Quick teaser pic for my latest bike build, a retro mod 1987 Schwinn Prelude
Last month I attended a slide night at my favourite Melbourne bike shop Commuter Cycles. The subject was the Victoria Divide 550, a 557km bikepacking route through northern Victoria. As someone who’s eager to start bikepacking I was very much looking-forward to the night. Kia, Lewis, and Wil talk about their experiences riding the Victoria Divide 550. The slide night was packed, standing room only. And some of that was outside the door! There’s obviously a keen interest for bikepacking locally which is obviously great news.
Pretty bikes are pretty The Salsa (Grav)El Mariachi. This is the bike that pulled me through Gravel Camp earlier this year. It’s the frame from a Salsa El Mariachi I bought as a complete bike in 2014 while living in Texas. This steel frame was short-lived though; only a few months after the purchase Craigslist offered up a titanium frame — same model, same size — at a price I couldn’t pass up. Since then, the steel El Mar frame has been patiently waiting in the dark corners of the garage for a Frankenstein-ian rebirth.
The Aussie bush ain’t bad While visiting my folks in Kyneton (country) Victoria, I took the opportunity to visit La Larr Ba Gauwa, a brand new mountain bike park opened just over a year ago in Harcourt (30km north of Kyneton). I’d never heard of it until stumbling across the parking lot signage a few months back when exploring the area. This was my first visit. But it won’t be my last. I rode the “north trails” today which are the fast, flowy, jumpy trails of the park.
As an avid cyclist I often have to transport my bike to a location that’s beyond riding to. My preference is to avoid the bike-on-top-of-the-car option because I’m paranoid of driving into the garage and destroying the bike, racks, and the roof of the car. The Golf R doesn’t officially support adding a tow ball/hitch (although third-party option exist) so I had to get creative. CarTarp 1000 Behold! CarTarp 1000™®©✌️. A simple design to protect the car from dirty bike parts after a ride.
Gravel Camp is an event consisting of a night of camping plus a 50km off-road bike ride in Rubicon, Victoria. It’s put on by Fyxo from Melbourne, and I attended the inaugural offering in March this year. Beaut day for a bike ride. As much as a love a bike ride, my main motivation to take part in Gravel Camp was that it seemed like a good way to get my toes wet in bikepacking. And by “toes wet” I mean I had my bike and I was camping, but I didn’t have to deal with packing part.
This morning, whilst checking out my local mountain bike trails, two notable things happened: I almost ran over a snake. An enormous tree broke and landed next to my car. Fallen tree right next to my car 🙏 With almost comic precision, the tree laid directly across my exit, it’s length being more/less the exact width of the path. At first I was confused; it’s not something I’d expect to see after returning from a couple hours riding my bike, that’s reserved for something like a smashed car window and stolen sunglasses.
We once pet-sat for a dog named Hector in Alberta, Canada. Hector was a brilliant dog to look after for three weeks, and Alberta was a personal highlight of the last leg of our US road trip in 2018. It wasn’t just the dog, or the landscapes, pristine waters, rocky outcrops, beautiful mountains, or myriad wildlife, it was also because Hector’s home turned out to be a stone’s throw from where the best BMX movie of all time was set and filmed: RAD Trailer for RAD (1986) (sound might be very quiet, FYI) What an incredible coincidence!
The Salsa El Caballo de Carga resting in the scrub This week I had the pleasure of putting together another bike based around an old Salsa El Mariachi frame. I call this one The Salsa “El Caballo de Carga” (The Salsa Packhorse). “Packhorse”, because its purpose is a gravel-y, touring-y, bikepacking-y, off-the-beaten-path, do-it-all kind of bike, and also because Salsa “El Mula” (the Mule) sounded pretty boring. I’ve had a build like this in mind ever since completing a 4-day tour of the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburg Pennsylvania, to Cumberland Maryland (240 kms/150 miles) in 2017.