I don’t consider myself an avid bikepacker. Yet, neither I think nor talk about riding my enduro bike (which I don’t have). Terminology in general has lost meaning for me in the past years in the bike world. I guess at the same time as many of us, I got overwhelmed with all the new kinds of everything, and the speed of development and diversity the market has achieved in such a short time. I tried to back off a little and find a short of safe place from where I can observe it all. And at the same time, the kind of biking I try to practice more is also quite determined by the act of observing.
I like to shoot the first frame on a roll of film no matter how carefully I load the roll I always end up getting something kinda strange and wonderful out of that first exposure – an effect yielded by the film’s interaction with light coming from two separate moments in time and space – the exposure of the film through the camera’s shutter, but also the light leaked onto the frame during the loading of the roll. One of my favorite photos ever is of my 17-year-old beagle/spaniel mix, Bucky, where he looks like he’s peeking out from behind a cascading sheet of liquid sun. The first exposure on this roll is of my friend, podcast co-host, and riding partner, Sarah rifling through overstuffed bikepacking bags outside of a country store in Damascus, Virginia about 15 miles into our 550-mile bikepacking trip through the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. The image of her trying to squeeze a snack bar into a nonexistent empty space in the top tube bag is itself neatly constrained into the 2/3rds of the frame not devoured by light exposure obtained while the roll was being loaded.
Bicycle tourists are some of my favorite subjects to document. Especially ones that ride by their own rules. When a fella named Beau Walters dropped me a line on Instagram on Sunday, asking if I was free to meet up in Santa Fe as it was on his touring route from Boulder to Mexico City, I naturally obliged. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!
This video documents a couple on a road tour through southwest Colorado and southern Utah in 1982. That’s prior to the internet, mobile phones, and GoPro. All images within were captured on Kodachrome slide film and were just recently scanned and uploaded to YouTube. Videos like this have all the bicycle touring vibes!
This video is embedded in today’s Reportage.
With $12,000 e-MTBs on the market, we asked ourselves, “what is the minimum you need in a bike to have fun?”… This is a wild ride, presented by Cjell Moné’s writing and Joshua Weinberg’s vision. Enjoy!
Swipe, BMX video, swipe, oh, nice curved top tube, super-sharp photo of a gorgeous frame sitting on OSB, @sklarbikes. Swipe, snowboard video, swipe, oh, (pulls phone away and back in toward the eye), brain knots and unknots, those seat stays are hard to comprehend @oddity_cycles.
Swipe, surf video, swipe…AD for an OG Klunker from State. Swipe, swipe, swipe, backswipe backswipe backswipe….$399?! Shut up. The lines on that thing aren’t half bad. Swipe, swipe… Backswipe backswipe… I can’t stop looking at this affordable klunker from State. It comes with Kenda chunky 27.5 x 2.2 tires, a 1 1/8 threadless fork, and pretty decent lines. Not a huge fan of the chrome riser bars, but hey those Vans grips…hmm hmmm. $399?!
We embedded this feature in today’s Reportage but are posting it in our Radar as well…
Cyclist Erik Mathy rides from San Francisco to Tucson along the historic Butterfield Overland Trail. Lugging his large-format camera, handmade ‘dollar bill’ lenses, and shooting on X-Ray film, Erik documents his interactions with a variety of people — from artists and activists to the border patrol — as he explores the subject of migration against the landscape of a politically divided American southwest.
On November 1st, 2018 I rolled out to cover 1200 miles of the old Butterfield Overland Mail Route from San Francisco to Tucson, AZ. For almost a year prior the headlines had been dominated by news of things happening along America’s southern border. Child Separations. Immigration Caravans. National Guard deployments. On social media channels the rhetoric from all sides, which had already been getting increasingly strident, ramped up to a fever pitch. Normal conversations spiraled completely out of control. I found myself caught up in it all, furious at family members, friends, and strangers alike.
As though they’d joined a cult and made some kind of suicide pact, having seen none during the five hours of driving previous, perhaps thirty pheasants lay dead in the road over a quarter-mile3 stretch. What had happened on this quarter-mile stretch? Why here? It made me regret buying the rabbit, but without screeching to a halt on a frozen dual carriageway it wouldn’t have been practical to stop and collect them. Even at 70mph I could tell some were past their best and it’s rude to turn up empty-handed. I was on my way to visit Ted, so turning up with roadkill seemed to make sense. I was running late though and didn’t want to rely on road gifts so I picked up a wild rabbit wrapped in paper from our local butchers. It was a relief they had it because plan B was the pet shop.
I’d debated not going to visit Ted of Ted James Design and just compiling the stories people tell about him. The chronicles of SuperTed! The stories people tell can seem fairly fantastic, however, worryingly most of the time they’re true. I sometimes wonder how Ted is even alive? If I were more superstitious, I’d say his spirit was too big for his body and so it spends all of its time trying to get out. There’s something in his eyes like the sort of superintelligence and frustration a sheepdog has about being domesticated, as though any room that he’s in is somehow too small, so his eyes dance about searching for exits.
