About Jorja

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So far Jorja has created 29 blog entries.

Jorja’s Crust Evasion build details

These components have had a full and successful career and some are to be replaced. This is what has been running on Jorja’s Evasion before changes are made;

Handlebars – Previously – Salsa Cow chippers ➡️already changed to – 645mm Crust Bike Towel Rack
Stem Thompson
Group set – Sram Rival Group Set – 11 speed ➡️Unknown to what I will change to (more gears tho)
Headset Cane Creek ➡️Chris King
Frame Medium Raw Evasion
Fork Purple Crust Segmented fork
Brakes Avid BB7 ➡️TRP Spyre
Wheels Velocity Dually rims w. 180 disc front 160 rear
Front – Surly Knards 3 inch
Back – WTB Wrangler 2.8 ➡️ Unsure of which fresh tire to go with but will stick with 2.8 for the rear
Front – SP 6V3W Dynamo Hub
Back – unknown
Seat post – Unknown/no brand ➡️XLC SP-T09 Telescopic Remote Dropper Seat post
Saddle – Brooks B17
Pedals – Odyssey

By | 2019-06-21T21:21:39+00:00 June 21st, 2019|Crust bike builds|0 Comments

Kook Tales – The Nathan North

The Birth of The Civil Union

It started when I asked a good friend to join me on a bike ride across South America. A month, year. Time limit, relatively unknown. Clayton Hanlon, had never been on a bike ride longer than a day before. The rough idea was to start in Ushuaia, Patagonia in September, zig-zagging a way north linking gravel roads, horse tracks and hiking trails, as long as the money or fun lasted.

We’d been good friend for many years. In our day, we would string road trips from thin air, existing on rations of lentils and peanut butter sandwiches. With that guy, things were always unpredictable, stupidly hilarious, and full of stories. The memorable ones that defined an era of our youth.

I called him up and jokingly invited him for the ride. Dumbfounded by his reply. “Yeah for sure, it’d be the trip of a lifetime! When are we leaving? How much money do I need?” Despite the intimidating start up costs of a bike, gear, and flights he pulled something together on five months of savings.

Remarkably, never riding over 50km before, he had agreed and was somewhat excited, to haul gear for four seasons, eight days food, and 4L water through Patagonia’s deepest south.

Our painted visions were iconic peaks, sunsets and glaciers. The reality far from the fairytale. Wind swept pampas of a notoriously brutal south. Winds, that blew over busses during our stay. An experience no image or story could accurately convey.

Flights booked, the civil union was born. We cancelled any sort of monetary contract we had connecting us to our old lives minutes before the flight. On the cold shores of Chile, our morale destroyed quickly being chased by scary dogs. What had we gotten ourselves into? Juggling the confusion of a new language and confusing “suffermarkets”. That first day felt like a lifetime.

We would follow the Fin Del Mundo bikepacking route (twice). Weaving gravel roads under snow capped mountains, exposed pampas, forests of ancient antarctic fagus, snowy passes, beaches and even following cattle tracks, inching our way towards Ushuaia, the end/start of the road, Fin Del Mundo National Park. We were tail ending winter. Being so far south, it meant that most days our water would freeze. We would see rain, side winds, headwinds and lots of snow, even at sea level.

Given the forecasts and infamous Patagonian weather, it’d be character building. A litmus test of comparability, but the trade off for solitude and refugio laden gravel roads pulled love strings of allure.

Finding solitude on the long dusty roads of Tierra Del Fuego, the ship of anxiousness had sailed (into day three). Clayton was in a food coma, so I decided to push on. Hours later, everything went white and our gravel road 200m altitude lead us straight into the grey depths of a snowstorm. Visibility a generous 10 metres. Deep snow, quickly covering my tracks, reduced to walking my bike.

A refugio appeared behind a locked gate. Desperately wrestling the fence it gave way after twenty minutes. Genuinely a bit worried of our crisis management plan in such a situation, my instincts said to leave something bright on the fence. I ran outside with a rain jacket. As if qued perfectly, from behind a wall of snow a 4wd erupted. Headlights beaming, Claytons bike in the back. Crisis averted.

