Poler Stuff

    Blanket Manifesto

    More than a reliable purpose, a destination or extensive provisioning, any Adventurer worth her salt requires for success in any endeavor or pursuit only a quality Blanket. Blankets can be fashioned into a jacket, as in a capote, or a cloak or cape. They can be used to wrap and therefore protect your valuables during travel as well as camouflage said valuables regrettably but necessarily left overnight in an old car  in a dimly lit motel parking lot. In place of an otherwise useless cotton towel pre-and-post hot spring, swim hole, hobo slap, etc. As a bedroll, a napkin (albeit an oversized napkin), a pillow, a sack or makeshift bag, a brightly colored and nicely delineated picnic or lunch spot, for love-making, in defense against nearly feral or overly habituated animals, a lightweight saddle alternative, fire containment and for bivouacking and/or enhancing an otherwise primitive shelter. For wound care and poultices. Protection against the elements like dust, wind, direct sunlight, etc., as well as volatile and/or tempestuous weather. Insulation be it fixed, semi-permanent or temporary. To appear Period Correct if which period is the whole of the 1800s and/or rn. As reg blanket and/or ad-hoc burrito-style mummy bag. And finally, if need be, they can be soaked in various nutrients, broths, herbs and tinctures for later oral or topical application.

    Altura 4424 = 14,514 feet above sea level.

    Specialized Bicycles

    Like with everything else—car washes, diseases, insurance plans, burritos, etc.—there are levels to Altitude Sickness.

    The first level of Altitude Sickness is your basic run-of-the-mill hypobaropathy and features fairly pedestrian symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, insomnia, tingles, jingles, shortness of breath, drowsiness, general malaise, nosebleeds, rapid pulse, and “excessive” farts. Which when you recalibrate for international travel and the various emerging-nation pastoral food spots you’re obliged to rely on while traveling most if not all of those symptoms are really NBD, just a regular Tuesday afternoon. The next level of of Altitude Sicknesses have more dangerous consequences and feature colorful acronyms; High Altitude Pulmonary Edema aka HAPE and High Altitude Cerebral Edema aka HACE. In preparation for Bolivia—the entire Cordillera Apolobamba zone is 14,000ft or higher—I started to research the symptoms and causes of altitude sickness but mostly gave up when I got to the prevention section which was basically empty. You know, except for the part where they instruct you to descend immediately and at all costs if you experience fever, loss of consciousness, photophobia; your whole body tingles and ringles and you can’t see right, clinical confusion and my favorite, ataxia; which is a fancy word for zombie. Seriously look it up, it means zombie.  And I was like no duh I will squirrel suit off a mountain if I have to the second I have an unsteady gait, uncontrolled/repetitive eye movements, trouble with motor skills, spontaneous decomposition or any of the other more serious second-level symptoms but (really) what I wanted to know is how does one avoid any or all of that in the first place. Like, how do you train and/or prepare the problem away. That’s when I came to the section that states the (very) best way to prevent and/or avoid altitude sickness is to be genetically non-predisposed to it. Okay so the best way to avoid it is to not get it. Got it, cool.

    Also, altitude sickness, like allergies, can come and go, and come right back again. And there is no way to predict the effects on you at any particular time or age. It just be what it be. Maybe you get HAPEed, maybe you don’t.

    Part of Sunchulli Pass, Dead Reckoning

    Mission WorkShop X Acre

    ATB in the MSOJ that almost got us KIA.

    I’ve known Steve Smith since the 90’s. We met at a Norba Nationals in Mammoth Lakes, California. He was working for Cadillac, the car company. I was racing Sport Class on a stock Bianchi Boss, the orange year. He wore a denim jacket and black and white high-top vans, he was drunk. I wore Nema shorts and SPD compatible Airwalks, I was drunk. While wandering through the EAZE-UP vendor village one afternoon, we bonded over our mutual disdain for the Shockster, an aftermarket rear-suspension unit which, if you were willing to spend $235.00 to extend your wheel base a half-a-foot, add 15 pounds to your bike and suffer a bunch of extremely debilitating lateral play in the vicinity of your rear wheel, the device augmented your otherwise rigid bicycle with 1-2 inches of suspension-like squish. Ever since then we’ve been buds. Whenever I went to Frisco back in the day—he loves it when I call it Frisco!—I would stay at his house on Telegraph in Oakland. I once saw his then roommate high-speed shoot-off rollers into a wall with a grunt and a crash—we laughed and laughed. Steve loves to brush his teeth. He also makes art that frightens me and blogs for a living. More importantly, not only is he reliable and honest, but under that strong Fuck You exterior he is extraordinarily kind.

