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Category: Travel

This is either about touring, or something that takes place out of the Northwest. Still about bikes- are you surprised?

One love, two wheels

One love, two wheels

Disclaimer: This post isn’t about bicycles. It is a story about adventure on two wheels though; because of all the means of travel I’ve used over the years, I like two wheels the best.

Summer’s almost gone. As a commercial fisherman this year had been really busy- until it wasn’t. It came to a halt like a bird flying into a window. There was a thud, a drop, a brief stupor… then done. It wasn’t pretty. Salmon seining in Prince William Sound was the poorest we’ve seen in recent memory, with salmon hatcheries still concerned with the brood stock they’ll have available to ensure strong enhanced runs in the future. The number of days we were able to put our nets in the water a fraction of what we’ve come to expect in what is (still) one of the best managed fisheries in the world. We’re unsure as fishermen (and maybe even the biologists in charge of managing the fishery) what the hell happened- but it did. Boats tied up earlier than in years past and here I am, less than a week from putting the boat away, already looking for winter work- since it’s a given that there will be hungry people looking for any work they can find in our little town. This says nothing about what the future will bring. Being a fisherman means being optimistic- so I’m hoping the years to come will prove this to be just one off year.IMG_2810

Even with the low number of fishing days, we didn’t get much time to relax. A “hurry up and wait” atmosphere was maintained by the fishery managers (ADFG) who were inconsistent with the announcement times (announcements say when we go fishing based on the run strength at hatcheries and in aerial surveys) and not just coming out to say “the fish aren’t here- take a break for a couple days.” Nope. Maybe we were too hopeful- thinking the fish were just a little late. We sat- always within email range, waiting for the scheduled 2pm announcement that would maybe come at 10am, or maybe 5:30pm- saying essentially “Maybe tomorrow.”

On one particular late morning I walked down to the boat to get my sunglasses- planning a bicycle ride in the woods to blow off some steam. Shit was fucked up. Six hours later I left the boat, following an ordeal involving an overly full plugged shitter, thirty years of calcified human waste and working in confined spaces- I was done. I needed a break to recharge my batteries. I won’t torment you by reposting the photo that I put on my @generallynautical Instagram.

The announcement of the day had wording that made it sound like we were going to be on the beach for a couple days at least- so it was time to do something. Maybe even something that some people would describe as an “Adventure.” The skipper was very supportive and said something like “Get the hell out while you can!”

Here was an opportunity to explore a part of the state that I’d yet to visit. Typically on a boat from February into October, a July trip to the interior was something I couldn’t pass up. With only a couple days available- and nearly 1000 miles of highway in my sights- the bicycle was set aside for the moto. It happened fast. Up to my elbows in shit at 5 in the afternoon, packing for a motorcycle trip by 8pm and on the ferry at 4am the following morning. I love living in Alaska.

Back it up a little bit: My wife went into the history books as “Best Wife Ever” when she gifted me a motorbike last December. A complete surprise, I was obviously ecstatic. It seems the perfect bike for Alaska- a 2009 KLR650. I had the opportunity to ride it a little bit in between fishing and the icy roads of winter- mostly on the unmapped logging roads that I’ve been slowly documenting off our highway system, trying to establish some nice bikepacking loops in the area. It’s worked great as a way to link up the trails when I don’t have time for a long ride.

I packed fairly light though I didn’t use everything- so maybe I over packed. I wore my Levis commuter jeans, a cotton tee shirt, Pendleton wool flannel, wool socks and MUSA merino underwear, Coal Headwear fleece neck gaiter, West America x Woolrich waxed cotton jacket, La Sportiva leather mountaineering boots, OR unlined leather gloves and Smith sunglasses. I’m also using Bell Vortex helmet. On the bike I carried:

  • Klymit Sleeping padtrip
  • 0 degree Wiggy’s bag
  • OR bivy sack
  • 3 pairs socks
  • 2 pairs underwear
  • OR puffy
  • OR Gaiters
  • Showers Pass rain pants
  • MSR Dragonfly stove
  • Aeropress and coffee for 4 days
  • Stanley thermos mug
  • Cook pot
  • One day worth of freeze dried meals
  • Tripod/selfie stick adapter to hold phone for photos and video
  • Long underwear
  • Ball cap
  • Folding pack saw
  • Headlamp
  • Basic tool kit

