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Basque and Beyond

A little while back the Kingdom Bikes boss, Chris, invited me along on a trip around most of the north of Spain. From the Basque Country, through the Asturias, a short stay in Hicksville and finishing with a whistle-stop tour of Madrid, I can safely say that I now know a lot more about the geography – the stunning mountains and green pastures, of the region.

Chris was not only in the Pais Vasco “In search of ETA”, but also to make a film about his bike, the Vendetta, and to test out his new frame. Predictably, this test quickly became more about a trail of discovery than a bike riding trip and we found ourselves immersed in local culture at a slower pace of life.

We spent most of our time in the Basque being lost, as for some reason known only to the Basque natives there are absolutely no maps available for the area around the sizeable town we briefly inhabited. Alas, with a certain amount of sweat and hiking we eventually made it to the highest peak in the area and found a sweet, flowing singletrack back to the exact spot we had parked up. All in all a perfect bike ride.

The remainder of our time was spent being lost around the Picos de Europa and a neighbouring Natural Park – one of the most incredible mountain ranges I have been to and my re-discovering of the sheer scale and diversity of Spain was certainly very humbling. Those mountains are fierce and unforgiving and I will be back, that is for sure - I have been inspired.

Look out for the film of our tour of the Lost North some time soon (...ish).

Thanks to Chris, howies, Riders Refuge, BOS/R53 and Bike Dirty for helping me out..

Our newest team member on the BMX side of things is Lawrence Williams aka Pipe. Pipe is a dab hand on a 20" bike and also with a shovel. He has been making the most of the lighter nights and warmer weather and starting to make preparations for the summer. A new set of trials are in the making and there is much work to be done. BMXers willing to devote so much precious time off the bike and in the mud are seemingly on the wane but the commitment to the jumps is not in short supply here. The big earth moving jobs are done but the time consuming job of shaping these mounds into works of art will consume the spring. We look forward to seeing the fruits of his labour......

Ashley Charles over and out

  • Posted by will
  • 6 April 2011

Ashley has been very busy of late both at home and abroad. He has had the pleasure of sunning himself (albeit in a woollen hat) in Malaga with the Etnies team (see the Dig Mag website for coverage of that trip) but has also put in the hard work making the most of the dry days (or dry patches) in and around Bournemouth. The result of his local explorations is contained in this winter edit and there are some very interesting new spots along with the usual exceptionally high standard of riding. We hope to see more soon but i would imagine in Ashleys new place of residence on the other side of the Atlantic he wont be struggling so much to find a dry spell.... Good Luck over there

Book List

Here's a book list for all the bums out there. For the vagabonds and hobos. For the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles - exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

These are the travel books I read and re-read. I fold down corners and scribble notes. They remind me that, above everything else, the things that make me happiest in life are big skies, sunsets, sleeping on beaches, the potential of the open road, and the random exciting strangers you meet along that road.

Travels With Charley - John Steinbeck

Steinbeck travels round America with his dog, Charley.

“When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical bum is not difficult."

Also in this book is a paragraph I often think I'd like to have on my gravestone:

“For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.”

Walden, or Life in the Woods - Henry David Thoreau
Over-read, over-worshipped and quite boring in parts. But the essence of it resonates loudly: a simple life, in tune with nature and with few possessions, is often a happy and rewarding one.

"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life..." and "The prospect of what is euphemistically termed “settling down”, like mud to the bottom of a pond, might perhaps be faced when it became inevitable, but not yet awhile."

I also like his assertion that "What old people say you cannot do - try - and find that you can."

Roughing It - Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn should feature in any list like this, but it's so obvious that instead I've picked this lesser-known gem from Twain. You can read the book online here.

"It is a record of several years of variegated vagabondizing, and its object is rather to help the resting reader while away an idle hour than afflict him with metaphysics, or goad him with science."

On the Road - Jack Kerouac

I first read this book in San Francisco where I was bewitched by a hippy girl with long dreadlocks and shining eyes. I also had to pause a few weeks to watch a crunch football match on TV. It ended badly (the football match): Leeds were relegated. But hey, “I felt like a million dollars; I was adventuring in the crazy American night”. And I had discovered an author who, although mad and quite annoying at times, really managed to capture the zinging love for life of all good wandering souls, the mad ones I plagiarised in the opening paragraph.

"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies." And what more do we yearn for but "a fast car, a coast to reach, and a woman at the end of the road"?

Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac

Kerouac gets two mentions in this piece as I conceived the idea for it whilst reading Dharma Bums in a drab business-hotel on an overnight stay to give a lecture. The grim irony was not lost on me. Kerouac's fictional hero heads into the wild for a simple life and to find himself. I'm not struck on the religiose Buddhist side to the book but I love the young man heading up Matterhorn mountain, discovering the thrill of sleeping on mountains, drinking from ice cold creeks and turning his back on "middle class non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets in each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness".

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning - Laurie Lee

I don't know how often I have eulogised this book. I do know that it's my favourite piece of travel writing. Young man + violin, busking and walking his way across Spain. Cheap wine, dark-eyed girls, and sleeping under the stars. The life of a happy vagabond.

“It was for this I had come: to look out on a world for which I had no words; to start at the beginning, speechless and without plan, in a place that still held no memories for me.”

A Time of Gifts - Patrick Leigh Fermor

Travelling on foot, sleeping in hayricks and castles "like a tramp, a pilgrim, or a wandering scholar", Paddy Fermor's walk across Europe inspired me to try to combine the life of a wandering hobo with also using my brain and retaining my curiosity. He was expelled from school and I have long-loved a phrase from his school report that makes for a wonderful epitaph to work towards: "he is a dangerous mixture of sophistication and recklessness".

The Happiest Man in the World - Poppa Neutrino

So bonkers was Poppa's life that I felt sure I was reading a work of fiction until I checked him out on Google. Anyone who sails the Atlantic Ocean on a raft made of junk and also manages an obituary in the New York Times (link) is clearly a fascinating person.

From that piece: "A lifelong wanderer, he developed a philosophy that emphasized freedom, joy, creativity and antimaterialism, a creed expressed in the rafts he built from discarded materials."

The Gentle Art of Tramping - Stephen Graham

The post I wrote about this book on my own blog (link) recently clearly struck a chord - it was my most viewed post of the year. Dating back to 1927 it is a fabulous How-To guide to becoming a wanderer, a vagrant, a hobo.A brilliant addition to any vagabond’s library.

A couple of snippets for you:

• The less you carry the more you will see, the less you spend the more you will experience.
• In tramping you are not earning a living, but earning a happiness.

Hopping Freight Trains in America - Duffy Littlejohn

I’ve always dreamed of hopping onto a freight train in America, rumbling thousands of miles from coast to coast, reading Kerouac and Huck Finn, hiding from cartoonish guards and learning the ropes from vagabonds.
This is a how-to book for dreamers. I don't suppose now I actually will hop a train: the post-9/11 world makes it even harder than ever. So I suppose I'll have to live with this stinging rebuke, “Sure, you can pay Amtrak to haul you across the country with a bunch of blue-haired old ladies. Or you can grow some balls and hop a train.”

The Way of the World - Nicolas Bouvier

The tale of two young Swiss men who take to the road, driving east to Afghanistan in the 1950s. They fund their search for new experiences by writing articles and painting. A beautifully written book. "Traveling outgrows it's motives. It soon proves sufficient in itself. You think you are making a trip, but soon it is making you - or unmaking you." "We denied ourselves every luxury except one, that of being slow."

The book's epigraph is an apt conclusion for this entire list of books, "I shall be gone and live, or stay and die."

In the mountains – Part 3

  • Posted by dan
  • 5 April 2011

So we had a sunny day a few weeks back and hiked up to the top on our touring skis.

Standing at the very top on the peak there wasn't much room to move around with a drop behind me, to my side and in front so I didn't hang around for too long....

Below is a picture of me dropping in at the very top just before dropping off the rocks.

That day we also hiked up toward an amazing piece of glacier which made us feel very very small.....

The next day we sat at a nice restaurant by the lake looking at the mountain and pointing at stuff we really wanted to ski. So we planned this little day tour up to the highest peak and a route down the mountainside all the way to the frozen lake at the bottom then across back over to the lift system.

The route up is in green. It took us about three hours to reach our first stop which is the orange 'x' near the top

This picture sums up exactly how the mountains can very easily make you feel. Small and vulnerable.

......Laura checking out the awesome view. (on the 1st route plan above this is at the orange 'x' )

The picture below shows the red 'x' from the first route plan (the very peak) but from a different angle ......as you can see it's sheer cliff on the back. So next we head round the right side of it and start to climb up the last steep part to have lunch at the top!

It took us nearly another hour to reach the very top. But so worth it! Possibly the best view I have ever seen in my life. with nobody else around apart from some huge birds of prey gliding around above us.

Below is a picture of Laura about 3 metres away from the very peak to her left. We stopped here to enjoy lunch and our nice cold beer that we took with us. It was so amazing we stayed for nearly an hour not wanting to leave.

....by far the best tasting beer I ever had!

