#Death-Valley

tag

Disconnecting with a SRAM AXS Equipped Moots Baxter

Reportage

Disconnecting with a SRAM AXS Equipped Moots Baxter

Let’s rewind a bit, back to the Steamboat Ramble Ride, where I rode this very frame, fully loaded from Steamboat Springs to Fort Collins along with a whole crew of people from all over the country. The whole time I was on the ride, I kept thinking about how much I love drop bar 29ers for tours like that. It’s the best of both worlds – drops for different riding positions and MTB gearing for slogging a loaded bike up mountain passes. In the back of my mind, I began playing out how I could use a bike like this for some of my more ambitious rides in the Death Valley or Inyo Mountains area. Then SRAM contacted me about working on a project with their new AXS components. Initially, their thoughts were to build a custom bike around the interchangeability of the eTap AXS road with the new Eagle AXS system and do a project with this new bike. The subject matter was entirely up to me. Meanwhile, my mind was still on the Moots Baxter and how it would be perfect for this loop I had scouted a year or so ago…

Radar

Disconnecting in Cerro Gordo Video

As a supplement to our Reportrage with SRAM in Cerro Gordo, I pinged James from Drop Media to tell the story through his incredible video work. For an in-depth look at this ride, don’t miss the corresponding Reportage that dropped this morning.

Into the Inyo Mountains: Disconnecting in Cerro Gordo

Reportage

Into the Inyo Mountains: Disconnecting in Cerro Gordo

Owens Valley, the Mojave, and Death Valley have been the backdrop for many stories here on the Radavist, but there is one region in particular that has interested me in regards to both the terrain and the history. The Inyo Mountains are ripe for adventure-seekers looking to get off the beaten path of Death Valley National Park or the Eastern Sierra. It can be a very isolating place: the roads are rough, rugged, with little to no cell reception or provisions. If you can, however, access this zone safely, you will be rewarded with unsurpassed views of the Eastern Sierra as the backdrop and colorful geological features abound.

I spend my free time exploring this region for routes that are suitable for travel by bicycle and to be honest, very few have proven to be fruitful in such endeavors. The area is plagued by roads so steep that even an equipped 4×4 can overheat, or miles upon miles of rock gardens, and sand traps. Not to mention the complete absence of water. To ride in this zone, you have to be prepared, both mentally and physically. It’s a region that challenged the native tribes as well as the prospectors who were driven by the desire to strike it rich. There’s a bigger tale here before we dive into our story, that needs to be told. One that hits close to home for us at the Radavist.

The Radavist 2019 Calendar: February

Radar

The Radavist 2019 Calendar: February

This is the second layout of the Radavist 2019 Calendar, entitled “Inyo Ascent” shot with a Canon 5D and a 100-400mm lens in Keeler, California.

“We’ve got a project coming up this month, that’s all about going up, up, up, into the Inyo Mountains. Here’s a teaser, about halfway up a 5,000′ ascent. It keeps going after this!”

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2019 Calendar – February. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background this month is of one of our favorite set of switchbacks in California. Can you name that climb? Click here to download February’s Mobile Wallpaper.

Enjoy the Weekend!

Radar

Enjoy the Weekend!

Some people will think this image looks like hell, others heaven, and for them, this winter’s content here on the site has a high bar to reach after last year’s desert exploits. Regardless of the outcome, I’m looking forward to it! Out of curiosity, has anyone taken on this loop after seeing our post from December? Over the next few weeks, the temps will be dropping even more!

Anyway, ENJOY THE WEEKEND!

Radar

Kona Takes on Badwater to Mt. Whitney

The Kona Adventure Team takes to the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin (-282.2′), to the highest in the contiguous US, Mount Whitney (14,505′). The cool thing about this is it used to be an annual bike race, dubbed the Whitney Classic. This route climbs three classic passes, Townes Pass is 16.6 miles and ascends 5,000′, Hillcrest is 11.9 miles and ascends 3,000′, and The Whitney Portal road is 12 miles and ascends 5,000′. I’ve spoken with cyclists in Owens Valley who used to hike to the top of Mount Whitney the day after the race as “recovery.”

