Thereabouts Reprise

From Boulder to Moab

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It's been nearly 18 months since Australian professional cyclists Lachlan and Gus Morton rode from Port Macquarie to Uluru on an adventure they called "Thereabouts". That ride for them was all about getting back to basics; about focusing on the simple pleasure of riding a bike, away from the pressures of professional racing.

After moving to the US to race with the Jelly Belly team in 2015, the Morton brothers made plans for Thereabouts #2 – a five-day journey from their adopted home of Boulder, Colorado, to Moab in Utah. This time though, Lachlan and Gus weren't alone – they were joined by Cameron Wurf, who's currently on a one-year hiatus from the pro ranks, and Taylor Phinney, who's still on the comeback trail after a much-publicised crash in early 2014.

In the following feature all four riders share their favourite (and not-so favourite) moments from what was a stunningly picturesque and inspiring adventure.

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Introduction by Gus Morton

I first met Cam Wurf on about the 15th lap of the Aussie road titles earlier this year. Right when the shit was going down on Mt. Buninyong Cam rode up alongside me and said: “Imagine if we had have trained for this, mate? The win is there for the taking.” I thought :”Who the f&*k is this guy?!” I had been training for it — hard — and then this guy rolls up, takes one look at my arse and assumes I, like him, hadn’t touched the bike for a while and would appreciate his joke at the hardest part of the race.

I didn’t at the time, but I was intrigued as to who the hell he was. It wasn’t until a few weeks later when we were racing as teammates at the Herald Sun Tour that I learnt who he was. Over the course of the week I got to know the guy’s a god-damn robot on the bike, but also what lead him to cycling and what lead him to taking a year away from the bike.

After that Lach and I knew Cam was the guy we needed to bring along, but before we got the chance to ask him, he invited himself. Typical Cam.

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I’d met Taylor Phinney a few times in Boulder but we’d never hung out. He’d struck me as a very charismatic but also very professional guy. The sort of guy that knew what he wanted and how he was going to get it.

When I arrived in Boulder this year, Taylor messaged me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to come hang out that arvo. “Ok, sure”, I thought. I was interested to see how he was doing after his well-publicised accident and subsequent recovery but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

3:45pm — that was when he said to come over. “That’s weird,” I thought, “Pretty specific”. “It’s probably to fit in with his intensive recovery regime,” I concluded and rode over. His place wasn’t at all like I’d expected. Giant unfinished canvases hung from every wall, records were spread out over a desk — no bikes in sight. It was the sort of chaos I could relate to. Suddenly 3:45pm made sense.

We spent the next couple of months riding and staying out way too late and the more I got to know him the more I realised, despite all the other things he had going on in his life, there was something he was still looking for. And the bike was still a big part of that. Lach and were planning our trip and I thought Taylor would get a lot out of it, so I asked him. He was into it straight away.

And so three became four.

Lachlan's story

Lachlan’s story

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The most worried and skeptical I was all trip was before we’d even left. There were bags, vehicles, people, maps, food, cameras, plans, ideas and expectations. People were wondering what to wear, what hashtag to use, what was sponsor-correct. I was worried for the guys we were bringing along — what would Cam and Taylor think of this thing we called ‘Thereabouts’? What did they want out of this ride? Could this trip provide it?

Rolling through familiar and beautiful terrain to begin our journey did nothing to calm my nerves and when we eventually stopped in Idaho Springs for something to eat it didn’t feel right. It all felt forced. I didn’t feel like I was on the free-spirited journey I’d planned. Maybe that was it; I’d planned on it.

We rolled out of Idaho Springs full of pizza and coffee. We’d managed to dodge the weather thus far and looked to have a clear and pretty straight forward 3-4 hours ahead of us. Sure there was a 12,000-foot pass to navigate but nothing out of our control. We decided to leave our support cars behind and hit the 10-20km of bike path from Georgetown up to the base of Loveland Pass. I was all for it.

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Two kilometres later there was a small snow drift over the path; nothing we couldn’t handle with one foot still clipped in. But then the snow drifts began to increase in frequency over the next two kilometres until finally the path was covered. My nerves began to settle; the challenge had been set.

I looked at Cam, Gus and Taylor. I was sure someone would suggest the sensible option of backtracking and taking the main road. Silence. I smiled. As we walked on, the snow became deeper until it was well over our knees, stopping us dead on every third step, killing our momentum. It was Taylor who blazed the trail and I cringed every time he slipped or fell, remembering the injuries he seemed to have forgotten.

Our cleats and our toes were totally frozen, but that didn’t matter much as there was no longer any rideable terrain. Still silence. These guys were getting it. I smiled to myself, afraid of ruining the moment by laughing.

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What must have been an hour later, Taylor and I were side-by-side in a maze of snow that had no foreseeable end. With no idea if we were above, next to or nowhere near the bike path we had set out on, we started laughing, throwing our bikes forward then crawling the three meters to reach them. We repeated this process, sure it was the most effective method of crossing the now waist-deep snow without sinking. We continued, but now that our pace had dropped to less than 2km/h we knew we’d never make Breckenridge by nightfall.

With the distant sound of the freeway making its way through the trees we all decided it was time to try and hike it out to the main road. It was probably less than a mile as the crow flew and it seemed easy enough. However, the reality on the ground was a dense pine forest and a nice mountain stream separating us and the I-70. But again, we trudged on, no questions asked. The river wasn’t that deep, and I thought it would be best to cross without shoes. So did Taylor, but he was wise enough to remove his socks.

