He Bikepacked 20,000 Miles from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego… Barefoot

In 2006 Goat and two friends set out to ride mountain bikes from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America, and after three and a half years of travel, the trio completed the mother of all bikepacking trips.

In 2006 Goat and two friends set out to ride mountain bikes from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America, and after three and a half years of travel, the trio completed the mother of all bikepacking trips. Riding the Spine is just one of many adventures Goat has experienced over the years, including living in a tree house and building and working on countless bikes.

In this episode we ask:

  • How did you upbringing influence your adventure-based lifestyle?
  • How did you get into cycling, and particularly long-distance riding?
  • What was it like living in a treehouse for 4 years during college?
  • How did the idea of Riding the Spine come about? Who was in the group?
  • What was your bike setup at the start, and how did it evolve during the ride?
  • Why did you and the crew get arrested in Arizona?
  • Which sections were your favorites to ride?
  • Have you been on any bike adventures since the trip? Do you have any planned for the future?

Get more stories from Riding the Spine at ridingthespine.com and keep up Goat’s latest adventures at wandergoat.com. Cover photo by Melinda Thompson.

This episode of the Singletracks podcast is sponsored by Explore Brevard.

Professional mountain biker Adam Craig says it’s one of the top three places in the universe he’s ever ridden. Where is this magical mountain biking nirvana? It’s none other than Brevard, North Carolina, home to Pisgah National Forest and DuPont Recreational Forest. The area boasts over 300 miles of peerless singletrack, not to mention hundreds of miles of gravel roads, creating a near endless array of routes, terrains, and challenges to explore. Four vibrant bike shops will get you sorted, whether you need gear, service, or a top notch rental. Top it off with an array of craft breweries, cafes and gathering spots that have earned Brevard the title as one of the best small towns in America in 2021. It all adds up to a premier mountain biking destination you’ll want to experience for yourself. Find out more at ExploreBrevard.com.

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Jeff 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome to the Singletracks podcast. My name is Jeff and today my guest is goat. In 2006 goat and two friends set out to ride mountain bikes from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America. And after three and a half years of travel, the trio completed the mother of all bikepacking trips. Riding the spine is just one of the many adventures goat has experienced over the years, including living in a tree house and building and working on countless bikes. Thanks for joining me goat. So you moved around a good bit and traveled with your family when you’re growing up. So was it like natural for you to continue into that lifestyle into adulthood? Absolutely. You know, both my parents are adventurous. My grandfather was an ambassador. My mother was a big wall climber and my father is a pioneering whitewater rafter, you know, he’s rent on more first dissents than anyone else in the world. All over the world.

Goat 1:06
So yeah, we I grew up rock climbing and rafting and traveling quite a lot. Family, like lived traveling for a couple years in Mexico and around the US climbing the highest peak in every state. So yeah, I mean, my upbringing. Absolutely. kind of pushed me towards the lifestyle I still have, or at least made it made it make a lot of sense. In fact, when I yeah, I mean, I could see it going both ways, though, right. Like, you know, a lot of kids, they want to do the opposite of what their parents do they want to rebel. That’s true. So like, did you have siblings that like chose a different path? They’re like, No, I’m gonna get a nine to five. I’m gonna live in the same place. And, you know, house in the suburbs? Yeah. You know, I have two siblings. And the youngest, my sister has always been a little bit more on that tip back to when she was when we were in all in high school. She was the only person in my family who had a real job. And we like to laugh about that. But yeah, and you know, she has a master’s degree and a family and a works for UCSF. And yeah, my brother is also a little more like, settled down, but both of them are still like world travelers and adventure. nature lovers and whatnot. So didn’t fall that far from the tree, I guess.

Jeff 2:27
Yeah. I mean, did you ever consider that? That path? Like, because I thought I read that you had a master’s degree, too?

Goat 2:34
I do. I do. I have a master’s degree in education. I was a high school history teacher for about a year. Interesting. And

I left college. A great experience there. But yeah, teaching high school public high school is definitely not for me, then. Probably still isn’t for me.

Jeff 2:57
Yeah. I’m sure you’d be everybody’s favorite teacher, though. You got like stories for days?

Goat 3:03
Yeah. You know, my students did enjoy having me as a teacher. And I feel like I was probably pretty good at it. But yeah, it was just the structural problems of the way public school works is was just really hard on me. And I think it’s really hard on students as well. Just not set up. Well. Yeah. But the Yeah, you know, when I left to go on the writing the spine trip after my master’s and whatnot. My dad said to me, finally, it’s about time. You’ve been wasting way too much time in college.

Jeff 3:42
Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, yeah. Such validation. Totally. Well, I mean, so this kind of kind of brings to mind I was reading that you were in the boy scouts. And, you know, Scouting is a pretty like, traditional conformist activity. But from reading about your experience, it sounds like you felt like really empowered to take things in a different direction in your troop. Like, tell us a little bit about that. Like how, as like a young person, how did you feel so empowered to really like make scouting your own thing?

Goat 4:19
Yeah, it’s a funny collision of opportunity or like vacuum of leadership. And then I’d say like all of my work a large part of my self confidence and being able to choose my kind of unusual path comes down to my super supportive parents and upbringing. But yeah, first, first of all, the scouting thing I grew up in a pretty small town up in the Sierra foothills, California, and both Mormon Church and the Congregational Church wanted to have one of the sponsor Boy Scout troops, but there weren’t enough Boys, so they had to share one. And our and our troop actually had two different numbers. So it was technically two different troop. And you’d think that would mean they would be like extra leaders or like adults who are interested in leadership roles. But for whatever reason, there just weren’t. And the Mormon church would like, basically appoint somebody as Scoutmaster. Like, you must do this. And, and they would do it, but they do it for like, as little time as possible. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me. And so, yeah, so yeah, the with the, like, adult leadership fully checked out. Somebody had to, like, make sure things happened. And it turned out to be me.

Jeff 5:50
And how old were you? When were like when you realize this? And when you’re like, Okay, it’s up to me, I’m going to do it. You know,

Goat 5:56
that’s a good question. Um, this is like, Junior High High School. I was senior patrol leader. This is like, you know, the kid who has the most responsibility in the boy scouting world for a long time. Like, normally you do that for like, a year or something. And I did it for like, five. And

Jeff 6:19
there’s no term limits. Apparently.

Goat 6:21
No term limits. You’re not really voted. I don’t. But yeah, so I was just in charge, kind of and so we did a lot less like authoritarian military practice, which is kind of what we scouts lends itself towards, and a lot less worried about.

Jeff 6:41
Yeah, yeah, wearing uniforms. Like, yeah, all that stuff. That was that was my least favorite part. Like when I was in it. I hated wearing a uniform, but But yeah, like there was there was also cool stuff like you got to go camping and, and do adventurous stuff.

Goat 6:56
Exactly. So yeah, we like didn’t really force much uniform wearing and weren’t very concerned about it, and did lots of like, rock climbing and rappelling and backpacking, rafting and all that kind of stuff. And we actually, like modified the uniform to be a little more fun. And our, our official shirts and neckerchiefs were tie dyed. And that kind of cool, we would always get in trouble at camp for wearing sandals. They were like, yeah, like scruffy outlaw Boy Scout troop.

Jeff 7:37
So how did you get into cycling, and particularly long distance cycling,

Goat 7:42
um, it’s kind of tied to the Boy Scouts, I was always into bikes, because it’s a human powered mode of transport. And even, you know, back then in like middle school, or whatever, felt like we, especially in the US, or in from overuse the automobile, especially like, as a personal form of transportation, like just one person driving these huge things around. And, yeah, I was interested in like, less insane modes of transport. So I did a lot of walking. And hitchhiking as a kid, that’s interesting, growing up in a super rural area where most people are, like, getting their Learner’s Permit at 14, because you can, if you live in a rural area, and like driving is like this great freedom, you know, like, oh, I can do my own thing. Now. That’s like, basically all of my peers experience. And for whatever reason, I didn’t feel that way about it, I never felt all that constraint, I would just walk somewhere Haven, if it took me three or four hours.

Jeff 8:47
That’s true, you don’t need a license to walk or to ride a bike.

Goat 8:51
Exactly. And so I would get, so that’s how I started dabbling in bikes, but I didn’t really have a bike that was any good, you know, like, you can ride any bike, you can ride really far on any bike, but there’s like levels of quality and setup and stuff that make the bike a lot better or conducive to that. And so the reason I walked mostly is that I had, like, just a single speed coaster brake, not BMX, but like, kind of cruiser II thing for most of my childhood and it just wasn’t conducive to riding like in the mountains, where I lived, but somewhere in there is a friend of the family gave me like a hand me down real mountain bike. I mean, it was, you know, rigid and whatnot. Because this was, you know, in the, in the early, early 80s, sometimes so, or early 90s, I don’t know, somewhere in there. And I started writing that more and I guess that coincided with my Boy Scout era and decided to do the like, voice like, basically and merit badge because you know how Where scouts work, they want you to do these different activities and prove your competency in them. And you kind of collect those and turns into like rank advancement or whatever. And I am an Eagle Scout, which is like the highest rank you can get and Boy Scouts, so you have to do a bunch of different things. Yeah. Which I think is like the idea of it’s cool. Like, expose yourself to different stuff, you know, cooking, bicycling, orienteering, whatever it is, the way they do it. I don’t love especially from my lens is like an educator. But anyway, that’s besides the point. I just, it’s just a little too rigid. But I guess, Boy Scouts is kind of a rigid organization.