I think that’s it. My panniers weren’t totally waterproof, but I did have a dry bag for my sleeping bag. In a perfect world everything would have been set up just so- but sometimes you just gotta go. I don’t have much fancy “Adventure” gear- fully decked out it can cost thousands. I’ve got my old mountaineering boots, jeans, a street helmet and some other hodgepodge stuff. Stuff I feel comfortable going into the woods overnight with. Stuff I feel comfortable riding in. Sure, there is usually a safety element in expensive gear- but people have been traveling on two wheels for a long time and that hasn’t always been available- they got by somehow. Much like when riding a bike- I don’t plan on falling. Basically- if you wait to have all the gear that you think you need before you do a thing, you may never do the thing. If it rained hard every day, I may have been uncomfortable- but it didn’t, so I was stoked. Also- I didn’t get a flat tire which is good, because I didn’t have tire irons, or a tube, or a pump. I think I was expecting more traffic to help me out if I broke down- but even though it was peak of summer, I saw few cars. So I guess I got lucky.


Day One: I took the 7hr ferry ride from Cordova to Whittier, then took the tunnel through the rock and rode towards Anchorage. The Whittier tunnel is nuts on a moto. You really gotta pay attention. Up Hatcher Pass to the Independence Mine, then down Hatcher Pass and made it to Talkeetna the first night (with an obligatory stop at the Denali Brewing Co.) Camped at a site just north of town. Independence mine was rad- few people there and some cool hiking. Hatcher Pass was fun- gravel with very light traffic. Talkeetna is definitely a tourist town. 205 miles, lots of gravel.

Day Two: Talkeetna up to Healey. Camped at a site conveniently next to 49th State Brewing Co. Very touristy- especially near Nenana River with lots of raft tours going on. Lots of tour buses. The entrance to Denali Park- which was closed to all but hard sided RV’s 12 miles into the park because of a bear attack, so I didn’t bother going in. Too many crowds. It started sprinkling rain around here, but it cleared up when I got up to Healey. 164 miles, mostly paved highway.

Day Three: Healey to Anchorage. The big push. I could have just gone straight south- but I didn’t want to miss the Denali Hwy. It was a long day. A very long day. On a moto like mine though, you stand up a lot, so that makes it nice. Changing positions is critical. If I were on a cruiser that I had to keep my ass on the seat for that stint I would have been far more uncomfortable. Stayed at a dive motel in ANC and a bed felt good. $95 a night summer rate and I didn’t get bed bugs- that’s a deal for Anchorage. 526 miles, lots of gravel.

Day Four: Anchorage to Whittier. Got back on the ferry at 1pm and 7hrs later I was home. 61 miles, busy paved highway.

Taking it back again: When I was in high school I had an english teacher that used to give me books to read that weren’t required. I didn’t really read the books that were required, but I loved the ones he gave me. I was fascinated with traveling and couldn’t wait to graduate so I could get the fuck out of California (which I did- a week after graduation.) He introduced me to books like On The Road, Siddhartha, The Razors Edge, and the movie Easy Rider. I was hooked. Though it took me 20 years to do my first moto trip- it won’t be my last.

I made this video on the ferry ride home. Everything was shot and edited on the iPhone. The song used is the Ballad of Easy Rider. It’s the last song in the soundtrack to the movie- when the main characters die in a burst of flames. I love the song and it kept going through my head the whole short trip. Thanks again to Jordan Price, wherever he is, for encouraging me to explore not only literature- but life.




Victoria, BC. That’s in Canada. It’s called the “Garden City.” It’s the capital city of British Columbia- and is not in Britain or in Columbia. It’s really confusing. Something about history, there is a lot of it there too. Tons of old buildings that I’m sure if they were in Seattle would be torn down- modern glass and steel condos put up in their place.

With the graying of the the team (Hodala) – we’ve taken to renting a big house when we travel for SSCXWC. It means that our “responsibility buddies” make sure everyone gets home, we can drink our own kegs and well- we just like to hang out together. Hodala is much more than a bike racing team- we look out for each other on and off the bike. We had a great house on the water with a hot tub and dock access.  Turns out “dock access” doesn’t mean “water access” and Dirty Randy cut the shit out of his leg (spoiler alert: he was drunk) trying to climb onto the dock out of the Gorge Waters on our first night. This year we channeled this video and it served as inspiration for our shenanigans.