We pushed through the river and scaled a small dirt cliff up to the I-70. Not one mention of turning back, not one complaint, not one face without a smile. Why did we just do that? There was no finish line. No one to see what we were doing.

As we sat in the shoulder, digging out our cleats, and drying our socks, my fears from that morning were gone. “Yeah, these guys get it.” Three of my best mates, bikes, no restrictions, no rules — that freedom I hadn’t felt since Uluru. With three hours still to cover we headed for Loveland Pass, all a little more certain of why we were headed to Moab. It didn’t matter that our motives were different.

Cam's story

Cam’s story

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“A siren sounded from a local county police car — we’d been nabbed for speeding!”

I arrived in Boulder at 2:30am, perhaps not the most appropriate time to arrive given we were meant to be rolling out at 9am that morning, but knowing the type of journey we were about to undertake it seemed perfectly fitting.

Out on the road, it didn’t take long for the small talk to die down and for the first competitive encounter to take place. As we reached the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, Taylor decided it was time to light the fuse and attack like he was shot out of a cannon. He flew over a roller and bombed onto the decent and from that moment on it was boogie time.

As expected the descent was absolutely balls to the wall and at 3,000m it felt like I was breathing through a straw. Just as we made contact with the flying Phinney a siren sounded from a local county police car — we’d been nabbed for speeding! Well, not all of us; just me as I was the one leading the chase. It turned out Taylor was doing the speed limit but as we were chasing him down we were going faster. Fortunately the friendly police officer simply gave me a warning. It was the perfect way for Thereabouts to begin.

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The competitive juices were flowing again on day two with a seemingly inevitable showdown on Independence Pass. A TTT to the bottom was followed by a restrained-but-not-all-that-enjoyable tempo. And as we took a sweeping left-hander to begin the steepest slopes of the final 5km, it started teaming with snow. This was going to be memorable.

Immediately, the most credentialed cyclist of us all, Taylor, seized the upper hand and went to the front setting as searing a pace as is possible into a headwind, teaming snow, and aboard a cyclocross bike. Lachlan and I had pride at stake and stuck to Taylor’s wheel like glue as he churned over his compact crankset with Phinney fury.

I slipped into mountain TT mode and began to think of those images of Andy Hampsten climbing through the snow and winning the 1988 Giro d’Italia. I dreamed of what it must have been like to be wearing completely inappropriate clothing for the conditions whilst going on to become one of the greatest cyclists ever.

While I may have been wearing baggy shorts and a Geelong Football Club jumper, and Andy was riding his way towards one of the most prestigious leaders jersey’s in cycling, for those couple of kilometres I thought I was actually on the Gavia Pass.

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All four of us are facing an interesting period in our lives as professional cyclists and being with these three guys really helped give me perspective on some of the things that I’ve struggled with during my career. I was reminded of the fact that it doesn’t matter how you get the job done as long as you get it done.

There are always going to be plenty of difficult and challenging days but that makes the successful days all the more enjoyable. It’s about finding what helps you to deal with those hard times and how you learn from them and become a better athlete in the process.

Riding with these boys reminded me that I love riding my bike, I love riding it as hard as I can and I love, above all, the friendships and camaraderie cycling has allowed me to enjoy over the years.

Gus's story

Gus’s story

“I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d all just become caught up in looking cool.”

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People have ridden further, longer, faster, over harsher terrain, in more distant lands and with less support than us, and all before we began this thing we call Thereabouts. We never set out to break any records, so what was it that we did set out to do? Was it to do something original, to somehow explore ‘the other side of the sport’? Or are we really just making a video selfie crossed with an American Apparel catalogue?

That’s the sort of thought that manifests itself when you’re tired, when things aren’t going exactly the way you planned them. I stood on the side of the road chewing, with mindless exhaustion, on a piece of wild asparagus — a gift from a young, stoned farmhand we’d just run into.

Four days ago I was so confident this group had a story worth talking about; a story that needed telling. But as I listened to Cam talk about getting our documentary on TV, and watched Taylor ask our photographer to get another shot of him standing in the road — this time at a lower angle and a different pose — I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d all just become caught up in looking cool.

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After Uluru I thought I knew what we were in for. I trusted in the landscape, the effort, the teamwork and the strangers to draw something out in us. I wanted these guys to feel the same way I did when I rolled into Uluru. Yet standing there on the side of the road outside of Hotchkiss, Colorado I couldn’t see the forest from the trees.

This thing we were making couldn’t have felt less personal. We were just parading around in front of the cameras as if we were changing the game but we were just on a glorified training ride, supported, from town to town. Was it different this time? Or has Thereabouts always been like this and I’ve just been drinking the Kool-Aid I mixed for everyone else?

I finished my stalk of asparagus, the guys snapped off a couple more photos and as we pushed off towards the town of Delta I was sure I had my answer. Sorry fellas, sorry sponsors, sorry punters. I have to shut this thing down. No film, no photos, no stories, no life-changing journeys and existential lessons. We’re gonna pretend it never happened.

Then we turned right instead of left. A little dirt road instead of the main highway. Literally, the road less travelled.

Eventually the car had to turn back and we had no choice but to walk. We’d entered the Adobe Badlands and for the first time in a week we didn’t have any cameras on us, no Instagram and no documentary to think about.

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“I wondered if anyone was going to snap; to tell everyone else to f&*k off.”