Clayton made a habit of sporadically turning up in utes. Some of the most memorable events of our time down south. I genuinely felt jealous of this guys ability to summon such rich, genuine cultural experience, all with hardly 10 words of español.

It seems that an open mind and riding against the wind seem to run parallel to good times and culturally rich experience, seemingly more so, than knowing the language. People are good, genuinely wanting to help us experience the best of their country. The universal language of the smile, ever present.

Lifts in utes made for great stories, but were hardly the arduous events of the trip so far. Riding the bikes, the easiest part. However, for every brutal day, the perfect refugio, every bike mishap, mesmerising double track, every headwind, an Andean Condor soared high above. Harder times will come, but Clayton reassures me It’s all relative to perspective. The landscape, seemingly more overwhelming on the senses, than taxing on our bodies. Every experience valuable, no complaints, just the desires to carry more food, to cherish such wonderful places longer.

The Civil Union seems to reveal the best of each other, even during challenging times. Always there for eachother, somewhat complimenting each others highs and lows with the best and worst of our own personalities. Always relative to perspective, understanding.

I confessed to Clayton, that this trip is like an endless school holiday sleepover. No parents or rules, heaps of food, and ultimate freedom. He couldn’t agree more. For that, is exactly what our journey is. The endless sleepover, except now we are adults, forging memories, spinning stories and living whilst we are alive.

Forever Riding the Rainbow

Nathan North


By | 2019-06-08T06:19:34+00:00 June 2nd, 2019|A Kook's Story|0 Comments

The first days of Xinjiang.

Nick Kohn bike touring through Asia and writing stories for Kook Exchange as he goes. More stories can be found HERE

The contrast of security at the Chinese/Mongolian border was almost laughable. The Mongolian security, while present, is definitely more lax than most borders I’ve crossed. China, on the other hand looks as if they’re ready for invasion. Razor wire atop electric fences, cameras on swivels on every building, guards armed with riot shield and clubs. The crossing took about four hours which was actually faster than expected. On the fourth time unpacking my bags, the customs officer spoke English. After a good chat, I asked why it was necessary to go through the same bags four times? Why could it not be communicated that they had been checked and I just pass on through. The response – ‘Bro, you are in China now. Things here don’t make sense to most Chinese people so you’re going to be very confused a lot of the time.’ He wasn’t wrong.
As I passed through the border town, I noticed the maximum-security-prison-like precautions at each shop. Every single one had a guard (often an old man or middle aged woman) armed with a wooden bedpost (as a club), a metal detector wand and a riot shield… For a convenience or grocery store.

Next, is the checkpoints. I had heard and read that they were very regular and got quite annoying but I completely underestimated it. I go through one to four of these checks per day, each one asking the same questions. There is never anyone that speaks English so everything occurs through translation apps. Sometimes the experience will go for 20 minutes, other times it’ll be four hours, depending on how many officers interview me, who wants photos and whether my bags get searched.

On my third day in Xinjiang, I was sat outside a phone store using their internet. Suddenly, what sounded like a WWII air raid siren started screeching. All around me, doors slammed shut and everyone from little old ladies to burly young men came rushing out to the streets, yielding weapons of all sorts. Some lined the roads and others blocked junctions with vehicles. When they were ready, they stood at attention, like a platoon of soldiers, clubs, spears, metal rods and wooden shields by their sides. By this stage, the ever present police had set up. Leaders began barking commands, patriotically under the flapping Chinese flags on each and every shop front. In unison, they began to practice offensive movements, stabbing, slashing and swinging their tools in the air, like a military bayonet fighting training exercise. Meanwhile, I sat there, sipping on my tea on the front steps of the store, stunned. Over the coming weeks, this would prove to be almost a daily occurrence.
As for the riding itself, it was a bloody pleasant change to finally be on some tarmac. While I love the dirt and being off the beaten track, the road is much easier on the wrists and bum and means more kilometres can be cranked out in a day. The landscape was, as expected, very similar to Mongolia for the first few days. Extensive sandy plains with long hills. Foliage was minimal and the only animals were camels, goats and birds of prey soaring overhead. But the silky smooth tarmac kept my mind off the sore legs and brutal heat, by maintaining high stoke levels each time I checked the speedo. Just days earlier, I was managing a measly 25-40km er day through the desert sands, now I was smashing 80km as a minimum. With morale high and winds low, the k’s began to rise. A personal best on one day of 125.8km was beaten the next with 127.9km, both of which I was massively proud of, particularly with the bike weighing almost 60kg and not coming from a cycling background.
Due to the high security and intense police presence, I was left to sleep in some pretty dull spots. A patch of dirt between a pig-infested cornfield and a tip would rate as the least pleasant and worst smelling of the trip thus far, and a brand new drain under an unopened section of highway was the nicest. Like I said, pretty grim.