The Radavist 2018 Calendar: May

Radar

The Radavist 2018 Calendar: May

This is the fifth layout of the Radavist 2018 Calendar, entitled “Leaving Winter” shot with a Canon 1DXmkii and a 100-400mm lens in Panamint, California.

“It’s been a long, hard winter for most of the United States, but we’re all ready to leave it behind for sunny days and short nights.”

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2018 Calendar – May. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background this month is from the White Mountains. Click here to download May’s Mobile Wallpaper.

Seeking Speed in Searles Valley with Bontrager’s Aeolus XXX Wheels

Reportage

Seeking Speed in Searles Valley with Bontrager’s Aeolus XXX Wheels

Speed. It’s a motivation for many on the bike and while it’s not something we necessarily pursue over here at the Radavist, there’s a certain beauty found within documenting it. The desert has a long history with speed. From iconic Trophy Trucks, to the Baja 1000 and the salt flats at Bonneville, the desert offers an iconic backdrop for the pursuit of speed.

As you’ve noticed, much of my free time – in the shoulder seasons anyway – is spent in the Mojave, Sonoran and Colorado deserts, the three zones surrounding Los Angeles. One of those zones that has always resonated with me, in both a geological and photographic manner, is Searles Valley surrounding Trona, a small town with a large mineral mining operation. Trona is named after the mineral they mine there and is very much active. From the supersonic, bird-deterrent sound canons, to the trains leaving with full cargo cars, the industry surrounding Trona extends well beyond the bustling town limits.

Luckily, someone somewhere made the conscious decision to set aside a region that borders this mineral extraction site known as the Trona Pinnacles. These tufa spires were formed as gas exited an ancient lake bed 10,000 to 100,000 years ago. Roughly 500 of these spires litter the landscape, with some reaching as high as 140 feet. The resulting landscape is straight out of a Hollywood SciFi flick, which is why I’ve wanted to do a commercial cycling shoot there since first coming to this region a few years back.

Radar

Hi Lo Cali

The latest from Brian Vernor checks all the boxes for those who either love this region already or hold a curiosity that could ignite a journey of their own…

“Three friends ride bicycles 192 miles through the California desert, from Badwater Basin to White Mt. Peak. Along the way they ascend over 24,000 vertical feet, and experience a 70 degrees shift in temperature. Before embarking the riders plan their ride carefully and leave food and water along the route in old ammunition canisters for later consumption. Unsupported from beginning to end, the riders carried small cameras and filmed themselves during the ride, capturing serendipitous moments like a dusk flyby of a group of owls and a desperate dive into a grungy bathroom to escape from the cold.”

Nicely done!

The Radavist 2018 Calendar: February

Radar

The Radavist 2018 Calendar: February

This is the second layout of the Radavist 2018 Calendar, entitled “Striped Butte” shot with a Canon 1dx and a 100-400mm lens in Butte Valley, California.

“Striped Butte juts up abruptly from the aptly-named Butte Valley floor to an elevation of 4,773 feet, with a 700′ prominence. Geologists believe the lines of this unique mountain were formed when the crust was forced upward, changing the striations from horizontal to their current form. Made from almost entirely Paleozoic limestone – 541 to 242 million years old – this unique and beautiful formation is in one of the most remote regions of Death Valley National Park. This valley and both of the roads in are riddled with mining, Mojave magic and straight up Mansonian Helter Skelter…”

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2018 Calendar – February. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background this month is a fiery sunrise from Butte Valley. Click here to download February’s Mobile Wallpaper.

Cycling Through History in Death Valley National Park

Reportage

Cycling Through History in Death Valley National Park

The neon hub of the American West is Las Vegas. An oasis for many, plopped just outside the California / Nevada border, in an otherwise inhospitable zone if it weren’t for the constant intravenous drip of water and tourism capital.

As Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi outlined in their manifesto, Learning from Las Vegas, the “ugly and ordinary architecture, or the decorated shed,” epitomizes man’s ruin. My interpretation of this architectural masterpiece is man’s inability to create anything that competes visually with the natural world, just beyond the boundaries of this neon wasteland. This is not a cynical view of development, or architecture in general, rather a point of departure for this particular trip.