We began to separate on the trail, our patience fraying as we started to get fed up with each other’s unavoidable misfortunes. I wondered if anyone was going to snap; to tell everyone else to f&*k off. As my exhaustion began to further manifest into cynicism, I found myself hoping for it. We emerged from the trail several hours later, Cam riding an irreparable flat tyre, my camera broken, and all of us a little frayed around the edges. But somehow we were still together as a group.

Sitting at a bar in Delta after more than several unorthodox attempts to repair Cam’s tyre, and with 70km still to ride, Taylor began the call for Cam to hop off. It wasn’t long before I joined Taylor and the two of us tried to selfishly convince Cam to pack it in so we could get on the road and finish the ride before dark.

Cam, although showing rare signs of frustration, resisted and threw his leg over, pedalling off. Somewhere inside I guess we all knew that Cam would never quit like the rest of us would have. We were gonna have to ride the last miles into the fading light together, regardless of how slow that was.

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The start was slow — real slow — with Taylor and I pulling on the front whilst Lach took up pushing duties at the back. We were all dead quiet. About 25km in we stopped so Cam could remove the inner tube from his now completely decimated tyre (like that would make a difference). He punched two Cokes and the rest of us just sat and stared as if dazed meditation would provide a fix that’d give us an extra 5km/h. It was a grim scene.

We hadn’t even reached the halfway point and the fraying that had started in the badlands was becoming a tear in the fabric. I’m sure the only reason we didn’t just leave Cam to fend for himself was because no one wanted to be the first one to say it. I know I thought about it.

Upon resuming and without a word Lach and I fell in behind Cam and began to push. We began to gain speed and as Taylor fell into formation and the three of us began to push our speed notched up above 45km/h.

It’s hard to express the change that occurred in those first 500m after we pushed off. I was ready to write off the whole trip; I was finished. But as we all fell in line together without a word and with our cohesion boosting us forward, all of that washed away.

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I was then and am still now embarrassed for even thinking the things I had about three of my closest mates. I was choosing to ignore the snow, the mountains, the river crossings, the burritos, the badlands and the people we’d met in the past week. I was trying to predict what the adventure was going to be, trying to force it to happen instead of letting myself be part of it. A huge smile broke out across my face as I felt Lach’s hand on my back, I then put my hand on Cam’s back, my head down and we all pedalled on.

As we finally took the pressure off the pedals and slowed on the outskirts of Grand Junction, I looked at the others and their smiles said the same. We had all been a part of a strange and unconventional victory; a victory to the better halves of ourselves.

I know the stakes weren’t life or death and there wasn’t anything really on the line except our friendships, but sticking it out together and triumphing against that busted-arse tyre was the kind of bizarre experience that I’ve only ever had on the road from Delta. It’s the type of thing you need to experience for yourself before you’ll understand.

I don’t regret thinking those things about my mates; to me that is the beauty of cycling. It forces you to think things, to feel things and to confront things. It challenges you in the most uncomfortable ways and sometimes that’s exactly what you need to appreciate what’s right in front of you.

Taylor's story

Taylor’s story

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We were freshly caffeinated and the Rocky Mountains were nearly behind us. Mt. Sopris stood majestic to our left; McClure Pass, the last mountain pass of our journey, lay directly in our path. We rotated in four, opting for long pulls at the front which meant more time at the back to think, more time to dream.

Cam in his baggy mountain bike shorts took the longest and hardest pulls. The group poked fun at him, calling him a robot because he was so strong. “At the front. Engage.” Not much else was said. This was Day 3, Aspen to Hotchkiss, and frankly, after already 15 hours in the saddle over days 1 and 2, we didn’t have much more to say to one another.

As the boys all passed me I was struck by the contrast between the dark grey road and the lush surrounding Colorado greenery left over after an abnormally wet spring. I was overcome with a sense of clarity that I can only describe as therapeutic.

Surrounded by three close friends, my companions on this journey, I briefly became merely an observer of life. I took in the colours, and the scents. I felt the warmth in the air and the dull pain in my legs from our daylong paceline speed which fit somewhere perfectly in between comfortable and uncomfortable.

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“This fleeting sense of clarity was a feeling that people search for in everything they do.”

I mused that this fleeting sense of clarity was a feeling that people search for in everything they do. This type of journey was the sort often taken by the troubled, the depressed, the alcoholics, and the drug addicts. I, we, and they, journey to escape ourselves and our day-to-day routines. The purpose of a journey is to clear your mind and reset yourself in space.

On the road your struggle is very real and clear. Life is simple; life is lived point A to point B, food becomes fuel for travel, and a bed and roof provide shelter and much-needed rest. Everything you normally take for granted in comfortable, day-to-day life gains more meaning and, in turn, your daily efforts as a human gain more meaning.

You revel in the gift of sunlight and shiver with misery in the cold and the rain. A sense of accomplishment takes hold at the end of every day; every day that slowly begins to separate itself from being a weekday or day of the weekend. Time begins to lose meaning; daylight begins to signify a time in which things are done and achieved, and the night time becomes a time for resting and preparing for the day ahead.

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McClure Pass loomed in front of us. As it was the shortest of all the passes we were to attack on this journey it proved to be my best shot at a little victory. I took off early and my knee clicked all the way to the top where it began to snow. As I rummaged around for my jacket in the follow car, the snow thickened, and I tried not to dwell on what that meant for us on the road ahead.

