vacationing! in patagonia

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When my friend Melinda asked me to take her bike-packing, and suggested Patagonia, one of my favorite parts of the world, l immediately said yes. And suggested the Carretera Austral. Which is the southernmost extension of Chilean highway 7. It is largely gravel, and dead-ends into a lake — meaning that the further south you ride, the less traveled it is. The road is well graded, the surroundings beyond spectacular, the water drinkable and the towns well spaced — pretty much a perfect route for bike touring. As such we had ridden while RidingTheSpine.

So l felt confident recommending this stretch of road as an ideal place to try out bike travel. When other cyclists we met along the way discovered Melinda had never even ridden a loaded bike before, the were uniformly shocked (and awed). But the truth is, as spectacular and remote as it is, the Carretera Austral is a highway. Which means it’s nearly impossible to get lost, and busses and other such emergency/bail-out help are readily available. In addition to the aforementioned perks, the climbs are not particularly steep, and this time of year there is 14 hours of daylight — so no need to hurry or ride fast. Hard find a better spot to tour most anywhere in the world. I’m happy to say she loved it, and is now a confirmed bike-tourist.


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internet dating on the great divide

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#dflthedivide

@crustbikes (matt) invited me to join him and @larkin80kv (darrin), @markreimer and possibly some other friends @ultraromance and @mr_shredward in Banff for a ~10 day ride on the great divide trail with the intention of making it to Missoula Montana for the 40th anniversary celebration of the Adventure Cycling Association. It seemed like the perfect real world test for sample ScapeGoat I had just built-up, not to mention lots of fun. Naturally l waited till the week before to commit — and flew to canada without the faintest idea what the ACA celebration would entail, nor any idea who else would be on the trip.


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merry Crustmas to me

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It’s the day I’d been waiting for — my ScapeGoat had arrived. Sure I’d been riding the (awesome) prototype Darrin made for me for a couple of years now. But theres nothing like opening the box. Especially after all the back and forth with Taiwan; design and redesign, drawing after drawing. And now l have a shiny (actually it’s matte) new, beautifully dark-red frame. Adorned with custom artwork and logo designed by my good friend ariel.

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Indeed it was so beautiful and exciting, that l was almost afraid to touch the frame; Fortunately, l also had a large pile of boxes – full of parts new and old – which need assembling and modifying. So I started there, separating the shiny bits from the enormous amount of packaging. Fondling all the beautiful, slightly esoteric and carefully chosen bits of metal that would soon come together to make my bike.

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grand canyon

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My dad John Yost is a white water legend (as well as proprietor of Wantok Adventures) and invited me to row a baggage boat with him in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado river — how could l say no.  My sister and brother-in-law would be on the trip as well, as swampers (helpers) . So we worked down to the wire welding treehouses in Nicaragua, finishing up long after dark; then I packed up, slept a few hours, and flew to Las Vegas.  Where l woke my dad up and slept on the floor of his hotel room.  In the morning we picked up my sister Arla and her husband Paul, and drove to Fredonia Az. Where we met up with the rest of the crew and started rigging. My good friend Melinda was rowing the other baggage boat. And three other guides were in charge of other passenger rafts — Jim, who l have known my entire life, and has logged possibly more river miles than anyone else on the planet; Brian who is a long term guide with TourWest (a family run rafting company with a Grand Canyon permit, who graciously charters trips to folks like us) who had worked with both my brother and Father before; and Pat, a new friend and excellent boatman who was in charge of the paddle raft.

Brian had already done all of the shopping, and most of the gear sorting — so all we had to do was stuff it in the truck and drive to put in. Where we met the guests (including my uncle Phil), many of whom had traveled with my dad or Jim before. With so many family and friends on the river with us, it felt almost like a private trip.

Despite not having been in a boat in at least a year, and having to battle some crazy gusts of wind (perhaps it followed me from Nicaragua), I felt good at the oars, and generally had good runs. The wild flowers were out, and this being the early season, we had the river largely to our selves. A lovely two weeks with family and friends in an incredible part of the world.

thanks to Melinda, Riggs and Phil for the photos

spikey trees, and steel beams: a nicaraguan treehouse adventure

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The idyllic sojourn down under was cut short by an entirely different sort of adventure.  My friends at Two Crows Ecological Design Had a sweet gig in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua — doing site planning for a development called ‘el Encanto del Sur’ including (several) tree-houses. Which I got to design and build! (only the substructures/access — local carpenters will do the rest) So I tore my self away from Mulumbimby, spent a week getting gear together in the USA and flew to Nicaragua.