The riding got really interesting as I entered an unexpected geological research park, where some of the biggest dinosaurs fossils in the world have been found. This was especially cool as I’d just finished reading Jurassic Park and was full froth on stuff like this. A section of the area was called the ‘Sulphur Valley:’ Here, the mountains looked like they’d been shaded with watercolours. Colours varied from light red to maroon, tan to purple to green, depending on the mineral make up of that section. Unfortunately, as with so many things in China, high fences left me too far distant to be able to snap a good picture of this natural beauty.

I went to commence my ride from Urumqi (capital of Xinjiang Province) on the G216, a notoriously long, well-paved section of highway that goes through many beautiful spots of north-western China, to Kashgar, the last big city before Kyrgyzstan. G216 was a section I was really looking forward to, particularly after hearing reviews from a group of motorcyclists that I’d seen near the Mongolian border. I was 60km in within half a day, feeling pretty pleased with the distance covered, when the police pulled me over for a passport check. They didn’t speak a word of English so I got the solar panel out and started charging batteries, figuring I’d be waiting for a while. After 45 minutes, an English-speaking officer arrived and said ‘you cannot pass!’ in a very authoritarian voice. I couldn’t help but giggle – one word changed and he could have been Gandalf. I stopped laughing to myself when I realised what he said. His English seemed to disappear when he tried to explain, so he rubbed his arms as if he was cold, pointed to the road then broke a stick and shook his head to say no. It took another 30 minutes to communicate the the local glacier had broken apart and caused major damage to the road, only two days ago. There’s some global warming for you! He explained that the road will not be ready ‘for one to two years so maybe find a different path to travel.’ Still keen to ride this highway, I said I was going to try regardless. His response was to bring out his handcuffs and say ‘for safety, you no go.’ Suddenly, his advice seemed like the right choice to take.

Early the next morning, I was riding S101 – the heaps more gnarly mountain road that lead in a similar direction to G216. I also picked this option because a local told me 101 is pronounced ‘yo-lei-yo’ in Manderin and I thought it sounded cool. Judging by the map, there wasn’t a whole lot out that way so I stocked up on food, water and fuel for the stove. Due to being a ‘dangerous good’, fuel took three hours to fill my 800ml bottle and required a ‘SWAT’ officer to come down to the razor wire surrounded station, with tyre popping spikes, a barricade that could stop a B-Double and three armed guards out front (this is the norm in Xinjiang) to help out.

The road lead me back through the geological park, where landscapes were beautiful yet brutal and the climbs, while not too severe, were seemingly never ending. It was ruthlessly hot and the locals in their nice air conditioned cars must have felt sorry for me because they kept stopping to give me food and water. In the 50km from town, I gathered up a watermelon, rock melon, a loaf of bread and about half a kilo of tofu, along with some water. I almost felt silly for being surprised when David, the English speaking cop at the next checkpoint told me this road was not passable by bike. He said there were big hills and rough roads, to which I let him know I’d just ridden through Mongolia so neither of those would be a major problem. He got me nervous when he said ‘the wolves will rip your legs off’ – complete with gestures and some pretty hilarious snarling and teeth showing. I’m unsure if wolves are out there but he sure got me thinking – I quite like riding bikes and legs are necessary for that hobby so I best not go losing them.