We rolled off and were quickly greeted by a blinding sleet. Lachy stopped alone to adjust his hood; Cam, to everyone’s amazement, still had only shorts on; and Gus was ever-quiet as he had been the previous days, preoccupied with all of the details of directing the documentary while taking part in it. The snow that had turned to sleet eventually turned to rain and finally stopped by the bottom of the descent. With the cold and wet, our happy place had quickly turned miserable.

Minutes prior I had felt on top of the world, clear-minded and content — now we were cold and wet and facing a headwind that cut deep through each layer of clothing.

In an attempt to keep warm we resumed our pace line, but the water from the road sprayed in my face whenever I was in the wheel. We took long pulls rolling down a valley, cold and wet, with none of us really sure how far from our destination of Hotchkiss we really were. We made our final pit stop at the top of a small rise and checked the map, discovering we still had about 30 kilometres to go.

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“My level of appreciation for comfort had deepened immensely.”

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Stiff legs greeted me as I hopped back on my bike but as we got going again the sun poked out of the clouds and the road began to dry up. We popped out of our valley to a vast and green Western Colorado landscape. The view was overwhelmingly beautiful. The mountains were grey and snow-capped and sat atop a postcard-green base. The sky in front of us appeared endless with storms dotting the horizon, much like the storm we had just endured.

For the second time that day I allowed myself just to observe; to observe all of the gifts of this moment; the gift of sunlight, of dry roads, of a tailwind, of a gentle downhill road and of good company. Our clothes slowly dried in the warm breeze and I couldn’t help but remark on how happy I had been before the storm but how much happier I was after the storm, even though the surroundings hadn’t much changed.

My level of appreciation for comfort had deepened immensely and I lived in this moment of gratitude as presently as I could, knowing that this moment, like every moment in our lives, is fleeting.

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  • James

    Yeah, think I’d rather read about a race. Or a Cycling Tip.

    • Damien

      Don’t read it then.

  • RomanTheCube

    http://images.cyclingtips.com.au/content/uploads/2015/06/untitled-shoot-365.jpg <- yeah, I got about this far into the story and then decided against it

  • James Dunn

    More!

  • MattF

    Are these blokes trying to sell something? It strikes me as a contrived exercise driven by an obsession with social-media and hipster fashion. It’s pretty clear that the Mortons don’t fit the pro cycling mould. That’s fine and to be celebrated but, if you want to ‘find yourself’ on the bike, leave the documentary crew at home.

  • Woah, Phinney rocking a Hockey shirt. That’s fucking awesome.

    • Doug

      Hah, Bianca Chandon next.

  • david__g

    Apparently all previous negative comments were deleted. Why the sensitivity around this subject? I’m not sure what CyclingTips has invested in this that they will stamp out all negative comments. (I mean, can we not accept that some things just aren’t…that great?)

    • Abe

      Personally I enjoy reading butt hurt dads complain how kids these days don’t wear onions on their belts, as was the style in their time.

      • Warwick

        Haha awesome comment!

        • Abe

          Thanks I was pretty stoked on it too

      • Allez Rouleur

        Personally, I really DON’T enjoy the crassness and thinly veiled homophobia of equating someone being upset with sodomy. It’s foolish and offensive.

        • Abe

          Their butts are hurt from riding cheap bibs. Don’t know why everything has to be about sex with all you grumpy dads.

      • Nath

        Seconded.

    • stefanrohner

      social www life is all about how awesome we all are.

  • CC

    I hear was Gus is saying.. the 1st Whereabouts was really a story about the inner struggle of these two brothers – played out across some terrifically harsh terrain in Central Aus. Whereas, now these guys are in the throws of racing, the question I was hoping this story would answer is… is that inner struggle resolved? Or is the new problem, not seeming fake, which I think Gus did a good job bringing out. I think Taylor has the biggest story to present, but it didn’t come through, and I honestly skimmed his section, perhaps next chapter we’ll find out more / with accompanied scenery !

  • Brendan Edwards

    Great piece! Really loved it!

  • Roger That

    Nice piece, terrific photos. Cam Wurf is riding a new, as yet unreleased Cannondale Slate? 650 wheels, Lefty shock, etc.

    • Arfy

      While it was probably cool to change the tire without removing the wheel, it doesn’t help when you run out of tubes and none of your riding buddies have the same size wheels…

      • Fun Police

        At least he appears to have had the decency to wear a helmet for the entire ride and save his riding buddies the potential annoyance of scraping his melon off the side of the road! I know, I know, it’s Muh-rica and the land of the free and a helmet would compromise the Mortons’ Vinnies sponsorship and…. oh just delete the comment.

      • Andy Moore

        I’d wager a small amount of cash a 700c tube would work in a pinch. Tube sizes are far less important than people think, once they are encased in a tire.

    • Kane

      Really looking forward to seeing the Slate hit the market. ??

  • Simon

    Yellow Livestrong golf bag!! There’s a thesis right there.

    • Kieran Degan

      Its ironic. Didn’t you hear that hipsters invented irony?

  • John S

    You got stopped for speeding? Dunno if it’s the same but in the UK speed limits are for “motorised vehicles”, so they don’t apply to bikes. Or horses, runners or dog walkers for that matter. Shoulda told the copper to check his rule book.

    • cvails

      It’s not the same here in the states. Cyclists have the exact same rules as vehicles.

