As the content guy for Kitsbow, I get to document some pretty fun stuff. By sheer happenstance, I stumbled into this story which got me in on the adventure. During a conversation with a former landlord, the idea arose to squeeze our bikes into his small Piper prop plane, and “shuttle” our way up to one of northern California’s small airports. Our excitement led to the spreading of aeronautical maps across the kitchen counter, drawing lines and circling runways and flight paths with a highlighter. In moments the plan was born.
I called my brother (Tyler), who was in Bend, and successfully enlisted my favorite partner in crime.
As mountain bikers our approach was to prioritize as much singletrack as possible, then double-track, gravel, and last remote tarmac, while avoiding any busy roads. We were going to ride somewhere new, we would get lost, and that was going to be the fun of it, since the joy of finding things, places, and trails you aren’t looking for, is the true definition of adventure.
Our micro expedition had a plane, a weekend, light camping gear from big agnes and Revelate touring packs, a couple cool new cameras and a single Kitsbow outfit. And a plan, more or less.
As brothers who like to ride, travel, and endlessly talk nerdy camera-speak, the shuttle-by-plane format was ripe for marvelous and unpredictable execution. The first hitch was a heavy fog blanket saturday morning looming over the coastal landing strip we had mapped out and causing us to divert 50 miles east of Mendocino to the Willits airstrip. This did land us at the top of a 2000 ft plateau, making the trip truly a “shuttle” in more than one sense.
Without recounting every calorie crazed meal, achey muscle, frosty glass, or wrong turn, the ride was a success: we found the proper balance of enjoying quaint coastal towns, the raw beauty of the wild weather beaten coast, and rugged long days of mixed-terrrain pedaling.
Here’s a bit more on the crazy components that came together to make this adventure excellent.
Gear we actually used
1.1979 Piper Archer 4 seater prop plane, with a Lycoming 4 cylinder 180 horsepower engine.
Cruising at 4,000 feet at 115 knots/hr it fits two disassembled gravel bikes and to guys pretty comfortably. Tip – amateur pilots need to practice and love to fly.
2.Sony RX 100 IV
Although we would take photos on the trip, the main objective was to capturevideo. Having used the gamut of small capable video cameras we couldn’t neglect the frenzy the new RX 100 was stirring up. 4K sharpness in a point and shoot that’s 4 inches long and weighs 10 ounces! We were both impressed as it produced some of our favorite shots from the trip.
3.Bruce Gordon Rockin’ Road Tourer
Tyler rode the BG frame equipped with Bruce’s 43mm Rockin’ Road tires.
Bruce Gordon has been making road bikes with fat tires longer than anybody, so it was a treat to ride a bike born from the roots of the gravel grinder craze. Tyler said the ride was “plush.” The massive tires were a bit overkill for even the rough Mendocino and Sonoma county roads, but they rolled and cornered like a dream and ate up the more rugged sections of the ride.
Our limited edition Olive Icon Shirt made from Pendleton Wool and Schoeller 3x-dry paneling was my choice for an outer layer for the 3 day trip.
Most of the time the Icon shirt stayed bundled up in my saddle bags while riding. But for cold mornings breaking down camp, that essential ride to the closest coffee shop, or sharing a beer by the windy sea for sunset, the Icon was comfortable and rugged, and if we do say so ourselves, looked superb photographed against the natural colors of the California coast.
5.The Q-Core pads are 3.5 inches off the ground, keeping you warmer, more comfortable, but still packing incredibly compact.
Thin uncomfortable pads are a thing of the past.