Exploring the Wild West - Video

Jun 25, 2017 at 18:11
by Lama Cycles  

Views: 835    Faves: 7    Comments: 1


''Let's buy this 1981 Ford camper van for 2,000 bucks'', my girlfriend said. Neither one of us is at all apt in car mechanics. The frame of the truck is rusty and might collapse, sooner than later.

''Sure! Let's do it'' was my reply. Why not?

So we escaped Quebec's desolate winter right at the end of January to head directly to Arizona. We wanted to discover amazing places and ride our bikes. After five days of driving and sleeping in truck stops in subzero temperatures, we got there, east of Pheonix, at a place called Apache Junction, south enough to have good weather in February. Trailforks was how we chose this area since it was surrounded by bike trails.


Exploring the Wild West

The town itself was absolutely nothing interesting unless you count RV parks and men with bleached hair in tank tops driving badly customized pick up trucks interesting. The local McDonald's had a sign that said ''Free refills on the same visit only'' on the self-serve soda fountain, I think that draws the right picture for the spot. We had hooked up some couch surfing to have a place to park the van to sleep and a shower after riding under the desert's sun. Our host was amazing, a 70 years old kind man and total badass, retired police detective that would ride bikes, kayak or hike absolutely every day.

Exploring the Wild West
The Superstition Mountains offer plenty of eye candy

Exploring the Wild West
Fun riding in Usery mountain park

After a week of slaloming between cactuses, it was time to head north to Sedona. The capital of energy healing, aura reading, and precious crystals. Wow, I will have to watch not to spend all of my money up there… Not! Couchsurfing again, with the cream of the crop, crystal seller, magician, healer and single mom, here we come, Sedona experience!

Exploring the Wild West
Hard to keep the balance with a landscape like this

Exploring the Wild West
Funky crew vibes

The funky crew was fun and all but there's only so much chilling a man can handle. The real thing was out there. I mean, vortex or not, the landscape is just so amazing and breathtaking that yeah, there's energy, the energy of absolutely amazing earth being funky once more. Jeremy from Sedona Destination Adventures showed us around Hangover trail with his trusty Shy, an adorable Husky. What a ride!

Exploring the Wild West
Jeremy, Rebecca and Shy having a bite

Exploring the Wild West
Jeremy dropping in

Exploring the Wild West

Exploring the Wild West
Words cannot describe the feeling of being surrounded by such awesomeness

After a good week up there and some minor van problems, we headed to the legendary Moab. This time no couch surfing but a kickass hostel, very cheap and even nicer, the Lazy Lizard Hostel.

Exploring the Wild West
Vanlife set up at the Lazy Liz

Exploring the Wild West
View from Capt'n Ahab

After riding the legendary Captain Ahab, I got to know about a freeride area called ''Bartlett Wash'', a 6 km slick rock where you can just pick your line. We drove there, a couple miles from anybody, to camp by the spot.

Exploring the Wild West
Road to Bartlett Wash, can you believe this was only very lightly retouched?

Exploring the Wild West
Mushroom drop in Bartlett Wash

Exploring the Wild West
Overnight parking IS permitted here

Exploring the Wild West
Slick rock lines for days

Moab has the same number of bike shops as restaurants. This little town is an absolute Mecca for outdoor sports, it's just amazing. The Moab Brewery fastly became our favorite spot, with off-season 25 cents wings (big and tasty) and very good locally brewed beer. The western mood led us to hop on horses and trot through the desert, John Wayne style (the spot had actually been used for 2 of John Wayne's movies). If you ever get there, make sure to go to the Hauer Ranch, they are the best.

Exploring the Wild West
Madeline from Hauer Ranch leading the way

DCIM 101GOPRO GOPR0019.

Exploring the Wild West

Now let's steer the ship West again, to Virgin, Utah. This place needs no introduction, and I was crazy stoked. We went back to the couch surfing roots, finding a spot in La Verkin, about 10 minutes drive from the Old Site, and 30 minutes from Zion NP. Good set-up.

Exploring the Wild West

Exploring the Wild West
La Verkin overlook

Getting to this place for the first time makes it hard to choose where to go. There seem to be lines everywhere, yet I wanted to figure out which ones would be best for me. After an hour and a half of scouting, I took out my bike and nervously rolled my tires on this legendary terrain. Some small rocks in the dirt are pretty sharp, so I traded the tank top for a flannel shirt. The soil is pretty loose but at the same time kind of grippy... Interesting! I got more comfortable pretty quick and was ready to give my NS bikes Snabb E something to chew on.

Exploring the Wild West

Exploring the Wild West

Exploring the Wild West


That. Was. Awesome. Nothing else to be said, except thanks to my girl for being ever so patient.

Ok, on the road again, this time west, to California.