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Seattle before SSCXWC.

Seattle before SSCXWC.

After traveling nearly 3000 miles and consuming a lifetimes worth of alcohol, pizza, cheeseburgers, donuts and ice cream cake- I’ve returned home to my house on the hill in Cordova- alive.

Bike racing is hard.

This year I’ve spent less time on this blog than I’ve spent on my bike- which isn’t much. I’ve taken very few photos as I seem to break every camera put into my hands. My phone is sometimes used- but I often forget that I can use it as a camera. What follows suit is a cycle of poor blogging- each shortfall I offer compounding the next shortfall. As my memories are dragged through coffee filters and alcohol, the days meld into one and the voices words in my head resemble the marriage of a Dr. Bronners label and a can of Four Loko. For that I’m not apologetic, it’s just like that and that’s the way it is.

Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships took place in Victoria, BC, Canada this past weekend and I was lucky enough to attend with Hodala: my CX team and some of the… how can I say… most polarizing people I know. After a red eye flight out of Anchorage, I flew into Seattle at the butt crack of dawn on a Monday. Bubba picked me and the bike up at the airport and we had some breakfast and red beers as we made our way into the city. A good friend that I see too rarely- it’s always good to cross paths and catch up. He dropped me off at Back Alley Bike Repair where Ben helped sort the wheat from the chaff on my all too neglected bike. A new chainring, chain and cables were installed along with some general maintenance performed, while we drank Berzerker and listened to Puscifer. Ben and Julian at Back Alley are solid dudes that are pumped to get people riding well maintained bikes. IMG_9396 2

Matt Falwell from Manwolfs CX came out from Louisville and I got to play tour guide around Seattle- the city I called home for 6 years. Matt was one of the organizers of Louisville last year and rode a we pretty good loop together: 

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And so Interbike begins…

And so Interbike begins…

Fresh off the plane in Las Vegas for this year of Interbike, I’m sitting in my hotel typing this- enjoying a cold Budweiser in my underwear. I’m doing things a little different this year, blogging solely from an iphone 6 and a bluetooth keyboard. I’m not certain it will work well, but I spent all my money on bike parts this year, so thats what you get.

I spent a little better than a week in California- the Golden State, visiting family and friends with my better half. Bringing our bikes was clutch- I love riding in the bay, and the wife didn’t ride much when she lived in the area. She also got a new saddle- so riding her skinny tire bike has been a pleasure lately.

A few of the fun things I did include the tasting of so many great beers. And whiskeys. And coffee. So. Many.  Mikkeller Bar, Fieldwork Brewing, Beer Revolution, Trappist Provisions, Øl…. The list goes on. We rode the Iron Horse Trail in 104 degree heat. I drank coffee for a couple hours with the homey Stevil as we spoke of the changing social and economic landscape of Oakland. I bought a sweet 49ers Starter x Levi’s collaboration jacket that will becoome something else very soon. I met my new nephew, now 9 months old, that my sister named after me (the poor bastard.) I was busy.

I also stopped by Montano Velo, which is now in half the space that it was last time I visited. I met with Daniel, owner of Tumbleweed Bicycle Co. Not only is he a nice guy, passionate about cycling and riding bikes in exotic locales- he wrapped his head around a different way (than I’ve seen) to build a 4″ tire fat bike. He and some buddies recently returned from a trip to Mongolia- all riding working prototypes of this bike of his. It uses a Rohloff hub- which may make some people scream “Nerd!” right out of the gate- but it works. It works well. The idea is to keep a low q-factor, use a standard mtb bb, and parts that are (at the very least slightly more) accessible in obsure places than many fatbike parts.  

 The bikes were loaded heavily for the trip and ridden over 1000 miles, few if any paved. All worked well. Though the final frames will have minor aesthetic changes, along with cleaner welds- you can expect a pretty neat bike that will accommodate a number of wheel sizes (it also uses an adjustable bb,) front suspension, a Rohloff and feel good on the trail. I hope to hear more about Daniel and Tumbleweed Bicycle Co soon. I mean-the website is a .cc like Rapha is, so it must be good, right?

