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Alexandera Houchin Reflects on Her Cover Photo in Freehub Magazine

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Alexandera Houchin Reflects on Her Cover Photo in Freehub Magazine

Our friend Alexandera Houchin sent us over an exciting email yesterday, celebrating her making the cover of Freehub Magazine’s latest issue. Here’s Freehub’s description of this issue:

“An unprecedented number of people are riding mountain bikes as an outlet for exercise and exploration and, as a result, discovering a truth we all eventually come to know: Every ride is an adventure. Freehub’s 12.4 edition is a celebration of this truth and a meditation on how adventure leads to discovery, both of the outside world and within oneself. In our cover story, ultra-endurance racer Alexandera Houchin writes about how her relationship with the bike has instilled a deeper understanding of her identity as a Native woman—and how she’s come to realize the act of racing is a ceremonial expression of her Ojibwe spirit. Transformative adventure pervades this book, with feature stories on a life-changing family bikepacking journey in the Alaskan wilderness and the existential reckonings of a rider attempting to clear a long-neglected trail in central Nevada’s remote Toiyabe Range. Welcome to Issue 12.4—a tribute to self-discovery and embracing the unknown.”

Read on below for Alexandera’s thoughts on this experience…

Wilderness Parking: The Myth of Wilderness

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Wilderness Parking: The Myth of Wilderness

“Native lands, the places where California Indian tribes had interacted closely with the landscape for generations, were designated as unpopulated ‘wilderness’ areas to conform to Euro-American notions of idealized, pristine conditions that supposedly existed before contact. This assertion was, in part, built upon the idea that Native peoples were not and had not interacted in any meaningful way with significant portions of California. These systematic attempts to attack the very existence of California Indians were a means by which white settlers set out to exterminate, control, and dominate the land, flora, and fauna of Native California.” Baldy 2

I’m here to share my journey toward a better understanding of the context of our public lands with the hope that it will inspire you to learn more as well. As a young bike tourist, I was shocked at the manner in which people were engaging with our public lands and held many ableist and entitled views about enjoying such places.  Originally enraged by the almost being killed by rental RVs on the road, I later became enthralled with the vignettes plastered on their sides. As I started to dig into some reading about the origins of wilderness areas and the terrible atrocities committed that created them, I became starkly aware of how little I understood of our county’s history and the formation of our public lands.  Much of the writing I was able to find disproportionately deals with our National Park system which is almost unanimously managed as wilderness areas which isn’t something that we encounter much as cyclists, especially if you are trying to ride off-road. Nonetheless, the park system became the archetype for how we manage public lands and thus is important for understanding the rest of our non-NPS lands and our broader definitions of “nature” and “wilderness.”

Chasing the Tundra: a Foray into California’s Lofty Frontier

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Chasing the Tundra: a Foray into California’s Lofty Frontier

There it was, carved into the side of the mountain like a serpentine scar, slithering its way up toward a sky riddled with barren peaks; their toothy prominences ripping through the leading edge of a building storm. A keen eye and a pointed finger could trace its path, lurching upward from where we stood at the western edge of the Great Basin Desert, zigzagging all the way up through Pinyon/Juniper woodland, wandering between stands of Ponderosa and getting steeper as the Foxtail pines got shorter. Miles away it could still just barely be seen, emerging atop an alpine ridgeline some four thousand feet above.

Arizona National Forests Close Due to Extreme Fire Danger: Yet another example of why Congress needs to act now on climate change

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Arizona National Forests Close Due to Extreme Fire Danger: Yet another example of why Congress needs to act now on climate change

The accompanying gallery includes photos from a few of the areas in Arizona burned by wildfire in just the past 15 months. 

My friend Joe and I stood atop Spruce Mountain just below the fire tower one last time this past Friday, admiring the surrounding peaks and forests of the Bradshaw Mountains. We both live just a few miles from this summit, and we share a love for big rides in the chunky, challenging backcountry trails deeper in the range. But today’s ride was a short one, first thing in the morning. Up on that vista, my eyes hopped from one patch of brown to the next, each a cluster of dead pines and firs. The ongoing drought is having a devasting impact on these forests. To the north, smoke from the nearby 40,000+ acre Rafael Fire filled Verde Valley with an impenetrable brown haze.

Climate Change Action for Cyclists: Part I – Climate Change, the Cycling Experience, and Why We Care

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Climate Change Action for Cyclists: Part I – Climate Change, the Cycling Experience, and Why We Care

This is the first of a two-part series on how human-caused climate change is affecting the cycling experience, why we as cyclists should care about those impacts, and what we can do as individuals and as a community to combat those impacts. Part I of this series connects cyclists to a few examples of the realities of climate change, and Part II will outline what changes we as cyclists and the cycling community can make to improve the future of our pursuit in a changing climate.  

Mewinzha

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Mewinzha

Blow up a balloon, it’s full. Shiny even. More than anything, the balloon reveals your reflection in her taught, shiny facade. You look past the balloon; the balloon reveals your likeness.

Rain Clouds Will Move Across Sahalee Tyee

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Rain Clouds Will Move Across Sahalee Tyee

Recently, as I was telling the story of this trip, and this moment when, after a hard day of hill climbing in the rain and a miserable night of freezing cold sleep, we finally saw Klickitat punched out against a clear blue sky – Someone responded – “don’t you mean Mt. Adams?”

Since I’ve committed to learning the precolonial names of the outdoor spaces I explore, some understandings have begun to emerge about how we as human beings interact with the natural world. Indeed, Klickitat itself was also named Pahto by the tribes of the region. Later named for a U.S. president who was born and died in Massachusetts. Only the mountain knows what other names it’s been called. ‘Intelligent’ (I’m skeptical of anthropocentric definitions of virtue) hominids may have lived in the area for 15,000 years. What did they call the mountain in 13,000 BC, if anything at all?