Jeff 10:40
Yeah. Well, it has changed at least, right. We’re on the topic of it. I mean, yeah, they’ve opened it up to more people. And they have, yeah, so it is, it is cool to see that it can evolve.

Goat 10:50
I know, I’m curious. I don’t have kids. And I’m not really around any kids of that age. But I would be curious to talk to folks who are doing that now and see how different that experiences and how much it has hasn’t hasn’t changed. And the final for that is you can choose to do like 100 mile bike ride in one or two days. And I decided to do it in two days. And I made like bicycle panniers for, for myself and several other people to be able to do it with me out of like, scavenge sailcloth. And, and yeah, it turned out to be kind of the route I chose, turned out to be really hilly and kind of an epic, it rains, all that kind of stuff. And I think everyone else who did it was turned off by the experience to some extent. And I was like, Yeah, this is my thing. Though, yeah. And in high school, I did a little bike tour around Hawaii. With friends. It was his idea to go to Hawaii and the route and stuff, but I’m pretty sure that’s the only bike tour he’s ever done. But that was my first time doing it in a place I didn’t know and that like exploratory aspect of it. Riding on black sand beaches, and, you know, meeting interesting people and that, you know, just added a different layer to it for me, like the exploratory in provinces, Tory nature of bike tour, and especially long distance bike touring. I mean, that was only a week trip. But, you know, that’s enough to see what it can be.

Jeff 12:27
Yeah, yeah. So I promise we’re gonna get to talking about writing the spy. But I have one more question. Because I feel like all of this, like sort of just leads up to this trip and like, the how and the why and all of that. But I read that you lived in a tree house for four years. Yeah. And on the one hand, I’m thinking, why not? I mean, that would be awesome. But I’m also wondering, like, how does that even work?

Goat 12:55
Oh, yeah. So I went to school for six years in Santa Cruz. UCSC. And Santa Cruz is like, it’s a beach town. But it’s forest right up to the beach. It’s like a little bit unusual in that. And so there’s this big redwood forest that overlooks the coast. And the school itself is like up the hill, from the town and the ocean, in that redwood forest, and actually chose the school 100% Because of that, I went and like looked at different schools. And it was the only one that I felt like, Hey, I could stand to be here for for five years or whatever. And that’s because of the forest, which is incredible. And the school is kind of like scattered through the meadow and redwood forest. See, like, literally walk trails, between the different buildings to your classes and all. And I you know, they push you, they want you to live in the dorms first year, and I did that. And then kind of like, okay, well, it’s really expensive to live in this town, and I’m paying my own way through school, and I gotta figure out a better line for that because I don’t really want to go into debt. And there’s this there’s a lot of lore in Santa Cruz about people living in in tree houses and there are like tree houses around. Various like fallen apart ones out in the woods, and Jacob and I actually Jacob of writing the spine. We were roommates in college. I have an interesting story in itself. But in any case, we decided to build tree house. And so we did the one we built the tree house immediately got busted. We chose a bad spot. We never even slept in it. And oh man, tore it down and moved into somebody’s backyard for a few months in the in a tent. While we worked on a new Treehouse, and we chose better the second time he’ll tree have lived in it for the next four, four something years.

Jeff 15:06
Wow. Like how big is this thing? Was it that like insulated? Like how elaborate was it?

Goat 15:13
Oh yeah, so all the tree houses I ended up building about five and Santa Cruz were like really simple platforms suspended or supported and redwood trees because you know, redwood tree has been called columnar conifers don’t have branches that you can use for support. So everything has to be either like hanging on cables or, like, have these cantilevered supports attached to the trunk. So they were all like pretty simple flat forms. And with some kind of tent on them, basically, like the one we lived in the most was was a army mess tent, which is like a two story tent or half of its two stories. And, yeah, super weird tent. I don’t remember how I discovered them. But I was like, oh, that’s obviously the right one because we can have like a sleeping loft in that zone. And so but yeah, so it’s a platform with an army tent on it. And then the third Treehouse, I built for myself was a little more elaborate, with two geodesic domes, each on its own octagonal platform, each around a separate fork of a forked redwood tree. And that one was about 120 feet in the air. The other ones were lower. Oh, wow. Yeah, the one that I lived in for the longest was probably only like 20 feet off the ground. And yeah, it did eventually get found, and we had taken down. And that’s why I built another one. And the reason that we chose to, like go so high was to hopefully avoid detection. You know, we are always very careful about our trails and maintaining them to like, be invisible. It turned out that it’s better to take one trail very carefully, and then intentionally keep it maintained. And then to try and take different routes because you end up just if you’re living somewhere you end up just like trampling a whole area of the forest to make it really clear that somebody goes there a lot. But, yeah, unfortunately, the last one got discovered by a fire department helicopter doing a controlled burn in a state park nearby or city park, whatever it is. And they told the UCSC police whose land it was on and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, one of them decided to use his three day weekend to find off the clock as kind of a vendetta against tree houses for some reason. Anyway, they did. And yeah, I was actually out of the country, and another country out of state at that time riding freight trains around. And so I came home to my house and all my belongings been gone, which was kind of a bummer, but made it a little easier to leave for four years.

Jeff 18:06
Yeah, Have you have you lived in a tree house sense? Like what’s, what’s your current living situation?

Goat 18:13
I don’t currently live in tree house. I have built a number of tree houses since actually, that’s kind of what I do for a living or it’s like part of what I do. I am I’m a builder. I you know, if I could only build exotic tree houses, I probably would. But I also only want to work for clients what I like and so I don’t like seek out those jobs. Because it’s a it’s a difficult thing, designing a tree house that doesn’t damage a tree but meets the client’s expectations of grandeur, and fun and so on. And you know, you just kind of have to have the right trees. But yeah, I built five tree houses in Nicaragua for this resort, permaculture resort or something along those lines. Let’s la illite. Anyway, in San Juan del Sur, which is a Pacific surf town. And but it’s all like centered around three houses I built at this point. And I built a really fancy apartment and a tree in California for the same guy who is involved with that project, which unfortunately burned a couple years ago. But yeah, so I I build two houses but haven’t built one for myself yet. I do have a piece of property about what the sweetheart in Santa Cruz or nearby near Santa Cruz with the intention of building there but I’ve run into neighbor inspired red tape issues and haven’t been able to do it.

Jeff 19:51
Fascinating. Okay, so let’s talk about writing the spine. All right. How did the idea for this trip come about and who was part to that group.

Goat 20:00
Yeah. So the idea started kind of after a little tour I talked about in Hawaii in high school, my other best friend at the time, didn’t go on that trip, but was inspired by it. And by getting into mountain biking at the same time, and he read about the Great Divide Trail, which was relatively new at that point, I don’t think it was even like, quite finished, definitely not in the state that it is today. And he was like, man, we really should do that. Like, that sounds super cool. And I was completely agreed, obviously. And so he was like, well, let’s do it. Like once we graduate, because we’re like, seniors in high school at this point. And like, yeah, once we do it, once we graduate, let’s let’s do it. I said, Yeah, let’s do it. And then we didn’t, and we, you know, went to college instead or something. I mean, not that it’s only like two or three months. So he could have done it in between, but he wasn’t actually into it, I think, or as intuitive as he wanted to dream about it. Not actually get it, maybe.

Jeff 21:07
Yeah, I mean, I’d say that’s where most of us are yes, of us see that? And we’re like, yeah, one day, but really, we’re not going to do it.

Goat 21:14
Yeah, or, you know, yeah, on that note, that’s such a great like entry to like, packing, or whatever you want to call it, I highly recommend it to anyone who’s listening. Like, it’s not as hard as you imagined it might be, like, it’s such a good route to check out this kind of travels, because it’s like, really, it’s a super well mapped out, the writing is not technical, and there’s support, you know, like towns and bike shops, and like, you could bail out to the red, like, all the time. So it’s like, as safe as, like, really epic riding in the mountains can be so you should do it. Or just like even a section of it. Like, just don’t don’t think you need like the right bike or prepare a whole bunch or whatever. It’s just like, go check it out. Anyway,

Jeff 22:03
right? Yeah. Well, I was gonna I mean, the, I’m glad you qualify that because yeah, I mean, I think like, for most people, maybe a weekend do like a section or something would be a good place to start. Yeah, exactly.

