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.
Bikepacking. It’s one of my favorite ways to travel and for Blackburn, it’s not only a passion for them, it’s a challenge. How can design be intelligent, intuitive, reliable and most important, resilient to constant wear and tear? You can spend all day designing products in an office, but the real test is out on the open road.
One of the ways Blackburn vets their products is through the Ranger Program. Each year, they send out a call for entries before selecting six or seven Rangers to get kitted out with a bike from Niner and full Blackburn product. Their journey begins, oddly enough, at the San Jose Airport… Well, parking lot B at the San Jose Airport.
With all the time I spend away from my new home base of Los Angeles, you’d think I’d want to stay put in between traveling. Well, at least sleep in my bed. This time of year, we’re on the precipice between the cool, early spring days and scorching, on-coming summer days. It’s hit or miss, but when the city of LA spikes to 90º this early in the season, there’s but one refuge from the heat: 5,500′ and up.
Chilao is an all-time campsite in the Angeles National Forest and knowing its popularity, it’s a crap-shoot trying to stay there on the weekends. Especially this time of year where aforementioned weather pushes the outdoorsy city dwellers en masse up Highway 2 and to the campsites surrounding some of our favorite singletrack and fire roads in LA.
Last week I slept outdoors more than in and having the week crescendo into a tent just high enough from Downtown LA to block out the ambient light and noise, yet far away enough to open up the sky to the stars was an unexpected treat. All this from only a 45 minute drive from my comfortable, yet still indoors bed. Check out some more photos below.
… and it was a blast! Hold tight while I edit the photos and travel back to Los Angeles.
Another year, another spring and another Swift Campout. Last year, bicycle campers, bikepackers and touring enthusiasts alike took to the hills, roads and mountains to explore their local forests and discover new camp sites. This year, Swift already has a website up, promoting this FREE event. Head on over to Swift to see all the details!
Big Bend National Park may be one of the last remaining corners of the untouched West. While booming city sprawl or flat oil country paints most of the modern Texas landscape, Big Bend is nestled in the far southwestern corner of the state within the beautiful Chihuahuan Desert and the Chisos Mountain range.
Who’d ever think that bicycle touring could be so, I dunno, handsome?