    Over the years we’ve ridden together here and there, and for one reason or another we talk like once every three months about like, what a banner ad should cost and other stuff like that.

    Then one day in August of 2013, Steve called me and said, “Hey Daniel, the dudes at Mission Workshop are doing this thing called Acre and they want me to throw a party in honor of it, and then they want me to write about it. And maybe you could photograph it. They don’t want an inside party filled with art and beer and well-groomed, mustachioed bloggers. They want a reasonably unreasonable sweaty pagan party in the woods, on bikes. They want Acre—the products, the brand, the whole deal—to know and experience, like first-hand, some wild ATB/MTB shit. Basically, they want to sponsor an ambitious but-no-more-than-three-day-long expedition. The purpose of which is to do R&D on several Acre Supply products in-situ, and to make a documentary about “big M / big B” Mountain Biking; they want an expression of Mountain Biking that is relevant, inspirational and compelling. And they want you, on behalf of Yonder Journal, to like, I don’t know, do it. Or I guess they want us to do it. But I want you to do it. Will you do it?”

    Part of Mythical State of Jefferson



    What if I told you there was Savage Wilderness filled with unimaginable riches—physical riches, spiritual riches, natural riches, all of the riches—and it’s walking distance from the In-N-Out Burger in Redding, California? What if I said it—the Wilderness— was, to this day, semi-virginal and begging, according to some, for subjugation. That it was a rugged, vertigo-inducing land of spectacular scale, angle and color. That in spite of the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, Manifest Destiny, the Gold Rush, Kit Carson, the Caterpillar corporation, a failure in 1964 to properly designate and therefore protect Bob Marshall’s vision for a whole and permanently viable Wilderness System, and Large Scale Nickel Mine interests, the virtues of this raw and unimaginably inhospitable Wilderness have yet to be properly explored and exploited, by say Capitalism for example. That it’s the only place in the world—according to Science—where Bigfoot is currently living and quite possibly thriving. That deep in the heart of the 6-hour long Redneck Middle Earth spanning the distance between Chico and Eugene, a region, or better yet, a semi non-fictional state best defined, culturally speaking, by the half-a-century-old Mythical State of Jefferson secessionist movement; among the lumberjacks, weed operations, coots, packers of crystals & pistols, homesteaders, communes, libertarians, wackjobs, hillbillies, environmentalists and prospectors, in the thick of a vast, primordial and seemingly limitless sea of chiseled mountains, raging rivers and old-growth forest; north of Happy Camp, south of Grants Pass, west of Crescent City, east of Ashland and just beyond the city limits of Cave Junction, there exists a particularly remarkable river-rich, non-religious Garden of Eden called the Kalmiopsis Area. And what if I told you that; A) its watersheds are both the source and conduit for a number of the cleanest rivers in the entire world, that its veins literally course with the purest, most spiritually/physically/emotionally refreshing (and potable!) water in the world. B) that in regards to its “Area’ness” and official designation it is legally incomplete, inadequate and thusly compromised, and finally C) unless we can convince you to care and contribute and engage, it will never expand, it may fail.

    Part of Kalmiopsis Wilderness Study published on Yonder Journal


    Apocalypse Practice

    According to The Road, a major motion picture based on the book of the same name written by Cormac McCarthy, the Apocalypse is populated (mostly) by bands of rapist-cannibals in rags and improvised footwear roaming the lifeless, leveled and perma-smoky earth scouring devastated architecture and abandoned car-choked roads for various life-or-death resources, pretty much one-day-at-a-time-style, indefinitely, in search of water, or fertility, or a ride to Mars, or all three, or whatever.

    First of all, based on what I know about human nature and our shared predisposition for self-destruction, that totally checks-out. In which case lots of folks like my girlfriend for example, are a hard pass. They’re like yeah thanks but no thanks, I’ll go ahead and get dead in the “first wave” of whatever environmental collapse or zombie-causing viral outbreak precipitates the apocalypse in the first place. Versus, you know, grinding it out in a dark echo-y train tunnel for three days waiting-out a dust storm, eating cat food, listening to the sound of non potable water dripping off the ceiling into a Folgers coffee can.

