#Death-Valley

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A Quote By Frank Herbert

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A Quote By Frank Herbert

“The thing the ecologically illiterate don’t realise about an ecosystem is that it’s a system. A system! A system maintains a certain fluid stability that can be destroyed by a misstep in just one niche. A system has order, flowing from point to point. If something dams that flow, order collapses. The untrained might miss that collapse until it was too late. That’s why the highest function of ecology is the understanding of consequences.”

This quote has really resonated with me on this trip.

A Death Valley Prospector’s Pack Mule: My 44 Bikes Creosote Cruiser

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A Death Valley Prospector’s Pack Mule: My 44 Bikes Creosote Cruiser

Continuing our documentation of these high desert Pack Mules, is my 44 Bikes rigid mtb tourer, decked out in desert bikepacking mode, with a few key adjustments to its normal build we’ve seen before.

This bike proved itself on our 100 mile Prospector’s Tour of Death Valley but initially, I was worried. Worried for a few reasons, but mostly because of the tire size. While riding in the desert is not new to me, doing it fully loaded, for four days, in Death Valley is. Everything in my mind told me to track down a fat bike for the route. After driving it last month, I was aware of every change in ground substrate; the Eureka Valley presented sand and loose tuff. Steel Pass was gravely, with corners suddenly sinking into inches of loose rocks and the climbs out of Saline Valley are washboarded, rocky and can take a toll on your hands.

A Death Valley Prospector’s Pack Mule: Erik’s Desert Sand Fatboy

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A Death Valley Prospector’s Pack Mule: Erik’s Desert Sand Fatboy

On this expedition, we – Erik, Dylan and myself – were prospectors… 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 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.

Last Friday we embarked on a 100 mile journey through Death Valley National Park. The route was familiar to Erik, who attempted it years ago, but in reverse, with a band of other explorers, who fell victim to this great desert. Returning this round, Erik had a new found respect for this land, as well as much-needed reconnaissance by yours truly. My report: we should ride the biggest tires we have access to. This would soften the blow from the rugged roads and allow us to move with elegance through deep sand.

On top of that, literally, would be our provisions for four day’s worth of riding in the High Desert. This meant we’d need lots of water, lots of food, and warm apparel, on top of the standard backcountry emergency items. Packing all this in on a bike that’s destined to climb well over 10,000′ in its journey is no easy matter, yet the three of us took our own unique approach to outfitting our Pack Mules.

Death Valley Prospectors

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Death Valley Prospectors

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 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. These next ten days, I’ll be embarking on a series of rides in Death Valley National Park, with a varying cast of characters, with one thing on the agenda: sharing this natural beauty with you and documenting these routes for the next prospectors to mine memories.

Last night, the trip began with caching water and wood for our first expedition… Stay tuned.

Throwback Thursday: Death in the Valley

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Throwback Thursday: Death in the Valley

So, you might have noticed this already but our server accidentally deleted our 2015 image bucket, including many of my favorite Ride Reportage entries. When possible, I’ll be re-upping these stories and linking it here to the Radar to encourage everyone to revisit the entry. We’ve got a lot of incredible rides back-logged here on the Radavist, so expect some prime throwback entries being brought back to life. Got one you’d like to request? Drop it in the comments.

This week’s entry is Death in the Valley, by team AWOL. I wonder how much these guys have learned since their last attempt?

From Mojave Highways to Byways in Death Valley

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From Mojave Highways to Byways in Death Valley

After South Africa, I realized two things. The first being my knee injury will have me off the bike for a few weeks and the second; it’s finally the perfect time for the desert. Rather than stewing at home, unable to ride and constantly being surrounded by the thing that I can’t do right now – riding bikes – I decided that a trip to the Mojave was in order. A nonprofit artist organization, the High Desert Test Sites, was doing their annual symposium in the Joshua Tree area. Cari has worked with them in the past, so I thought it’d be an awesome excuse to get out to the Mojave for a short trip.

The problem is, Joshua Tree this time of year is a zoo, so finding a camping spot on the weekend is a challenge. My rough plan was to drive out to the Cady Mountains, camp, wake up to look for Big Horn sheep and explore the slot canyons, then drive to Joshua Tree for the festivities. We’d then bail out back to the Mojave and explore some more areas I’ve got saved for just such an occasion.

