On the Road: Joe Cruz Treelines Alaska, Pt. 1

Maybe you remember in the spring when we built a Treeline SL for our buddy Joe Cruz. We said then that bringing Joe together with that bike would guarantee adventure, and we’re happy to say we were right. Joe is a restless soul. He spends his days teaching philosophy at one of New Englands bucolic colleges, but any break in the schedule, any opportunity at all, Joe will travel, and when he travels, it’s by bike.

The first adventure on his new Treeline was to Alaska, first a quick tour of the area surrounding Anchorage and then off to the glacial north. Joe is a vivid writer. Here are some words and pictures from the trip:

Out of the airplane window, snow ripples bound for the horizon and enough time passes for an epiphany, no signs of human life for unusually long. It’s March so home is seeping away from winter but I’m headed back toward it now, mostly into sparsity and space, woods that aren’t just parcels and rivers that pick up speed to that geologic inertia less compromised by our interventions.

img_3690

Anchorage is a place that is not about itself, its arrow of reference points to the mountains on clear days or towards the chop and surf of river and ocean. Wide linear strip mall avenues with cheap block era architecture, low downtown buildings huddled together as awkwardly as a group of strangers not wanting to be left out of a conversation at a party. When I’m driving it in my brother-in-law’s borrowed inevitable ’86 Toyota pickup, it takes longer to get anywhere because the one way streets take you ’round expansive city blocks, but it also takes less time because there is speeds and space, like going twice as fast at a 1/2 time frame rate. It’s a built up environment that isn’t an aspiration but an accommodation of the varied wants or realities that bring people here. Gold, adventure, work, birth, misanthropy, dreams, freedom, land, fear, courage.

img_3759

We pitch a pyramid tent by the sinking sun and firming snow, anchoring the lines to our bikes, I draw a straw short enough to put me at one of the edges and I keep waking in the night to a suffocating dream with damp nylon on my face. Nick, who’s at the other edge, points out that one of the advantages is that he and I can just lift the edge to take a piss and that’s a plausible enough consolation. Inside it’s cozy, there’s no end to the eating. Nick and Lael each have used up an entire loaf of bread in making their sandwiches and they seem content with living on those, I seesaw between jealousy and quizzical skepticism for days.

Our hours are upriver and downriver churning on the Yentna, sometimes we spread out and I meditate the blinding white, the pulse of patches of soft snow, the ruts of the snowmachines. Sometimes we’re three and four wide talking, wave at the occasional mechanical speeder, the boys find unopened cans of beer in the snow from where they fell off supply sleds, we’re dehydrated enough to be left loopy after a few deep gulps.

This is just an excerpt from Joe’s journal. Read more here. We’ll be sharing more of his adventures here in coming weeks.

Guaranteed Adventure

Here we are with Joe Cruz (the one in the blazer), the night he picked up his new Treeline SL from the shop. A philosophy professor during daylight hours, at all other times of year Joe is compulsive traveler and a committed back country cyclist. We wrapped this bike Tuesday night, and tomorrow Joe leaves for Alaska, where he’ll swap over to studded tires for a week of glacier exploration outside of Anchorage.

IMG_2382

We count ourselves lucky to be able to work with riders like Joe and Jeff Curtes and Daniel Sharp and Matt and Mo Bruno Roy, and of course countless others who use our bikes to find and share big adventures.

As kids, we remember pedaling away from home, disappearing for hours at a time, going wherever our wheels would take us, and the chance to recapture that sense of exploration and adventure now is really priceless.

Watch this space for more from Joe as well as the rest of Seven’s sponsored, encouraged, and inspired riders. The adventure is guaranteed.

On the Road – Mike Bybee Rides to Canada

Mike Bybee never thinks small. His latest odyssey took him from his native Arizona north to Canada, taking in the Grand Canyon, Park City, Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Forest, Idaho, Montana and Washington along the way,  1,590 miles in total. His Sola SL and custom rack carried him and all his gear the whole way.

Mike sometimes calls himself a photographer and sometimes a blogger and sometimes a bike-packer, but what he really is, is an adventurer, a description that serves the other things he likes to do well. Other bike-packers listen to what he has to say, mostly because they recognize his passion and the size of his imagination. We are deeply grateful that he chooses to ride a Seven, because we know he will test our bike to its limits…and send us great pictures of it in action.

Here are just a few of his fine photos from this trip. Get over to his TrailChat blog for the words and even more photos.

"Heading from the North Rim into Kanab"
“Heading from the North Rim into Kanab”
"Seven Cycles Sola at Dixie National Forest. Too many trails for me to ride with the time I had. Definitely must return"
“Seven Cycles Sola at Dixie National Forest. Too many trails for me to ride with the time I had. Definitely must return”
"A mountain biker enjoying the Tidal Wave at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah"
“A mountain biker enjoying the Tidal Wave at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah”
"Start of the Deer Valley trails in Park City, Utah. This one has amazing views and is an overall easy and fast ride with great flow"
“Start of the Deer Valley trails in Park City, Utah. This one has amazing views and is an overall easy and fast ride with great flow”
"Finally got to the Salt River Pass, Wyoming on my Seven Cycles Sola. This was a really hard day - climbing up to 7,630 feet."
“Finally got to the Salt River Pass, Wyoming on my Seven Cycles Sola.
This was a really hard day – climbing up to 7,630 feet.”

