… for bringing three friends even closer together. I didn’t have wifi all week at my hotel, so posting will commence tomorrow morning. Let’s just say, we had a blast!
Over the next few months, I’ll be spending more time on the road than I will in Austin and it all begins today with Los Angeles for the Amgen Tour of California. Last year, I was in LA and SF almost as much as I was in ATX. This summer, it’ll be even more.
Expect nothing but the best on-the-road coverage for the next week or so…
The wood is a magical place. It turns fat bloggers into slightly less fat raconteurs. It clears your head, makes your chest pound, legs throb and palms sweat. You bond with your mates and let the beauty of nature envelop you. The first day of Shifter Dan’s 40th Birthday Bush Bash set the stage for the second…
After a much-needed 12-hours of sleeping, I awoke in my Courthouse Hotel bunk bed to the call of the Magpie and the ruckus of Cockatoos around 7am. We showered, packed and went over our bikes. Which, after the rutted, bumpy and dusty descent into Jamieson, were in disrepair. A little bit of lube and a quick tightening of the bolts and we were ready to take on the second day of Dan’s 40th Birthday Bush Bash.
The course this year was the reverse of last year. We left climbing over the Great Dividing Range and ended up on the very track that caused so many flats on the previous ride, but this time we were climbing up, rather than flying down. Our spirits were bright, our legs were loose and all we could do was soak in the sights and sounds of the bush.
We finished the day at 76 miles and over 14,500′ of elevation gain. There was only one thing, wait, a few things that I wanted after the ride: a bottle of ginger beer, a coffee and a pair of mushroom and steak pies!
Enclosed is the ride report for the first leg of this 19.33 MP/C* ride.
Check out a bunch of narrated photos in the Gallery!
“Aged many years in the wood”. How many years? Well, like everything in Straya, there’s a story for that. Daniel John Hale has seen his share of saddle time in the years he’s spent on Earth. An ex-pro mountain biker, owner of the Best Bike Shop in the World and one of the first solo riders to take on this particular area of Australian Bush, Dan’s no stranger to the wood.
Ten years ago, he did a similar ride to what we just completed this past weekend but instead of two days, it took him four. Rather than ride a mountain bike or a geared bike, he took his singlespeed Monster Cross. No GPS, no satellite phone and no idea where he was going, save for a map he bought on the side of the road. Later, he, Dave, Scooter and Andy began to tackle these rides annually. That’s 10 years in the wood of Upper Yarra, familiarizing themselves with the ‘bush, the many off-shooting tracks and trails.
Last year, a very similar ride changed me as a cyclist. It took the 215 pound me and slapped it around before spitting (i.e. shitting) it back out. I learned a lot in two long days, but left Melbourne wanting more. When I mentioned returning this year, Andy proposed me landing in for Dan’s 40th. As Andy put it, “we’ll do another ride”…
I’m now around 185 pounds and have been putting in serious saddle time, so the anxiety wasn’t as bad. Until he showed me the route. Day 01, 100 miles, 16,000′ of climbing. BUGGA!
A total of nine riders started, seven finished. Andy’s brother made it up the first climb before returning home and Scooter, one of the original badass couriers in Australia (and aforementioned Upper Yarra riders) only had time for Woods Point and back. That left Dan, Andy, Joe, Dave, Reuben, Mal and myself for the haul… Enclosed is the ride report for the first leg of this 26.6 MP/C* ride.
Check out a bunch of narrated photos in the Gallery!
These past few weeks have been absolutely incredible. Our bike tour was easily one of the most exhilarating rides I’ve ever been on. To be concise, it was an eye-opening experience. I really thought that I knew what China was all about but almost immediately, I realized my preconceptions vastly polarized. My anxieties about some situations subsided, as the harsh reality of globalization’s effect on a ancient land settled in.
There’s nothing that can prepare you for the realities that hide on the outskirts of the city. As my film gets processed and scanned, I’ll begin think about how I’ll present my experience on paper. Right now, I feel like I’ve been nursing a two week long hangover. My body aches, my head is pounding and my lungs need some recovery time. So would I do it again? Of course.
When it’s all said and done, I’ve met some truly amazing people and had the opportunity to share all these experiences on bikes with them. I’ll say in confidence that we all will walk away from this trip with some great memories and for that, I’ll always be thankful to the communities that we rode with, the towns we stayed in and the guys at Factory 5.
Until next time, Shanghai, zài jiàn.
Photo by Hou Jue
Photos by Jeff Liu
In recent months, I’ve started to find myself in front of a lens almost as much as behind it, especially on this recent tour. Riding through China was overwhelming from a photography standpoint. Everything was rich in texture and as a foreigner, the everyday was visually engaging. When I could, I’d stop and shoot, or ask one of the riders to pause for a portrait.
Just about everything was natural and that’s something James from Adventure Refugee tried to capture in his video pieces for Mission Workshop. We’d leave with no plans, or script and would point out shots, or spaces when we came across them. In a land like China, nothing is predictable, you’ve just got to go with your instincts. That applies to the subject and the subjected.
Last night, we arrived in Shanghai, where we’ll stay until Monday night. Saturday night is the Mission Workshop party at Factory 5 where I’ll be displaying some of my favorite digital photos from the trip. There will be mountains of free beer, good music and great people. If you’re in Shanghai, roll through!
Unfortunately, Vimeo, Youtube, Facebook and even Gmail (sometimes I can load it up) is blocked in China, so regular blog posting won’t commence until I’m in Australia on Tuesday (your Monday). Thanks for understanding and if you sent an email, there’s no need to forward it again and again, I received it…
Expect some more Shanghai-related posts to go up periodically over the next few days, including bike portraits, so stay tuned.
I think I speak for the whole gang when I say that we’re all very happy to be done with the bike tour of China. It wasn’t so much the distance, because on paper, it’s not that much, totaling around 300 miles. But when you consider everything we encountered, it was one of the most sobering experiences of my life.
One of the things I did look forward to each night were the group rides. For me, it’s rad to see what and how people are riding in each city. Hangzhou was no different from the other cities. Most of the riders were young, most had cheap “rainbow fixies” but some had insane track bikes, ready for the boards…
We all woke up this morning knowing that we only had 70k to go on our trip and most of it was downhill from the bamboo forest. I really wanted to mob some trails on the Geekhouse Mudville, so James and I headed into the bamboo forest to shoot some video. When we got back to the lodge, we ate lunch, packed and headed out.
The ride today was hellish. Even though it was downhill for the first 15 miles, the wind was blowing hard. Then, when we got on the main road, it was filled with potholes and giant trucks spitting exhaust into our faces. Hangzhou was our final destination so we just put our heads down and pushed forward.
Finally, we were in the outskirts, but had to go through four tunnels to make it to the hostel where we were staying. Four tunnels that were so disgusting that the sissy Americans nearly puked after passing through them (myself included). To give you an estimate, the AQI in the tunnels were over 1000 and I forgot my mask.
Tomorrow, we have a day off before heading back to Shanghai, via a bullet train. We’re all nice and tipsy from post-ride beer and are about to head out into town… May the Necronomicog have mercy on our souls.