I've been traveling to Tsali pretty regularly,about twice a year since 1999 or so, and the first trip was in 1995. A few years in I took a picture that struck a chord with me and I kept returning to the same spot. See, as someone who likes bikes and cars I usually have some pretty distinctive stuff, and I can tell about how old pictures are by how the stuff in the pictures changes.
Take a look...
This was the first 'truck in picturesque spot' picture. The 1999 Toyota Tacoma 4WD, with Yakima gutter racks on the Raven topper, and the 2001 Specialized Stumpjumper 'mass produced California piece of shit' as it became known as. Not because it was a bad bike, but because it was just sort of ,well, 'there' and lent itself to passive ridicule. It was a very boring bike, and the first bike I had owned since the 1993 Cannondale M800 that was essentially straight off the rack. In this picture, the Specialized is brand spanking new.
Flash forward a few years. The car is changed obviously. I bought the Rover in early spring 2004, as it was a 2003 holdover. Kristen and I spent a couple years going to Rover Club meets and trail runs and stuff, so there were less opportunities for pictures in the picturesque spot. We did travel to Tsali a couple times through this period, but I wasn't thinking about cataloging the changes in these pictures until later. The Specialized is still there, and the Rover is essentially stock, featuring only the Southdown skid plates, a couple JATE rings and the ladder on the door. Stumpjumper sprouts an SDG Kevlar saddle, as my rekindled love affair with retro parts begins.
Between 2005 and 2007, the white EWR comes home from Matt, and the TST titanium is my primary cross country bike. This is it's second trip to Tsali, as Kristen and I had rented a cabin in October 2005. The family grew by one in the summer of 2006 with the arrival of the child, and then shrunk by one the following May as we lost Utah. The planet has known no better dog. I spread his ashes up at Tsali, and I've been delivering tennis balls to him at Lake Fontana ever since. TST sports the blue SDG from the departed Stumpjumper, and also features green Altek levers, my first pair, bought totally on a whim from eBay. Another love affair is launched. The white EWR struts blue Avid Tri-Aligns and Ultimate levers, and they are a disappointment. The TST sports Sram X-0, my first SRAM bits and the first twist shifters I'd owned since about 1997.
Honda Element makes the trip, signalling that there are three of us making the journey instead of two and a dog. There is a blue EWR on the roof, a bike I ordered from the newly resurrected EWR in March 2008, so this is the maiden voyage of that bike. Blue Alteks and the SDG have been there ever since.
No changes to the Rover. Both the 1994 white EWR, here set up as a single speed with a Marzocchi fork, and the blue EWR. The bikes are hanging off the back of the truck on a Thule TS2 rack. Everything fitted with Alteks and SDG. Well, not the Rover.
The Rover is back, with a rooftop sarcophagus, and two EWR's on the back; the blue 2008 OWB and the orange 1997 E-Motion. The E-Motion would prove to be too small and would hit the market the following year. Rover is still on original springs and 16" wheels. Still with the blue Alteks and SDG on the OWB, and the orange EWR has a black SDG and a pair of silver Alteks, which are both now fitted to the Phoenix. Orange EWR is full rigid and 1X9 drivetrain, and the blue EWR is running a Rock Skox Revelation coil fork; AKA the 'Rock Shox Valdez.' Both bikes running Sram X-0,
Rover again, with the blue EWR and the 'sarcophagus of fun.' Thule TS2 still there. Rover sports 2" OME lift with springs, shocks, steering stabilizer and braided steel brake lines. Wheels are 18" Land Rover Hurricanes, my favorite Rover wheels. Alteks and SDG still there, Fork is now a Fox Vanilla RLC, and the drivetrain is 1X9 Sram X-0.
I spent 4 weeks in the hospital that spring with my left lung full of goo, and admittedly, while I don't like to talk about it or make excuses, it still bothers me when I exert myself, and according to the doctor, it probably always will due to residual scar tissue. No changes to the Rover, although the sarcophagus stayed home this time, as it was a solo trip. Hell has frozen over though, as the bike is full suspension. The Turner 5 Spot makes its debut. All is good though, as the Turner, like most of my bikes at this point (and the collection here is about 14 bikes I think), sports an SDG saddle and Alteks. I built this bike, including buying the frame, for $1100 out of pocket. The majority of parts coming from my private stash of goodies. Although the Turner started life with the 'Rock Shox Valdez' on the front, here it has been fitted with the Fox Vanilla RLC and a Cane Creek Double Barrel rear shock, so the initial 'el-cheapo' experiment with full suspension has been deemed successful and the investment in the Turner begins. The RS Valdez fork goes into the parts bin, where it pees its 5wt oil all over my spares. The Thule TS2 is still around, although it is wearing out its welcome as it prevents me from opening the side swinging door on the back of the Rover when in use. There is also no USF tire cover here, as the first one sprouted a hole and was ceremoniously burned in my fire pit.
This last roll up. I am fat and out of shape, so the Turner gets most of the work these days, as it is the easiest to ride when you are fatigued and not wanting to stand up on technical sections or descents. USF tire cover returns, and the Rover sports an IMBA sticker. Sarcophagus returns as the three of us were packed into the gas-swilling Rover. The Thule TS2 has been retired.
There it is. 10 years of Tsali bike trip evolution, courtesy of the 'Picturesque Spot'.