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The Radavist 2021 Calendar: July

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The Radavist 2021 Calendar: July

“Kyrgyzstan” is the seventh layout of the Radavist 2021 Calendar. It was shot with a Sony A7RII and the Sony 70-300 lens in Kyrgyzstan.

Ryan Wilson once again graces our monthly calendar with two photos from his travels to Kyrgyzstan.”

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right-click and save link as – The Radavist 2021 – July. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background this month is also from the same tour. Click here to download July’s Mobile Wallpaper.

The Radavist 2021 Calendar: April

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The Radavist 2021 Calendar: April

“Taurus Mountains” is the fourth layout of the Radavist 2021 Calendar. It was shot with a Fuji X-T4 and a Fuji 18-135 lens in the Taurus Mountains, Turkey.

“Photographer and cyclo-tourist Ryan Wilson provided April’s calendar imagery, straight off his extensive tour throughout Turkey. Keep an eye on the Radavist for updates on his travels…”

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right-click and save link as – The Radavist 2021 – April. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background this month is from this same mountain range. Click here to download April’s Mobile Wallpaper.

Ryan Wilson’s Rig in Review: 8 Months in Asia on the Tumbleweed Prospector

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Ryan Wilson’s Rig in Review: 8 Months in Asia on the Tumbleweed Prospector

I’ll be honest, the thought of a new bike is not something that really gets me terribly excited these days.  The places it can take me and the people I will meet along the way?  Definitely!  But when a post pops up on this site or any of the other bike-related sites I visit that starts getting into new-fangled hub spacings or microscopic geometry tweaks and angles, my brain tends to glaze over and forcibly pushes my hand toward clicking on the next article.  The things I look for when selecting a bike for my next big trip are based almost entirely on practicality and reliability.  I just want a bike that I don’t have to think about.

Bike-Camping Along Michigan’s North Country Trail on the Bombtrack Beyond+ ADV

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Bike-Camping Along Michigan’s North Country Trail on the Bombtrack Beyond+ ADV

The North Country Trail

Way back in the mid-80’s I was born about 30 minutes outside of Detroit, Michigan. The area I was in did not exactly lend itself to cycling becoming a hobby at the time, so I really never became interested in bikes and the outdoors until I moved to California and found the mountains as an adult. Fast forward to 2020 when my plans to ride through far-flung mountains in Asia all summer came grinding to a halt along with everyone else’s lives, I found myself back in Michigan for an unknown period of time.

The Radavist 2020 Calendar: March

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The Radavist 2020 Calendar: March

This is the third layout of the Radavist 2020 Calendar, entitled “Kyrgyzstan Badlands” shot with a Sony A7ii and a 24-70 lens in the Pamir Mountains, Kyrgyzstan.

“For March this year, we pinged Ryan Wilson to pick two of his favorites from his recent gallery here on the Radavist. See Ryan’s full gallery here.”

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right-click and save link as – The Radavist 2020 – March. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background this month is also a favorite of Ryan’s. Click here to download March’s Mobile Wallpaper.

Only Bread to Baetov: Food Poisoning in the Tian Shan Mountains

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Only Bread to Baetov: Food Poisoning in the Tian Shan Mountains

At 7am the alarm went off (feel free to cue up the “waves” ringtone on your iPhone to set the mood). We were in our cushy-ish hotel in Naryn city after having a couple of days off to rest. This is ALWAYS when it is hardest to pry yourself from the grips of city comforts. Knowing that we had more than a week between towns of any significance on the horizon only added to the challenge of getting moving.

Dances with Kyrgyz Wolves

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Dances with Kyrgyz Wolves

“You’re sleeping in a tent out there? Aren’t you worried about them?” a girl from Kyrgyzstan’s capital city who was enjoying a weekend trip to the local favorite Song-Kul lake asked us. I thought to myself wondering what she might be referring to.  After a moment she realized our confusion and clarified… “The Wolves”.

If Only They Could All Be Arabel: Living and Riding in Central Asia

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If Only They Could All Be Arabel: Living and Riding in Central Asia

We arrived in the Kyrgyz city of Karakol in what has become a familiar state after a stretch in the wilderness… tired, hungry, desperate for a shower, and in need of clean clothes. It’s true that civilization never feels better than when you’ve been away from it for a handful of days, and for us, the timing was perfect to reset and not think about the bike or riding for at least a moment.

From the End of the Road to the Kyrgyz Silk Road

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From the End of the Road to the Kyrgyz Silk Road

Three years ago when I was tossing around the idea of a long-term bikepacking trip, I had two primary options on my mind. There was Peru and the Andes of South America, which I had a tiny bit of familiarity with given my short previous stint there, and then the wild card… Kyrgyzstan. A small former Soviet country dotted with lakes and covered in glaciated peaks as tall as 24,400 feet. With a rich nomadic history due to its place on the ancient Silk Road trading route that passed through from neighboring China, it makes for an ideal locale to load up your bike and get lost in the mountains. So even while I was still in Patagonia, I was scouring maps of Central Asia for the possibilities that awaited in the faraway lands of the Kyrgyz Republic.

