Kook Adventure Stories 2018-06-27T11:01:06+00:00

Hi! The International Kook Exchange Program; less miles, more smiles. 

Kook Of The Month

Nick Kohn
Nick KohnNorthern Beaches, Australia
Nick is currently battling across Mongolia chasing the tail and route of Ghengis Khan. Thats kook! Follow his epic story on his gram and some stories here as he travels. Go bro go

#kookexchange hashtag

  • Enough branding to make your eyes water. 💫Kook is your friend on tour. 💫

#mothernature #kookexchange #swiftindustries #kookperformanceteam #crustbikes #biketouringforever
  • 60km down these roads but all within 20km of where I live. .
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#crustevasion #crustbikes #bikepacking #bikepackingaustralia #basketlyfe #adventuredog #biketouring #wildcamping #kookexchange #biketocamp #bicycletouring #camping #cyclinglife #cyclingaustralia #loadedtouring
  • Inspirational Kook @justinbmx58 ... when you first don’t succeed “try,try again”... will Justin find the strength to carry on this bike bouldering session? 
Full vid on kook tv YouTube channel. There is like 20 extra seconds of fail to view. You should subscribe. 😘#kookexchange #keepitkook #performance #spiritual #motivational #inspirational #strength #power and #determination #blessed
  • Faces of #GRONK690 - @justinbmx58 - Kook Exchange Team Rider and intern - Big air grabber, Team Kook mechanic, winner of cutest smile award 🥇 and most entertaining sleep talking conversations. This was Justin’s first big tour and first time wearing so much colour. He did @kookexchange proud. 
#cutieswithbooties #biketouring #kookexchange #crustbikes#makejustinfamous
  • Rider profile series of #gronk690 tour of 2018. @sarahjswallow : fierce leader, master route maker, neutral colour enthusiast, climbing chief, hike a bike boss. 
#biketouring #kookexchange #vegemitetoast
  • Our time in Australia was defined by our adoption into the #kookexchange program. For three-weeks we toured with kook groups big and small over ridiculously steep, yet stunning terrain, through four seasons of weather from the Bush to the Alps. 
For me this trip is a reminder of the power of shared love for bicycles and it’s ability to connect me to people who I otherwise would never know to forge new friendships and memories. I’m extremely grateful to @crustbikes_australia ( @_mardel_ @justinbmx58 ), especially the wonderful and vibrant, @jambi_jambi for sharing your world with me. 
Hike-a-bikes are somehow hilarious with you ✌️🦘 #hunt1000 #gronk420
  • @jambi_jambi showing us how to be a nervous beginner. #bmxbandits #kookexchangeperformanceteam #kookrider #kookexchange #nervousbeginner
  • @crustbikes aerosol sign art yesterday at @kookexchange // @crustbikes_australia HQ thanks to my kook family members @_mardel_ & @jambi_jambi #crustbikes #kookexchange #davidcragg #signwriting #vaporwave #crustydemons #footyshorts
  • Kook convention 2018 at the #gronk690 it was an assemblage of world wide Kooks in the high planes of Australian territory. To discuss the future of bikin. Documented by Kook sexetary @_mardel_ 
#hunt1000 #kookexchange #kookconvention #mothernature #bikepacking #ontour #biketouring #keepitkook
  • Selling @wizard.works voila feedbags. This week will be the last week to get some kook for your loved one for Christmas. Will put a Christmas gift guide tomorrow to tickle your fancy. 
#kookchristmas #kookexchange #wizardworks #mothernature
  • KOOKCAMO bandana collabo with @kookexchange and @crustbikes_australia now available, limited edition so get on that bread, navigate to the @kookexchange purchase portal #crustbikes #kookexchange #davidcragg #kookcamo #bikepacking
  • Field report on the Kook Beeswax Reycle Wrap. No cheese sweat when on tour...you probably didn’t think it possible. Endorsed by @sarahjswallow who used her Reycle wrap for two weeks with rave reviews. Available now in all good retailers...but only online. At kookexchange.com
#mothernature #kookexchange #beeswaxwraps
  • Meet @justinbmx58...new Kook Exchange Performance Rider and Kook/Crust AU intern. Head of our performance team his duties include maximising airtime, answering your emails and shipping out your orders - true performance. 
All the way from Oregon, USA and in town for 3 months only folks. 