Goat 22:16
That’s a perfect place to start. Yeah. And you really can do that on that route, you know, chooses own to do a weekend, do a week, if you can pull it off, you know, like, it’s, it’s great for that. Yeah. But anyway, so I went to college instead of writing for, yeah, leaving to do that trip. And while I was in college, I met Jacob, who ended up being a large part of writing spine as well. Definitely my best friend, still very good friends. And we lived in the dorm together, and then like Treehouse together for the next like, five something years, and then we went bicycle riding together for another four years or so. So I told him about this idea about the Great Divide Trail. And he was like, Yeah, awesome, let’s do it. But while we like waited to do it, or whatever reason, well, we’re focusing on school and stuff. That idea got bigger. Because we’re like, well, if they could put together, you know, dirt route through the mountains, across the US, like, why wouldn’t you start, like in Canada? You know, Canada’s got that for sure. All of those mountains. And then like, well, if you’re gonna start Canada, like, go all the way up to Alaska, good excuse to check that part out. And then, you know, so on and so forth, like livestock, but these borders, they’re pretty, they’re artificial, you know, the mountains go the whole way. Right. And, you know, it’s like the longest it’s not quite continuous, but it’s really close to the continuous. That’s certainly the longest mountain chain in the world, if you follow it the way we did. Yeah. And, you know, because, yeah, there’s just these crazy mountains all along the Pacific coast, basically, in any case. So yeah, we were like, Hey, let’s, let’s ride those mountains the whole way. And, yeah, so in this time, my friend was actually into it. Jacob was as inspired about the whole thing as I was. And so, so we actually did it. And kind of just before we left, really close to leaving, like we started out there to all of our friends like, hey, come do this. And none of our close friends were like, Yeah, we should do that. Like you guys are crazy. Like, that sounds really hard. But friends,

Jeff 24:47
and would take a really long time. I mean, that’s a commitment, right? Was the idea always to do it, like start to finish? Yeah. Or did you think maybe we’ll do like you know, a little bit take some time off. And

Goat 25:00
no, it was it was, it was to do it start to finish, we didn’t think it would take quite as long as it did. You know, we did our marginal amount of research about people riding upon Americana, which is, you know, the highway route. That is also like pretty much continuous like Highway One in California, Oregon, whatever it goes all the way. It changes names a few times, but there’s like a coastal highway that you can connect together. And people who would do that do it in about a year and a half at like a reasonable pace. I think the record last time I checked was eight months or something. But wow, that doesn’t sound like fun to me. But teach them around. Like riding riding the highway in many of those places is probably great. But in a lot of places, it kind of sucks too. Because you know, the main road and there’s no shoulder and all of that. It’s not the kind of touring and I like to do. But anyway, that was the number we had in their head like about two years. We didn’t really reckon for how much harder and how much slower mountain two arenas we should have. But you know, we’d never tried it before. So

Jeff 26:08
yeah, you’re like year and a half. We’ll just add six months because we’re off roading. Yeah,

Goat 26:12
exactly. Well, we are gearing up for this trip, there’s there’s a lot of gear to create or figure out trying to decide what the right thing to ride in this kind of like unknown way was like we hadn’t really heard of anybody else you are in touring like this. And, you know, the American cycling association is responsible for the great divide. You know, they were at that point, and they probably still are recommending that you ride that trail on a full suspension bike with a bob trailer, which is such a nightmare of a way to tour in my opinion. Yeah, and yeah, and totally unsuited for that route. Like, there’s absolutely no need for all of that, on that route. Especially in my opinion. But anyway, I saw that and was like, well, we’re definitely not doing that. So what are we going to do? So we had the whole process of, you know, gear planning, figuring out fortunately, I spent a very large percentage of my childhood backpacking, internationally traveling, doing like adventurous things. So it wasn’t like a stretch to figure out what to bring and all that. So mostly trying to figure out the bike gear that was relatively new, kind of like a scrappy, make it work kind of person, build it out of trash. And so it was a departure for me to buy new bike parts and think about the right part for circumstance and because of longevity and everything else, and not just try and find something at the local bike, Co Op, or pull it out of the garbage. Yeah, but I’d say I did pretty well with that our bikes all survive. While the bikes I designed and built up lasted quite well stood up to what we’re up to are the third person who did

Jeff 27:56
yeah. So when you say you built you built the bikes, like these are you built a frame? I mean, did you start you started with tubing and like, built up your own frame for

Goat 28:06
it. So some that I I designed a bike and my friends who was building bikes at the time, his name was traffic cycles, if this was in the like height of the sixth gear boom, when there was also a boom in small hand builders. He was one of those and he was building six year bikes and but I was like, Hey, your bike builder told me this. Like that’s really nothing like that. And he did. And that that frame worked. Well I still have it. We designed them to work with Xtracycle like longtail frame extensions to carry gear. Oh, yeah. So my bike, you know, it’s designed in my mind to work well with one of those and be specific to it. So it like doesn’t have rear brakes, for instance, and such like, because the brakes are located with the wheel on exercycle. And, but then I was the only one of the three of us who wanted to, like build an entirely custom bike for myself. And so the other guys rode other bikes, we eventually settled on surly instigators as our like, base frame with Xtracycle on the back, okay, but a friend Shawn, who was the third person who did the whole trip with us who we didn’t really know before the trip. He was a friend of my brothers more like we knew him, you know, like an acquaintance. He was at parties or whatever. It was more a friend of my brother’s mine or Jacobs, and he was the only person who took our invitation to join. And it was very last minute. And we actually when I arrived in Alaska, I wasn’t totally sure whether he was going to show up or not, mostly because I didn’t know him but also because we like flew at different times and so on. But he was he was reticent to listen to my advice about bike parts and you So his bike was not set up the way I would have done it. And he had significantly more failures of significant parts. So I felt vindicated that I was choosing my designs senseless, right?

Jeff 30:16
Yeah, yeah. Did it evolve? Like did your bikes years and everybody’s kind of evolved? Yeah,

Goat 30:23
um, mine evolved a lot. Obviously, my mind is kind of technical and gear design oriented. And so I call him constantly thinking about that kind of stuff. The other guy’s bikes didn’t evolve as much. But they did. I mean, for instance, Sean’s bike, we just had to build an entirely new bike, because firstly, he broke his fork in the first week of the trip, he broke his frame, about a year in, he broke his seat post, whatever, anyway, just like massive, massive catastrophic failures. And so eventually, he ended up on a big dummy, which is, you know, the surly with the built in Xtracycle, which at that point was pre production, because at that point, I established a relationship with surly. But that was about a year, year and a half into the trip, got, he replaced his really broken cobbled together bike with big dummies that he then let me spec the parts for and build up. And then that trip, that bike lasted the rest of the trip for him with like, no major failures, which is pretty good. And I switched about that same time to a fat bike, which, at that point, weren’t really on the market either. Like that was when, you know, the surly Pugsley was in pre production. Like they were ready to go in production. And they were like, hyping it basically, you know, there was a guy, I think his name was Jacob, who rode one with a special trailer across Australian desert, the Canning Stock route, feel like you can actually do this with this bike, like think of, you know, the things you could do if you had one idea. I heard about that trip, when we were in the Rocky Mountains in the winter, pushing our bikes through the snow a whole lot with we’d switch to downhill tires, because they were the only like, wide knobby tires we can get at the time, like tire science is really designed to have changed a lot since then. So we’re writing these like pretty crappy Chinese semi slicks, most of the time, because they were the only like small tread tires, you could get, like touring and bikepacking tires just didn’t exist. And then we got the winter hit us in Montana, or hit us and really in Canada, but hit us hard in Montana and Wyoming. And suddenly, we were like camping in snow, biking, and snow. And it was like minus 12 minus 15. At the worst, and our bikes just weren’t really equipped for snow. So we tried, we tried these downhill tires. And that really didn’t work. They were just they just clogged up with snow. And we’re heavy when we weren’t on the snow. But while we are going through that adventure, trying to figure out how to bike in the snow. I was reading about this guy riding the sands on Pugsley. And I was like, dude, those are the bikes we need, like fat tires. That’s incredible. So Jacob contacted thoroughly. And they were like, well, yeah, we totally give you one Pugsley. And they’re like, but there’s, there’s three of us. And they’re like, Yeah, we have one to give. And, you know, at that time, certainly, and their parent company and KVP were much smaller. And they were taking a huge leap of faith gamble on the fat bike thing, like because they had to develop so much like proprietary stuff to make that happen. So it was like a huge gamble on their part. So being a little bit in the bike industry now I totally understand why they didn’t have a bike to give me but at that time, we were kind of like stingy, what’s funny,

Jeff 34:01
but yeah, we’re freezing here and I mean, that’s crazy in and of itself, though that you guys were out there and so dedicated maybe stubborn is the word to just be like we’re doing this we’re not stopping like Yeah, I mean, because you had to know too I guess that seasons don’t matter like there’s no way to time that trip so that like you know you’re in the good places at the the nice time of year.

