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Eric Parsons
April 22, 2016

What You Need to Ride the Divide

Posted by Eric Parsons

The days are numbered until the Tour Divide begins, enthusiastic cyclists will start pedaling in Banff, AB. Those that can navigate the terrain, clock the miles, and maneuver through all seasons of weather with the looming threat of wildfires to emerge in Antelope Wells, NM, on this self supported tour, all deserve a medal. We were going to put together an essential Tour Divide kit but it quickly became clear that there was no reason to reinvent the wheel. The last five years Revelate Designs gear has been tried and tested by the leaders of the pack. These detailed setups are helpful for touring and bikepacking adventures on a smaller scale too!

Check out each rider’s essential lineup of gear for this 2,745 mile ride:

  1. 2015 Josh Kato’s Winning Tour Divide Pack List
  2. 2014 Jefe Branham (Using home-brew bags but a shout out to the gas tank!)
  3. 2013 Mike Hall’s Tour Divide Kit List 
  4. 2012 Winner Ollie Whalley’s Tour Divide Gear List 
  5. 2011 Kurt Refsnider’s Tour Divide Setup

For the rest of us who are keeping a bit slower paced adventure, some inspiration:

Photo credit: Josh Kato

Photo credit: Josh Kato

 

Josh Kato finishing the 2015 Tour Divide

Last year Josh Kato (above) and Revelate Designs ambassador Lael Wilcox (below) both laid down record breaking times on the route.

 

 

 

 

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Photo credit: Josh Kato

Eric Parsons
March 15, 2016

Patagonia Bikepacking Expedition

Posted by Eric Parsons

Guest Blog post! Revelate Ambassadors Kaitlyn Boyle and Kurt Refsnider took their bikes to Patagonia this past December. Kaityln was kind enough to send along this story and these incredible photos. Enjoy!

Of Fire and Ice, Rainforests and Pampas: Patagonia Bikepacking Expedition

Words and photos by Kaitlyn Boyle

Flying into Puerto Montt, Chile on December 25th was a pretty remarkable experience. Suddenly, as the plane coasted over farmland toward the head of the Gulfo de Ancud/Corcovado, Volcan Osorno filled the frame of my tiny airplane window. It was magnificent. Soft green fields rolled up to the flanks of the volcano. From sea level the mountainsides rose abruptly to thousands of feet high, transitioning their cover from green to white. Glaciers clung to the top as if they knew that by reaching high into the atmosphere they were clinging to the remaining potential of their lives on this planet.

After touching down, negotiating our first Chilean hostel and navigating out of town, we rode our Salsa Horsethiefs northeast out of town, bound for the hills – or volcanoes.

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Aptly named the Lakes District, Northern Patagonia is characterized by flooded glacially scoured valleys – aka – endless lakes. Rising from the eastern lake shore are forbidding volcanoes, and stretching from western shore to sea are acres upon acres of rolling green farmland. To wrap my brain around the landscape I decided it felt like Vermont meets Maine/Michigan meets the central Cascades.

Then came the rainforest, and all understanding of this landscape was torn to pieces. Striving to ride in the Andes, we headed straight for the mountains. By night one we were shut down on our first trail by a fresh (April 2015) layer of cinder, making riding on 2.4 Maxxis Ardents impossible. And thus began our series of lake riding detours. Night two landed us camped along a beach among horses, staged for an immediate ascent of our second attempt to access the mountainous world.

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Day three we experienced the worst hike-a-bike both Kurt and I have ever suffered through…yes. The worst. We climbed above tree line 8 hours later, 8 miles from our morning camp, and torn to shreds by prickly jungle plants, and eaten alive by the biggest horse flies we know to exist. Feeling defeated and battling colds for the next week, we resorted to dirt and paved road touring to make some headway in traveling north. Countless tours along countless lakes finally delivered us to Volcan Villaricca, home of Villaricca National Park and extensive Chilean recreation from the adrenaline hub that is Pucon.