Full video of @justinbmx58 and @jambi_jambi having a mild time at @mysticmtb on our YouTube channel which has like 112 subscribers. So you know it’s good. If you wanna subscribe...that would be cool. Makes us look good. #makejustinfamous #kookperformanceteam #kookexchange 
Entries for our Performance Team please send CV to DM, ASAP.
  • A few more mems from the #gronk690 last week, lotsa miles and even more Ks, epic crew of bicycle people doing bikes in the mountains. #jetskilife #trapmusic #downhillmountainbiking #uphillmountainbiking #pneumonia #egyptianratscrew #hydralite #bikepacking #kookexchange #internationalkookexchangeprogram
  • Katoomba ➡️ Mittagong and the #gronk690 have been amazing. Despite some pretty cold nights and fighting a cold the last few days, I've been having a killer time with some cool cats! Stoked on this last week and looking forward to the next few days with @wheelyconvenient @sarahjswallow @jambi_jambi @_mardel_ @lemontimes @melatrixx @strokeofstoke @kookexchange #biketour #kookexchange
  • Adaminaby to Jindabyne via the Jagungal Wilderness over the last few days has been a rollercoaster.  Huge, painful hill climbs followed by gnarly high speed hillbombs, up and down the Ngarigo high country with some beautiful strong humans. Bailed out early today as a big snowstorm is landing tomoz and my body isn't working that well after the last 8 days of cycling/hike-a-biking. Wishing the rest of the gronksquad a blissful journey across the border over the coming days, get it! #bikepacking #hikeabike #jagungalwilderness #kookexchange #downhillmountainbiking #uphillmountainbiking #hunt1000 #gronk420 #gronksneverdie
  • #trackpacking #dodicicicli #dodicispecial #pannierrack #trackbike #fixie #keepitkook #kookexchange #crustbikes #loaded
  • In a few weeks you'll have 8 colourways to choose from on the @kookexchange store, some old favs and some new such as all splatter, all brown and all black ☺️
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Thank to everyone who has bought a Voila snack bag from the Kook gang over the past few months. The support has been fastastic and is really helping me out, with the funds going towards our upcoming adventure
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These bags a few slight changes and improvements over earlier designs. #alwaysimproving
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#wizardworks #VoilaSnackBag #snackbag #stembag #bikepacking #biketouring #biketravel #basketlyfe #basketpacking #kook #kookexchange #keepitkook #madeinNZ #nzmade 🤘🏽
  • Kook shop after dark. 
#kookexchange #crustbikes
  • “Open roads and heavy loads!” Last weekend was an amazing trip with great people. 3 days, one broken PDW Bundle rack, and tons of miles and smiles! 
#surly #surlykaratemonkey #kookexchange #kookycorey #tradingmilesforsmiles #tx #bikepacking #biketocamp #packitinpackitout #txstateparks #ortliebusa #getoutandride
  • Stoked about my new #kooktacular #goldensaddlecyclery #kook hat from @kookexchange (thanks @jambi_jambi for shipping status update)! I think it nicely complements my @crustbikes shirt too
#kookexchange #crustbikes
  • @jambi_jambi Shrëddin Her @crustbikes Shrëd Eägle !! Mountain Bicycle! .
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#bikepacking #bicycletouring #biketour #tourbike #travel #adventurecycling #bicycletraveling #outsideisfree #upyoursindoors #voilestraps #internationalkookexchangeprogram #fuckyeahbikefriends #bikes #jumps #arizona #mountains #trails #kookexchange #mountainbike #simpleainteasy #rideloaded #alwaysloaded #natureismetal #blackmetal #free #lovelife #gorideyourfuckingbicycle #please #thankyou #crustbikes
  • Reaching the Pacific Ocean on the southern shoreline of the island of Terra Del Fuego was a step back in time. A slow yet captivating battle between nature and the elements. Snow capped mountains being crippled by the slow heavy artillery of the water and ice, expanding and cracking masses of rock with temperature fluctuations. Meanwhile, the coastal vegetation holds the frontline keeping the banks together, and topsoil contained whilst growing sideways. In some way veterans, missing  limbs and showing the scars of such an arduous battle. 
Those roaring forties certainly take their toll. Anything uncovered a worthy sacrifice, my lips included.