Goat 34:29
That’s it, you take a trip that long it’s impossible. It’s impossible to plan how long things are going any part of it’s going to take but it’s truly impossible to like make such a long trip line up with the seasons. You know, we tried a little bit like we left we left in early summer from Alaska, because we were like this is the long gonna be the longest you know, like amount of time that is nice in the north. But you know, like I say we got snow while you’re still in Canada in September or something like that. And then it was really hard by the time it was actual winter. And we were, of course, in the Rockies at that point. So serious elevation, serious weather. Yeah, I don’t. I don’t recall ever thinking that like, we should stop though. I guess maybe seems a little odd hindsight. But now you’re just that into it or at least I was Jacob too. I think Shan Shan had like, serious misgivings the whole time. Which is hard for me to understand for four years. Yeah. And I mean, no, I don’t want to like, threw shade on him at all, because he did this totally amazing trip with us and finished it together and sweet and super cool. And he also seemed to have like, misgivings about it and different, like, vision of the trip the whole time. So he really suffered and struggled more, I think, just because of the like, mental mismatch with the trip. And then the conditions, you know, like, for whatever reason, he couldn’t, I was better at Snowbiking than the other two guys and Shawn was the least get to know by. And so like one particularly memorable day, we’re actually almost died of frostbite and hypothermia, he, oh, he ended up like three hours behind me, because his break stopped working. Like they froze up, and he didn’t get them unfrozen. And so he was just walking and crashing in the snow in the mountains by himself for the whole day. And I, of course, didn’t realize that stuff. And I was ahead. Maybe it’s because I grew up skiing. And I was like I was, I felt like I was skiing my bike, because I couldn’t, like, control it in the normal fashion. But I was doing that. And I was having a good time. And so I got way ahead of him and Jacob. And so when it was like, around time to stop, I stopped, let them catch up. But I didn’t assume they were like way behind because I’d been having a good day. And so I didn’t take proper precautions with like layers and changing my clothes and stuff. And then it got dark suddenly, as it does in the winter, especially higher latitudes. And all of a sudden, I was too cold, my core temperature dropped, and I never got it back up. I ended up like, say, we built a big bonfire. And I realized while I was sitting at the bonfire that I had hypothermia. And because of that, I could barely talk because that’s one of the symptoms. And I communicate that to those guys. And anyway, my life was saved by water bladders, you know, like CamelBak full of hot water in my sleeping bag. I went to bed with with all of my clothes on and put one of those that they boiled up for me which took forever because it was so cold in the foot of my sleeping bag and that’s what got my like, temperature back up. But I still suffered pretty severe frostbite on my feet. Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed from your perusal of the writing the spine, but I don’t wear shoes, and I wasn’t wearing shoes.

Jeff 38:22
I missed that. I missed that detail. Okay. Yeah. So no shoes,

Goat 38:28
no sandals, barefoot. Like,

Jeff 38:33
barefoot on the pedals. Yeah,

Goat 38:34
I have special pedals did I designed while I was in college, when I got into fixed gear bikes, as everyone did, in that, you know, early 2000s era, it was just done thing. I built a six gear mountain bike, which was not the done thing, I guess. But, you know, on a six year bike, you really need your feet attached to the pedals. I mean, there are of course people who ride like BMX or downhill or flat so you can control their bike that way, but I’ve never had pedal control like that and for braking and skipping and all the things you do on a six year bike, especially if you’re mountain biking it I felt like I really needed my feet clipped in as it were. I didn’t want to wear shoes. So I ended up cutting down some flip flops that I got at the flea market and bolting on to some pedals. And okay, it worked great. And that’s what I ride on all my bikes to this day. So it’s like just the strap portion of

Jeff 39:38
flossing, no sock either. I mean yeah, this is a flip flop there’s no sock,

Goat 39:43
there’s no sock well in this like super cold winter time that I was talking about. I was wearing these like neoprene socks there for like they sell them to go in ski boots or like for rafting. Not like sick ones like you wear for surfing not booties but like a sock. But you know made out of neoprene so rubber. I was wearing the and, like, cut out a co slot so that I could wear them while I was biking. Especially the windshield. Really?

Jeff 40:15
Okay. Yeah, that kind of defeats the purpose. They’re not waterproof for like windproof anymore if you have to cut a kind of slot in them.

Goat 40:24
Oh, well, I sewed the slot back up. They’re not really waterproof. Okay, yeah, I made them I don’t know if you’re familiar with like Japanese Tabi. Like the shoot martial artists shoes, or the Japanese carpenter shoes that has like a split toe, articulated toe or whatever. It’s like that so that the spin the socks are sewed up, like a lobster. Exactly for your feet. But lobster claw. That’s exactly what it was. And, you know, neoprene isn’t waterproof. It’s actually works in the rafting world, at least by getting water in same as a wetsuit, you get like water inside it. And it holds that little layer inside that actually acts as the warming and insulation. Okay, so the like sown toe thing didn’t really change that. And, you know, the wind chill definitely worked for that. The real problem came when I wore the bottom of the mouth from walking on ice and rocks and stuff. And that’s where I got my frostbite was through through those holes in my neoprene socks.

Jeff 41:26
Yeah. Oh my gosh, yeah.

Goat 41:30
So I got yeah, pretty serious thoughts. But you know, they have a rating system kind of like burns do. And second degree frostbite, which is what I had, fortunately, is you can, you can grow the skin back. It isn’t like permanent, lat flesh loss and gangrene, which is what their degree Frostbite is. So I did get that skin flesh back on my feet. But in the meantime, Frostbite is to blood literally freezing. And you know, we’re mostly water. As you know, when water freezes, it expands. So what happens is, your blood freezes, it expands, turns into and bursts all of your blood vessels and capillaries and cells, you know, your cells are mostly water. And then those little ice chunks are still trying to be circulated by your body trying to pump blood. So they’re less like billions of little knives, cruising around shredding everything that’s left. So it’s yeah, pretty excruciating, at least once it unfreezes. And then you end up with these kind of like blisters, huge, huge blisters of shredded dead flesh. And I had those

Jeff 42:54
all over my bottom of my feet painting a really,

Goat 42:57
really, really pleasant I recommend highly. And yeah, so but we’re in the middle of nowhere, I, you know, just barely survived through hypothermia. And we had to back out. The other guys obviously had a rough cold night, too. I mean, it was minus 15 or snow camping. And, yeah, we’re like, we need to get out. I mean, we need to get out. There’s no two ways about it. But we are still pretty far from a road and no one knew we were there and blah, blah, blah. So I had to like, but I couldn’t even get my feet, like into my pedals. And if I had, you know, I couldn’t have pedaled on these giant blister things. So I had to like, drain them all, which was pretty excruciating, in and of itself. And then I had to ride on that like Connor Ross. But we didn’t make it out. Obviously, my

Jeff 43:51
goodness on a loaded bike too. I mean, this isn’t like you just hop on your like cruiser bike. Oh, yeah, their bikes are really heavy terrain and heavy bike and, yeah,

Goat 44:02
yeah, we’re carrying like really a lot of gear. Because, you know, we had to have four season gear and camping gear was better than than it had been, you know, for the previous generation of Bike Adventures in the 70s. But nothing like it is now and so we’re carrying my bike weighed somewhere around 120 pounds, sometimes a little more, depending on how much water we’re trying to carry. So yeah, really heavy bike and in the snow on a bike that really isn’t dialed for snow. Yeah, some pretty pretty rough riding. Yeah, but we made we made it out and we you know, took a little little rest time and some random town, Colorado, somewhere in there. And I bought from like winter cycling boots from through a bike shop like they didn’t carry them maybe and I had to tuck them in a special order in them for me something I don’t remember but it’s I was on like Lake winter cycling boots for the next month or so to let my feet recover. Because I had to heal all that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Jeff 45:15
My goodness. So another thing that I remember hearing about at the time was that you guys got into trouble for riding bikes through the Grand Canyon. Is that right? Like what? What went down with that?

Goat 45:30
Oh, yeah, that is right. Yeah. So that came almost immediately next in the story really after me serious. Because, well, we got bumped off the Great Divide Trail. Because of winter, we kind of called being able to ride the rest of the great divide in the winter after that section, because it only got steeper and snowy here, we are just getting into Colorado, which is, of course, the highest elevation, most technical part of that whole trail. So we rode Kokopelli Trail, which is from like Grand Junction, Colorado to mod Utah, something like that. Which is super cool trail. Really, it was, it was the hardest mountain biking we’ve done on the trip that thus far. So that was a little bit eye opening. Because, you know, when the snows difficult, and all the Great Divide Trail isn’t technical mountain biking, like 90 95% of it is non technical mountain biking, and the sections that are short, and you can just walk them if you want to. Yeah, the Kokopelli Trail is like, you know, full on technical Desert Mountain biking the whole time, like nonstop. And most people who write it don’t really carry gear, even today, there’s like these hut systems or people that will like shuttle gear for you. So that, you know, you carry some like emergency gear and some water or whatever, but that you’re not carrying four season gear. Anyway, yeah, I did that trail, which, again, super cool, highly recommended, and ended up in Arizona and decided to ride the Arizona Trail, which was like pretty much brand new at that point. And it goes north south Arizona, and therefore crosses the Grand Canyon, because the Grand Canyon runs east west traffic Arizona.

Jeff 47:36
And yeah, because it’s there. Yeah.