On the Road: Dan Sharp’s Bay Ridge Hot Lap

When adventurist/photographer Daniel Sharp is short of time, he just concocts short adventures and invites some friends along for the ride. This time he’s on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, actually a series of connectible trails that circumnavigates the San Francisco Bay. It stretches north Napa and Marin and south to San Jose.

What makes this trip so cool, in our eyes, is that it doesn’t skip the ugly parts. Put another way, Dan and his friends engaged in the urban parts of this route, too. The Bay Area is a part of the world that serves up a lot of natural beauty despite its overall population density, and in some ways the reward of those views is enhanced by pounding the pavement from the city center to see it.

Here are some of Dan’s always-inspiring photos, and some brief prose about the trip:

They say the hardest part of any adventure is getting out the door, especially this time of year when in the Pacific Northwest rainy days start to outnumber sunny ones. For this, my fourth adventure of this project, the hardest part was choosing a route and finding a crew that could take time off to do a ride.
The word “ambitious” became the buzz word whenever we mentioned the route and our planned time frame. I took that to be a euphemism for crazy or just plain stupid. Well, if that’s the case then maybe this is a 3-day fastpacking trip within urban boundaries. Why get so hung up on terminology? Let’s just go ride mountain bikes around the bay and see what that’s like, so that’s exactly what we did.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail is not a classic bikepacking or endurance mountain biking route, not yet. According to the website, the first ridge trail segment was dedicated in May of 1989. Existing trails were quickly added and it opened 100 miles in 1990 and 200 miles in 1995. As anyone that’s ever ridden in the Bay Area knows, land access is tricky and the 300th mile wasn’t added until 2006. Today the Bay Area Ridge Trail boasts 350 miles of trails. A quick look at the interactive map reveals the reality that to complete the route, one will have to link dirt trail with plenty of pavement.
The thrill for me was to see just what quantity and quality of trails are available in the Bay Area close to major urban areas. In past trips I had gotten to ride roads in the Marin Headlands, several trails near Fairfax, Weir’s ranch in Novato, UCSC and Soquel Demo Forest near Santa Cruz. But those were day trips of proper trail mountain biking. This was going to be a unique trip in the sense that it would be more like a fast-paced bike tour, half on dirt roads, some singletrack, and plenty of grinding out road miles through urban areas. The reality is that this route is its own thing – it’s urban mountain biking that you can link together sections of trail and we discovered without too much difficulty.
In the end we enjoyed the company of hosts and having beds to sleep in every night. We were able to recover well before getting out and attempting another ten-hour day in the saddle.
To read way more about Dan’s Bay Ridge adventure, check out his site.

On the Road: Dan Sharp in Alaska

It is forever humbling, the places people go on our bikes, and the stories and photos they come back with are like treasure. Daniel Sharp is an adventurer, writer and photographer with a vivid imagination and very human storytelling style. He’s not superhuman. He doesn’t pose as the master of the wilderness he explores. His are stories we can relate to, and pictures we can dream about.

Here are some of the images from a recent trip to Alaska, with excerpts from his trip journal.

 

Alaska is way too big to squeeze into a single two week trip so for this, our first Alaskan adventure, we focused on the Kenai Peninsula. We flew into Anchorage, spent a couple days making sure our bikes were put together properly…

The next day we set off to ride Lost Lake Trail. The plan was to ride from the Lost Lake trailhead to Primrose campground. This is not a huge ride in terms of mileage, but this was to be our first loaded ride in Alaska, so it was a bit of a test to see how it went on legit singletrack.

The descent into Primrose was challenging with a loaded bike. At times it was steep, rocky and littered with roots. We rode most of it and walked the crazy parts. We stopped and picked blueberries.

Lost Lake was a good warm up, but now we’re ready for the real test: Resurrection Pass.

Here we go! Resurrection Pass! jingle jangle of bear bells. The first thing that struck me about the trail is that it was nothing like Lost Lake. There was sustained climbing, but it was so much gentler. This was more of a proper bikepacking trail.

We met our first bunch of marmots–they’re bascially ground hogs–they signal each other to let their crew know we’re approaching. Aside from birds, they’re the only wildlife we’ll see, which I find strange. I was hoping to see some mountain goats at least. I love the trail above treeline. It’s alpine tundra–raw and sculpted.

Tori wisely brought newspaper plastic bags to put over our socks and under our shoes. I’m amazed how well they work to keep my feet warmer and keep the wet out. Best DIY vapor barriers ever.

The last miles of the day go quickly, finding good lines over wet roots, crossing streams, splashing through puddles. Before you know it we start to signs that we’re getting close to the trailhead, signage that we saw on day one, a cabin, a group of day-hikers cheering us up the last grunty climb. I start to get that hesitation where I feel sad that I hurried back to the car, that I gobbled up the descent instead of savoring it in slow motion. We know this was special and we want to make it last.

We were able to leave our anxieties, one by one at each stream crossing and get to a point where we felt not only safe, but really comfortable living by bike on trail. The ability to take everything you need to live with you and arrive safely under your own power is such a great feeling.

 

Read the whole story here. See the bike Dan rides here. Come back for more of Dan’s adventures including a recent microadventure in Oregon.