Category Archives: Reportage
Exploring the Versatility of the Cyclocross Bike in the Verdugo Mountains
So good.

With the advent of the 1x drivetrain, be it SRAM (who arguably brought the technology to the cycling industry), Race Face, Wolf Tooth or the hundreds of other options, the ‘cross bike lost a bit of its versatility, when compared to having a 34t inner ring. For racing, a 40t front and 11-28t cassette may be fine, but add in a substantial amount of climbing, on dirt roads exceeding 12%, for miles, and you’ll find yourself a bit “knackered” as our British comrades say.

My decision to drop the front derailleur on the Geekhouse came after a few misguided chains that cost me precious placing in a race. Truth: I was already ready for a 1x setup. So I went with a CX1 rear mech and the CX1 11-32t cassette.

The rear range is crucial. Especially when compared to the standard 28t cassette. SRAM’s CX1 made it easy with its 32t cassette and in January, the 36t cassette will be available. Now let me preface this by saying, I’m well-aware that most of you find CX1 sacrilegious due to its pricepoint or whatever, but let’s not steer off path just yet.

My bike feels great with a 40t front and 32t rear in racing, but riding fire roads, not so much. The 40t front ring and 32t max cassette had my legs burning on the first pitch, especially with 40mm tires. Remember, the larger your wheel’s diameter, the longer your gear inches. I couldn’t imagine an 8+ hour ride with the current setup. Maybe a 38t front would help?

After a few jaunts on familiar ground in LA, Sean and Moi offered to take me up into the Verdugos. A mountain range that sits across from the Western ridges in Santa Monica, and only a quick jaunt from South Pasadena, where Sean lives. My decision to carry my camera was the right move, after we crossed the gate. It’s really strikingly beautiful up there.

The plan was to climb up the fire road and bomb the singletrack down, then ascend once again in the dark to take yet another bit of doubletrack down, at night.

Plans < Photos

We were fucking about for hours up there and before we knew it, it was pitch black, save for the glow of the city lights. We all brought lamps and layers, ideal for descending down one track and avoiding rocks on the climbs but that doesn't mean we weren't ready for dinner.

The whole time, I kept thinking I'd love to have a 38t on the front of my drivetrain, as I began tick-tacking up the dirt. 40t x 32t with 40mm tires is no joke on a 15% grade. Especially when you're lugging a DSLR on your back. What doesn't kill you...

Still, at the end of the day, we surpassed expectations of the versatility of these “race bikes”, bombed plenty of steep, rain-rutted tracks, saw a bobcat – Sean freaked out, ate pizza, drank beer and proceeded to be enamored with just how rad cyclocross bikes are.

Now, where is that 38t Wolf Tooth ring I bought at the beginning of the season?

Dec 16, 2014 52 comments
The Team Mudfoot Stinner Cyclocross Frameset
The Team Mudfoot Stinner Cyclocross Frameset

Geoff McFetridge is a longtime legend in my book. Growing up skateboarding in the 90’s, there were a handful of artists that always had their finger on the pulse. Everywhere you looked, he was doing illustrations, or projects with brands like Nike – those Vandals were my favorite. About 6 years ago, Geoff, along with some like-minded friends started a team in Los Angeles called Mudfoot.

Years later and the team has grown, racing and riding the roads, courses, tracks and paths of LA and beyond. The team, it turns out, is a highly successful brand as well, planning rides in Los Angeles and selling out instantly of any good or product they list on their site. All of which is designed by Geoff.

Last year, the team looked to Santa Barbara’s Stinner Frameworks to design and fabricate a run of team bikes. They were a smash hit and looked exceptionally good bunnyhopping barriers, or taking beer handups. So when this year’s season drew near, Geoff worked with Aaron once again on designing a new frame.

Even though these frames were completed towards the end of the race season, we all know a cross bike is just at home in a race as it is on dirt and trails. I’ve got a few more races here in Austin, as well as Nationals, all of which I’ll be breaking this beaut in. Once it’s built, I’ll give a full parts break down and a proper photoshoot.

Before it got built up however, I took a few minutes to photograph it in my office. See more in the Gallery!

Dec 16, 2014 18 comments
Robert’s All-City JYD Work Bike
Robert's All City Junkyard Dog SS MTB

The All-City Junkyard Dog, or JYD for short, was a limited edition release due to its relatively unique use. A singlespeed mountain bike frame with canti mounts may not be at the top of your list of bikes to own, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a blast to ride. These frames really are unique. They’ll take a 2.35 tire, feature a segmented fork and are non-suspension corrected. In fact, they remind me a lot of my Indy Fab 29’r.

A lot of bike messengers use old mountain bikes with porteur racks for deliveries. They’re a bit lower trail than a road or cross bike, so they’ll handle better when loaded and they fit a bigger tire to keep the ride smooth over the rough terrain you can experience in cities like Los Angeles.

Robert runs Chicken Hawk Courier in LA and he delivers a lot of food to the guys at Golden Saddle Cyclery, where he bought his JYD frameset, Nitto bars and PAUL Flatbed Rack. To make delivering food easier, Yanco made Robert a custom porteur roll-top bag.