Goat 47:40
And there’s only one spot like that. You can cross the Grand Canyon on a trail without like, swimming or a boat or something. And that’s, that’s right, in the Grand Canyon Park and Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Trail, there’s a bridge across the river. And, you know, if you’ve ever gone hiking in the Grand Canyon, like that’s where you went, if you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, you were at the South Rim, most likely. And that’s where that trail starts. And so it’s like the most visited and used part of the Grand Canyon. And in my opinion, that’s why you’re not allowed to bike on the trail. And it’s pretty reasonable. Like if you tried to bike on that trail, in the middle of summer, when there’s like, literally 1000s of tourists on the trail a day and mule trains, it would be a total disaster. Yeah, the trails really, really narrow, really steep. And, yeah, definitely not like imba approved or whatever. In any case. We were there in the winter, and we had to ride some like 30 Miles snow on a closed road to get to the trail at all. On the North Rim. That’s the like less visited site and they just kind of close it in the winter. At least they did back then it’s higher to more snow. And then yeah, we biked that trail road in and then you know, we knew we weren’t supposed to like there. So when we got to the bottom or phantom ranches where there are like, year round Rangers we like packed our bikes up. Because you know people who are riding there isn’t a trail to this day are supposed to carry their carry their bikes through, which is pretty wild, in my opinion that they like don’t even want your wheels to touch the ground.

Jeff 49:38
Right? I mean, don’t you have to like disassemble your that you can’t just, you know, throw the bike over your shoulder. You have to take the wheels off. Well,

Goat 49:47
you could I think technically if you wanted to throw it over your shoulder and hike for literally two days on really steep terrain. I don’t think anyone would stop you. But the practicality of it is that if you’re going to carry your bike They’re okay. You have to put it on your back somehow. You need some kind of packet. We actually, I mean, we knew that we knew there was no way we were going to be able to ride out of the Grand Canyon, especially because we wrote in on the gentler Trail and the Bright Angel Trail, which is the one on the South Rim is just crazy steep. Like there’s absolutely no way you could ride a bike up in like, just no matter what. It’s too steep and too loose shirt t shirt, switchbacks or too sharp like I mean, maybe Danny MacAskill on an E bike could ride it or something. But like, you know, it’s just not really rideable. So we knew we were gonna have to carry your bikes out. And we also remember our bikes are long tails. And we’re carrying a ton of gear. So we knew that we had to, like have some way to get them on our backs or whatever. And so we actually bought frame like old school backpacking backpacks at a thrift store in Arizona, and then took the bag part off of those, so we just had the frames. And so we were carrying those, like strapped to the top of our long tail decks, so that we could then strap our frame and gear to those and have a like, relatively comfortable and supported way to carry our gear out. So when we got to the bottom, and Phantom Ranch, we did that we we stashed our are here, just behind a rock somewhere. Because we were also like, there’s no way we’re going to be able to hike out. Right now, we don’t have permits to camp down here. So we need to leave today. There’s no way we’re gonna be able to hike out with 120 pound packs, after like biking in this super difficult trail in the winter. hike up the super difficult trail that people like literally die on every year because they’re up for it. That’s mostly from heat exhaustion, heart attacks and stuff. Obviously, we are in really good shape. But anyway, we stashed our gear, we strapped our bikes to these to our backpack frames. And we hiked out, we made it a little after dark to the south rim. And we’re like, Okay, well, now what do we do all our gears at the bottom? So we stayed in, and unfortunately, expensive hotel because we didn’t really have any other options. There. You know, fortunately, because it was the winter the hotel had going on, because it had been the summer that’s booked out forever. So yeah, we spent the night in hotel and hiked back down with just our empty backpack frames in the morning, which I think must have been a pretty funny sight for the few people that were also out hiking, because we were literally like running down that trail with just the backpack frames, and water bottles. Everyone else was like it was a pretty serious endeavor, what they were up to. So I think we must have been pretty perplexing. Anyway, we got to the bottom there, strap the rest of her gear on her backpack frames hiked out and went our merry way. We were like, well, that’s cool. You know, we didn’t see that one ranger in the bottom. But we were carrying our bikes by the end, and they didn’t seem too interested or concerned and great. Right. And we read the Grand Canyon. That was super cool. And about a month and a half later, we were in Tucson, right now even further south, we were like almost at the border, we went to the 24 hours of old Pueblo like race. And mostly because we met folks in Arizona on the way down, who were going to be there were like, Hey, you should come hang out, maybe even race with us or whatever. We were like, Okay, that sounds like fun. So we’re at this 24 hour race, and we were cruising around, talking to people about being on their teams, or whatever, you know, because there’s lots of different categories. And the one that most people race in is sort of an unlimited number of people on the team, but they like you take turns. And so we were looking for one of those that, you know, wasn’t like a seriously competitive team that were willing to let us random on there. And while we were doing that, this young couple approaches us with like cameras and like press badges or whatever. And they’re like, Hey, we’re, you know, freelance reporters. We’re doing like Logan for story. You know, we’re checking out this bike race thing. 24 hour race, and it’s kind of weird. You guys look interesting. Like we’ve never seen bikes like that before. What are you up to? Can we like do an interview or whatever? And who Sean had the right instinct. He said No, which surprised me because usually he was more of the more outgoing he like, likes the publicity. But Jacob and I were like, Yeah, sure, whatever. You know, we always did interviews. We had tons of interviews with some random small town places, you know, like part of being on the road like that is he just talked to everybody, just the deal.

So they said, we said yeah, sure, whatever. And they group together, took a photograph, and then pulled out their homeland security badges and started reading us or right and oh my god. Turns out that the newly developed Homeland Security Agency had spent a month and a half and seems to be like a lot of wasted resources on hacking our email and tracking us to punish us for egregious crime of bicycling in the Grand Canyon. And, yeah, so they apprehended us, just like about a week’s ride from Mexico. And so, you know, if we hadn’t gone to this bike race, we never would have gotten in trouble. But yeah, yeah, the Park Service, it turns out was kind of on a kick of processing people for hosting illegal activities on fledgling social media. So right at the same time, Dean Potter, who is a famous free soloist, BASE jumper, rock climber, rock star, got busted for posting on MySpace, which was the big social media outlet at the time, that he free soloed, the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, which you’re not allowed to climb on. And there were a couple other like reasonably high profile, but not quite as high profile as Dean Potter and us people who are busted in the same way for writing on the internet about doing something illegal in the national parks. So anyway, that we actually hadn’t said that we wrote, but we did post like pictures of camping. Like in the middle of the trail in the snow in the Grand Canyon, and our bikes, of course. So yes, somebody, somebody in the Park Service, internet monitoring, division, whatever they are, and seen that and decided to go after us and enlisted Homeland Security. So they Yeah, seems super wild to me. But in any case, we went back to Flagstaff, went to court, once jail, paid some really big fines, pled no contest to a bunch of federal misdemeanors. Such crimes as camping in a non designated area trail use without a permit, you know, serious stuff like that. And, and, but yeah, they’re all federal misdemeanors that are still on record or whatever. Anyway. Yeah. So we got, and that ignited kind of a firestorm of controversy. Like we were pretty high profile for the time, like our blog was getting at the peak, something like a million unique visitors a day. Now, of course, oh, my gosh, that could well have been I mean, that was primitive metrics. So that’s like, probably counting clicks or something. But we were like, well known. And, you know, basically, anyone who had interest in the fledgling world of like, touring bike packing, like, you know about us and a ton of people were following our blogs, and

Jeff 57:55
you were influencers. I mean, that’s a term that we it’s very common today. But yeah, back then we were still that was kind of like a new thing.

Goat 58:03
Absolutely. What Yeah, we’re like, bleeding edge internet influencers, back when people still use blogs, and it wasn’t a thing. Yes. So yeah, we were certainly that. And at that point, we because of that, companies were like, willing to give us stuff like surly really helped us out a lot. In a really cool No Strings Attached way, because I don’t know if it’s still their MO but we really appreciated it because they didn’t tell us to like, you know, like, surly or puts early. Anything, there is no zero stipulations just like oh, you need gear. Here you go. But, uh, yeah, so anyway, we are highprofile. And so we kind of like seriously divided the bike community, especially in that part of the world, where there’s a lot of like bike trail advocacy going on, because there’s a lot of wilderness areas where you’re not allowed to bike and people are like, you should be able to bike here and so trying to be like models of bike stewardship and all which is something I totally support and is reasonable, but So those folks were like, shame on you, you know, for illegal trail riding, basically. And some of those folks were like, you guys got off too easy with your like insane fines and jail time. Like it should have been worse. Anyway. Wow. Like, less vocal. I don’t know whether it was a majority or minority of people who are like this is ridiculous, you know, like shirt gives them a fine but like, you’re this is over the top like they rode their bikes on a bike on a trail that gets like used by 1000s of people a day in the summer.

