So before we jump into the experience, I'd like share a bit about the cast of characters that participated in this crazy little tour. Each of us came to this trip for different reasons and with different experiences. In the end, I think the trip ended up exceeding our expectations and at the same time did not quite fullfill our dreams as we had to reroute mid ride. One note here is that we all came together at one point or another by means of the internet because of the Salsa Fargo. Fitting we'd all be doing this trip now together and on Fargos. Here is the cast of characters.
Eric Benjamin, Erik Mathy & Joe Mesier horsing around oustside of Templeton, California
Erik Mathy of 1gear1cause.org. Erik really was the impetus for this event and it all started with a little email and a link to some photos from a route that Rick Hunter and a few friends had done. He put it out there that we should ride to the Ride the Divide fundraiser in Los Angeles. Why not right? Erik is also training for the 2011 Great Divide Mountain Bike Race where he plans to ride a single speed Salsa Fargo. Yeah, he's crazy but in my mind, this trip would not have happened without him simply putting it out there. For Erik this was a tune up trip to work through some gear selection and to also train for such an event.
Eric Benjamin of The Adventure Monkey. Eric flew in from Kansas for this little ride. He needed to "Feed the Monkey". Eric came into this trip with no experience either with traditional touring or bikepacking. However, just as Eric committed to doing and finishing the Dirty Kanza 200 not more than a year after he started cycling, he came to this trip with an iron will, a willingness to learn and spirit of "you can do anything". He left the trip with a new nickname, "The Goat" for his ability to sit in the drops and pound out cliimb after climb.
Joe Meiser of Salsa Cycles. Joe's the youngest, strongest and most veteren in terms of bikepacking experience on this trip. He's a Great Divide Mountain Bike finisher, a Trans Iowa champion, routes & mapping junkie and all around great guy. He's also the deisel engine that guided us throughout the experience. He's the rabbit of the group, always ending up at the front. Always waiting for us patiently and with encouragement.
Myself. I'm the old guy of the group. A former bicycle tourist with a knack for carrying too much gear. I'm the turtle. Slow and steady is my mantra. Not sure what I brought to the trip other than sheer stubborness and a passion for documenting the experience.
Errin grinding up the final pitch while out on the Topanga Creek Bicycle shop ride.
Errin Vasquez of Frontageroads.com. Errin was supposed to be on this trip but unfortunately at last minute needed to rearrange and deal with things more important. However, he was instrumental in this trip in that he helped with logistics, picked us up in Santa Barbara, and protected us from traffic on a wicked final & foggy descent into Santa Barbara. Rumor has it that he too will be at the starting line of the 2011 Great Divide Mountain Bike Race.
So...With that out of the way, here are some thoughts, words and experiences from this trip. Over the next week or so Joe Meiser and I, we'll be delving into some specific experiences and gear selection. We also may have a guest blogger sharing his experience of a first time bikepacker. But today is about the experience so the rest of this post is simply dedicated to capturing the experience of our trip.
We rolled out of Greenfield, California in the late afternoon. It was a beautiful day.
This little guy was guarding one of the cattle gates. He let us through but from the looks of the skull, he doesn't let cattle through.
Paved road quickly turned to gravel. Gravel turned to path. Beauty was everywhere.
A quick stop at the Mission for water before heading into the Hunter Ligget.
A bombed out relic of times past now used for live fire target practice.
Beautiful light & rock somewhere near Salmon Creek.
We were informed by this guy that it was tarantula mating season. We saw lots of them. Made sleeping difficult...At least for me!
Evening light just before camp on day 1.
Meiser crossing my viewfinder on a saddle before climbing up and away on day two.
Which way? Is this really our route?
Looks like I needed some rest.
A look back at 35 Canyon - A beautiful and unbelievably fun playground.
Our final gravel descent before hitting pavement for the last day of the trip.
Our campsite on day 3 - Yeah it was sweet!
Our final pass of the trip just outside Santa Barbara.
Completion - 282 miles in 3 days.
Truly an amazing experience. I already miss it. Thanks again to Erik, Erik, Joe, & Errin for making this trip possible.
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Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.