In the afternoon we met a special White Wolf, now called Patagonian wonder dog. Our favourite dog of  Patagonia by far. He showed no interest in our calves or tyres. Coat sleek, thick and shiny. He was a noble companion, worthy of a Jack London novel. Upon first encounter, a shamanistic blessing of protection was given, tyre stained in urine to carry the scent of wonder dog to the far reaches north. He followed a good slow 7km, before our own battle of the epics summoned itself. Curious canines in a lack of three approach, intimidating barks, it was fight or flight. Patagonian wonder dog protecting his flock, his rubber, his scent trail. Clayton and I scrambled over the fence into an abandoned Naval area that linked up our track west to Ushuaia. Meanwhile, aggressive barks seemed to turn into fun and games. It was a sad goodbye, but a valuable lesson that you can't judge a dog by it's curiosity.

Tired, hungry, and city lights in distant sight, a sweet refugio presented itself at the perfect time.

As the moon rose, we lavished over a fine meal, contemplating our food and fuel supply and the supposed arduous journey ahead. There was certainly a reason Patagonian wonder dog didn't follow. 
#ridetherainbow
#kookexchange
#bikepacking #smileovermiles #findelmundo
  • Getting out there and muddy with yer mates really is the perrrrfect form of R & R! #bikepackinglife .
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#rideandrelax #camping #campout #bikepack #huntbikes #kookexchange #friends #outsideisfree #mezcal #vittoriatyres #revelatedesigns #wheely #wheelie #salsa #salsafargo #crustbikes #crustbikesaustralia #m8s #mates #mozzies
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El termo siempre al alcanze de la mano. La gorra en el manubrio por que aporta color y buenondismo. 
El “saludo Guampudo” conquistando Australia.
Este nació hace 6 años luego de que la oma (abuela) calme la tristeza de un amor con una frase muy simple: “En esta vida nadie se salva de los cuernos ni de la muerte” . De ahí la pose. La mano derecha representa a los cuernos y la izquierda a la muerte. Si bien pareciera ser algo muy serio y un tanto trágico, el mensaje lo llevamos con alegría y muchísimo amor. 
Siempre recordando que después de una gran tormenta sale el sol. 
@guampasdelsur
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The thermos for the maté always within reach of the hand. The cap on the handlebar because it brings color and joy.
The "Guampas greeting" conquering Australia.
This was born 6 years ago after the Oma (grandmother) calmed the sadness of a love with a very simple phrase: "In this life nobody is saved from being cheated nor death." Hence the pose. The right hand represents the horns of having being cheated and the left hand represents death. Although it sounds something very serious and somewhat tragic, we spread the message with joy and a lot of love.
Always remembering that after a big storm the sun always rises again.
@guampasdelsur
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📥: thebikingsproject@gmail.com
👨🏼‍💻: DM for any collaboration
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  • Kook representative @thenathannorth is on what looks like quite frankly a terrifying and amazing bike journey from South America to Alaska with his ellusive mate @claytonhanlon . He is going to be writing some stories for kook dot com and can be seen here enjoying his Wide Brim Hat with eagle. 
Ride on Nath! May the kook power be with you. 
#bikepacking #kookexchange #keepitkook
  • @jimmydazzla on a river cruise. With his face in the shade. Thumbs up 👍 to that. #kookexchange #keepitkook #widebrimhat
  • Today up on the web site we got the last of these @slowsquad_intl jerseys. Designed by our very own @_mardel_  there are three only left. SM - L and XL 
I kinda want the small one. Might take it down if someone doesn’t grab it today. Xx

These shots are all from @slowsquad_intl I see you @street_quiche 👀 
#kookexchange #slowsquad #cyclingapparel
  • Finally up on the site - our sister company @slowsquad_intl Long Sleeve shirts. Feat. Artwork by @scumboy666 
#keepitkook #kookexchange #slowsquad
  • Run what you brung///always finding nuggets of creativity with @foc_us_ed . Thanks for the s24, lingering in the brain much longer than 24.