The build is functional, yet stylish and as soon as Robert rolled it through the doors of GSC, I had to shoot photos of it…

Dec 15, 2014 50 comments
#LARiverCampCoffee with the Los Angeles County Coffee Connoisseurs
Los Angeles County Coffee Connoisseurs

Every Wednesday, a group of coffee enthusiasts wake up with the sun, pack their camping coffee setups on their bikes and meet in a small park on the LA river. There’s no requisite, just make coffee, chat and partake in the occasional donut.

Errin Vasquez organizes this gathering, which I first found out about on Instagram and this week, I got to hang out with this growing meeting at the Sunnynook River Park. Along with capturing the general vibes, I followed Jesse Carmody‘s brewing technique and shot photos of Errin’s Box Dog Bikes Pelican randonneur bike.

Dec 12, 2014 23 comments
Errin’s Box Dog Pelican Randonneur
Errin's Box Dog Pelican Randonneur-21

Yesterday I went down to the LA River Camp Coffee meet-up to drink some coffee and see what this weekly gathering is all about. While I was there, I shot Errin’s Box Dog Pelican rando bike, set up with panniers.

This bike was made by Banjo Bicycles – they’re made by Winter now – in production runs and are sold by Box Dog Bikes in small batches. Errin’s has seen some mileage, which you can follow along on his blog Frontage Roads. I love randonneur bikes that become commuters when they’re not being drug through the shit on a brevet.

See more details in the Gallery and many thanks to Errin for organizing the LA River Camp Coffee meetups, more on that tomorrow!

Dec 11, 2014 33 comments
Sunset Chasing Southern California’s Best – Ryan Wilson and Sean Talkington
And better

Sunset Chasing Southern California’s Best
Photos by Ryan Wilson and Sean Talkington. Words by Sean Talkington.

Ryan and I recently planned a ride up Highway 39 to get some “work” done. We needed to shoot some of the Team Dream products in their natural habitat (shameless self promotion #1). We asked our friend Jackie to come along as a lady model. Jackie originally wanted 10K in cash (up front!) to model but settled for a turkey sandwich (also up front!) instead.

This ride is (in our opinion) the absolute hands down best climb in all of Southern California. The road used to be closed to cars a few years back and in those days you could do the bulk of the twisty climb without ever seeing another human. It was really post apocalyptic feeling back then. Now the 39 is open to motor vehicles until just after Crystal Lake, but even with the occasional “Fast And The Furious” car ripping by you every so often, this climb is still easily #1.

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Dec 10, 2014 37 comments
Stoked Is the New Suffering
Sequence 03

Personally, romanticism of intense physical exertion hasn’t been my thing. Probably because as fitness found me like a dog finds the wheel of a moving car, the ability to document rides took precedent over turning myself inside out climbing.

In short, the main motivation for getting fit was being able to ride, shoot photos and not be dying the whole time.

Presenting cycling as something that is excruciating alienates a large potential of thrill seekers, at least according to my opinion – ATMO. Instead, going up that tough climb and stopping along the way to capture a switchback, or redirecting the group back to a technical section for a photo, always lends itself to a more engaging riding experience.

People often ask if it’s possible to get a real ride in while documenting the whole time. The answer is yes, your definition of ride just needs to change.

Introduction aside, there are a lot of people I know who, at least at some capacity, live by this loose mantra of riding. Most of them are really, really, really fucking good at bikes, but even better at fucking around. These dudes live, breathe and eat cycling. Cycling, and tacos.

Yesterday, Sean from Team Dream, Ty from Golden Saddle and myself headed up Brown to El Prieto for a quick and easy MTB ride. We’re all strong in our own ways. Sean can sprint up a fire road and look scared on descents like none other. Ty is a gravity bully on descents, but will always stop to hit a line that no one else sees.

Myself, I’m an ok climber, equally as ok descending and decent at shooting photos. My crowning achievement yesterday, however, was my #RubberSideUp. Party on dudes.

Dec 9, 2014 25 comments
Mission Workshop’s New Storefront on Valencia
Mission Workshop's New Storefront on Valencia

San Francisco’s Mission Workshop has been on a steady climb of growth since their first bag was released. Originally on Rondel, an alleyway off of 16th street, they recently expanded their space to continue all the way onto Valencia street, a prominent shopping thoroughfare in the Mission.

The brand’s design aesthetics carry over through a palette of raw wood and steel, as well as stark white walls overlaid with vinyl appliqué and photography. Taking center stage is their high end Advanced Projects and fledgling brand ACRE.

I had the opportunity to photograph this space, prior to the brand’s opening party last Friday… If you have the chance to see it for yourself, swing by. If not, check out the Gallery!

Tuesday – Saturday 10am-8pm
Sunday – Monday 12pm-7pm
Mission Workshop
541 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

Dec 8, 2014 3 comments
A Quick Stop at Mash SF’s New Storefront
Shop Visit: Mash SF

When Mash first opened their storefront a few years back, it quickly became a clubhouse of sorts for the local riders. Group rides would meet up once or twice a week to explore the roads and trails of San Francisco. As quickly as the storefront became popular, the brand itself grew and the need for more space became apparent, sending Mike Martin on a hunt for a bigger store, with space for a design office.

Yesterday I swung through their new storefront and design offices in SF and hung out for a bit, soaking in all the random artifacts both from SF’s street racing culture and cycling’s most iconic brands… See more in the Gallery!

Dec 5, 2014 13 comments
Escaping Black Friday with Bicycle Camping, Bourbon and Black Coffee
Blasting to camp with our first tailwind of the trip.

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

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Dec 2, 2014 63 comments