Riding Through the Chaos
A bike packing adventure with Monster
We’ve been fans of Monster Children magazine for a long time. When it comes to surf, skate, music, art and culture, MC has been leading the charge with impeccably high standards of photography, film and storytelling. So, when the team at Monster Children approached us about doing a bike content piece (their first ever!), we couldn’t say no.
At the time we agreed, we knew that COVID would create some complications, but we figured a bikepacking trip could be safe enough. We’d be a small group. We’d be outside and be self-sufficient. So, we called up a few pals and planned a route through Big Basin State Park, California’s oldest state park, known for giant coast redwoods and trails with spectacular views of the Pacific ocean.
That’s right about when the CZU Lightning Complex fire transformed Big Basin into a charred wasteland (and destroyed more than 900 structures in Giro’s backyard). Once the smoke cleared, we started preparing for our Plan B, an epic tour of Big Sur. But, again, about a week before our proposed trip, much of that landscape burned as well. Plan C got scrapped too, and just before we canceled the whole thing, Monster Children photographer Andrew Peters proposed that we join him for a couple of days riding around the Russian River area in Sonoma County.
Our crew comprised of pro snowboarders Hannah and Tim Eddy, artists Campbell Steers and Serena Rio, and long-time friend-of-Giro, Ian Stowe. Each of these seasoned bikepacking enthusiasts were excited to work with Monster Children, to roll with the punches, and make the voyage to Sonoma (despite the fuzzy details and lack of a firm route plan).
As we traveled through endless fields of grapes and approached the coast, hazy skies turned clear and we knew we made the right choice. The Sonoma coastline is always spectacular, but the fall conditions are truly stunning—low light, long shadows, temps warm enough to swim in the river, dense morning fog and even an unseasonable (and thoroughly enjoyable) rain shower.
We settled into the typical bikepacking rhythm of easy pedaling, stopping often to enjoy the view (or, more often than not, make another cup of coffee) and exploring every singletrack trail we stumbled on. As we huddled around the campfire—each of us digging deep into our bags to cobble together dinner—the conversation drifted from art and bikepacking equipment to more sobering topics. From sick family members, to social isolation, to the historic fires wreaking havoc throughout the American West; 2020 has been a sucker punch to all of us. The wildfires in particular defined so much of our trip together, it was impossible to ignore the fact that our world and our climate is changing. We spoke about the individual choices that we make, and how every small decision can add up to meaningful change.
On one of the final descents of our time together, we gathered on a coastal bluff to watch Ian as he guinea pigged a steep and awkward descent to the coast. We all knew that this trail didn’t go anywhere, and that he’d have to turn around and slog back up to our overlook. But Ian relished in the challenge, and our group welcomed the opportunity to have a laugh. We witnessed one of the rowdiest descents in memory with Ian barreling on the edge of control, clipped in, seat up, with at least 30 pounds of gear on his bike. That moment, which seemed destined to end in disaster, turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. As we packed up our gear and parted ways, we realized that maybe 2020 isn’t all bad. Heading home we came to the conclusion that these moments and these small adventures are the best ways to cope with the times.