Jeff 59:45
I mean, it’s clear they were trying to make an example. Absolutely. Yeah, screw clear. They’re they’re trying to make an example of you guys. And did you? I mean, did you end up I feel like I remember you. You guys ended up doing some like PSA. II type stuff like writing about like, oh, yeah, we were Yeah, we were required to do why you shouldn’t do that. And,

Goat 1:00:07
yeah, it was really funny, actually. So the federal court, which means there’s no jury, and just a judge, and the judge seemed more out to get us on the prosecuting attorney did, which was a very odd vibe. But he added, we worked out a plea bargain was the prosecuting attorney, because it was clear that we had no case, unless we wanted to divide and conquer and throw each other under the bus because Shawn was the only person who there was actual evidence of doing these actions, like as posted on our website. But like, obviously, we weren’t going to do that. Like, and we, you know, could have had separate lawyers. And we were like, no, like, we did this, whatever. We’re accused of whatever we actually did together. We don’t need multiple lawyers, we’re not going to like, try and get each other in trouble, like, obviously not that just totally,

Jeff 1:01:02
yeah, that would cost more to you got to pay three times the lawyers.

Goat 1:01:06
Oh, yeah, it would have been expensive, but also just like, morally repugnant. So in any case, we didn’t do that. But uh, so there wasn’t much that our lawyer who was a mountain biker who was defending us pro bono, which is very kind of him, we actually met him at the bike race in the aftermath has been served the stuff and so we worked out a plea bargain, because it was clear that that was our only choice. And the only thing we were like, really stipulated about our plea bargain was that our probation would allow us to leave the country, because probation, federal probation normally does not. And we’re like, there’s absolutely no way we’re gonna agree to any agreement that doesn’t let us leave the country, because we’re gonna leave the country in about a week for a long time.

Jeff 1:01:55
Man, you guys are so dedicated to this. That’s amazing.

Goat 1:01:59
So yeah, they, whatever we worked out, dropped a couple of the charges, pled to these various crimes, as I mentioned, earlier, font, Big fines, little jail time, blah, blah. But the while we’re like agreeing to that in court, the judge was like, wait, you have to add this. And he added a couple of stipulations, because we were influencers, but because it was also new. He didn’t really know how to do it. And he’s obviously not very tech savvy. And basically, they they gave sort of contradictory requirements, which was we weren’t allowed to talk about our alleged crimes in the Grand Canyon for a period of five years. But we are required to post about the consequences of our actions in the Grand Canyon.

Jeff 1:02:51
We did a thing, and we got punished for it. But yes, that’s all we can say.

Goat 1:02:57
Right. And we are also required to post a picture of us in front of the courthouse. Okay, so we did,

Jeff 1:03:04
did you have to have handcuffs on and like those prison stripes and stuff? Or we

Goat 1:03:09
didn’t? What does this funny story about that too, but we posted this picture, we took a picture, but we posted like I say they weren’t very tech savvy. We posted like the tiniest pixelated thumbnail as a fu. Like, there’s no way you can tell what this picture is at all. But, you know, it was it was the picture that required us and then, you know, we wrote a fairly sarcastic thing about us getting in trouble, but and then we turned ourselves in to serve our small amount of jail time. We like went out to eat with our lawyer and we’re like, hey, thanks. And then he couldn’t really do anything. He was very nice of you. And then we turned ourselves in for this like ridiculous crime right? And they immediately put us in manacle Lake shackle shackles and shackles waist shackle OSH and and escorted us to jail federal marshals with machine guns and in manacle like we just turned ourselves in for illegal basically like, what do you think we’re gonna do? You know, like, like you, like apprehended us after some crazy manhunt. You know, it’s like, we just checked ourselves in

Jeff 1:04:20
Yeah. been showing up to court every day. Yeah, we’re, we’re right here.

Goat 1:04:24
Yeah. So we went to jail and the, you know, federal prison, folks who worked there were like, they were mad that we are there like, this is such a waste of our time, but they were making light of it. And when they were booking us they were like, Wait, you guys bicycle in the Grand Canyon. Put them on suicide watch. And stuff like that. But anyway, yeah, we did our our short bit of jail time, mostly with folks from nearby Navajo. reservation because that, of course, is under federal authority. So even though like smallest infraction on the reservation means you wind up in the federal 10. So Oh, wow, that’s an interesting cultural thing anyway. But yeah, and we got out and didn’t really have the money to pay the fines that we were obligated to pay. But we’d met this guy at that same bike race, who lived in Flagstaff, which is where the courthouse and jail and all were, who was a contractor, and he paid our fine. And then we worked them off doing it all as laborers for him. Just very kind of him. Oh, wow, we actually lifted his house. Well, we are working for him. And then we stayed there for a little while, while I stayed and worked for him, because I’m actually builder. And the other guys went other places. Sean went and drove buses in the Grand Canyon of all places, which if

Jeff 1:05:57
you’re allowed to drive buses, but not bicycles, well, technically,

Goat 1:06:00
he was not because one of the stipulations of our probation was to not enter any national parks or lands for five years. But obviously, they weren’t checking the bus driver. He was driving into the Grand Canyon every day, while I was doing, you know, like, contractor menial labor, running wires at the top of cliffs and stuff. In any case, we did that for a couple of months to build our savings and then started biking again.

Jeff 1:06:32
Wow, that’s incredible. So yeah, so we talked a lot about a couple of, I don’t know, I don’t know if you would call them low lights. But they’re they’re certainly kind of negative experiences. Like, what what was your favorite part of the trip? Like what what stood out as like a highlight? Sure.

Goat 1:06:48
Well, you know, part of the adventure, touring adventure of any kind is that joking motto is that adventure happens when things go go wrong. If things aren’t going if things are going right, and not really adventure, kind of. It’s a different thing. It’s fun, it’s white, really. And so it’s of course easier to talk about the things that went wrong. Those are the exciting, interesting stories. And as you might guess, I have lots more. But you know, that’s not why you do the trip. That’s not to suffer and tell stories later, though. Some people see it that way. And I think maybe Shawn did a little bit, at least when he got into the trip, he wanted to have a good story to tell. And he didn’t maybe want to suffer quite as much as the good story required. But for me, for me, the suffering and the setbacks were always like, part and parcel like part of the fun part of what I was signing up for. And so these low lights as he put it weren’t weren’t. I mean, yeah, they were, they’re what they were. But the trip itself, of course, isn’t about those things. And it’s a different type of exploration, you know, seeing places you’ve never seen before, in a way that potentially no one’s ever seen it before. You know, we were writing, we’re following the mountains, but roads don’t follow the mountain, even trails don’t follow the mountain. So we were trying to link these like totally unmarked, usually, small trails together. And so back and forth across the mountains, heading vaguely south. And so we’re doing a lot of like, really, I mean, being lost was the truth of the matter. But if you don’t have somewhere you’re trying to go, you can’t really be lost, we certainly didn’t know where we were. And the trails and roads we were on, weren’t generally on any maps of any sort. And people didn’t generally know where they went, even the people who lived there or be asked them beyond, you know, the next little village or whatever, because their worldview didn’t like accommodate what we were up to. So we did a lot of dead reckoning and roshambo, rock, paper, scissors at intersections, we would root find,

and just see what happens. And because of that, we ended up in a lot of like, very interesting and weird places, met tons of like little slices of rural, Latin American life that like you just can’t see any other way that being way out in the middle of nowhere. And same goes for you know, the beauty of nature. Incredible things like, you know, when we were in Canada, for instance, we switched to riding at night for a while because we could then like watch the Northern Lights while we were biking. Even though we didn’t have bike lights that were up to like actually night biking. And the only way you could tell that the Northern Lights were happening is like these Weird reflections on someone else’s helmet that we wanted to figure that out, because of course, they’re silent, and you have to look up. And while you’re biking, especially like on a rough road or whatever, you’re not generally looking up, but when we would notice that they were happening, we’d stop and then we’d lay down the middle of the road and walk through the northern lights for a while. Oh, cool. And, you know, experiences like that or being in, in Alaska, for instance, camping, you know, with like, no one for hundreds, maybe 1000s of miles in all directions, except us. And, you know, having a moose almost step on our tent in the morning, or surprising, grizzly bear like riding single track and having them like runaway down the single track in front of us, you know, and the trail we were on was only there because it was a grizzly bear trail. That’s the only reason we could fit down it with our bikes. You know, that kind of thing. Frozen waterfalls in Utah, Arizona desert, they’re like the desert in the winter is so especially that part of the world, it’s like a pretty unique desert. It’s just so stunning in the winter, it’s actually even harder to ride in some ways than it is in the in the summer or shoulder seasons. Because, like the trail where we’re where we were riding, were like washers and riverbeds and stuff. Because there weren’t trails Exactly. And the routes we were following were like, off road, four wheel drive, type trails. And those guys usually follow natural features because that’s where you can you know, elsewhere, the obstacles are just too great. So we’re following some of those same routes for the same reason. Because they are washers and riverbeds when there is precipitation. And it’s that cold because it’s that cold. It’s all frozen. So we’re like riding on ice for days at a time. Of course, without having the benefit of of studs or anything. And having heavy bikes that are kind of hard to steer like you have to steer them with your body a lot more than you do. A shorter Blake or unloaded bike, like kind of more like riding a chopper I guess, a lot of body English required. So yeah, pretty, pretty tricky technical writing, but you’re also like riding a river of ice through this barren inhospitable desert with like ice waterfalls around you. And as things started to warm up, you know, the desert comes alive with flowers for these like brief instants. And it’s such a magical thing. Or, you know, like, just just the experience of falling a road, say, Everyone tells you you shouldn’t go on or that it doesn’t go anywhere. But you’ve looked at a map. And then like, yeah, that really doesn’t go anywhere. It appears to dead dead ends and a blank spot on the map. But there’s another trail not too far away, that appears to go that goes to a town. And so and you know, if you could find a topo map, which we would if we could usually had to go to the main city seat of government in the country and go to the military to try and get them out. But they didn’t always want to give you one. But that was like the only source for a good map. So usually, we didn’t have one because that’s like halfway through a country or whatever. But we did have one we would look at the topo lines and be like well there doesn’t appear to be a huge cliffs there. So that we can get through. And so we just read right up. We take that road take that fork where you know everyone say no I possible Oh, it’s something we heard a whole lot. There’s there’s no way through. And yeah, turns out there was where there’s a will there’s a way or something. And yeah, a little rock climbing with your bike on your back or you did in Central America. We’re there in the rainy season, we spent a lot of time crossing active landslides with our bikes, which was pretty nerve wracking, but also pretty

