Huayhuash Carry — Joey Schusler Interview
In the winter of 2014, Joey Schusler and two friends set out to circumnavigate one of the most wonderful and wicked mountain ranges in the world – the Cordillera Huayhuash in Peru, by bicycle. The film they made about the experience is an inspirational must-watch for the outdoor set, and won a bunch of awards to boot.
We caught up with Joey in Whistler, BC, to get some background on their big adventure.
What was the process of packing like? How did you decide what to bring for an adventure like this? Was there anything you thought “ah shit, I should have brought _____” as your flight was taking off?
Packing was a huge process. It took a few weeks of planning and a full day to perform. We started out with a lot more gear than we actually ended up taking. For a trip like this, it’s key to figure out what you really need and don’t need, eliminating as much weight as possible. Also, there are plenty of things you can bring that serve a dual purpose, so being strategic with everything was key. The only thing that we forgot that we actually really needed was a shock pump. Tracking one down in Peru was a fun warm up to get the Spanish vocabulary flowing…
How did your Revelate bags perform? The bikes looked like they rode pretty well loaded up!
Revelate make the best bike packing bags in the business. Hands down. The more you use them the more you can dial in your specific configuration. We had them weighted and balanced really well, and the bikes still rode great! Sure it wasn’t as nimble as without bags, but considering what we were carrying we were still able to get after it on the descents.
What’s going on with your tail bag – actually, it looks like it’s held together with shopping bags and duct tape? Is there a MacGyver story there?
Yup. The day before we set out someone stole my tail bag. Quite an issue, since that was my only way to carry what I needed for the adventure. We MacGyver-ed up a spare dry bag we had with some tape and Voile straps to make a “custom” home-made rear bag. Not quite a Revelate setup, but it did the trick kind of… By the end of the trip it was torn and the tape was falling off. Next time I will watch my bags more closely so as not to get them stolen. Riding with the sketchy rear bag was less than ideal.
Sony FS700 with 15 batteries, Canon 5DmkIII with 15 batteries, Canon 7D, (5) GoPro Hero3+ with 20 batteries, Lite Pro Feather Crane, Manfrotto Carbon Tripod, Small Tripod, (2) Time Lapse Controller, ND and Graduated Filters, & Dry Bags.
Yeti Cycles 575, Smith Forefront Helmet, Smith Pivlock Overdrive glasses, CamelBak Fourteener Pack (24L), Outdoor Research Axiom Shell, Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket, Outdoor Research Foray Pants, Outdoor Research Sequence Shirt, Shimano SH-MT35 Shoes, & Revelate Bike Bags.
Big Agnes Zirkel SL 20, Big Agnes Air Core SL, Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3, Extra pair of socks, & MSR WhisperLite Stove.
GPS, SPOT Beacon, (3) Local Maps, (6) Spare Tubes, (3) Rear Derailleur, Spare Cables, Nuts, etc., First Aid Kit & Emergency Blanket, Spare Headlamp and Batteries, Small Spanish Dictionary, Multitools, & Small Cable Lock.
Your gear list definitely emphasized dependability over light weight. How much weight were you guys packing on each bike? Was having solid gear in unfamiliar terrain worth the few extra pounds?
Yeah. It’s important to have stuff that you can rely on when you are days into the backcountry. That being said, we were still able to keep it super light. In retrospect, there are a lot of things we could have gone a bit lighter on. Now that we have pulled this trip off, our setups will get even more dialled in the future. As for exact weight, I honestly have no idea. Sometimes it’s better not to know how much extra weight you are packing and just go for it!
Would you do anything differently next time in terms of your carry setup? More bike bags? Frame bags? More weight at the bars? More expandable backpacks?
There are a few things we would do differently, but not much. Less weight on the back is usually good, so next time I may try and find a way to keep more water on the frame. In terms of bag setup I am super happy with the configuration we used. Our backpacks were super expandable – the CamelBak Fourteener 24 NV is the best adventure-style backpack I have ever used. It also fit the camera gear in there really nicely.
The total lack of immediate help must have been a horrible feeling when you crashed [Ed. note: watch the video, seriously], but it looked like you guys were as well prepared safety-wise as you could be. What did you do to minimize risks out there?
We had some decent precautions in our first aid kit, as well as a SPOT Beacon if anything were to go seriously wrong, but honestly in retrospect it was a bit reckless. None of us had any sort of medical training and there was no help for days out there, so I’m just grateful it wasn’t a worse accident. This fall I think all three of us will be taking a wilderness first responder class. We were lucky it wasn’t any worse, and it has definitely motivated us to get the proper training.
What advice would you give people who are planning this kind of way-out-there bike camping adventure?
It might be wise to start on something smaller. We bit off an extremely ambitious adventure for our first real bike packing escapade. Try something for 2-3 days closer to home to get your setups dialed before doing something big. It’s a lot of pain and suffering to lug all the gear over huge mountains, but always worth it in the end. Get out there, take chances, and get after it!
Awesome! Thanks for chatting and good luck on your next adventure.