Category Archives: Recent Roll
The Desert Ramble
Photos and words by Erik Mathy
It all started some months back when Jason, aka Gnat, set off a discussion amongst a small group of us. The topic? A fatbike only bike-packing trip along the Kokopelli Trail to celebrate his birthday with Glenn, Eric, Lelan, Jim, Bobby, Brady, Cass, Tim and myself. The Kokopelli is a gorgeous, 142-mile, multi-use trail connecting two of the great meccas of mountain biking in the United States: Fruita, CO and Moab, UT. It features a ton of technical single track, rocks, places where we’d carry our bikes up embankments, and long stretches of desert. Once we got to Moab, we’d spend a day riding the Porcupine Rim Trail before doing one last incredible overnight camp on Kane Creek Road.
Last week our friends at Flat Track Coffee celebrated three years of business here in Austin. Wheels of all shapes and sizes showed up to ride a janky obstacle course, drink, chat and watch the shenanigans erupt well after the sun went down. Hopefully these party vibes will inspire some similar celebrations with the Fourth of July approaching… We’ll see you on Monday!
Tools of the trade:
Zeiss 35mm f2
Kodak Portra 400
Singlespeeds and Sunburn in the Lost and Found Race
Words and photos by Kyle Kelley
It’s not too often you get asked to hop in a car and drive 8 hours north, race (I didn’t do much racing though) a 100 mile “Gravel” Race with 7,000 feet of elevation on a Single Speed, then hop back in the car and drive another 8 hours home. So of course I said “Yes!”
While I said yes, I must admit I was kind of worried. I’d agreed to do something I really knew nothing about. I’m not in the best shape at the moment, definitely not in 100 mile Single Speed shape. This is kinda like hiking 16 miles round trip to Half Dome in brand new boots, which I’ve also done. I never said I made the best decisions, but luckily I’m still having fun and the 2015 Lost and Found Gravel Grinder was no exception!
Vacation. Holiday. 3-day weekends. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, the road is wide open and the sun is putting in overtime. Taking advantage of those days is key to sucking the last drop from life and its possibilities.
Last summer, I bought a 4 banger Tacoma pickup in Portland and it kickstarted a whole series of road trips. Most of which centered around cycling-related themes or events but it was the interstitial spaces and moments that I remember vividly. Sunsets, sunrises, rain, fog, wind. All of these had a specific scent and sensation. Most of which were captured visually throughout those long summer months.
I carried my Mamiya 7ii with me on every trip, loaded with Portra 400 220 film. It wasn’t until recently that I finally sat and dug through it all, compiling a Gallery of these moments and vignettes. They’re mostly in the correct order, beginning in Portland and traveling down south.
A lot of these spots are well-known, others not so much but they all serve one purpose: to inspire you to travel to the West Coast and see what you’re missing. Pardon the succinct nature of this intro, but there’s not much to say. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
On my last day in Los Angeles, Sean from Team Dream and I sat in his living room, listening to the rain dump outside. Normally, a little rain doesn’t bother me, but this was torrential. You’ve heard the expression “raining cats and dogs”, right? Well this was all cats. Their claws hitting the tin awning outside Sean’s guestroom as visibility dropped to inches and the trees swayed in the wind. Dogs wouldn’t cause this much damage. It fell and fell and fell.
Los Angeles needs it.
For the past two years, a few guys from Beat the Clock Cycling have taken to the open roads the morning after Thanksgiving to escape Turkey-snacking and Black Friday madness. This time of year is when we get in our camping trips. It’s not 100º out and the only worrisome factors are the sudden cold fronts that blow in and yeah, the horrible headwinds that make trekking south-bound unbearable.
Still, knowing we might face rain and 30+ mph headwinds, a few of us loaded up our TT bikes (tent time bikes) and glanced over Nick’s route through Texas Hill Country. On the agenda: Pedernales State Park and Guadalupe River State park, the former of which, none of us had ever been to.
Our previous trip was such a success that we were all stoked to just get out and ride. John had missed us the first round – he was on his honeymoon – but brought along a whole bottle of Weller 12 year that was left over from his wedding. That and a bag of Flat Track Coffee…
The idea of spending one of the last days of “extended summer” going to bars and sleeping in didn’t sit well with Josh Cates from Beat the Clock Cycling. So what did he do? He planned a multi-day camping trip / mini bicycle tour southeast of Austin. Four days, three camp sites, all fun.
Unfortunately, I could only make it to the first night, which was good enough for me. It got me out of Austin for Halloween and onto the Woodville once more. Something I had been missing as the mornings became cool and the afternoons short.
Buescher State Park was our destination. Just south of Bastrop State Park, where just a few years ago, forest fires laid claim to the lands.
We met up at 8am for coffee and breakfast tacos…
Tools of the trade:
Zeiss 50mm f1.5
I wish more of my weeks ended like this… and yes, I have to shoot that bike. I’ve just been waiting for the right time.
Tools of the trade:
Leica M7 / Zeiss 28mm
Last summer, after Keith Bontrager spoke at Mission Workshop, I got to spend a few hours with him back in his home town of Santa Cruz, California. The intention was pretty simple, gather some ‘lifestyle’ photos for Trek and Bontrager to use in ads, magazines and their photo annual book.
Good Things Don’t Change at Mercian Cycles
Photos and words by Jim Holland
Sometimes good things don’t change, Mercian Cycles is one of those things.
The current workshop has sat in the same spot since 1965, watching as modern industrial buildings crop up around it and other older workshops disappear. Underneath the steeped, church like ceiling, little has changed and the intermittent clang of tubes and scraping of files ring out as they have done for the last 50 years whilst one by one, men make bicycles by hand.
Frames are still brazed free hand on an open hearth, as they have been since day one, amongst the very last practitioners of this method, Mercian believes it to be gentler on the tubes, which contributes to the longevity of the frame. Die hard Reynolds stalwarts, they don’t often stray from Birmingham steel and have a good stock of 531 for the true nostalgist.
One of just a handful of England’s traditional shop based builders that remain, the torches are still firing brightly and the benches are seldom dormant as the orders keep pouring in, one of them mine, I’m counting the days.
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