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Here we found ourselves our first rideable section of trail, fascinating vegetation, and glorious views. As an Andean Condor soared over us on a high Volcano pass with only cinder in sight, our spirits too, soared.

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While our success in riding trail on Volcan Villaricca was fairly short lived due to the soft nature of cinder and consequential struggles for mountain bikes, travelling above tree line amid a smoking Volcano is an experience worth enduring.

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The remaining of our trip continued to be flavored by foreign landscapes and the lessons that come neatly packaged within the exploration of new places. We eventually made it into Argentina with a few extra miles in our legs, negotiated a long-distance hiking trail with mixed results, found solace in the arid pampas, wide glacial valleys, and ragged mountain ranges. And the lakes tour continued.

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The wild character of northern Patagonia has a Wild West flavor that is addicting for a lover of the Western landscape and culture. Cowboys, or gauchos, live on. Cattle drives the local economy, and stray dogs outnumber residents.

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While easily romanticized, it is evident that Patagonia faces many of the struggles that the West has in the past and continues to face today. The interface between new tourism-based economy and the historic ranching/farming lifestyle seem to be competing for their place in the future.

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The landscape and its inhabitants battle outside pressures for resource exploitation, namely, damming rivers for hydro-power and logging – both to fuel growing populations in distant metropolitan capitals.

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We often turned onto tracks expecting to find a quiet dirt road as our maps indicated to be suddenly rolling to the hum of knobby tires on freshly laid pavement as cars zipped past.

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It felt as if we had stumbled upon a place in the middle of a great transition – and as someone who cherishes wildness over development I continually find myself craving more of Patagonia’s fleeting wildness.

 

Eric Parsons
March 8, 2016

Pancho – Guest Post by Lael Wilcox

Posted by Eric Parsons

Written by Lael Wilcox, photos by Nicholas Carman

Riding out of Bahia Los Angeles, under the sun with a tailwind, Nick and I get in a fight because I want to run and he wants to keep moving forward. Fueled by temper, we ride fast through afternoon until we reach a crusty old car tire marked “San Rafael” with an arrow pointing to the beach.

San Rafael is a dot on our paper map. Sometimes these dots are pueblitos, sometimes single family ranches, sometimes mission ruins and sometimes just plain ruined. You never know what you’re going to find in Baja. Tracing lines on a map is much different than riding them. Roads are good. Weather is good. Our biggest challenge here is water. Baja is a desert. We’re always looking for people because if you find people, you find water. They need it as much as we do.

lael riding

We turn off to San Rafael. Just above the beach, there are a few shacks and a trailer. A sign up front says “beer and camping”. A dog barks. I knock on the door of the trailer. There’s tv noise and then it’s quiet. Thin and older, a man opens the door. He doesn’t fill out his jeans, but he wears big boots. It’s Pancho. He welcomes us like unexpected friends and we follow him to the shack next door.

Once inside, Pancho sets a pot to boil on the propane stove.

Nick asks, “Cerveza?”

Pancho doesn’t have any cerveza because he doesn’t have a lot of visitors right now and if he had beer sitting around he’d drink it himself and he doesn’t need to drink beer.

Okay.

Pancho asks, “Café?”

I shrug towards Nick and he shrugs back.

Por favor.

The water is hot. Pancho sets out nescafe and sugar, and as an afterthought, powdered creamer. I stir in coffee and warm my hands around the cup.

Pancho seats us at his table. He’d also like to invite us to a fish taco. I decline– we have food and everything we need. He insists and I agree.

He opens the lid of a pot on the table. It’s full of fried fish. He opens the one adjacent, it’s full of

frijoles. He refries the fish on the griddle, reheats the beans and apologizes because he doesn’t have any tortillas.

We do!

I go out to the bikes to retrieve the tortillas. Pancho fries them with the fish.He sets out two plates– one in front of Nick and one in front of me.

pancho

“You’ll eat with us, right?”

“Of course.”