But now I’m in Vegas and the real work starts. Desert heat, an overwhelming number of brands and people trying to get their goods to the masses. The beer drinking. The shitty food and 1 mile long blocks. Underbike. Even a goddamn cargo bike syposium. I’m going to need a vacation after the next 5 days.

But yeah- if you like to make party and you happen to be in Downtown Las Vegas on Thursday, the bad decision makers will be attending Stevil’s annual shit show that is Underbike. 

  There will be music and hopefully the bar doesn’t run out of beer (which has happened just about yearly.)

So that’s about all that’s fit to print. I’ll try and do a daily thing with some stuff that appeals to me but then again, I’m nothing- if not unreliable.

Comes with Baggage

Comes with Baggage

Sea Otter is just around the corner and bike nuts are getting ready to head to Monterey to enjoy some sun, salty air and bicycles in California later this month. Oh- it’s also the 25th anniversary!

Blackburn will be there, along with a number of companies offering ways to get off the beaten path to explore the great outdoors. Blackburn is hosting a debut screening of a moving showcasing the history of bike travel. If you’re there, check it out. I’m sure they’ll also have some of their bikepacking gear around to play with as well.

COMES WITH BAGGAGE FLYER (1)Here’s a little trailer of what you’ll be watching

Review: DeLorme inReach Explorer

Review: DeLorme inReach Explorer

It doesn’t take long to go off the grid here in Alaska. You can be a couple miles from your house, in the shadow of the mountains- and out of cell range.

Last year I purchased a DeLorme inReach Explorer– for my own safety as well as the piece of mind of my loved ones. Put simply, the inReach is a 2-way satellite text messaging unit. The inReach Explorer model offers mapping (though no maps,) whereas the inReach SE does not. There are other options out there, such as those offered by SPOT- but I chose the DeLorme because you can actually have a 2-way conversation. Whether on the boat or in the woods, I’m often out of cell range and the ability to keep in touch with my lady puts her mind (more) at ease. The SPOT can send out preset messages, but that can be limiting if you want to let people know you’re somewhere in between “OK” and “SOS.”


With the DeLorme- it can be synced via bluetooth and you can email or text from your phone easily, accessing all of your contacts. When you send a message, your Lat/Lon is given as well as speed, elevation etc. For those that are interested, you can update to Twitter or Facebook as well. There is a 160 character limit on sent messages.

This past fall I made my trip across the Copper River– a place that can feel as desolate as the planet Mars. At about mile 32, cell phone coverage stops. Traveling alone in wild Alaska is exhilarating, exciting and potentially dangerous. With the inReach, I was able to keep my lady, as well as Elmer (the guy with a plane that could come save my ass if need be) apprised of my location, what my intentions were, and Elmer kept me updated as to what the weather was going to do on the ever changing Copper River Delta.

When I head out- I track my route, and then when I come home and sync with the online DeLorme site, it brings my track into a map that is far better than Google Earth- at least for the locations I’m traveling in.

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 7.51.05 AM

This is the zoomed out route I took on a raft/bike trip to Sheridan. (The one on the right is a bike/raft loop I did to McKinley Lake)

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 7.52.00 AM

Zoomed in, the detail gets considerably better than what I’ve seen on Google Maps.

After the MSRP of $379 for the inReach Explorer, you pay for service. You can elect to go with the $25 annual “Freedom Plan” and shut it off when you’re not using it, or sign up for a 12-month contract which starts at $12 a month- and keep the safety plan on (I use the “Expedition” plan in the summer and the “Safety” plan in the winter.) I won’t focus on the monthly charges, they are a bit confusing on the DeLorme site, but they do make a little more sense when you get your bill.

As a stand-alone unit, there are four buttons and a lock switch used for the SOS feature. Simple- though if you are trying to text, it can be time consuming. There is predictive text, which helps- but it’s really hard to beat using the phone (iPhone or Android compatible.)