cool you know, rivers of Barton rock and trying to figure out your way around it, where we made it, you know, three or four miles and a whole day because we had to like separate our bikes and our gear. So many times, hike back and forth the various lands flat, fresh or active landslides. First with our bike and then with our gear, and then leapfrog again, because both their bike standard gear was so heavy and the ground was a treacherous but you know, you end up after doing that in this little village and you end up living like we spent the night after one of those particularly memorable ones in like this brand new rammed earth house built The traditional way where you rammed earth with a big ass log, and it takes the whole village to build your house that wasn’t quite finished yet. Or it was it was finished but not occupied yet had been built for, I guess the tradition there was you build a house and somebody gets married, and they move into it. And so they were, we were in somebody’s house before they lived in it. But, you know, we stayed there, and everybody came to visit, you know, rather, they would always bring, you know, what ever their surplus was, usually it was a little bit of milk and some eggs. That’s something that people could like, spare generally, and would bring us as a gift. And welcome here, you know, all the times that he got invited into people’s homes, where like, people whose poverty is hard for most for American anyway, to even comprehend, just like so happily sharing what they did have, without, without any consideration, just like so happy to welcome us into their reality and interact in whatever way we could, oftentimes without sharing that much language, because I speak pretty fluent Spanish at this point. And I spoke the best Spanish of the group before we started. But it wasn’t great. And, but a lot of these people we are interacting with, didn’t really speak Spanish either, because we were so far out of the city educated populated zones, that people spoke their own Mayan indigenous dialect, before they spoke Spanish and Spanish was always like, you know, second language, a lingua franca, the language you spoke when you went into town to sell your wares, so not really any other time. And so in a way, that’s good, because it’s actually easier to speak in a shared second language than it is to speak a second language to someone who’s it’s the first language because you both understand what it’s like to not really know how to say something, to grope for words to like, speak in this kind of like, babyish way. And so you’re much more forgiving, used to like piecing things together, and then also you speak slower. So in a way, it’s easier to communicate, but it’s also like, quite frustrating. And you add the, like, extreme cultural difference of, you know, like, I say, people who barely been outside of this little village, you know, they’ve gone to the next town, which seems, which is big to them, and very small, in the grand scheme of things. And that’s it. That’s the world they have experienced, you know, and so even trying to explain what we were up to, just like, people wouldn’t couldn’t comprehend it, because they didn’t have a picture of how big the world is, or where Chile is, or anything like that, you know, but if you told them You rode a bicycle from the nearest big town that they had heard of, that was mind blowing, you know? Because who would do that? And how and why. Right, but, but if you tell them what we’re actually up to it, just like blank looks, so Oh, yeah, interesting, cultural experience, like trying to communicate about what we were up to, and like, what our reality in the States was, like, you know, he spent a lot of time being cultural ambassadors of sort, like trying to correct misconceptions, but also give a give a window into that there’s a lot of different types of people in the US. And so what you see on TV isn’t like actually normal, maybe and that, you know, for instance, I’m from California, but I’m not blonde, and I’m not a surfer. You know, things like that people are just

Jeff 1:18:35
Yeah. Yeah. So cool. Yeah. So many great experiences. And yeah, I mean, it’s hard. It’s hard for anybody, I’m sure to imagine all the things that you and Jacob and Shawn experienced and saw and, and learned. Do you have other like bikepacking or cycling adventures in mind for the future? Or is that something that you kind of want to leave in the past? Because I mean, because you experienced so much like what else is there?

Goat 1:19:04
Well, I mean, it’s hard. It’s a trip to be like hard to talk or something or even to match you know, like, it’s pretty epic and especially, you know, as far as I know, we’re the first people to do it. We’re probably still the only people to have done exactly what we’ve done. Certainly the route but I mean, even the like intention of the route which is riding off road, primarily following the mountains from the last tip top of Alaska Tierra del Fuego. So you know, I’m not like and I’m obviously not 20 anymore, so I’m like, my sights aren’t set back Korean Lee but you know, but travel in general bike, touring and specific is still absolutely my passion, my love and definitely still doing it. I am not a very like, future looking person. I don’t have like big Plans per se, it’s kind of more like, when something lines up, like, Oh, this is the right thing. Here we go. Uh, for instance, it’s been some years now, but I got the opportunity to go to India to lead a to guide a rafting trip. But my compensation was just was plane tickets and being able to do the trip. And so I got a plane ticket to India brought brought my bike, and that’s about it and made bikepacking gear in Ladakh in northern India, like, cut up, wrapped in dry bags and sewed them into frame bags and whatnot. And yeah, made a stove, oh, blah, all the gear and then bicycle across the foot of the Himalaya for about a year.

Rode from West west east through the Himalaya, or at least the foothills of Himalayas

you know, yeah. Trails and walking trails and whatnot. Yeah, all by myself. And we’re yet dead reckoning route finding, often, often without a map, and certainly without language. Because, well, Spanish doesn’t serve at all, in that part of the world and the lingua franca, there is Hindi, but people don’t really speak it if they can avoid it. And so I never really learned it. Because everywhere every thing I heard was a different language. You know, there’s 600 official languages in India. And more than that, in actuality. Wow. So, you know, everybody in Northern India speaks some Hindi, but that’s only when they’re, you know, talking to a government official or watching, like, national news. And the rest of the time they use their own language. And since I was, you know, like, very rural places and changing zones a lot, I just never learned, much, you know, by food. But yeah, couldn’t definitely couldn’t ask for directions. Really. I mean, I had some phrases that I could ask, but people wouldn’t necessarily. I mean, I wouldn’t be able to interpret the answer necessarily, or, and or explain to someone that I actually meant what I was asking, Is that something that we ran into a lot in writing the spine as well, like, people just couldn’t comprehend what we’re up to. So if we asked for the road, you know, does this road go to this place? People would say, well, sort of but the roads super bad, why would you go that way, the road you want to take is this one, the main road because it’s other direction. And we would have to try to explain that we wanted to ride the really bad road to nowhere and people just wouldn’t get it. And so what we figured out there was that we needed to do was to ask for directions to the like, really small, middle of nowhere places that actually were on those roads. And so we would find a mount. And basically write a list of towns that were in the like, blank spaces where we are trying to go, just like a list of names of like little distancia, little ranches, whatever, any name, we saw on the map, do it in a blank spot, I would just have a list of them, like written on the scrap paper, and we get to a road that, you know, we’re trying to take into that zone, because it was always hard to find our way out of more populated areas. Once we got into the middle of nowhere, it was easy enough to like, keep going, like bopping along on these, like, non trails or whatever, because that’s all that was there. But when you’re leaving town, it’s hard to find them. So anyway, we had find what we thought it was and then be like, hey, does this road go to Santa Maria or whatever? And people would look at us, like, why would you go there? And like, Well, nevermind that. That’s where we want to go? And is this the road? And they’d say, kind of shake their head and say Yeah, but it’s really bad. And no, I possible, and we would smile and thanks, ride off and, you know, ride for a little ways. And then we’d find ourselves at an intersection with no one to ask and roshambo and go from there. But, you know, asking those kinds of questions in a language that you don’t really speak is basically meaningless. So I spent a lot of time in India and Nepal, just like completely blind. You know, headed Begley east, kind of in the mountains, just seeing what happens.