      • John S

        Odd – speed limits were introduced in the UK as a response to the higher and higher speeds, and number of collisions, caused once our old friend the motor car appeared. Before that there was no need, even the most amped-up cyclist couldn’t go that quick, and horses in areas where people were around were generally shackled to a carriage. We do have a rule against “reckless cycling” which has been used very rarely, but the general idea is if the vehicle did not come supplied with a speedometer, like a bicycle, then you cant expect to successfully know your speed. Of course almost all of us have some form of speedo/Garmin etc but as it didn’t come with the bike you are not subject to speed limits. In the legal wording backing up speed limits (called Traffic Regulation Orders in the UK) it references that it is not permitted “to cause a motor vehicle to exceed” the limit. Is it really different in the States?

        • Nath

          In Australia a bicycle on the road is considered to be a vehicle and therefore subject to the same rights, responsibilities and laws that apply to any other vehicle unless where exceptions are clearly signed (e.g. no bicycles on a motorway etc).

  • MattF

    What’s the use in having a comments section if you delete everything negative? Are the authors being paid for this piece? If yes, they should be given the right of reply.

    • david__g

      They’ve even blocked me on twitter for asking why they deleted the comments! Someone must be having a really bad day :(

    • The comments always go in accordance to the tone set early on. And this time is wasn’t good. I’m happy for criticism to be placed here, but when the tone has been set early, it just leads to 100 shit slinging comments.

      • Sean

        Imagine if I had got involved…..

      • MattF

        I hear what you are saying Wade, but don’t necessarily agree. Your statement implies that CT commentators are incapable of independent thought. Check out the inrng commentary if you need evidence to the contrary. Your website is fantastic. I respond positively when something impressed me and vice versa.

        • Unfortunately the internet can bring out the worst in people and our regular readers aren’t the ones who are the problem. It’s the drop-ins who are just having a go under anonymous identities and are trying to stir up drama.

      • Tom Wells

        You shouldn’t delete any comment. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, positive or negative. And we’re all entitled to ignore them as well. If people want to get into a shit-slinging contest then let them. The internet is supposed to be the last bastion of free speech and one reason I like cyclingtips is because of that.

        I’m disappointed.

        • Logan

          I generally agree with you if we’re talking about the world in general; however, at the end of the day, this is Wade’s house. Wade is, as you say, “entitled to ignore them as well.” Say you have a friend of a friend in your house one night and they start talking poo relentlessly about the dinner you just made them. While they are of course entitled to their opinion, where would you draw the line and ask them to leave? Never? Aren’t you entitled to ignore them by asking them to leave? I think Wade responds to constructive criticism pretty well and from what I’m gathering the comments about this post were not meant to be constructive, meaningful or thoughtful. I hope to gain insight about the posted topic when I read the comments here, not insight about how insecure people are. I think your comment comes from you being thoughtful, not insecure, and Wade probably does too since he didn’t delete it.

          I would argue that the people talking crap about this post are seeing something that they fear they themselves are doing, and as we are all want to do when scared, we project onto other people/things/ideas to protect our own egos.

          For some reason, this article triggered some insecurity in me as well because I think the practice of filming everything you do (posing) is gross, but I can appreciate the fact that these guys are doing what they want to do and finding some sucker (me?) to pay for it. In a way, it’s only a bad idea because I didn’t think of it first. That being said, people like Jesse doing the TransAm right now, are who I really appreciate because they go out and do huge things with no thoughts of recognition. I’ve enjoyed reflecting, thanks for the conversation!

          • Tom Wells

            This is an exceptional reply. It’s not often to get a thoughtful reply like this on the internet, so +1 internets for you sir!

            Saying that though, I do agree with you ‘for the most part’ apart from the bit about this being Wade’s house. When this site was ‘just a blog’ I’d entirely agree with you, but Cyclingtips is a lot more than a blog and reaching many more people all over the world now. I understand ‘why’ Wade deleted the comments, I just don’t agree with deleting them.

            If they were troll comments, then I’d agree with deleting the comments as they serve no purpose at all. But if they were genuine opinions about the content of the article, just not in the light the editor wanted, then that’s just wrong. Anyway, enough about it! Nothing we can do now!

        • thomasrdotorg

          Everyone is entitled to their opinion and they can post it on their own blog/site/FB. Dont conflate freedom of speech with freedom to poop in someone’s loungeroom.

          • Tom Wells

            Bollocks. They posted the article, they should expect some negativity every so often. People shouldn’t have to comment on their own blog, FB or anything else. Some people don’t have any of those things, but they do have a Disqus account where they can express themselves.

        • As I said above, sometimes these things bring out the worst in the anonymous commenters and it’s not necessarily our regular readers who are the problem. It’s the ones who just want to mindlessly stir up drama and don’t have anything constructive to say. Unfortunately the internet is full of this, and I’m not about to let CyclingTips turn into the hate machine that social media has become.

          • Colin Rourke

            Well said Wade i loved this story of four riders with similar characters,keep up the good work

          • I agree 1000% percent with your comment Wade. There is a difference between engaged conversation and the trolls of the world who live online to create problems for their own need of attention. Thank you for caring enough about this environment that you delete comments to keep it a positive place to interact.

        • People are entitled to their opinions – but they don’t have any rights to have it stay on a site, especially if they are just being dicks about it. And you are seriously confusing “free speech” with “freedom from consequences to what you say.” They can say anything they want on their profiles, websites, etc for the whole world to see. But they will have to deal with the consequence of being a troll when they do it on someone else’s site. Freedom of speech isn’t an entitlement to mess with people anyway you want free of consequence.

      • david__g

        Why were so you concerned about criticism towards these pros? Why do you think everyone should like what they’re reading about?