The flight was an adventure of its own, l’m used to dragging weird gear through airports and customs — but we took it to a whole new level. An expresso machine, and 7 boxes of special treehouse bolts were just the tip of the iceberg, as our luggage included esoteric climbing gear, bicycles, surfboards, and power tools. As well as assorted baby paraphernalia — my brother JJ, his wife Alison, and their (soon to be) 1 year old daughter June were on the mish. We had so much stuff that it was actually cheeper to fly first class (because of the larger baggage allowance) so we had cushy seats and free drinks and all the rest. Other than physically moving the huge luggage pile, it went amazingly easily, no hold up at customs even.

Getting a complicated construction project going in nicargua on the other hand, required a whole lot of learning. Sourcing materials turned out to be the hardest part — to the point that we always felt like rejoicing when things we need actually arrived on site. No matter that it was usually not quite enough, or not quite the right thing. We arrived to a pile of (preordered) bits of steel in the corner of someone else’s warehouse — and set about finding welders, both machines and people to operate them. In order to turn the pile of metal into joists and beams of the required dimensions. By the end of the project, l was managing 4 different welding crews, and the other guys working with 14+ agricultural workers. All in spanish of course.

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australia beachcombing

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Taiwan seemed so ‘close’ to austrailia that it just made sense to head there with Matt after our business tour. So we flew to sydney for a bit – and couch surfed his moms house while gearing up for a little surf tour up the coast towards byron, and meeting up with two new friends who were joining us for the mish — Amanda and Lara. Amanda is a friend of matts (from austin) who happened to be visiting australia, who rather adventurously borrowed a bike to try her hand at rough road surf/bike touring (her first tour). And Lara, planned this trip with Matt through instagram — and this was her first surf/tour (though she wasn’t new to bike touring).

We spent a month or so winding our way north. On and off road. Wild camping on the beach, and surfing when ever possible. Lots of sand, lots of fun. My bike (ScapeGoat prototype) was the only rig fully equipped for sandriding — (fat-tired and trailer-less) so ditched the others to explore sandy single track (and no track) as well as just riding up the beach.

All in all a sweet intro to australia — far too short — I’ll be back…

more pics @crustbikes @afewsketchymoments @strayfox @larabuelow

dressed for success

my inner tycoon comes out

We were dwaddeling down the coast — just starting to find a rhythm — when we realized that our time was almost up. There were meetings to attend, factories to tour — business to be done. So we took the short way back to Taipei. Stashed our bikes at the house of a friend of a friend of a friend. And took to the fashionable shopping districts in search of a wardrobe transformation.

When discussing this trip (or imagining the eventuality of it) in Nepal we had entertained wild ideas about custom tailored suits and perhaps doing the whole tour of the island so attired. It turns out that bespoke suits aren’t particularly cheap in Taiwan ( as they are in some other asian countries) at least for clueless foreigners like ourselves. So we abandoned that idea, and traveled in our normal, somewhat less-fancy riding attire. Which rendered those few clothes even less suitable for attempting to look respectable.

So with the deadline fast approaching we headed out in search of a respectable facade. Matt, having somewhat of a more conventional wardrobe than l, really only need a nicer shirt. l on the other hand, needed a complete makeover…. And l got one. But we threw our plans to look normal out the window almost immediately. Looking for breakfast (preparing for our shopping adventure) we stumbled across a tailor with a hot-pink suit coat in the window — which was exactly my size.

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mixing buisness with leisure

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I’m writing this from the current Crust Bikes world HQ — which happens to be a tarp-and-bamboo shack on a beach somewhere on the east coast of Tiawan. Matt is out surfing shitty waves on a broken board found in a trash pile, while I hide from the rain and try to poach wifi. We may still get some riding in today — but that remains to be seen. This time around the trip is short, and we are attempting to cram several seemingly incompatible endeavors into our allotted two weeks. The first and most unusual (for both of us) being business. We’re starting a bike company (or rather Matt is, and I’m doing what I can to help) and Tiawan is where bikes are made. This trip is ostensibly to tour factories and meet with ‘our’ people in Taiwan. But multitasking seemed like the way to go, and we decided to bike tour around the island, and it being a coastal ride, get as much surfing in as possible. Telecommuting while bike/surf touring is not a recipe for speed or distance — nor I suppose, particularly effective for coordinating our various business endeavors.

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it begins — again

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Here we go…
Matt and I are in Taiwan. To do some factory touring and assorted business for Crust Bikes. And since we’re here, a little tour round the island. I arrived on Monday (somehow lost Sunday somewhere during the flight) and spent the better part of the day in the baggage claim room at Tayouan International airport unboxing and building up my bike.

I had been so busy doing things for and with various friends in the days leading up to this trip, that l didn’t get around to packing or getting my bike ready till the day of the flight — which meant that it didn’t come out of the box quite ready to roll.
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the dress

so the wedding was lovely
and the dress turned out well.

my sister sent some photos and I’m rather proud of it, so have a look: