there are plenty.
Little did we know, Murphy Mack (Super Pro Racing) went and planned a route straight through Indians Road for his Spring Classic this weekend. Their ride starts down south and heads up through this same portion of Indians Road, and then into the valley via Arroyo Seco, and up to Gilroy. Should be an epic day for those who go. We never did make it back to Sea Otter, but it was a fair trade by every measure. After sampling a bit of the Indians Road goodness, it’s safe to say that we’ll be planning another longer trip. Hopefully not in the middle of the summer when this place must get HOT, Ornot.