He sets out another plate for himself.He fills the plates with fish and beans and one little langosta. He sets out a jar of mayonnaise, hot sauce and the tortillas. We each grab a tortilla and Pancho leads. He dabs a fork in the mayonnaise and spreads it on half the tortilla. He fills the middle with fish and a dash of hot sauce. We follow suit and then we eat.

Tasty!

We eat and talk– mostly we just eat. And then we’re tired.

Pancho suggest we camp behind the shack because it would block the wind, but the best camp spot is on the beach. He’s built walls around a palapa and spread gravel over the sand. We can sleep where we please, so we head for the beach. He’s right. It’s exceptional. Should we swim? It’s chilly, but we’re dirty. We strip quick and run into the sea. The water is salty and cold and glimmers in the moonlight.

We dry off in the breeze on the walk back to the palapa, lay out our sleeping bags and fall fast asleep.

beach vinnette

Awake before first light, I sneak out of the palapa for a run. I run a dirt road away from the beach and towards the mountains. The sun rises through clouds over the Sea of Cortez. On the way out I see five coyotes, on the way back, cows.

Back at the palapa, Nick has already packed up my sleeping bag and filled up my water bottles. This guy is too good to me. We’re ready to set out. We push our bikes back up to the shack to say bye and thanks to Pancho.

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He stands at the table, rolling out flour tortillas. He spreads them on the griddle to cook– three at a time. He flips them with his fingers and stacks them in a towel once they’re cooked.

“Café? ” He smiles.

Por favor.

He refries the fish and reheats the beans and resets the table and we eat more fish tacos.

I ask about the cows. Why are there cows on the beach?

Oh. He shrugs, “Pancho has a ranch a kilometer away.”

“Pancho? Aren’t you Pancho?”

“Yes, another Pancho. We’re both named Francisco, so we’re both called Pancho.”

“Oh, you’re Pancho and he’s Pancho. You catch the fish and he has the ranch.”

I make a mental note so I don’t get confused. Our Pancho is Pancho Pescado, the neighbor is Pancho Rancho.

“Yeah, Pancho (Rancho) is strange. Last time I saw him, I invited him in for coffee, but he didn’t have time for coffee. People are strange.” Pancho Pescado waves his hand in dismissal.

beach2

We talk about San Rafael. Pancho Pescado has lived here for 35 years. He doesn’t have a car. He has everything he needs. He has many American friends that visit him every year. They bring him water every now and then, but it rained so much in September that he trapped two big barrels of water and he’s set for months.

“Rain?”

“Yeah, huge storms.”

Then we hear an engine approach.

Pancho Pescado gasps, “It’s Pancho (Rancho).”

We sit quiet and sure enough a big barrel of a man in a cowboy hat and boots comes walking through the door, holding an empty coffee cup. His little wife limps in behind.

“Hola, Pancho!” The man beams.

“Hola, Pancho!” Pescado returns. The little wife waves.

“Café?”

“Por Favor.”

We all drink a cup of coffee and the Panchos shoot the shit like the best of friends. Then Pancho Pescado gives Pancho Rancho a fish taco that he eats with gusto. He gives the little wife a langosta.

She holds it for a minute and then tucks it up her sleeve for later.

We pull out the map and ask about the road to Santa Martha.

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Pancho Pescado knows that motos take that route. Pancho Rancho hasn’t driven it for years and thinks it may be storm-damaged, but passable. The major challenge is water. They know of a family twenty miles down in El Progreso, and then a few houses in El Barril. We can ask along the way.

After a second cup of coffee, they walk us out to the bikes so we can get riding. On the way, Pancho Pescado points out a crack in his fishing boat. The Panchos take a minute to discuss it and then we walk to the bikes. Pancho Rancho squeezes my fat tires. The dog nips at the wife’s sleeve– where she’s still hiding the langosta. She shoos him away and he turns to my bike and pees on it. We all laugh and wave goodbye. They go back to the boat problem and we head out on our bikes.

pancho3 web

lael tires