And now for the action shots......

Below: Skiing on the edge! This one gave me a dry mouth walking up to the edge. It was a huge wind lip of snow overhanging the rock, below was steep and rocky with one line to go for and no mistakes. And with lots of air to my left as you can see.

Adrenaline can be quite addictive I believe. So once you're on the edge there's no turning around.......

The winter season comes to an end soon.
I leave Switzerland on the 27th April to visit wales for a few weeks.

Some photo shooting with my friends at howies and a nice bike ride along the welsh coast. Then back to Switzerland for most of the summer where I'll be working and racing bikes for Scott.

This Tuesday I have an injection of some sort into my spine to help fix a disk hernia. So no action until the doctor says otherwise.

See you
Dan

www.danyeomans.com
www.danyeomans-art.com

Windlets

  • Posted by tidy
  • 1 April 2011

Our mate Jam Factory Gav just released his new eco friendly toy.

Windlets Vinyl Toy from JamFactory on Vimeo.

Just a little something

  • Posted by dan
  • 14 March 2011

Mountain adventures – Part 2

  • Posted by dan
  • 7 March 2011

It's that time again, already a whole month has passed.

This month we had some great days touring, boot hiking, a little climbing rocks in ski boots which was interesting.

Day one. Here are a few nice pictures from Jon and myself. This first hike through the fresh powder took us two and a half hours in snow at least up to our knees all the way . Some parts of the day you really didnt want to look down or even think about falling!


Ill try and put together a full video for next month of some nice
skiing but just for now here is a little video clip from the top of
our hike.

As I would like to point out at this point. YES IT WAS AWESOME!

Below you can see how hiking tracks from about half way up until the top (green) then our first descent above the cliff then through the rocks (red) this was just the beginning of our run down which lasted a good 20 minutes of untouched couloirs and open powder and finished with a nice cold beer in the sun.

Our second day hiking was equally as beautiful. To start off with here is a picture which sums up Jon's visit from start to finish. Chocolate and tee-shirt in the snow. To this day the only man I have ever seen turn up on the bus at a ski resort, 11.30 pm in temperatures below zero in a pair of shorts! As he like to make clear, he is Scottish and has thick skin!

Some very steep scarmbling on the rocks in stiff ski boots. A little
challenging for Jon's second day but we got there in the end.

Jon was extremely happy to see some flat ground again after his rock
climbing. After his little cuddle with safe ground we moved on for
another hour or so until we reached the top for lunch.

Below: I did anticipate sitting down for lunch perched near the edge
of this vertical cliff, however Jon didn't feel quite the same. As he
pointed out if we did fall we would more than likely have time to
finish lunch on our way down through the air.

If you're still not quite convinced how beautiful the scenery is out in the mountains here are some more lovely shots from the afternoon.

The rest of the month up until now has been rather dry, with nearly three weeks without snow it has n ow been snowing on and off for about a week now so the conditions are great again. Other than skiing I've been busy painting on my new easle in my bedroom. Here is one of four portraits I am currently working on during my days off skiing.

Monday is Doctor's appointment with an xray on my back to try and resolve a few problems I've been having there, then physio in the evening.

But right now as I look out the apartment window there is snowflakes half the size of my palm, falling heavy and fast...... so I guess I'll go for a ski!

Bye for now!

www.danyeomans.com
www.danyeomans-art.com

Polar Books

Polar Bear Number Plate

I woke up cold this morning and consequently feeling a bit sorry for myself. But before I had even emerged from beneath my duvet I realised how feeble I was being. I was under a duvet, inside a house, in balmy England. And so, with my mid-morning tea, I sat down with a sublime book to remind myself what cold was really like. Opening 'The Worst Journey in the World' completely at random I also reminded myself how brilliant the best polar books are and why I am desperate to see Antarctica for myself.

So here, to while away the last of the long cold evenings until spring springs, is a reading list of some of my favourite polar books. No more whinging under the duvet allowed! Read one of these masterpieces and be inspired to get out and enjoy the beautiful cold, frosty days...

  1. The Worst Journey in the World - Apsley Cherry Garrard
  2. The Birthday Boys - Beryl Bainbridge
  3. Mawson's Will - Lennard Bickel
  4. South: the Endurance Expedition - Ernest Shackleton
  5. Ninety Degrees North - Fergus Fleming
  6. Scott of the Antarctic - David Crane
  7. Philospohy for Polar Explorers - Erling Kagge
  8. Mind Over Matter - Ranulph Fiennes
  9. South - Chris Orsman

And finally here's a little video to remind you that your house isn't that cold!

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