Jeff 1:24:47
Yeah. Sounds like you enjoy that. I mean, and also, I mean, are you doing you’re doing this for yourself, right. I mean, or is some of this to share with others like is is the idea that you’re going to do this And then you’re gonna

Goat 1:25:01
share. Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely for myself. But you know, the writing the spine experience and the reception we had from our blog, and how fun it is to look at for me even now, because Jacob did an incredible job. Like, I recommend people out there in internet land have a look like, he wrote really good stories about our trip and took excellent photos, like he worked hard to make our blog good. And I don’t know anyone who’s, I mean, we’re all a little more aware of what that takes now, because everybody’s doing that to some extent, on their, like Instagram, or whatever they do. But it’s a ton of work, to present your experience and present your experience well, and we, you know, went out of her way to like, read adventure, writing books, to try to understand what made good ones good and bad ones bad, and most of them are bad, because it’s really hard to convey the essence of any kind of extreme trip, you know, because there’s so much like, monotony day to day similarity, you know, you can’t be like, well, I’d like, like, truly far today and camped again. And then we saw something beautiful, you know, like, nobody wants to hear that. It’s like, it’s meaningless. Yeah. And so you have to figure out what the essence of a like, section of time is, and group a story around that. So we would try and write Jacob mostly would write these short stories, basically, and then I would edit them, and, you know, polish them into really a short story more than like a journal, because journal is an interesting, but a short story definitely can be. And so we would, you know, only post like, once a month, or twice a month or something, once we like, distill the section into something interesting or meaningful to us, and then we try and share that. But anyway, because of that, all of the journal entries, kind of like stand alone is like an interesting story in and of themselves. And the photos, you know, again, we’re doing something that like, no one else has ever done, definitely at that point, and still not a lot of people are doing. And so that in and of itself is pretty interesting. So yeah, that realizing how cool a website like that, or a platform like that can be when you’re doing something that’s pretty fringe, like what I like to do, inspires me to try and do that myself. So for instance, for this India trip, I, I made my own blog for that and took a camera for the first time in my life and forced myself to learn to take pictures, tried to take pictures and write about it, inspired in a similar way to Jacob because I’m like, this is cool, and I do want to share it with the world. But you know, the primary objective is definitely for myself. And as you say, I obviously enjoy the extreme and difficult and unknown. You know, there’s, for instance, on that India trip, there was a section where I was on a trail, I knew what the trail was, it was like, you know, somewhere that serious Mountaineers and backpacker types go, but I crossed his glacier out mountain pass on my bike actually met like this German backpacker up there, I think I kind of like blew his mind a little bit. Because I was, you know, carrying my bike across the glacier at that point. Yeah. He felt like he was doing something really extreme, which he was. It’s like super rugged place to be mountaineering. But he was like, had his GPS on. And it was like following the route map across this glacier with like, extreme precision. And I wasn’t even sure like which glacier I was on. And I was like, making my own route. And I like, I saw this person, I was like, Cool, I’m gonna go talk to him and make sure I’m on par on law, which is, you know, the name of his past and I was trying to be on. So I like, left my gear and kind of like, jogged half a mile across this glacier to talk to this guy. And he was like, he’s like, What are you doing over there? There’s crevasses, you know, I’m like, the roots, the roots over here. And I was like, oh, yeah, I have to cross the crevasse a few times, to get out probably will again, and he was just like, what? Anyway, but he confirmed that that was, that was the glacier that I meant to be on. And we went our separate ways. Out of super gnarly downhill, like basically a full day of downhill to get to a river bottom after that. And then the trail went straight up the other side of the canyon, and I decided to follow the river

without knowing anything about the river, and of course, not too far down. I got to Cliff. And it’s a pretty interesting, you know, position to be in like, Hey, okay, I could turn around right now. It’s not that far. There’s a trail I know the trail exists. The trail looks hellish for a bike, it doesn’t look fun. Following this river does look fun and interesting. But here’s the cliff. And like, if I, if I go down this cliff, I might be able to get back up, but I don’t know and maybe not. So I’m committed right? And so of course, what did I do? I think My bike off the cliff and jumped in after it because there was a pool to jump into. And my bike was floating there. And then you know, there was some more rideable sections, some more pushable sections, and then I got to a bigger cliff. But at that point, I’m like, Well, I maybe could get back up the other one. I definitely can’t get up this one. But here we go. And you know, so I did that a few times. And I made it out, obviously, having this conversation. I may be the only person who’s ever gone down that whole section, I don’t know. Because it’s, you know, pretty remote and rugged rural, there isn’t necessarily a reason to be there, but is really beautiful and cool. And you know, biking. Like in an active glacial river is pretty fun. That bikes are amazing. And yeah, you know, I did pop out after that town and continued did my thing. But not long after that I was on like a yak trail and carried my bike for 10 days. And because it was just battle unraidable which was obviously grueling and unpleasant. And I was second guessing myself at that point, like, what am I doing? This is stupid. Like, who are you kidding? And you can’t bite here? Like, why? Why are you doing this, and I got out, I got finished that section, I got to a road. And I had them out. And I was like, Okay, I know where this road goes. And all right, follow this road, and like, you know, have some easy riding or whatever. And that’s just more reasonable thing to do. But like, literally within like two miles, I found I saw a dirt road that was on the map that kind of dead ended, it looked like it probably connected through and like, I’ll go that way. And naturally, it did, in fact, dead ends into a cliff. And there wasn’t really a way through. So once again, I was rock climbing with my bike. And wow, about halfway up that. I mean, there was kind of a trail, but it was like, you know, very, very steep like the Himalaya are really rugged. They’re super young mountains. There’s a reason that the tallest mountains in the world. They’re all there that mountaineering there is famous, but also dangerous. It’s just like they’re unstable, and they’re incredibly steep. So climbing up, like this cliff face like that, with my bike. Fortunately, the bike I took in India isn’t a long tail, and I have like more backpack or bikepacking style gear, so it’s a little easier to carry a little lighter, but it’s still heavily loaded topic. And I get about halfway up there. And there’s like this little jetting out rock outcrop with a big ass bull yak on it. And he, he’s like, this is my Cliff dude. Like, what? What are you doing here? And then like, Okay, what do I do? Like, obviously, I’m not gonna, like, I can’t go on this is where the trail goes, can’t fight with this bull. Yak like, thing weighs like, five times what I weigh. And this is his terrain, you know. So I just stood there for a while. And eventually he like snorted and ran away and popped out further up the cliff, as if to say, look how easy this is. For me. This is my cliff, like, whatever. That’s how I interpreted it. Right? Yeah. But then I sat in this beautiful spot where he’d been hanging out have lunch and had this epic view and was like, completely by myself and this totally incredible country, where it’s pretty hard to be alone. Because it’s so populated. And, yeah, I just had this like, beautiful, transcendent experience. I was like, okay, just admit it. Like, this is what you want to be doing. It doesn’t have to make sense. Yeah. You don’t even have to be able to explain this to other people, even people who do the kind of thing you do, like, what I exactly actually do, is a little French, you know, like, even like packers are like, What are you thinking? Right? But I can’t necessarily describe it. But it’s, it’s what I, it’s what I want to be doing. It’s just like, what feeds my soul? And so I just opened into that point. I’m like, okay, yeah, you just carried your bike for 10 days, and it sucked. But you’re right back at it. And this just feels right. And, yeah, that’s the closest I can come to answering that question, I guess.

Jeff 1:34:27
Yeah, that’s incredible. Yeah. So awesome to hear your stories. And yeah, what’s the best way for people to like, read about what you’re doing and follow along with you?

Goat 1:34:39
Um, yeah. So I mean, the writing the spine website, writing the spine.com. It’s still up there. It’s definitely worth a visit, like so many cool stories. But of course, that’s like, you know, 12 years ago now or whatever we finished. I have a blog that I only update when I’m doing something that I recommend is like cool or noteworthy so I haven’t updated it in a while. Well, it’s called wonder goat dot.com Wonder goat and that’s that has that India trip. I started it for that and then it’s got a few other like I did Patagonia with a sweetheart fairly recently. I think maybe I wrote about new packrafting like packing in New Zealand on there too. So yeah, when whenever I get up to something that I feel like it’s, it’s worth the effort of sharing that’s, that’s where I write about it. I used to have Instagram, but I got Insta canceled for some reason recently. I don’t actually know why. But

Jeff 1:35:35
really, you got kicked off? Yeah.

Goat 1:35:38
And that far as I know, I wasn’t doing anything controversial at all. I was just posting about, you know, like that. Triage.

Jeff 1:35:48
But anyway, yeah, it’s the Homeland Security there. They’re watching you again. Apparently. Some like that, for sure. Well, thanks so much for taking the time to chat. And yeah, super inspiring. And really awesome to see what you’re up to. So thanks.

Goat 1:36:03
Absolutely. So just one thing I want to say like important message, I think is that, like, don’t let not having the right gear or the like fear of trying a new thing. stop you from checking out like exploring something you’re dreaming about, like, just gonna do it for a weekend or whatever. You know, like, I’m a gearhead. I love gear. I build custom bikes. I’m involved with bike company crust bikes, like it’s something I do, but you really don’t need the right bike to have fun. You don’t need the right bike to bike pack. You don’t need the right gear. You can make it you can get by you can do it. So just challenge yourself. Get out there. Have fun. That’s the important bit.

Jeff 1:36:47
Yeah, it’s a great message super inspiring. Well, we will have links to the sites that Goat mentioned in the show notes. So we’ve got this week. We’re talking again next week.

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