He paired me up with a middle age cyclist that just happened to be passing through. Mr Chan, as I was advised to call him, was a chubby but jolly man who seemed like he was in a bit of trouble with the missus back home. Hence, he had jumped on his brand new Merida mountain bike to see how far he could ride. The poor bloke almost fell over when he got out of the saddle to meet me because his legs were so buggered. The old fella must have been in the dog house big tim. From my understanding, the cops had organised for Mr Chan to show me an alternate route tomorrow after I stayed the night at his place – apparently he felt sorry for me because I was so dirty and was eating raw tofu with cinnamon while riding (it’s really tasty, give it a go).

We got riding in the opposite direction to what I had intended, going very quickly downhill in the bucketing rain, after I’d just spent the last few days coming up. Happiness was restored when riding past a farm and my new friend pointed to a pig then twisted his hands as if to flip food on a BBQ and rubbed his tummy. Can’t be sad with pork for dinner! After 60km of super fun and winding downhill with almost no one else on the road (understandably, the rain was borderline ridiculous at this stage), we got to his home town, where instead of taking me to his house for this BBQ I could already taste, he took me to the police station, shook my hand and rode away. Sly dog.

… to be continued

Nick Kohn
Instagram – @strokeofstoke

By | 2019-06-08T06:47:24+00:00 September 26th, 2018|A Kook's Story|0 Comments

Wizard Works – Straight Outa NZ

Bikepacking feedbags Wizard works

Harry Major, a friend of Kook in NZ is also bag maker – Wizard Works and has made a drop of bags on our door (via courier). You can find them here – and we asked him some very in-depth product questions below.

SO you like sewing? Thats cool…what do you like so much about it? 

It’s a creative outlet, something my mind can obsess about when I’m riding my bike, or tying my shoelaces. Sewing is an aesthetic thing, but it’s also problem solving and engineering. I like having an idea and then working out how to make it. Its not just that sewing involves making a 3D thing out of flat pieces of fabric, but also that the order you sew things is vital. Once you’ve sewn a seam it becomes impossible to sew certain others.

Harry Major

What is your most favourite thing to sew? 

I make bags for bikes and sometimes bags for humans, and honestly my favourite things are the squarest. Squares are great.

Where do you get your colour inspiration from? Is fabric hard to find? 

One of the big reasons I wanted to start making bike bags was how bland everything was. Colour and patterns are so much fun. We are seeing some really cool stock bikes coming out with great colours, things like the Electric Queen, and yet all the mainstream bags are black or camo or grey. I really wanted to get some faux 80s rave culture in my work. What I soon realised was sourcing out-there fabrics in the right kind of material is pretty tough. However being able to track down that splatter Cordura was sort of the beginning of everything.

Backpacking bags wizard works

Is it worth your time? 


What does the future hold for your bags? 

A website, and greater availability.

Are they any good? 

Yes, absolutely. I’d never want to let something shoddy or flawed get into someones hands.

Can I have one? 

Sure. Until the forthcoming site is up and running, you’ll have to make do with instagram; @wizard.works

What bags you most proud of? 

The Basket Bag. I’ve been making a version of this since 2015, it was the first thing I wanted to make. The current finalised design does exactly what I want from a basket bag, easy on easy into. Its simple but full of features that make it unlike anything out there.

Wizard works basket bag

Whats the best trip you’ve been on? 

Hmmm, they’ve all been great. The best riding is hands down The Old Ghost Road track in the south Island of New Zealand. The country I remember most fondly is Taiwan. The Best food was Malaysia. The time the field we were sleeping in was set on fire was Cambodia.

Send us pics of bags that didn’t quite work out? 

I think everything starts out not working out, and through testing starts to work good. The panniers I made look cool, function pretty cool, but there a few killer design flaws in their construction that meant when I was testing them out on a three month tour in America I had to sew them back together every week or two.

Thanks for being siq

Right back at ya. #shredthepatriachy

Bikepacking feedbags Wizard works

By | 2019-06-08T07:12:01+00:00 August 19th, 2018|Bag makers|0 Comments