#liveloaded #kookexchange #upperleftusa #smokedegg
  • Just tryna catch some sun, ride bikes with friends and drink Mexican beers. •
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#serotta #serottabikes #dtswiss #sram #outershelladventure #cyclocross #merbags #aarn #44rn #woundupfork #kookexchange #giro #fall #tecate #prospectpark #brooklyn #nyc
  • There is some kook colab magic going up in the shop this week. Thanks to @davidcragg and @rad_rio. A magic combo. 
#kookexchange #kookexchange
  • The @crustbikes_australia X kook store is getting its nails done. Thanks for the colour and talent @davidcragg and @rad_rio - this is gonna be goooood. 
#artistcolab #keepitkook #kookexchange #kookfamily
  • Big air, don't care #upyoursoutdoors #kookexchange 🎥 @rad_rio
  • We woke up early in the morning to a change of wind. It was 2am, wind rocking the cabin, snow flying horizontally into the forest propelled by grade 8 winds. Today would be interesting. 
At 8.00am we crawled out of out sleeping bags. A glance out the window revealed snow on the cabin, snow on the lakes, and still snow flying through the air. Meanwhile, 2 ft waves are crashing into the shore.
We called another rest. If it looked that  chaotic from the cabin I could imagine it on-top of the pass.
After quickly studying our anticipated route, food supplies and diminishing alcohol rations, it was clear that it wasn't a feasible option to hang around any longer. No more cooked breakfasts, the days mission was getting over that pass.
As we left Lago Escondido, our 4x4 track quickly became white. Sometimes, the snow was three feet deep. It took a while hour and a half to trudge 2km of fresh tracks. 
It was a beautiful road through ancient Fagus forest, the kind of road I really enjoy, when I'm not pulling my bike through it.
Two steps pull, two steps pull became the routine, until we hit deeper sections of snow that buckled our legs forcing collapse into the soft powder. Dreams of eating my daily cookie rations in a single sitting dualled my determination to reach the top.
As gained elevation, small snowflakes became projectiles hitting bullseyes in our eyeballs and the only looking up was looking down. 
Although arduous, always terribly rewarding. The pass came into sight with a small refugio. When we finally got our bikes to the top, our dreams shattered, the refugio boarded up under construction. Wild bits of tin flaped everywhere and Clayton and his bike almost blew back down the the lake along with one of my gloves.
Our bikes became mobility aids saving us from toppling from the wind or icy road. A few steps closer ever passing minute and soon enough we would ride again. On passing the highest section we faced every cyclists worst nightmare. A hill that doesn't roll. We pedalled down this mother until the wind subsided letting the sweet laws of gravity do her thing.
#bikepacking #worldbybike #worldisagoodplace #kookexchange
  • Two months into Magic Month and we have finally got some magic themed product. Kook exchange dot com is now proud stockists of @crudcaps...meet our latest loosely magic themed recruits; we got Big Wiz, Wicked Witch (already sold), Thumper and a couple more....One of a kind valve caps.  @crudcaps I doubt there is a better product that exists. Like ever. 
#keepitkook #kookexchange
  • It was like the roads had been made just for us #wheelyconvenient #grassroadgods #kookexchange
  • Our field testers seeing whether it’s quicker to hike your bike or ride your bike up a hill. 
#results may vary 
#kookexchange
  • Special request for Wombat scat on the track so we looked high and low for that square scat. 
#scatonthetrack #keepitkook #kookexchange
  • Had a "chin up" themed adventure with fine folks @jambi_jambi and @_mardel_ in the Southern Highlands this weekend. We got well and truly off the beaten track and had a seeeriously good time. Thanks for being there guys 😎 #outsideisfree .
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#bikepacking #friends #ride #mtb #crustbikes #huntbikes #training #hills #wolfcreek #farmerjoe #enemyterritory #buildingabridge #underthestars #camping #campout #kookexchange #thegreatoutdoors #hunting #bicycle
  • Today’s instalment of skat on the track. It’s a biggie...careful stepping over this one. 
#kookexchange
  • Talking scat.....the non edible essential can be found in all corners of the earth. 
#keepitkook #kookeducational #kookexchange
  • @jambi_jambi sporting the wide brim hat and new sleeping bag positioning. Whatever is left from the pre-sale is going up online today. Couple of army greens, and a couple of ninja blacks. 
#Sun safety is no joke. #keepitkook #kookexchange
  • New stock on its way to @kookexchange in Sydney, one colour returns, one is improved and one is brand new
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Stock is limited, so keep an eye on the Kook feed to nab yours
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Big shout out to @jambi_jambi for the continued support you rock 🗿
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#wizardworks #bikepackingbags #bikepacking #snaxsax #snackbag #stembag #feedbag #madeinNZ #custommade #kook #kookexchange
  • Today we look at simple yet effective bike modifications with President Aoki. @toydog88 
No.1 Extra support, make it strong #letscheckitout #keepitkook #kookexchange
  • How would you build your @crustbikes_australia Evasion (that you're gonna buy and bring to me to build up...next week?) #blankcanvas .
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#fashun #evasion #crustbiked #bikepacking #outsideisfree #steelisreal #insertplatitudehere #custom #custombuild #kookexchange #keepitkook #ride #ridecrusty #crusty
  • K💫💫K as F🎯🎯K Squad Goals‼️⚡️
"Hey, Mardel, what's the Gurl's name?" "Dunno, Alaska..." @_mardel_ & @jambi_jambi by @davidcragg ✨ 
#kookexchange 🚵 #keepitkook 💜
  • Cute portrait of @_mardel_ And I by @davidcragg. 
He is in South Korea on @slowsquad_intl 2k18 summit. I am living large at home....drinking and smoking and staying up late coz he's not here to keep me accountable....yewyew
#whentheboysareawaythegirlsplay 
#alaska #Keepitkook #kookexchange #mardelaspampas
  • Told you we'd make it to #humpday didn't we!? #wednesday #humptydoo
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#wheelywednesday #wheeliewednesday #popitup #monomate #wheelie #wheely #sydney #sydneyrides #kooks #kookexchange #kookadoodledoo
  • I lub mah K👀K family...
Repost: @kookexchange
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We have a fresh Kook of the Month.