  • Anon N + 1

    I, perhaps fortunately, was not able to read the negative comments. Having seen how these fora can degenerate, I would like to urge all to remember Thumper’s advice to Bambi: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” With respect to the article, I would like to say, great photos.

  • Abdu

    Delete the negative comments, because they’re just plain stupid.
    It’s a good piece, personally I love the pics more than the copy. If you don’t like it, move on. No need to waffle on your negativity.
    Sheez, honestly.

    • Wakatel Lu’um

      It’s a cruel world out there…enjoy the bubble…

    • Tom Wells

      You can freely ignore any negative comment. People are entitled to their opinion.

  • Matt Long

    Phinney in a jean jacket. LOL… Really dude.

  • Oldan Slo

    Self-realization journey’s aren’t worth taking without a camera crew.

    This message brought to you by SPECIALIZED.

    • beerali

      Someone has to pay the bills, right?

      • Exactly. These things don’t happen for free and someone has to pay for it. Specialized were generous to help when we reached out to them.

        • BenW

          Well, at the moment you’re doing things right in declaring your sponsorships and interest as clearly as you are.

          I think the negativity stems from worries of bias towards sponsors – it’s all well and good having sponsorship and advertising, but when a site or publication gets into the realms of opinion-forming and Testing, like you have more recently, then people start to worry. INRNG has no obvious points of influence as it’s seemingly one well-informed person’s view of what’s going on in Pro Cycling, the news and the background stories. It’s clear that as a News-oriented Site, it’s not in quite the same position to influence people commercially and so I don’t feel the same negativity towards its sponsors.

          As an example from the world outside of cycling – Speedhunters. It’s been owned by Electronic Arts, the videogames people, for a while now – they didn’t say anything about buying it, they just bought the site out, and then after that it started getting involved with the Need For Speed videogames and sponsoring all sorts of stuff.
          It used to be about cool cars, mainly track cars, ones that people had built.
          Now it’s more about posing and your car is more likely to be featured on there if it’s got parts on it made by “Speedhunters Partners”, who also provide parts for free to the Journalists seemingly in exchange for a good write-up. It’s become a huge advert, and it makes for a not-especially-pleasurable read nowadays because the original spirit is gone.

          Over here in the UK, the lovely Evo magazine, for instance. It’s a bit of a standing joke that in a Group Test, the Porsche will win. Porsche also provide drives in races for their journalists, and some lovely jollies for them to go on. Sure, we know this because Evo are honest enough to tell us, but one can’t help but wonder if opinions are formed by how well Porsche treat the magazine, right? As good as the cars may be, it taints it a little bit for me. Then there’s Ferrari’s journalistic attitude, arguably worse. For a lot of tests (especially performance ones), they insist on a full mechanic crew going out to prepare the car, and its rumoured that the cars they provide aren’t quite as-per production. Other manufacturers toss the keys to the journos for one fresh off the production line and tell them to do what they like.

          Then there’s the mountain bike magazine MBR. I’ve not read it for years because I got fed up with the group test results always ending in a Specialized victory. At that time, they could do no wrong, it seemed.Same as every new technological “standard” was the best thing ever and better than the old – I find it hughly amusing that many manufacturers fit Post Mounts for Discs to sus forks these days, for instance. 10 – 15 or so years ago IS mounts with their bolts and shims were the thing to have and I was weird for having Manitous with a Post Mount brake. Now they’re all at it – but what did the magazines say back then? They just said what the manufacturers told them to say. Why have they all changed back? Probably the same reasons.

          So please forgive my cynicism as a reader when CyclingTips gets to go on a trip to the US to Specialized HQ, a key sponsor of the site, which makes me think the hype machine is in full effect. It tells us the new Venge is 5 minutes faster. But 5 minutes faster than what? Not the old Venge. A different bike, with completely different kit on the rider. They could have put you on a Demo or a Stumpy FSR, or even a Fat Bike, and the results would have been about as valid. I also wonder, if one was to build up that lovely Allez 74 steel frame with drivetrain, wheels, rider kit and everything else being equal to the new Venge (except obviously the hidden cabling), how much slower it would be?

          For now Wade, keep doing what you’re doing – I respect your honesty so far but I’ve also seen all this before, as it seems have a lot of your other readers. I hope CyclingTips doesn’t ever feel pressured into not being honest because of external commercial pressures such as sponsorship.

          • Holby City

            Didn’t you see the BMC and Cannondale?

    • Allez Rouleur

      Yup, also not thrilled to see S involved in this. Gave me bad feelings going in. Then this: “But as I listened to Cam talk about getting our documentary on TV, and
      watched Taylor ask our photographer to get another shot of him standing
      in the road — this time at a lower angle and a different pose — I
      couldn’t help but wonder if we’d all just become caught up in looking
      cool.”

      Hmm, I made a comment on the last Phinney article here about the obsession with documenting all moments of daily life. It’s not just cycling PROs, but everyone. I can’t help but wonder what it will do to humans and society.

      These guys all seems interesting. They all seem thoughtful. They all are clearly incredible cyclists. And, it is fun to read about and view the adventures of others. But, I wonder if the narcissism we’re experiencing thanks to “smart” phones and social media is just going to strangle dynamism, creativity, soul, and happiness. I think narcissism and obesity will the the plagues of the century.