The End of the Andean Road

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The End of the Andean Road

When I started this trip through South America almost 3 years ago I had no idea what to expect. My bicycle “touring” experience could all be summed up in a tumultuous three week trip to Perú where I spent half of the time with my head hovering over a toilet while suffering from typhoid and a quick one week trip through Norway that resulted in an emergency room visit with frostbite on my toes that still affects me today. I was working on roughly a 5% success rate. Would I quit my “stable job” of almost ten years only to head off into the Andes all by myself and realize that this just wasn’t my thing? Come crawling back a few weeks later, asking for a do-over? I honestly had no idea and these were extremely realistic possibilities in my mind. All I knew was that I’d regret it if I didn’t try.

The Carretera Austral and the Bush Plane

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The Carretera Austral and the Bush Plane

The Carretera Austral is without a doubt South America’s bicycle touring capital. No place on this continent sees a higher influx of Ortlieb-clad folks from around the world looking to enjoy Patagonia’s natural wonders. With good reason too. There’s a more advanced tourist infrastructure, bringing more luxuries from back home more frequently along the way (toilets and hot showers are cool). The challenge-to-scenery ratio along the Austral is also extremely generous, and the road surface suits just about any bike you can strap a few bags to. You don’t have to suffer too much to have a good time in nature here.

A Promising Introduction to Riding in Patagonia

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A Promising Introduction to Riding in Patagonia

While I’d already been into the area that is technically considered Patagonia a couple of times by this point, entering towns like Pucón in Chile, and San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina marked a noticeable shift from all of the regions I’d been in previously, which still felt largely unchanged by tourism. It was still quite early in the season for the hordes of travelers to have taken over these places, but the signs are there. Fancy chocolate shops. Overpriced hostels. Cafes on every street corner selling $8 artisanal muffins to a looping soundtrack of Adele and Sam Smith.

Winter is Coming to Lanín of Neuquén

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Winter is Coming to Lanín of Neuquén

Winter is Coming to Lanín of Neuquén
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

The signs are all there. Only a couple of weeks ago the autumn nights were just “a bit chilly”. The rainstorms came and went over a matter of hours. Now they linger on for days as the snow line along the mountain top creeps slowly down the hill. Campsites aren’t picked by the most scenic view to wake up to, the most practical surface, or the most secluded location. Now I’m looking for the spot with the best line-of-site to where the sun will creep over the horizon the next day. Put the tent right next to a road? OK. In direct sight of houses? Sure. A few days of stuffing a still iced-over tent into your bags with numb hands has a way of shifting your priorities.

Autumn Amongst the Araucarias

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Autumn Amongst the Araucarias

Autumn Amongst the Araucarias
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After committing to spending another winter cruising around South America, I figured I might as well go all-in. With no focus on getting much further south where the weather would be turning toward ‘unpleasant for bike touring’ even sooner, I instead looked to embrace the short window of perfect Autumn riding that was dropped in front of me, and go over Chile’s mountainous Araucanía region with a fine-tooth comb.

This area is often overlooked by folks making a bee-line for Southern Patagonia, but it is a favorite amongst the local Chileans looking to escape the city during the summer, highlighted by a seemingly endless string of volcanoes, lakes, and forests filled with Araucaria trees. These tall and spiky evergreens, sometimes referred to as “monkey puzzle trees” give the region its name, and are often considered sacred to the natives of this area who are known as the Mapuche.

El Camino de Los Huasos: A Ride Through the Central Chilean Andes

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El Camino de Los Huasos: A Ride Through the Central Chilean Andes

El Camino de Los Huasos: A Ride Through the Central Chilean Andes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

More than anything else, I’ve learned two things in my time in Northern Argentina and Chile. First and foremost, never trust a zipper. Little known fact: over 8.9 million zippers have been destroyed in Argentina’s desert in 2018 alone. OK, so maybe I made that up, but if I owned 8.9 million zippers that would definitely be true. The second lesson? Avoid shipping here at all costs, but if you must, you’d better have it planned out well in advance. Unfortunately, after damaging my derailleur and a number of other pieces of equipment in the harsh northern desert, planning and shipping in advance were not really on the table, so upon arriving in the sprawling urban center of Chile known as Santiago, my trip was in the notoriously slow hands of the Chilean customs offices and postal system.

Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour

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Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour

Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Packing for a trip that spans multiple years can be a bit daunting.  Especially when you’ll be passing through just about every zone of climate you can possibly imagine, from the humidity and heat of the Peruvian jungle to the bitter cold of winter in the mountains of Patagonia…  Dragging the bike up rugged 16,000ft hiking trails, across remote dirt roads, or even the occasional stretch of asphalt. Walking the fine line between having an excessive amount of stuff or too little is a tricky balance.

My setup has been gradually refined since I first started this trip two years ago, and while it’s far from a “minimal” or “ultralight” setup you might take on a trip that spans a few weeks or less, I think I’ve struck a reasonable balance between having everything I need to live and work on the bike in the long-term, while still being a rig that is fun to ride no matter how rough the terrain gets.

As time has gone on, I’ve found that the overall weight doesn’t really matter as much as how everything is packed.  It’s when bags are bouncing around loosely or swaying back and forth where the size and weight really becomes a burden.  When everything is tight and dialed, it’s just another bike.  “How much does it weigh?” is a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times along the way and to be honest, I don’t have a clue.  Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

There are some things on here that would be overkill for many people (large camera, computer, etc), and some things that would be a bit too minimal for others (clothes, sleeping bag, etc), but this is what works for me at the moment…