Dancing on Fascism’s Grave: Beyond Bike Racing in Euskadi 

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Dancing on Fascism’s Grave: Beyond Bike Racing in Euskadi 

More than a year later, I’m still captivated by the memory, the scene, the moment.

It was a hot autumn day, one of the last of the year before the seasonal chill poured from the Bay of Biscay into the Spanish Basque Country. A young man stepped into the middle of the road. He wore a flapping outfit of white with a red handkerchief and belt. It was the kind of attire that flails down the narrow streets of Basque cities during the annual running of the bulls in Northern Spain.

“The Riddle Was the Mountains” – F. Kafka

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“The Riddle Was the Mountains” – F. Kafka

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.

Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series

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Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series

Dzil ta’ah Adventures LLC was created to offer sustainable cultural experiences in the backcountry via bikes and bike packing with most of the commercial tour proceeds helping to build a bikepack community on the Navajo Nation. Whether it be creating routes or mentoring native youth.

Our year to launch was spring 2020. The COVID pandemic resulted in all non-essential businesses being shut down including the Navajo Parks and Recreation department. Parks and Rec are the issuing authority for permits.

Through The Wardrobe: Touring the Oregon Timber Trail’s Anaxshat Passage

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Through The Wardrobe: Touring the Oregon Timber Trail’s Anaxshat Passage

Last Autumn, I found myself wondering, “How do I pack for a bike ride through Narnia?”. I had just been asked to sample a small section of the wonderful Oregon Timber Trail by my friend Gabriel. I packed a grocery bag full of Voile straps, my foul weather gear, a laminated local mushroom-foraging pamphlet, and prepared to step through the magic wardrobe.

Mount Weather, Black Mathematicians, and Cycling: A Father’s Day Note

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Mount Weather, Black Mathematicians, and Cycling: A Father’s Day Note

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.

Zhaawani-noodin: There is a South Wind – a Response to the Name “Dirty Kanza”

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Zhaawani-noodin: There is a South Wind – a Response to the Name “Dirty Kanza”

I can tell you one thing; whenever someone tells me what I should do, I almost always do the opposite. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. In some psychology class years back, I learned about the theory of psychological reactance. It all boils down to an idea that people believe that they possess freedoms and the ability to participate in those free-behaviors. When those behaviors are threatened, something within us is sparked and we react. I find myself pretty apprehensive when it comes to telling anyone what they should be doing. For that matter, I mostly, don’t care what anyone else is doing. A person’s true character comes out regardless. You are what you do.

The Readers Write: Listening and Resisting

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The Readers Write: Listening and Resisting

These past few weeks have been a time for action, introspection, listening, and resisting. Radavist reader Sasha Schellenberg sent in this submission to us for a Readers Write, reflecting on their own perspective of what’s going on in the world right now with the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests. Without further adieu, here are Sasha’s words…

I do a lot of listening while I ride my bike. I listen for traffic and the odd redneck that will try to drive their diesel truck within a hairsbreadth of my handlebars (an unfortunate reality of cycling in parts of rural Alberta), I listen to my bike, always alert for unusual sounds (a result of seeing firsthand how small mechanical discrepancies can turn colossal if they go unnoticed for a time), and I listen for birds and wildlife (the upside of cycling in rural Alberta that makes it worth putting up with smelly trucks). Riding alone, cycling becomes a sensory experience, and it’s on those long gravel climbs, that half of me hates and the other half loves, that sounds seem to resonate clear as a bell.

Bike Racing, White Privilege and the Corona Virus

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Bike Racing, White Privilege and the Corona Virus

Today we’re pleased to share a wonderful essay by Cinthia Pedraza on bike racing, white privilege, and the Corona Virus. In these trying times, it’s important to adjust our optics, listen, and most importantly, learn from these experiences…

Bike racers have been sitting at home watching the increasingly violent protests happening around the nation thinking “What can I do to help support Black communities?” In my local Austin community, I have seen donations in support of Black Lives Matter on my teammates’ Instagram stories, racers (including myself) protesting in support of an end to police brutality, and a massive outcry for justice that includes cycling voices like Machines for Freedom and Tenspeed Hero. That being said most amateur bike racers are likely to be white upper middle-class liberals who have a work from home setup where they are not at risk of exposure to Covid 19 or the struggle of the Black community caused by Covid 19.

Harmon Canyon: Turning our Hillsides into Trails, Not Putting them into Barrels

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Harmon Canyon: Turning our Hillsides into Trails, Not Putting them into Barrels

Ventura is one of the last remaining quaint little beach towns in Southern California that is known for its surf. I know I’ve said this about Santa Barbara before, but compared to Ventura, the city just north has seasonal waves at best due to the Islands that block South tropical swells from barreling into its beaches. Plus, some go as far as saying that the Santa Barbara county line was, in a way, gerrymandered to include Rincon, the only break that really puts it on the radar. This is a tangent, but who cares, right? I know this is the Radavist, and we’re typically mountain people. Hang in there. The mountains are coming. Ventura has its unique point break right off the California St exit and next to the fairgrounds where I’d go to watch the Van’s Warped Tour as a kid in the 90’s. This point break is known as C-Street. I would argue rivals Rincon at certain swell angles, with its many take-off points that lead into a long, smooth yet punctuated ride requiring you to navigate sectioning walls through a sea of people and of the literal sea, making your way down the beach.