For eight years running, around the time of the Summer Solstice, Swift Industries has put out a rallying cry for cyclo-touring enthusiasts the world-over to strap some bags to their bikes, head out for a couple days of pedaling and sleep on the ground. It’s a call to go out and have a memorable experience. The collective Swift Campout was this past weekend, but with some free time surrounding the actual Solstice, my partner Tony and I decided to ring in the best season for bikecamping a little early.
The text of this story came into existence as perhaps the world’s longest Slack post. It is a message to my road cycling team in which my passion for recounting a grand adventure, in this case, the longest bike ride of my life, got the better of me. While I have edited it for readability and understanding, it largely remains the point-to-point, sometimes crude and irreverent, stream-of-consciousness post as received by my friends – So welcome to the team.
In the deep sand, the bikes don’t seem to operate in accordance with the normal laws of bicycle physics. Turning right might send you left. Turning left may hold your line. And doing either, at any moment, can send you flying. And while falling off your bike on soft beach sand hardly hurts, you still feel like an idiot as you remount your bike while the kite flyers, frolickers, and shore fishermen lining the beach look on.
Waaseyaa: it is bright, is light (as in the day), is radiant; it is sunny
It’s been a hard couple of years. Compounded self-doubt, emotional and physical abuse and income insecurity had me clinging to any bit of life I had within myself. I hadn’t really comprehended how I had gotten in that position in the first place. I remember years ago talking to someone who confided in me that she was in an abusive relationship. I’d been stone-cold in clarity when I told her to leave the fucker. She revealed that it was more complicated than that and, at that moment, I pitied her. Years later, I found myself in the same predicament; I was ashamed both for the lack of strength I had to leave my boyfriend and for my inability to listen to her. I’ve spent the last two years feeling like a swollen shell of myself.
Photo by Ryan Vannoy
We’re riding along with the bikes in the bed of a truck eating the fat end of a wedge of dust as it explodes from the back of the vehicle ahead. This is before the Blade Runner light, before that blood rich red captured the sun, and after, no during, the airborne everywhere terror. The most recent one, the one that I’m worried there are not enough of us who believe in it.
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.
There is a case for wilderness in the American West, which is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.” The problem is, this classification was written by colonizers and erasers of indigenous history. Humans have long inhabited these areas, before the Spanish or the Pilgrims infiltrated these lands, long before it was called New Mexico.
This topic is a heated one. Organizations like the Sierra Club lead the way in this classification, establishing rules about who can or can’t visit these lands: for instance, cyclists. I’m not here to talk about whether or not bikes should be allowed in areas classified as wilderness, so let’s step back a bit and discuss what that word, wilderness, means in the context of the original inhabitants of the Americas.
For decades, the little mountain overlooking my mother’s childhood home held a massive secret and my dad was in on it.
At just under 2,000 feet, Mount Weather sits along the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the rural Virginia town of Bluemont. It served as the backdrop to my childhood memories of time spent at my grandmother’s house. These days, whenever I visit the area on my bike and ride by the house, I look up at the mountain knowing it’s the reason I’m here.
And what my dad once told me, this mountain might be the reason we are all still here.
From the shadow of mount Tam to the coastal plains of Santa Barbara exists a quilt of broken earth. An underlying structure of torn apart geology transported hundreds of miles from where it was originally emplaced. A Mediterranean climate of warm summers and cool wet winters that becomes progressively drier towards the equator. A diverse floral assemblage stemming from the eroded remains of rocks past and present harboring condors, salmon and mountain lions. From North America’s largest estuary reflecting pastel sunrise to the sandstone peaks of the east/west transverse ranges gleaming pink and orange as the sun sets over the pacific.
Kyle von Hotzendorf wrote a piece for Mythical State Of and we wanted to share an excerpt. If you like this sample, check out the full article at MSO.
Here is a list of weapons: brass knuckles, nunchucks, daggers, spears, swords, baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire, Colt 45, Bazooka, F-35, Triton Class nuclear submarine, revenge porn, and slurs.
In contrast, here is a list of non-weapons: stuffed animals, Hallmark cards, watermelons, file cabinets, water slides, oil filters, tomato starts, the color yellow, the sound of turtles swimming, orange-haired Troll Dolls, wakeboards, hedgehogs, duvet covers, tennis visors and bicycles.