Meet Magic Metal Ray. 
A resident of Flagstaff and lover of Mexician fajitas. Ray has had a run of broken bones and bad luck injuries that he keeps bouncing back from.  Thats true magic. 
Ray will be treating us with a magical bike tour recipe involving mushrooms of your choice. (The vegetarians steak and important for your nutrition. )

In the back there we have @sarahjswallow and @jambi_jambi Making magic somewhere in Tucsan. 🍄 It's magic month. 🍄

#kookofthemonth #keepitkook #kookexchange

Kook Adventure Stories


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

Nick of Northern Beaches in Mongolia on Kook Tour

The idea of cycling around Central Asia came from reading a book of a man who, completely on a whim, decided to follow the trail Ghengis Khan conquered – from Mongolia all the way through to Hungary.

The thought of the trip seemed incredible and adventurous. Maybe even romantic.

Out in the wilderness, just Tania, my red brick Surly Troll and I. We would ride through the mountains, the steppe and the desert. I would witness one of the last real nomadic cultures, who rely on nature for their own survival, as well as that of their animals.

That’s a bloody big change from the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

Arriving in Mongolia by train from Beijing was an experience in itself. The bus ride to the border was super lush with lay down beds onboard and stops at roadside resturants for cheap and delicious noodle bowls. The train from Zamiin Uud (border town) to Ulaanbaatar (capital of Mongolia) was an old Russian train with traditionally dressed up assistants, addressing patrons as ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ in their broken English. It featured cabins like on the Hogwarts Express and the views through the Gobi Desert were an exciting yet terrifying image of what I was to endure in a few days time.

Purely by chance, I met three other cyclists in immigration while extending my visa. They happened to be going the same route I had intended through Mongolia so I tagged along with Chris, Maren and Ivan.

Thank God I met these people, as I may have considered quitting in the first week if it wasn’t for their presence and support – I’ll try to put the reasons into words.

The first two days were riding fresh laid tar with a tail wind – speeding our way up and down hills and smashing at least 80km/day. However, soon we entered the desert. The world that would be our reality for the next few weeks, whether we liked it or not. I consider myself to be a well travelled individual who enjoys being outside of his comfort zone, though never in my whole life have I experienced temperature ranges, wind, terrain and desolation like what I did here.

There were days on end of rough corrugations, soft sand and an unbelievably consistent and soul-destroying headwind, where, after a whole day of riding we would only make 25km. I could count on one hand the times in my life that my morale has been that low. Seeing how little wildlife was around also got on my nerves. It seemed for every animal that was alive, there were two or three dead. The stench of rotting carcass became the scent of this first week.