    Me on the other hand, I’m one of those stay alive at all costs types. I’m not saying I’m looking forward to eating babies but I’ll do whatever it takes, even if it means eating a baby or two. Besides we all know six months into the Apocalypse all the babies will have been eaten so if that’s your main objection to “staying in the game,” big picture that’s not even an issue. Thing is. I don’t have any useful skills or talents, in fact, I am, basically, the very definition of a non-essential service. So while I’m DTF surviving the apocalypse how will I if I have to do it alone. Which is what I’ll be unless I figure out some moves. Good moves. Invaluable moves.

    To that point, my friend Emiliano is always talking about core competency. He’s like yeah dude you can learn stuff sure, up to a point. But what are you really good at, you know, based on natural talents, proclivities, predispositions, genetics, executive functions, etc. Figure those out, and lean in.

    Which reminds me. I know this guy Steve Fassbinder. His nickname is Doom, or Doctor Doom, and anyway he’s this rangy, hairy, lizardy, ectomorph legend who lives in Durango Colorado. We met ten years ago in Portland when we used to pick up packages drop off packages for the same company. When I learned he claimed all his 9-5 work week meals as fuel (literally) on his taxes, I fell in love with him. Anyway, for the last three or four years now he’s been emailing me photographs of feral-looking vagabonds covered in dirt, sunscreen and sunburn, carrying pistols and rifles, using drugs and alcohol and riding oversized mountain bikes off the edge of maps into deserts on no discernible trail or road, some of it legal, some of it not. 

    After the fourth email in as many years, I’ve come to three conclusions: 

    1) Doom and his crew are basically doing Apocalypse Practice. I mean, if well-armed self-supported biker gangs roving the desert on flotsam and jetsam-equipped Fat Bikes doesn’t sound like Apocalypse LARPing then I don’t know what does.

    2) I’m not good at doing stuff but I am good at knowing people who are good at doing stuff.

    3) I’m going to Durango to learn how to do stuff and practice the Apocalypse.

    Hello Steve—I’ve called him and we’re talking on the phone—Yeah sure, call it the Apocalypse or whatever you want but if you come this year it’s three days in Canyonlands and so be sure to bring a bike with gears and a snake-bite kit.

    Part of Apocalypse Practice published on Mythical State Of



    While Jason, an ex NFL running back and the owner of Kuiu, eats a bowl of caribou stew or moose stew or maybe even bear stew—nobody actually knows—he talks to Tav, the owner of Arctic Red River Outfitters. Tav is refueling his Piper PA-18 Super Cub which is basically a sky go-cart for two. I talk to the oil cloth duster and baseball hat dude from earlier who’s name is Dave. Dave’s daughter Rebecca is married to Tav. That’s why he’s here in camp doing “various things.” Dave is an old Bush Cowboy, or depending on which part of Canada you’re from, an old High-Country Cowboy. He tells me about Tulies, Riding for the Brand, surviving 13 plane crashes, the time he was run over—as in literally run over—by a steam train, and what it’s like to have cerebrospinal fluid running out of your nose in the process of surviving what should have been a fatal kick to the head by a horse. A few minutes later Jason hands me his empty stew-of-indeterminate-provenance bowl, hops into the Super Cub with Tav and they do a 180 in the dirt before taking off in the direction of our deep-bush rendezvous spot. I kick rocks around the “runway” for a bit before hopping into a helicopter operated by a pilot in a BMX helmet. The pilot, I later learn from Kent (our guide) over a reconstituted Buffalo Chicken dinner, has seizures and was likely “got” at a serious discount. The flight is powerfully scenic in part because we’re barely 50-miles south of the Arctic Circle in Canada’s N.W.T. and in part because  helicopters are practically all glass and fly nose down. After 45-minutes of thuck-thuck-thucking over several mountain ridges and countless massive drainages we land in an expansive, wide-open river valley on a nondescript—except for Jason and our Guide and a semi-pitched tent—stretch of rock and gravel. After scrambling off the airship which airship barely touches-down and never actually comes to an actual stop, I walk over to where camp is being set-up. The guys, tent poles in hand, fire nearly started and but just kinda smoldering for now, have stopped what they were doing and are silently and cooly observing my arrival. The helicopter is long gone, it’s quiet like it’s never been quiet before. I’ve never been further from civilization, I am way out of my element and natural habitat and not since childhood have I been more reliant on a single person. The Guide, who I’ve never met before now, I know carries a some-what reliable satellite phone and an assault shotgun with orange plastic streamer tape hanging from the end of it. Of the three of us he is the only one with any experience in this particular patch of primordial wilderness. My life depends on his ability to make good decisions and solve problems and but this dude looks very young and slightly unresolved. I stop in the rocks five feet shy from the two of them. It’s still quiet and still nobody has said a word. Jason smiles, the Guide smiles, I smile. The Guide looks at me and my pack and my empty hands and says, “Hey city guy, you forgot your food bag.”

