Randonnuerds on the Joshua tree/Mojave Road

I had driven by the Mojave Desert/Joshua Tree Scenic Byway many times...each time I wanted to turn left off the highway. I knew the mountain range it traversed, twisting along the high foothills of the desert. This past sunday Harrison and I met up to ride this 45mi loop, with no small amount of climbing.

There was a surplus of calories packed on our bikes. Beer, Guava juice, Tuna, brownie crisps. Highway 91 dipped in and out of red rock canyons, and eventually snaked upward in elevation toward the J-tree road turnoff.

   My bike was not fast, though loaded, the cross check felt as confident as baboons in mating season. I was able to jump off every protruding rock in the road, blood-free.

 

We pedaled fast, slow, wobbled, tucked and generally giggled over the beauty of the road, and the fact that there was no one out there on a sunday afternoon. After about 3,000ft of climbing, we turned toward 10mi of teeth-rattling dusty gravel downhill.

   By the end we were unscathed, and exhausted. Some moto riders drove by in their truck, and I hastily tried to scoot sideways, a Coors and guava juice in hand, trying to unclip my shoe in the process. No dice. I tipped, spilled and laughed as the moto guys drove by, watching the entire affair.

   All together, the ride was around 45 miles and 4,500 ft. of climbing. For a relaxed overnight, It could easily be broken up into two days by camping down one of the many two track offshoots on the road. It is remote, so be prepared with plenty of water (2L+) and tools. Once on the dirt, there is little traffic (we went on a sunday afternoon, saw a few cars and zero cyclists). Navigation is relatively straightforward. All roads are graded, so if you find yourself on two track, your off route :-) for an electronic trail of bread crumbs, see the screenshot below. 

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NAHBS 2017

North American Handmade Bicycle show, N-A-H-B-S, or "knobs" with a boston accent.

 

   Having heard a lot about this event, I was equal parts excited and skeptical of it's potential to be a whos-who industry scene. Thankfully, it was not that. No matter who you were, all the builders and individuals there were excited to talk about their work. Particularly Nic Carman, who went through the details of the Baja Divide alongside his Meriwether touring rig. Both were straight off the plane from baja, and still dusty. Buying beer for everyone who showed, the "presentation" quickly turned into a long conversation of brain picking and recalling the type 2 fun on route. For me this was the highlight of NAHBS, and I'm super excited for Nic and Lael to be sharing what they worked hard to create.

Nics' pink Meriwether 27.5+, with full Baja luggage.

Nics' pink Meriwether 27.5+, with full Baja luggage.

  Otherwise, I spent my time oggling Adam Sklar's curvy machines and being blown away that at 23, he won best mountain bike. I can't wait to see the dudes portfolio at 50. 

Mr. Sklar, the winning bike and a cheeky glace.

Mr. Sklar, the winning bike and a cheeky glace.

 

 

Loving the creativity going into Squid Bikes. Each frame is built by Ventana bicycles with aluminum, and custom painted. If you didn't catch that.

Loving the creativity going into Squid Bikes. Each frame is built by Ventana bicycles with aluminum, and custom painted. If you didn't catch that.

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Lucky to find sub-alpine singletrack, a 30-min ride from town.

Lucky to find sub-alpine singletrack, a 30-min ride from town.

And thats a wrap.

And thats a wrap.

A Small Town Moment

In late June I filled up my car again, and pointed the bow east, (a rare occurrence) for Ketchum, Idaho.

For an ocean going clam like myself, Ketchum (aka Sun Valley) and the Sawtooth Mountains are the HIGH country! At the end of a long straight flat-nothing highway, it is a ski town through and through and has access to some of the most amazing backcountry trails, alpine lakes, streams full of fish, and all that rocky mountain business.

It is however very isolated, and the diversity of people, design, culture etc. is slim. Not to say the culture isn't bad. Many I've met have gone out of their way to include a new fella in activities they would usually do with age old high school friends, and for that I am grateful.

In 4 weeks, I've burned a little less than 1 tank of gas and more calories than ever. Mountain biking 5-6 days out of the week, I've only scratched the surface of the riding in the area and continue to find new trails. These things are not to be taken for granted...However I get stir crazy and miss the west coast, am eager to find balance in mountain bike racing, and doing work that I am passionate about that benefits society, and somehow getting paid to do it. Since I've been here in Ketchum I've been working for a unique company called Playhard Giveback, which has been a rewarding experience filled with learning about the real trials and tribulations of what it's like to be a startup. More video's and explanation on them later.

While traveling between Washington and Idaho I shot plenty of 35mm film-below are the best bits. 

Keener.

Keener.

Invasive creature and certainly no bass, but still pretty. 

Invasive creature and certainly no bass, but still pretty. 

Cody Barnhill's RV, Harvey hiding behind the trees at Idaho Base Camp. 

Cody Barnhill's RV, Harvey hiding behind the trees at Idaho Base Camp.