However due to having the others, keeping it weird on a daily basis ensured everyone would have a good day. Ivan, for example, kept talking about how heavy his bike was. He couldn’t figure out why he kept lagging behind on some sections. Was it his fitness? Did he carry too many luxuries? Or was it the three litres of home made Bulgarian alcohol and two logs of salami he had packed away to share amongst the group?

We found it to be far more efficient to ride in single file as to avoid the added pain of the wind. Each kilometre or so, the person in front would swap out. Instead of being boring and keep it to a whistle or yelling ‘yep!’, it was decided something creative was neccesary. There were all sorts of funny noises occurring but the best was Chris screaming ‘Rakija’ (the Bulgarian alcohol) at the top of his lungs, and Ivan somehow managing to get the bottle out of his pannier while riding to the front, giving everyone a drink along the way. That’s kook as – don’t drink and ride kids!

After about four days in the desert, we made it to a town – a massive relief as the hard riding and constant exposure to the elements had us eating like pigs and our food was getting pretty low. We went to the super market to purchase our diverse diet of either rice, millet or buckwheat as a base; maybe potato, carrot or onion as vegetables (often not available) and seasoned with a delicious sprinkle of salt. If we were super lucky, maybe the shop would have apples – exciting!

Coming out of the shop, we were left with the typical issue of where to cook in wind like this. We tried to avoid cooking in town as the locals all crowd around and by this stage we are already pretty tired. But this day, there was nowhere to go.

We stopped by a building, using the wall as a shelter so our stoves could cook more efficiently. Within a minute, a car had stopped with a gentle-looking old man getting out. There was the typical lost-in-translation conversation but then he kept saying ‘ger’ – the Mongol version of a tent that the nomadic (and all other people outside one of the four major cities) live in – while drawing one in the sand. He took us to his house, and as we entered through the tiny ‘Alice in Wonderland’ esqe door, we were surprised at how warm and cosy yet roomy it was inside.

His wife was in there, working away on the sewing machine, the kids glued to the TV, and our host busy getting the poo-fuelled stove started in order to brew is a salted tea for us (you read that right). He encouraged us to use his stove and utensils to cook but once we were all done, he wouldn’t let us leave. I called my Mongolian friend who lives in the capital to help translate.

This man was so concerned for our wellbeing, going out with the bikes in this weather – referring to me as the madman in shorts – that he legitimately thought we were going to die. Hence, he was trying to make us stay in order for us to live another day.

I had made jokes about this trip being of great risk before I left, but it was definitely an eye-opener when a tough local is so concerned.

The next day, we were on a bus to Altai after our host explained that the next water was 270km away and the terrain was harder than what we were riding when making only 25km per day. I watched worriedly as Tania got strapped to the roof of a Soviet-era minivan and we got going. At first it felt like cheating, but watching the dust storms engulf the van, and feeling the wind push such a vehicle through the soft sand, made me sure we had come to the right choice.

From Altai, it was still rough, however things were changing. Now, not all the animals were dead on the side of the road. There were camels – with two humps that wobble like an obese man’s belly when running, goats, sheep, plenty of wild horses and majestic eagles and falcons soaring overhead.

There was one afternoon, where, over a steamy brew, we were all checking out the map. We sat in silence, confused, as it showed there was a river coming up soon. Not believing the outdated charts, we kept riding against the wind with no expectations.

Suddenly, we crested a hill and turned a corner and Maren started yelling. Down, nestled into the valley, there was what seemed to be something similar to an oasis. A patch of bright green grass, about 1km x 1km, sat next to a rushing stream. Instantly, energy levels went sky high.

Crossing the river was the first of the excitement – too deep to ride through and almost too wide to jump across. Shortly after, the shoes came off and we were able to enjoy the lush turf under our toes. Heads dunked into the hair-raisingly cold water was refreshing in a way I can not describe.

We set up the tents and began to prepare dinner, when the wind stopped and Mother Nature gave us the most beautiful sunset. Every divet of the surrounding mountains was illuminated in a burning orange, with a near full moon rising over the animals grazing on the pasture. It was one of those beautiful moments when you realise this is an image that will stay with you forever.