    Part of Arctic Red River Outfitters published on Yonder Journal

    Castelli Cycling X Cannondale Bikes

    Sticker Privilege is a life-affirming experience

    Our driver is good because he is a French Postman, (technique), and because he’s running Pirate Wheel Support for his brother, (passion), who is some dude on Ag2r currently in the race—as in racing it. Nobody knows the rolling rural post-agricultural goat tracks, jerk woods, farm lanes, and townships of Northern France as well as our driver, a driver who we’ve relied on, completely and absolutely for everything related to the course, the language, the time splits, the Gendarmerie relations, where to get that good pan, what to wear, where to look, all of it, everything. 

    Aaaaaaaaaaand but then our driver comes to an abrupt, unannounced, unscheduled and possibly illegal stop in the middle of the street five hours in and roughly ten kilometers from the finish, leaves the engine running, gets out of the driver’s seat, stretches, lights a cigarette (of course), flashes Emiliano and I a semi-limp thumbs-up meant (we think?) to acknowledge that we are Americans, that today was okay even though we are all still more or less strangers on account of nobody speaks the same language, and, most significantly, that now is the time, apparently, for him to you know, go. Just like that, dude, our dude who was everything, hops into the dusty Peugeot with questionable media credentials currently pulled over behind us, and joins his wife, his father, his mother, his two daughters, a pawn shop race radio, a tangled stack of maybe fourteen wheels, and leaves the course and our lives forever.

    It’s hard to know just how far behind us the race is but we know it’s close because two helicopters are rapidly moving in our general direction. More importantly, currently, we are parked in the middle of the course and surrounded by thousands of millions of European cycling fans an eighth of a mile deep in every direction, and li-trul-lee blocking the single most important one day bicycle race in the world. 

    Let’s back-up. This is our first time at basically everything related to photo documenting Paris Brest Paris. From big picture stuff like covering a Spring Classic in an official capacity to all the smaller but no less important stuff like operating a motor vehicle in France, driving on a closed race course during a race, driving on a three-thousand year old farm road covered in cobbles and smashed oil pan parts, charging a 5-speed Turbo Diesel Rabbit through ten kilometers of Belgian Disco Party unwilling to make-way or part until the very last possible second, Tokyo Drifting roundabouts and blowing through red lights effectively at will. All of it inside a  pretty serious dust storm with very limited visibility. Sticker privilege is a very wonderful, very unique very life affirming privilege buuuuuut it’s also like nothing either one of us have ever experienced and it comes with, clearly, great responsibility. jk jk. No but really, I think I ran over a couple dozen chilleur’s feet somewhere halfway through the last sector on the way into the Velodrome.

    Part of 2011 Paris Roubaix published on Manual For Speed

    Castelli Cycling


    At the end of the movie the audience stood up and clapped like they were at a Broadway Show and wanted an encore. Fifteen years ago I remember the same thing happening after the first big fight scene in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. It was opening night and people just lost their shit because none of us had ever seen anything like it before. Sure, The Matrix got close with the bullet-dodging limbo and parkour stuff but it wasn’t a rooftop chase culminating in a float fight that’s for sure. Every once in a while someone makes a literally next-level movie, or book, or music, and it changes everything. Suddenly you have a before the thing existed and an after the thing existed situation kinda like the whole deal with Jesus. Anyway, maybe I’m just a sucker for deformities, dysmorphia, Burning Man on bath salts, body mutilation, post apocalyptic landscapes & meteorological events, supermodels loading 19th century fire arms, Cirque du Soleil at speed, bod mods, Day of the Dead make-up and a two hour music video featuring basically nothing at all except a car/motorcycle/monster-truck chase that goes all the way to the end of a road in one direction, then turns around and comes all the way back in the other direction. Whatever the case, that movie jacked-me-the-fuck-up. It made me want to butt-chug about fifteen, maybe sixteen Red Bulls, drop some acid, paint my face with feces, set my dick on fire, rent a PT Cruiser and race it to Mongolia over the land bridge, steal weapons from a Russian oligarch, buy a hockey team, go back in time, find Harriet Tubman and arm the Underground Railroad with lasers and nitrous-assisted, fully armored golf carts.

    Part of 2015 Tour of California published on Manual For Speed


    Continental Team Activation