      • beerali

        Perhaps the ability to share creativity through various media will extend its reach to those who previously had no interest, or did not realise they had an interest until something pops up in their social media feed. This form of sharing has the ability to foster development of ones dynamism/creativity/soul/happiness… I think we all need to be a little less cynical about the world and enjoy the little things. Like a couple of guys riding their bikes.

        On the other hand… don’t get me started on “vloggers” on youtube who share their day-to-day routine :-

      • Wish I was on the bike…

        Agreed re: the modern epidemic of narcissism. Also, I’m happy to take from this article the goodness I want – the pics and the idea of creating a ride to enable self discovery. These ideas were enough – they didn’t motivate me to read the stories yet. Maybe later. Yes, the Big S is on board AND this is stated up front – full disclosure. If Therabouts 3.0 is published I’ll have a look at that too. Thanks.

        • Allez Rouleur

          That is the key: taking the goodness. Who am I to fault these young dudes? But, I’d also consider myself a “conscientious objector” to all that I encounter, so I’m not one to bite my tongue.

          I am not them. They are not me. But, I can read, view and evaluate.

      • Hey Allez, at risk of sounding like a smartarse (I’m actually not trying to be) – that is EXACTLY why you can ‘unfollow, unlike, unpin’ out of the social scene. You don’t HAVE to be a part of the ‘narcissism plague’ – just switch off. :)

        • Allez Rouleur

          This is very true. However, you see, I love riding bicycles and find the paths, mindsets, and interests of these lads intriguing. I love the balance between the perfectly clean RD of the PRO tour and the squeaky wheel of the self-route fascinating.

          However, I’m also willing to question where the character ends and the facade begins.

          I’m not all that old, but I remember doing sporting things (jumping a cliff into a lake, bombing a trail) for the fun of it and for getting kicks with a few mates. More and more, the world seems to be driven to action by it creating a buzz, grabbing a headline, or gaining fame/money.

          I guess I just want to see people act based on their inner fire, not their outer manipulation.

          • Abe

            You know what makes me mad. When people spell pro in capitals. Grinds my gears.

        • Holby City

          Agree Willko but I also agree with Allez.

          It is without a doubt that we have become the most narcissistic, vain and voyeuristic generation in history and this is probably not a good thing. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 10 years. But like any “plague” it will reach its zenith and then its nadir.

          We can’t all have thousands of followers but some people naturally rise to the top and that’s great. I enjoy following these people as well as pros.

          There’s nothing wrong with having only a few hundred followers. But it is wrong to feel inadequate if you don’t and equally wrong to aspire to having thousands of followers purely to feed the ego. You don’t want to be a try-hard grammer/pinner/booker who thinks they’re big time when they are not; nobody likes that guy.

          Get out and enjoy the road. Document it if that’s your passion.

          – In life you are either an actor or in the audience, and both need the other equally.

      • Kayrehn

        They gave in to their narcissism so that the rest of us can read this, so I really don’t mind the fact that they did it even though they are skeptical of it themselves.

      • SeanMcCuen

        cars have narcissisim and obesity flat beat.

    • roklando

      If there’s no Strava/Intagram/Video the enlightment didn’t happen!

  • aradilon

    Seems like Wurf is riding that new Cannondale!

  • Steel

    Now this looks like a job for the bikesnobNYC.

  • Rob

    I don’t have enough time in my life to go out of my way to complain about the Internet.

    Great article. Cool photos. Nice bikes. Fun story. Now I want to ride my bike (whatever brand it is). Thanks CT. End.

  • Push Bike Writer

    Really? People have to complain about this? I don’t get it. You want to whinge about something in cycling, write to the UCI and Cycling Australia and complain about doping. Footage, pics and words about four guys riding bikes is hardly bringing cycling down.

    • Wakatel Lu’um

      Complaints…it pretends to be something it isn’t…

  • What a great piece. Even with 4 pros, a sag wagon and camera crew, this is as real as it gets. There are no commercial motives here, it’s straight up riding for the love of cycling, brought to you by the people who appreciate the beauty of cycling. What’s not to love!

    • david__g

      No commercial motives but…sponsored by Specialized.

      • Do you think these guys were actually doing it for the $$?? http://www.thereabouts.com.au/journeys-1/
        What would make it raw and unscripted enough for your satisfaction.

      • In order to be able to document this (and I realise that it doesn’t need to be documented, but I wanted it to be) there needs to be someone to pay for it. Using amateur photographers and film makers can often turn into a train wreck (it’s happened to us before). Specialized was generous to help fund these hard costs and put absolutely no requirements on it. They had no problem with BMC or Cannondale being used and didn’t want this to be a Specialized advertisement. I’m not sure what the problem is.

  • Carlo

    Great reading, great pics… enjoyed (“Thereabouts” uluru) and looked forward to this one. It hasn’t disappointed! 4 lads out on their bikes, finding the love as hard as it is being their lives sometimes. Taking a different route to their usual pro training camp, no helmets, wear what ever makes you happy, having fun being lads is why/where a lot of us started riding bikes? thanks boys, cycling tips and sponsors for bringing this story to us

  • Sean

    Go cats!

  • Nath

    I love the article and the concept, and especially the fact that they question their own motivation. This isn’t just some simplistic adventure story about cycling, but is a glimpse into much broader issues pretty much everyone can relate to. Personally, I appreciate the inward focus, the self assessment. It should be inspiration to take a deeper look at our own motivation and intent. It makes me made that people don’t get this or seem to think this is a bad thing.