Smooth Rolling with Industry Nine’s AR25 Disc All Road Wheels

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Smooth Rolling with Industry Nine’s AR25 Disc All Road Wheels

For me, wheels can be measured by two factors: price and resilience. I try to act like weight doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t matter until it does. That’s a whole ‘nother discussion though. Anyway, for the past month, I’ve been riding the new Industry Nine AR25 wheels. Marketed for “all road” applications, these wheels use the Torch disc hub system with a three-pawl, 6º freehub mechanism, a 21mm inner width rim, and are laced with 24 Sapim CXray spokes. Industry Nine reduced the pawls by half to cut down on weight, drag and that insanely loud noise they’re well known for. There’s always that moment of anxiety when you spin an i9 hub for the first time. Just how loud is this one going to be?

A Sunday Spin on Artist Drive in Death Valley National Park

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A Sunday Spin on Artist Drive in Death Valley National Park

Early spring is an ideal time to ride bikes in the Eastern Sierra corridor and Death Valley. The daytime temperatures aren’t scorching hot and even in the exposed, dry heat, there are nice cool breezes blowing off the surrounding mountains. Needless to say, in the spring, I like to leave the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles for some desert solitude. Now, “solitude” isn’t something easy to find in Death Valley, on a weekend, in one of the peak tourist times, but it’s remarkable how the park crowds thin out once you’re away from the stores and outposts sprinkled along highway 190.

Cari helped me on a photoshoot in the Eastern Sierra mountains on Saturday, so on Sunday we decided to drive over the Panamint Range in the Inyo National Forest and into Death Valley National Park to ride an easy, but breathtaking loop called Artist Drive. If you spent time in museums growing up as a kid, perhaps you remember “Astronaut Icecream?” Well, Artist Drive takes you through chunks of that stuff, only at the scale of mountains. The colors are other-worldly and since the road is freshly paved, it makes you feel as if you’re riding in a video game.

We parked on the side of the highway, put up window shades and began the morale-breaking 1000′ climb up to the first saddle. From there, it’s a rainbow rollercoaster through geologic formations and colors akin to broken easter eggs, with the occasional motorist driving past, looking at you with such disbelief that you can’t help but laugh.

Once you complete Artist Drive, it’s a 3.5 mile ride back uphill on the park road to your car and for Cari and I, a 3 hour drive back to our house in Independence, California. If you time it right, Mother Nature will put on a different display of colors… If you’re in Death Valley with a bike, I highly suggest this short, but scenic ride.

Soft Winter Light

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Soft Winter Light

… I’ll just leave this here. I hope everyone gets plenty of time off during the Holidaze and plenty of riding time. Thanks again for following along!

Enjoy the Weekend!

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Enjoy the Weekend!

One of the first big trips I’m working on for 2017 involves the roads of my favorite place on Earth. I can’t wait to have cyclists in all my recent Death Valley photos. Until then, enjoy the weekend and stay warm!

All Natural

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All Natural

As the sun sets over the Funeral Mountains, the Borax Hills glow a bright, almost fluorescent yellow. I spent the past weekend exploring the back roads of Death Valley National Park, showing my mother my favorite place on Earth and tying in some reconnaissance for a bike trip in February. Hopefully this image blows your mind as much as the moment did to mine.

Enjoy the Weekend

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Enjoy the Weekend


Insert metaphor for life here

Get out a ride, race or rip this weekend! Next Monday I’m taking off for Tasmania, so expect tons of Reportage from the road.

All We Can Do and All I Will Say

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All We Can Do and All I Will Say

It was a tough morning and a heart-wrenching evening, so apologies for the late start. Truthfully, I’ve wanted to address this, but prefer to keep this website politically-neutral. So, all I’ll say is remember to grow community, be positive and lead by example. Love each other, and your planet. The road gets bumpy sometimes.

the Radavist 2016 Calendar: April

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the Radavist 2016 Calendar: April

This is the fourth layout of the Radavist 2016 Calendar, entitled “Desert Layering.”

Saline Valley is a magical place, with long, swooping roads, washboarded corners and magical vistas around every corner. While the main attraction – a desert hotspring occupied by nudists in their mid to late 50’s and 60’s – might be a little weird for many desert weekend warriors, there are plenty of other au naturale sights on this road. Go there in the spring and early fall, for the summer months are a scorcher!

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2016 Calendar – April. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

Recovering from NAHBS in Death Valley on Telescope Peak

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Recovering from NAHBS in Death Valley on Telescope Peak

I’ve learned something over the years. Balance. Work hard, relax hard. Shoot photos of bikes, shoot photos of nature. Ride a lot, hike a lot. When your hobby, passion and love is also your job, establishing this balance is of the utmost importance. So when NAHBS rolls around each year, I try to have an exit strategy…