Riding into Khovd was definitely an exciting experience as one of the first things we saw was the giant Russian supermarket. This is a significant change from the tiny roadside stalls we had had the past few weeks. Excitement levels were high, as we had choice of buying a range of goods that we would expect from the corner store at home, but are a luxury over here.

I had almost finished shopping when something caught my eye. I couldn’t believe it, was it true?! Surely not, I must be going mad! I rubbed my tired eyes and checked again. There was red wine of the shelf – an indulgence that I didn’t expect to experience for a long time indeed. In my typical style, I picked up the cheapest bottle and damn near skipped out of the supermarket with joy. Wrapped in a fleece and carefully strapped in my basket, we headed to Cai’s house – a WWF volunteer who had kindly offered us to stay at his for the night.

We went via the bazaar to grab ingredients for tonight’s feast – we had an oven! Veggies were purchased to roast when I smelt the strong scent of the free-range Mongolian meat. The meat market was next door! This was a real experience – meat and offal on the tables, with old ladies sharpening their knives or grinding meat in the hand-turned mincers. A little blood was on the floor and the heads of the animals were at the base of the table, both a good measure to prove the produce was fresh. At just $4.60/kg, some mutton and goat was purchased to add to our meal. The combination of having a roof over our heads, with a homecooked meal, a mug of red, good tunes and better mates was a very welcome change.

Over the next period, nights would continue to be cold, though the wind stopped blowing so hard and finding rivers became more regular. Each night, there were visits from locals, whether that be the livestock, or their shepards, trotting in on horseback. They stand back, sipping from the bottle of vodka they inevitably have hidden in their robe. They are surprised at how we have chosen to live – touring by bicycle – then even more shocked when they see the solar panels, water purification devices, cameras and other electronics we are carrying.

I am often left wondering whether they are aware of what the rest of the world is like. Do they know and choose to maintain their simple, traditional lifestyle, or are they oblivious (through no fault of their own) of how so many others are living?

The further we went west, the steeper the hills became. There were a number of long stretches that we were told would be a tough slog due to the soft sand. To our surprise, a half constructed road of varying levels of readiness was there, closed to vehicles, however easily accessible with a bike. Although we had to get off every few kilometres due to drainage still being in construction, it was much faster than the alternative option.

Soon enough, these roads ended and some of the up hills felt like trying to climb a vert ramp in a skate park, but on a fully loaded bike and in the sand. The addition of roadworks and mining trucks zooming past with no warning didn’t help the situation.

On the crown of the mountain, we were met with the view of glistening, snow covered mountain ranges, contrasted against the purple and maroon highlights of the Mongolian geology. The best news came when Chris informed us the next 10km would be downhill, however on some very rough terrain.

For some reason, this set a fire off in me. I tend to be a cautious rider, however I plugged in some banging tunes and absolutely sent it. I sang at the top of my lungs, while weaving around potholes that could swallow my tyres, speeding up to skim over sand patches, and even hit a dirt mound that resembled a jump, leaving Tania (weighing in at 58kg) and I gliding through the dusty mountain air. The rush I felt at the bottom, being left completely out of breath, with a beaming smile, was really something special.

As I write this, I am sat alone, at Achit Nuur, a freshwater lake, a day and half ride from the city of Bayan-Olgii. I have since split with the others as they are continuing their journey through Russia whereas I’ll head down through Xinjang in China. Before commencing the journey to the border, I made the choice to enjoy some time alone, to relax and do absolutely nothing for a day or so. It started with an almost instant invitation into a ger owned by a family of eight, for tea, bread and aruul – a local snack.

While the tea was brewing, the 94 year old man and his seven year old grandson insisted on seeing my knife – a common practice in Mongolia. While I was happy with its condition, the man was obviously not impressed, as he pulled the small fruit knife out of his boot with one swift movement and cu a piece of paper to shreds. Before long, he had taken a large stone from his pocket and began roughing up my blade ti it it was slicing his arm hair with the lightest touch.

While this is most definitely one of the Toughest experiences of my life – it is also one of the most rewarding. The landscape I am immersed in now is like a painter’s colour palette with blinding yellow straw and grass so bright it almost looks artificial. My ears are constantly filled with the deafening hum of bugs, with the dull crunching of livestock feeding on the grass, or birds of prey diving to pull fish from the water. It’s the real life David Attenborough experience you’ve always dreamed of. And I’m lucky enough to be sitting here, with a tea in hand, watching time go by.