Exploring the Wild West
Dinner with a view in Morrow Bay, Cali

California, surf bum paradise, the land of freedom and hippies in Westfalias, right? We would not need couch surfing since we could probably just park by the ocean, grill our food on a bonfire and sleep tight. Not. In Central Cali and every street has a very specific sign: "No Overnight Parking. No Sleeping in Vehicle." So I guess my assumptions about California might have been right, 30 years ago, but right now they sure did not stand. And after much trying we could not find any couch surfers to host us. So we used Trailforks again and aimed for the trailhead parking for some under the radar camping. We had three spots we would rotate in between for the week and would use the state camping shower. Worked out pretty good.

Exploring the Wild West

Next was Santa Cruz and Aptos. Turns out it is even harder to find a suitable place for the night, as every inch of the area is built and rich, and no couch surfers offering us a driveway either. After some bike problems and turning the van inside out, washing everything, after noticing some strange bites on my skin in the morning (yes, that was as sh***y as it sounds), we were pretty exhausted from washing dishes in Safeways, showering in public restrooms and trying to find spots to sleep. Shout out to Raymond George in Aptos for a proper shower. Also turns out you need some good contacts to lead you to the good spots as a lot are private and most are hidden. We skipped before knowing the right people and knowing the area really well because the daily life activities in that context were simply too much energy consuming, and a proper camping spot there is $80 USD/night. No, thank you.

Exploring the Wild West
Santa Cruz vibes

Spring started well and we were already two and a half months in, so we went straight to B.C. to have enough time to enjoy it up there before we would have to come back home in June. We had a place to stay for a month in Gibsons, right on the Sunshine Coast, fifteen minutes from Robert's Creek and half hour from Coast Gravity Park—yeah! The stoke was high, as I was also going to meet some friends I had made in Bali last year.

Exploring the Wild West

Exploring the Wild West

A week in, a slippery wooden bridge in Robert's Creek took me out. Broken collarbone, had surgery the next day. One of my first thought was ''I gotta come back'.

Exploring the Wild West
Oops, broken in two places, needed surgery

But the trip was far from over. Thanks to modern health care, the surgery performed on me made my arm functional right away. So after a couple days, I could hold a camera. Being at a friend's place for a month made my recovery way better than in a van, that's for sure. So I had a full month of picture-taking and hanging out with awesome people. Thanks to Dylan Dunkerton and Curtis Robinson for hanging out with my injured self during some building and shooting for MOTV film!

Exploring the Wild West
Hanging out the first week after surgery


At least my girlfriend got to ride CGP and I got to walk around and scout the trails for my next time out there. Also, I had loads of fun taking a couple pictures of the crew.

Exploring the Wild West


Exploring the Wild West
Mind Spark Cinema in action for MOTV film. There are worse ways to spend recovery time I guess.

Exploring the Wild West
Dunkertown with it's own version of home deco


Then on our way back, we stopped in Whistler, which even strengthened my desire to come back to B.C. So my girlfriend, who's been riding for less than a year, rode at CGP and Whistler Bike Park, and not me, which is kind of funny, in a way. Thanks to her for being amazing and helping me with all of these images. I am so stoked and grateful for all the amazing things I saw, places I got to ride, and the people I met. This trip is one of the best things I have done with my life. Thanks a lot to Lama Cycles for supporting me in this adventure and being awesome.

Until next time, we are off to Quebec. Thanks for reading. And thanks to the universe that made our van keep it up for 18,000 kilometers. Cheers!

Simon Drouin
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15 Comments

  • + 2
 Malade ton vidéo! Sa peut coûter combien environ faire un trip comme celui la?
  • + 1
 Merci mec ! un 5000 $ en se splittant le gaz à 2 et en comptant un peu de réparations. Les restaurants étaient très rares et on a presque jamais payé pour passer la nuit. Par chance beaucoup de réseaux de trails sont gratuits !
  • + 2
 Bonne histoire mec. Si tu veut venir coucher a saint raymond . Come for free
  • + 1
 Merci !! Big Grin
  • + 2
 Merci d'avoir pris le temps de montrer tout ça Simon!
  • + 2
 Hell yea buddy!! We can't wait to shred and have a beer with you!
  • + 1
 Thanks ! Man I can't wait either ! hit me up !
  • + 0
 That's it, that's my boy ! Siiick photos and awsome video ! C'est magique tout ça Smile
  • + 1
 Yeahh Sherbrooke Freeride represent ! Merci Jé Smile
  • + 1
 Fucking awesome. Cant wait to shred with you Simon!
  • + 1
 Thanks bro ! On est over over over due.
  • + 1
 C est vraiment nice !!
  • + 1
 Merci ! Big Grin
  • + 1
 Killing it dude!
  • + 1
 Thanks man ! Ride on !

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