Fun and Fail // Ashley Magnus

Ashley Magnus is a good friend of No Life and it’s been an honor to watch her grow as human being, move across the country from Massachusetts to Oregon, and find her own way through and around the very prescribed formula of cycling these days. You may remember her story of her and her friends riding the Oregon Outback route during August, months after the actual ride, and during a drought. Also, here’s part 2 of that story.

Ashley is a boss, and embraces some of the best parts of the No Life mentality: find your own way, bring a film camera, have fun with your friends, and cherish the friendships you have.

This time Ashley once again took on some epic adventures. Here’s some words from her,

From the moment an idea for a trip begins to form in my mind up until the day before I head out I love the process of planning; spending hours scouring paper maps and Google Street View, locating donut shops and greasy spoons along the proposed route, identifying possible camping spots, verifying water fill-ups, creating meal menus, the entire time thinking of how much fun I’m about to have in nature with my friends. But when the best-laid plans begin to unravel it can be a struggle to enjoy the experience of failing. These photographs document two separate trips with one common theme: very little went as planned.

The photographs that look cold or involve snow are from a trip that was supposed to be several days riding around and through the Painted Hills but already by the end of our first day we made the tough decision to head back to the car. Our route was nearly impassible due to lingering snow from a long winter and pushing our bikes for what could potentially have been miles didn’t seem like a good idea. We camped at a much higher elevation about four miles from what was our intended campsite and we awoke the next morning to a late-season snow storm.

My fingers and toes were numb from frostbite and I had almost no dexterity, my friend had to pack some of my camping gear and even help zip up my jacket. All my concerns of ever-lasting damage from frostbite were forgotten when we started back down the unrecognizable mountain road that we’d struggled up just the day before. The powdery conditions were better suited for skiing rather than biking but of course no other person was crazy enough to be out. The giant evergreens were swallowed by the falling snow leaving us enveloped in quiet solitude. As we lost elevation, the snow turned to sleet, then to rain, and finally a mist, the feeling in my fingers and toes was regained. Luckily, I did not need anything amputated and I was able to capture some beautiful moments with my disposable camera.

The other ride was near Mt. Hood, its recognizable silhouette appears in a few of the photographs. We had strung together some established routes and coupled them with blindly-picked forest roads off the map. I’m happy to say what lead to us bailing had nothing to do with these mystery roads, but everything to do with indomitable nature again.

On our final day, temperatures in the high desert rose close to 100*. Climbing out of a steep canyon brought us only closer to heat exhaustion, we stopped about every ten feet to rest and guzzle our water bottles dry. Once we finally got out, it was another 20 miles to the next possible water source and another 60 after that to our car. After looking at the map for a possible shortcut, we saw a highway running parallel to us so we bushwhacked our way over and started thumbing it. Two very friendly bowhunters picked us up, they only had room in their truck for our bikes because their trip hadn’t been so successful either. We were dropped off 20 miles from our car, every part of that was downhill. Maybe a little reward for the earlier suffering in the canyon.

These moments had me wondering why the hell I put myself in such situations. The photographs developed after the fact remind me that I had truly beautiful experiences, and will continue to, though that can sometimes be overshadowed.