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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
The essay below was written for Bikepacking Roots’ Bears Ears Loops Landscape and Route Guidebook to provide bikepackers with one perspective about how the landscape in its entirety is sacred to Indigenous groups. The designation of Bears Ears National Monument marked the first time in history that a National Monument was created in response to the voices and advocacy of the Indigenous groups who call the landscape home. Leaders from the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe formed the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition in 2015 to represent a consortium of tribes unified in protecting and promoting the cultural, archeological, scientific, historical and natural resources of the Bears Ears region. Just 11 months later, the Trump administration reduced the Monument’s size by ~85%. And in a direct affront to the request of the Intertribal Coalition, the southern unit of the reduced Monument was named the Shásh Jaa’ Unit (using the Diné name for Bears Ears). The Coalition had insisted upon the use of the English “Bears Ears” name for the Monument rather than in any one tribe’s language in solidarity and unity.
Last weekend, Lael raced the Kenai 250, a two hundred fifty-seven mile self-supported mountain bike race in the Kenai Peninsula, the only area with an extensive network for singletrack trails in Alaska.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He thought there would be a limit and that would stop him. He depended on that.
“An Atlas of the Difficult World – VIII” – Adrienne Rich
Before I left:
A month before I left, a bus hit me on the sidewalk as I avoided² the dangers of an indifferent suburb riding to the job I did as pittance-paid worker on a bike industry profit trawler. The night before I left, I couldn’t get the tire off, sobbed, exhausted. Six days before I left, I stopped having fun at a race and decided to bail, tired, beer softened, slowed wrong, ate gravel, wrist sprained. Before I left I destroyed my shell in the wash. Before I left I shook nothing down. I wasn’t ready but it didn’t matter. I had to go. How would I keep on otherwise?
Some of us are hoping for limits. There are reasons for that.
The first time I found myself in Puerto Rico was quite a few years back, it was on a sandy city street that ended at the beach in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan. It was wintertime on the east coast where I flew in from, but I was now in a sunny island paradise.