“The human argument for setting aside vast stretches of the American desert as parks and preserves and wilderness and plain open space always includes the importance of unspoiled vistas. As the only real difference between Las Vegas and Death Valley is that we made a strategic decision to fill one with casino hotels and insurance company headquarters and neighborhoods while leaving the other more or less intact for the mutual benefit of humanity and the plants and creatures and ecosystems in such a mostly wild place.” Ken Layne, Desert Oracle, #016.

Death Valley prides itself on being the Hottest, Driest, and Lowest National Park. It, along with the deserts of Africa and the Middle East, is one of the hottest places on Earth, with temperatures exceeding 120ºF frequently during the summer months. In fact, the highest temperature ever recorded was 134ºF (56.7ºC) on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek. As its name implies, Death Valley is indeed made up of a series of basins, bordered by mountain ranges, of varying geologic characteristics. From the striped strata of the Last Chance Range, to the colorful, mineral-rich Funeral Mountains and the alien-like, almost science fiction-native, Amargosa Range.

The Radavist 2018 Calendar: January

Radar

The Radavist 2018 Calendar: January

This is the FIRST layout of the Radavist 2018 Calendar, entitled “Desert Descent” shot with a Canon 1dx and a 24-70mm lens on Hunter Mountain, California.

“Death Valley is one of the most diverse National Parks in the United States. In a single descent, you can pass through a number of biomes, all while gripping your bars in shear excitement.”

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2018 Calendar – January. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background this month is from the Mojave Preserve. Click here to download January’s Mobile Wallpaper.

Three Mule Team: Bikepacking in Northern Death Valley – A Prospector’s Tale

Reportage

Three Mule Team: Bikepacking in Northern Death Valley – A Prospector’s Tale

We are three prospectors and this is our creed:

For over a hundred years, Death Valley has had its minerals extracted by machine and mule. Not just for gold and silver, either. Prospectors scoured the mountains for borax, antimony, copper, lead, zinc, and tungsten, packing out their load by mule. We are modern day Prospectors, however, we are not seeking riches, yet experiences, of which will be beaten into our soul by miles of washboarded and rocky roads. Our mules are our bicycles and we’ll take only photos, leaving no trace, taking nothing from this land. It’s given enough over the decades and its scars are still visible on the surface.

There’s no death in this valley, but life, at a micro scale, so nuanced that without the pace of the bicycle, might be passed over, unnoticed.

The Radavist 2017 Calendar: December

Radar

The Radavist 2017 Calendar: December

This is the twelfth layout of the Radavist 2017 Calendar, entitled “Scoot Scoot” shot with a Canon 1dx and a 24-70mm lens in Saline Valley, California.

“Kicking up dust is inevitable in Death Valley, why not have a little fun doing so?”

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2017 Calendar – December. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background this month is from the Inyo National Forest Click here to download December’s Mobile Wallpaper.

A Death Valley Prospector’s Pack Mule: Dylan’s Obsidian Fatboy

Reportage

A Death Valley Prospector’s Pack Mule: Dylan’s Obsidian Fatboy

The most straightforward definition of Obsidian comes from Wikipedia: “Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock. It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth.” In parts Owens Valley and Death Valley, Obsidian is just another ground substrate. As lava fields collide with alluvial fans, causing the land to spill out over and through roads, this mineral litters the landscape, capturing sunlight and distracting even the most focused eye.

During numerous points on our trip, Obsidian fields distracted us from our pains, our cold hands, and hungry stomachs. We scoured the grounds, finding unique pieces, to hold up to the light and gaze in awe, only to place them back where they had decided to fall in the first place. Dylan took this practice very seriously, and in return, often wandering out into the depths of a shrub field only to shout out “check this piece out!” I felt it the perfect mineral to represent his murdered out S-Works Fatboy.

So, what’s so special about this bike? Honestly, not much. It’s bone stock, features a manual-shifting “bail out” chainring and was the lightest “fully-loaded” bike on the trip. Dylan borrowed the bike from a friend, upon realizing that fatter was just simply better for the terrain. He packed it out with the essentials, along with a few choice creature comforts – like walkie-talkies – and the entire time, rode it like it had an e-battery…