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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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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belated update

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Some how l find my life much less worth writing about when l’m not mtn bike touring.  I expect anyone who reads this would find it less interesitng to read too.  So (as is obvious — by my lack of posts) l’m not going to bother.

In case any one is interested — l’m in Canada.  Staying in Vancouver BC, with my sister and her fiance, designing and building a wedding dress for her. So far so good ( and yes l mean building — thats what they call it in the costume world, theres alot more that goes into such a project than just sewing)

 

It’s been a month or so since l left india. Since the last blog entry, l cycled across megalaya, which was pleasantly mountainous and remote enough to be campable/ relatively untrafficked despite riding on main roads.  Lovely really — would like to spend more time there, especially since l managed to ride right past one of (the extremely few) tourist attractions l actually wanted to see — namely the tree root bridges of cherrapunji.  I knew l was close, but lacking a map, and  all flustered/discombobulated by having dates and times/ticket purchased, and such like, I just rode right past it (and didnt realize for a couple of days). Being on “car time” and main roads l couldn’t really turn around so l kept blasting to siliguri (west bengal) in time to catch a train to dehli.  The one perk of bieng on main roads though, is that l ran into other cyclists. ( 2 of the 4 l met in the last year)

german its a race

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philosophical road signs

signs of Nagaland

The road signs all over India l find quite amusing, but Nagaland takes it to a new level — not content to advocate save driving practices, they want to tell you how to live a good life too.  I only have photos of ones l liked, which means the really paternalistic or sappy messages are missing — there is no way l could capture all of them anyway: on the road from Kohima (the capital) headed west, there is a new sign every 500m or so. And one fo the villages along the way added their own signs with famous quotations — everyone from Ayn Rand to Karl Marx and everything you could think of inbetween.  If youre going to have billboards its a good way to go l guess…

in the hills again

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a brief sojourn in Nagaland

My some-time traveling companion Matt loves the ocean, lives for it in a way. And can’t bear to be away from it’s presence for too long.  But its’s the mountains which call to me. Too long in the flat lands and l start to get restless, grumpy — especially when bike touring. So grinding through hot, flat Assam l was continually teased by the hazy contours of the highlands to the north. The eastern extension of the Himalaya/Tibetan plateau in Anarchal Pradesh. A state which, due to its proximity to the contested border with China, was for all intents and purposes closed to me. It is possible to get a permit to travel there — but you’re expected to have a guide, and an itinerary, and a group. Some one more adept at hoop-jumping and subterfuge, could no doubt have arranged the paperwork — but l, who, find even the day to day bureaucracy of presenting my passport while checking in at hotels trying, didn’t even make an attempt.
Locked out of the Himalaya ( actually think its a different mountain range — but obviously the work of the same massive tectonic uplift) by meaningless power struggles over imaginary lines — l did the next best thing, and pushed east toward the hill country of Nagaland. It’s hard to describe how happy l was to find my self climbing again (and steeply!) after a month or so in the flatlands. The Hills began literally at the state line, and with them a new ecosystem, and culture. So l spent the next couple of days winding my way upwards, through a strange sort of mixed forest, palm and bamboo, and pine and rhododendron, with a few cactus thrown in. Arriving in a world where all towns and roads perched on misty ridge tops — taking advantage of the only semblance of flat ground.

 

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traveler of both time and space

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Exploring Pikey Peak

 

I love the mountains.  Perhaps because l was born in the Sierra Nevada of California, or because I’m an avatar of Shiva: as one Sadu type suggested recently — the high country calls to me.  Directs my travels.  So it was only natural that l would return to the solukhumbu after my sojourn in Kathmandu.  With my bike and full compliment of camping gear in search of dirt.  Rideable trails that is.  Ideally any way. Starting with a loop recommended to Matt and l by our friend Mads, Which we had skipped because Matts knees weren’t up to it in the aftermath of hiking to Gokyo.

 

There are no trails designed (or maintained) for biking anywhere in this incredibly steep country, so any ride is going to include some unrideable sections — some pushing or carrying.  This particular route is one Mads does professionally — with paying guests — so l knew there was some good riding to be had.  But those guided trips have a large support team — porters for both bikes and gear.  I’m no stranger to carrying my bike, but the approach to PIkey peak was to be my first experience doing it in the himalaya.  The trip began uneventfully enough — retracing our route to Ringmou.  All rideable (still super steep and muddy in spots) and getting better all the time — in the month or so (l really spent that long in KTM) since we had been on these roads, the road builders had made significant progress in landslide and mud abatement.  About 4 days in the clouds which had been following me all the way from the city reached critical mass — and l was treated to one of the heaviest hail-storms l have ever experienced.

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Tronald (his are better)

It took a whole day, and lots of script-kiddie pseudo hacking, but l managed to recover most of the photos off my corrupted memory card — here are some in honor of Anjoronmo one of the people whose photos inspire me to trythis whole picture taking thing