  • Ritch

    Nice bit of escapism – best mates, bikes, no responsibilities. They have plenty of time ahead to worry about the real world, but good on them for just going for a ride – I wouldn’t mind having a go at that too, but looking at the pictures will have to do for now.

  • Meh

    Yeah.
    Pros.
    Riding a long way.
    With support vehicles.

    Yawn.

  • henrique d’avila

    When I saw the frist whereabouts I was hyped and started planning my own cycling adventure. To be even more introspective I decided to go alone in a 5 day bike trip on unknow roads. I did about six hours on the bike daily, average, and it was challenging both mentally and physsically, but specially mentally. The loneliness and boredom was terrible, even with new roads and scenary everyday. Gonna to it again this summer (southern hemisphere here, in northeastern Brazil)
    Anyway , it seems to me that Phinney and Cam were worried about things other than introspectiveness, while the Morton brothers knew what they were up to. Looking foward to see it.

  • Daniel Madden

    Enjoyed.

  • Kieran Degan

    Really enjoyed this. I was skeptical going into it. Nothing to do with sponsorship, who cares (everything and everyone suckles from that teat). I was wary because this new hipster style ‘journey’ and escape from the norm, finding yourself etc, often equates with throwing all responsibility away and focusing on yourself. Especially when it comes from 4 wealthy, successful and powerful people. But, after reading it, I saw it as a great road trip with mates, doing all they could not to get caught up in pretentiousness. Beautiful photos, cool story and inspires me to get do an epic ride like this one day, maybe with my daughters when they’re old enough.

  • hiplessbeardster

    Thanks for sharing this journey with the cycling “community”,not that we seem to behave that way at times. I cant wait for the video. Its great to see in other side of pros out there doing something different.

  • A

    I would be concerned about frost bite from walking in the snow like that…

  • Tim S

    That’s a good road trip right there. I’d rather be there or Mallorca.

  • Mark Blackwell

    Well now that I know there has been a tidal wave of negativity about this article, I feel compelled to add that I LOVED IT. The technique of having each author tell their own story (in quite an intimate way I might add), but well-woven into the whole story, was very effective. Return acts are hard to get right, and Thereabouts 1 was so good that this could’ve been a disaster on any number of fronts.

    I also feel compelled to add that I appreciate the CT editors making sure that I don’t waste my time on bile in the (often wonderful) comments section.

  • Rubens Loor

    Nice Work Guys, I expect this since one year ago, when is ready to watch and share?

  • Jessy Vee

    Sorry… I missed the note about sponsorship and just enjoyed the photography and the article for what it was. I think these guys have a style that they live and enjoy, and I can appreciate that. The photography makes the journey look phenomenal (except, I would love to know the story behind some of those shots in the gallery below the article) and the trials and tribulations of the journey spoke to each of the participants, regardless of whether they had a support car or not. I’ve been planning my own trip – not nearly as long, or as fast… or as stylish – throughout Victoria and we’d be mad not to bring a support car. I’m all for carrying your own spares, but sometimes it’s just as fun to find and follow the road less traveled without a huge pannier bag full of junk. Kudos to the boys and I look forward to the video.

    Oh, and as an aside, I really didn’t like Taylor before I read this piece. I’ve noticed that I’ve been unfairly projecting my Lance-hate onto all Americans. This humanised TP in my own mind. I’ll stop being so hateful towards American cyclists now. ;)

  • Pro Cycling is for most of the time one big, boring, disciplined search for a few extra watts. Despite all the efforts that hundreds of pro cyclists do every year, only a handful of them will ever win anything as a pro, and even less anything that anyone pays any attention to.

    Cycling media has, before the rise of social media, never paid attention to the local heroes. The guys that “regular” folks look up to.

    Angus and Lachlan Morton immediately caught my interest when Thereabouts came out. I know I am not the only one to have noticed how shit cycling can get once you start staring at watts and Strava KOM’s. There is always someone faster than you, and most of us are not even genetically set up to be anything better than a decent CAT 5 racer in local races. (Races that nobody gives a crap about, and that at most will earn a few dozen likes on Instagram).

    Cycling in itself though, is so much more. While not many will ever find themselves good enough to compete, just riding a bike is good enough. Kids will push themselves daring to jump that jump that is just a little too big… getting a new maximum speed record etc.

    It doesn’t really change even as we grow up. We just look for newer and bigger challenges, but cycling is actually up to providing that! There is always a bigger challenge that can be done.

    I actually look up to Lachlan and Angus more because they stepped away from pro cycling, not less.

    It’s much too easy to get fixated on the official rules of the Velominati, KOM’s on Strava or finding a few extra watts for your FTP. All of those will suck the real joy out of cycling.

    For me, Thereabouts has a place – an important place – regardless of whether it seems forced or not, to make cyclist think about why they love cycling in the first place.

    I don’t care if someone wants to benefit financially or from a PR point of view. If Specialized pays to make the adventure available to us weekend warriors, who cares? Who cares if Taylor Phinney wants to pose for a picture? We are all more or less picky about choosing what pictures to post online. Who cares if Cam thinks about getting TV-coverage with the trip?

    The fact is that there is far from enough documented adventures like this to inspire regular riders like us. Once you have had one bootstrapped movie that becomes something of a viral success, it’s normal to try to live up to expectations and over-deliver.

    It’s easy to beat down on clothing choice, hipster vibes and narcissism. It doesn’t matter! I want more of these films, because regardless of all, they make me want to ride my bike more, and make me remember why I fell in love with cycling.

  • Sam

    Will there be a Thereabouts 2 film?

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