You know how a hashtag can fuck you? Well maybe not, but a few years ago my good friend Nic and I had this idea … we’d always been intrigued by the pans – or mud flats – of the Northern Cape here in South Africa. At the time we were really getting into riding fixed gear bikes and one day it hit us – let’s take our fixed gear bikes onto the pan! Why not? Surreal landscapes, super smooth surfaces good enough for world speed records! Sounds like a good adventure right? We did some research and found out that that year there was a South African Speedweek planned in September 2014 on the Hakskeenpan, coinciding with the launch of a planned rocket-propelled car land speed record attempt – the Bloodhound SSC. We decided to travel up in Nic’s old 1963 Porsche 356 – it seemed appropriate. Bikes on the roof, gear in the back.
Today on the Radavist, we’re featuring a bit of unobtainium. Those of you who might have heard about this brand before know that the first batch of frames already sold out. For those of you unfamiliar with Rangefinder, it’s a collaboration be Adam Sklar of Sklar Bikes, Hubert d’Autremont from Madrean Fabrication, and the painter Jonathan Pucci from Cicli Pucci. While the frames are gone, the process is what’s important and that process was documented with 35mm rangefinder cameras. We’re featuring the Mystic Project book which has over 100 images, slides, project text from Nicholas Haig-Arack, and final bike photos in a really special Reportage, so enjoy.
I got my first bike in 2010 and a few years later I was moving around four different cities, racing alleycats, road, cyclocross, MTB. I rode ultra distances along Route 66 and Translabrador Highway – the bike took me so many places, yet I began to realize I was looking for something I couldn’t find.
Coming off a week of downtime after one of the most tumultuous years of our lives has brought clarity to this annual retrospective. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect as Covid-19 gripped the global community and changed life as we know it. We looked to our new home in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the surrounding areas for inspiration, pinged our good friends for their penmanship, and listened to communities that have been underrepresented in cycling. What resulted were a lot of articles that tackled some big issues and the realization that we still have a lot of work to do.
I’ve spent the past few weeks mulling over our content and have compiled a list of some of the most meaningful and fun pieces from the past twelve months. Read on below for a selection of memorable moments from 2020, in chronological order…
Alaskan summer energy, at its height, seems endless. You don’t need lights because the sun never sets. Schedules are mostly irrelevant— ride late, sleep in, take breaks, or never stop. It’s all possible.
Then the dark starts eating into the day. In late August, we start losing minutes that cumulate into hours over weeks. It’s hard to adjust. Night returns. And maybe that’s part of what makes it so special. That fleeting feeling of freedom that leaves, but not forever.
While I can’t recall when the seed of this idea was planted, by early spring our plan to escape the reality of 2020 by riding from San Francisco to San Diego was beginning to take root. The year had started upbeat as I’m sure is the case for most people at the beginning of most years, but before long it took a hard turn in the other direction. Starting with a whiplash-inducing breakup that led to moving back to my parents’ house outside of Denver; those events seem small now in the context of everything that followed. As Covid 19 swept the planet and most of humanity began to shelter in place, our collective grief and anxiety began to feel like the status quo. As the days passed at a glacial pace (that was somehow simultaneously lightning fast), the snow in Colorado melted and this idea began to sprout as the earth began to thaw. At the same time, my best friend was dealing with his own lockdown situation down in Baja. Lorenzo had moved down to Ensenada late in 2019 to open a Gelato place (appropriately named “El Gelato”) and was absolutely killing it in the gelato game, helped in no small part to being probably the only gelateria in all of Baja. But when Covid hit, it hit hard and the dusty little town he was calling home completely shut down. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, I started receiving regular text messages from him about riding away from all this bullshit.
As someone who tends to spend seven months out of the year on the road, away from home, 2020 has been a welcomed change, albeit with some major adjustments. Stay at home orders in New Mexico are some of the strictest in the United States and this forced me to look to my new home state for rides and trips. Suddenly, I found myself living at the threshold of beautiful high-country riding with endless possibilities for bicycle touring and mountain biking. To put it mildly, my relocation to Santa Fe has opened up a whole world of opportunity.
It took me a while to adjust to living at 7,000′ and a big part of that adjustment has been facilitated by riding with my fast and fit friend, Bailey Newbrey. Bailey’s accolades need no introduction here and it should be no surprise to any of you that he is an incredible rider. He’s so fast that I jokingly refer to him as the “mountain trout on two wheels.”
HIGH STEEP BROKEN MOUNTAINS: Riding in Threatened Central California Coast Public Land that lost protection to drilling and fracking upon the moratorium lift in December 2019, routing through the Cuyama Valley and Sierra Madre Ridge through Bates Canyon, Santa Barbara Canyon, and Quatal Canyon.
The journal entry following my first bike trip reads: “Why does recording life events feel so vital? Because memories can’t be trusted to stay in place. Because in their wake remains the shadowy outlines of phantom feelings—forms so great and vague that we long to recall the experiences that gave them flesh and weight. Okay. Bike trip.” On the next page I taped five sheets of 3×5 pages, carefully ripped from the pocket journal that I carried with me on the bike. I did this for the sake of chronology in my journaling, so that all of my day-to-day reflections remained bound together, in order, but in leafing through the past, I enjoy the three-dimensional quality that my inserted notes lend to the entry.