The DeLorme Explorer boasts a long list of features including:

  • Digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer
  • Odometer and displays useful trip statistics while in the field, such as trip time, max speed, moving average, trip distance
  • Color screen and virtual keyboard with predictive text for standalone two-way messaging
  • GPS accuracy to +/- 5 meters
  • Water rating: IP67 (withstands incidental water exposure; tested for submersion at one meter for 30 minutes).
  • Rugged, dustproof and impact-resistant (Mil-STD-810G for shock; IP67 for dust).
  • Internal lithium polymer battery (2,450 mAh capacity at 3.7 V)
  • SOS messages are received by GEOS, a worldwide emergency response coordination center with 24/7/365 staffing
  • Email, SOS and tracking functions work anywhere in the world; SMS availability may vary by country.
  • 100% global coverage via the Iridium satellite network, which is the world’s furthest-reaching satellite communications network.
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces

It’s advertised that the unit has a battery life of up to 100hrs on 10minute tracking- I haven’t tested the full time, but from the 36hrs that I used mine on my trip across the Copper River, with texting and using other features, the math didn’t quite add up that it would last that long.  After 36hrs I was down to 45% battery life, and that was shutting it off over night.

Though DeLorme claims that the unit has a water rating of IP67 (withstands incidental water exposure; tested for submersion at one meter for 30 minutes,) when I was riding, and the sun came out- the whole screen fogged up- presumably from water that got inside. It didn’t affect the functions and eventually went away- but I have to question the water rating- having not dunked it underwater at all.

One thing that bums me out about the unit is there is no map feature. You can plug in waypoints and routes, but they are just on a white screen. A topo map would be pretty handy- bridge the gap between the communication and a separate GPS unit. You have to go home and plug back into the computer to see what the terrain was.

Side note: I also purchased the DeLorme Topo North America map set but was disappointed to learn that it isn’t Mac compatible, and it doesn’t do a damn thing with the InReach. It was a waste of money in my opinion.

If you find yourself going off the beaten path and out of cell range- this unit is a great investment. I’d be curious about ways to charge it (they seem to work with Goal Zero on some power options) or else a dynamo hub (which costs an arm and a leg.) It seems costly, but it is more dependable than a cell phone and it may just save your ass. So go do something awesome.

Review: 1UPUSA Quik Rack

Review: 1UPUSA Quik Rack

Last winter, after a disappointing run with my Thule hitch mounted rack, I reached out to 1UPUSA to see what they had to offer. I was out to test a rack that would work with a wide selection of bikes. From a 25c road bike to a 5” tire fat bike, I was looking for one rack to rule them all. Well it’s been about a year and the rack has lived on the truck since day one- through rain, sleet, snow, sand and the salt air of my seaside fishing village.

Enter the Double Bicycle Quik Rack.


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2014 Holiday Gift Guide. Bikepacking edition.

2014 Holiday Gift Guide. Bikepacking edition.

Once again, the holiday season is right around the corner. That time of year that we buy things for those that we love and for ourselves if there’s nobody that loves us. We’ve done gift guides in the past- but this year I figured I’d focus on the stuff for those that like to get down that road less traveled.

So here it is. In no particular order. Or some particular order. Or just get them a bottle of booze. Or a gift certificate to your LBS. Or a lump of coal.
Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion seat bag. $170.00 CAD
I haven’t used any of Porcelain Rocket’s gear, but the craftsmanship looks amazing. This newly designed bag uses a seat collar supported frame, weighs in at 14oz. complete and can pack 5-14L of gear. PR is really pushing the limits as far as bikepacking gear. The new bag Scott is developing for the Jones Loop Bar looks AMAZING!
Made in Calgary, Alberta. Canada.




Cleaveland Mountaineering Everything Bag $50-$60 depending on attachment method.

I haven’t used this personally, but it looks like a good option, or alternative to the Salsa Anything Cage and the numerous bags to fit said cage- if you’re looking for one. If you don’t have the 3 braze-ons, if you have a suspension fork, say- it can attach with the use of a few P-clips. It’ll allow you to hold more stuff on your bike. Keep in mind that you’ll likely want to distribute the weight evenly, maybe have one on either fork blade- otherwise your steering will be affected.

Made in Grand Junction, CO








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You’ll never make it out alive.

You’ll never make it out alive.

It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday night and I’m contemplating whether or not I should get my shit packed and head to Louisville on Monday for SSCXWC.  Probably not a great idea, which likely means I’ll be there- Hodala willing. They have bourbon there, right?

Much to well dressed bloggers dismay, beer will likely be spewn.  Like my mom always said “Sometimes you just gotta be a man and shit in your pants.”

Here’s some Playmobil toys riding bikes.