To be continued

Nick Kohn

Instagram – @strokeofstoke

 

Backyard BMX Party

David Cragg, our favourite original dad. Fully sponsored Kook and builder, creator of the biggest backyard ramp mansion.

We had a little ‘might-have-to-get-rid-of-ramp’ arvo party down in Wollongong – home of the big BMX mansion. Where big names (probably) but I don’t remember any of them came down to make use of the ramps – before maybe having to dismantle the masterpeice. It was good. Some dood took a big ol spill taking all the weight of the fall to his right cheekbone. See vid below – after gallery.

 

 

 


 

James and Jesse’s Fly Fishing – Bike Packing – Siq ass tour

Int. Kook Exchange Program is damn pumped about supporting Kook ass tours. James and Jesse are rolling out next week on a soul finding, work flicking, mate making, bike packing, fly fishing expedition. They going to give us a weekly round up. Expect kute snappies, stories from the road and pics of fish! Ride on bois. We are stoked for you….Wish we were there!!!

Here is James, spinning a tale of why work place safety is no fucking joke, telling us about his trip and his sk8er mate Jesse – who made the right choice.


Words From James;

Well I used to work in a cabinet shop building custom furniture and stuff, and I was milling some old pine that had a nail in it and it made the wood jump and my hand slipped and got pulled into the machine. It took all five fingers on my dominant hand, It happened 4  1/2 years ago now. It’s definitely taught me patience haha.
 For the route, Jesse and I plan on taking back roads from Reno to Klamath falls Oregon, from their were gonna be hoping onto the Oregon outback trail and riding north.
We plan on taking our time and fly fishing along the way up. Once we get to Portland we’re gonna rest for a day or two, then start riding down into Boise. I have two friends that plan on meeting up for a week and will be bringing my two dogs out for some good times in the outdoors!! Our route is kinda wherever the road takes kind of thing but we are trying to end it in Leadville Colorado.
I’m doing this trip cause I need it mentally, and I feel the road will cure it.
Jesse and I are both skateboarders/artist and both only have bikes for transportation. We grow up together out here in Reno skating. Jesse actually quit his job for this trip, his job found out through Instagram he was gonna do this and they told him either quite and ride or stay and work. He quit hahaha “

SERENA THE BICYCLE BALLERINA

We got a collection of images here of Serena @rad_rio and her @crustbikes Evasion; that brass voice, the hella skills on the bike, the bright smile – If you got a ride with Serena planned you know its gonna be a good day. We exchanged a few photos of @_captainsassypants_ for some fresh off the press Kook Socks. Serena in her habitat. So beautiful.

She inspires more women to get on bikes. She inspired us ride harder and faster. She inspires the internet with her posi vibes.

She slays.

 

Crust Van Tour

@woodly_rat and @raymondrewalker came out to Australia from the US to do a Crust Bikes ride from Brisbane to Sydney.

I wrote a piece for the Radavist after we all got back. See the whole article here on the Radavist or find just the words below with some extra images that didn’t make the cut.


 

“ Touring plans can be dismantled on the fly and made better, sure there is glory in the hard yakka, but when you are out for two weeks, just looking for the good times … Chase the rainbow and good trails. Turn off that path if it looks rosier, you’re on holidays! That’s what the #crustvantour did, and boy did we find the rainbow.

We set out to ride half of the east coast of Australia. From Brisbane to Sydney over the month that Kurt and Raymond were in town from America. Half the crew riding on Crust Bikes, it was a Crust Tour after all; a step through extra small hot-pink Evasion, an eXtra cycle converted Evasion, a Crust Romanceür, and a fresh burgundy Scapegoat that Kurt was riding. The other half of the crew riding a Surly, a custom Moustache build, a pub bike and Jones bike. We can’t all be Crust lucky.

We were a crew of 8, Marcel and myself – Sydney; Matt and Cheech – the perfect couple; Rick and Daniel – Brisbane’s finest and Kurt and Ray – bringing the international American flavour. We set out from Brisbane, 8 bikes loaded into 2 vans. Cyclone Debbie has rampaged through the first half of the route. So we skipped it. We drove nearly 400km south to Crescent Head, soaking in the flavours of Australia the old fashioned way, pit stops into pie shops.

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