Category Archives: Reportage
Sea Otter, ORNOT
Words and photos by Nich Barresi
Sea Otter is great. There’s lots of new bike stuff, racing, camping, beer, and friends, but we had a hankering to get out on some dirt roads after hanging out with Ritchey on Friday. We had heard of an abandoned dirt road down in Los Padres National Forest and we felt this was the perfect opportunity to check it out (and maybe test out a few new products). Indians Road can be accessed by Arroyo Seco Campground and leads south into the wilderness. Our plan was to camp near the trail, ride it in the morning, and then get back to Sea Otter in the afternoon.
We spent the evening in the woods and woke up to birds chirping and warm morning light kissing nearby hilltops. Try waking up like that at Laguna Seca campground… After a bit of camp coffee and ride preparation, we were on our bikes and headed up the hill.
The pavement ended first, and then our ride, temporarily.
Matt managed to slash a nice hole in his brand new tires’ sidewall 10 minutes into the ride. We booted with a greenback, threw a tube inside, and were on our way. Enter ‘day long anxiety about being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a blown out tire’. We knew we were on borrowed time with a boot, but we weren’t about to give up so soon.
Indians Road is a pretty special place. The road was shut down in ’94 after winter storms caused two landslides along the road, and it remained closed due to pricey and non-ecological repair estimates. The military finalized the closure after 9/11 when the stated the road, which is right next to Fort Hunter-Liggett, would ‘require an increased law enforcement and USFS patrol’. The double track road is now overgrown and full of fallen rocks and sand. There is some dodging of said rocks, and of course a climb over the landslide, but it is certainly rideable on skinny(ish) tires. All together, it is an extremely enjoyable ride very similar to what you might find in Marin, but with a more Southern Californian look.
While you’re only 20 miles from Arroyo Seco campground, the remoteness of the ride and the great expanses you see along the way make it feel like you’re really “out there”. Be sure to pick an instagramable lunch stop…don’t worry, there are plenty.
Little did we know, Murphy Mack (Super Pro Racing) went and planned a route straight through Indians Road for his Spring Classic this weekend. Their ride starts down south and heads up through this same portion of Indians Road, and then into the valley via Arroyo Seco, and up to Gilroy. Should be an epic day for those who go. We never did make it back to Sea Otter, but it was a fair trade by every measure. After sampling a bit of the Indians Road goodness, it’s safe to say that we’ll be planning another longer trip. Hopefully not in the middle of the summer when this place must get HOT, Ornot.
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Compared to the early 2000’s, the NJS track frame market has had its bottom fall out. Now you can pick up a like new frame for a couple hundred bucks, versus a couple grand and there’s plenty to choose from, in various sizes. Hype has died out on these frames, which is perfect for guys like Josh who still love to ride a fixed gear on the street for a living. He works for Chicken Hawk Courier and makes various deliveries around town here in Los Angeles on this Watanabe frame. Aside from the fluoro paint, I was immediately drawn to the build: all black Nitto, Dura Ace hubs, Sugino Zen, ATAC pedals and a Spurcycle bell to top it off.
Say what you will about fixed gears and track bikes on the street but you’ll be hard pressed to find beausage like this elsewhere. Much less shorelines like that on the lugwork. Dang!
You’ll have to excuse the overdose of Santa Cruz Bicycles posts these past few days. It’s merely coincidence that they just launched a new Tallboy around the same time this bike was scheduled to be published…
The Santa Cruz Stigmata wasn’t always a flashy carbon race bike with clearance for 43mm tires and disc brakes. It began as a made in the USA aluminum machine with a very traditional cyclocross racing geometry and posts for canti brakes. While I loved the modern reincarnation of the Stiggy, I still absolutely love seeing its aluminum predecessor in the flesh. Especially one that’s so tastefully built.
There’s nothing super flashy or tricked out about this build. The owner found the frame, NOS online for a deal and built it with mostly used parts but some fancy DT Swiss 350 to H+Son wheels. Ultegra became the platform it’d be built upon and Paul Mini Motos would provide the stopping power. It’s still a new build, so he’s working on the fit, hence the “top hat” spacers, but other than that, this bike is dialed!
Oh and I love the green! It matches the mountains of Los Angeles right now.
His and Hers Jerome Cycles Townies
Photos by Kyle Kelley, words by John Watson
Being able to ride with your partner can be one of the most cherished experiences in any relationship. Now, whether or not it’s on the road, or a trail, or even just around town is contingent upon that couple’s own experiences on the bike, naturally. When this couple in particular decided they wanted new townie bikes, they contacted Southern California frame builder Jerome Cycles, who gladly took on the project. These bikes are traditional porteurs, with a large, flat rack platform and a geometry designed to accommodate a decent load like a bag of groceries. This functionality is only increased with Son hubs and Edelux II lamps, custom stems, PAUL Brakes, White Industries cranks and pedals with T11 hubs, laced to Velocity Synergy rims.
The most striking thing about this project are the colors. A dark, midnight blue for him and a burnt mustard for her, these two colors, matched with the Jerome Cycles headbadges really make these frames pop with character. I can’t wait to see how these bikes patina over time!
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Salton Sea Bikepacking
Photos and words by Spencer Harding
I had ridden around the Salton Sea many times for work and visited the Slabs many times in the past few years, but when Brad posed the idea to traverse the east side of the sea on dirt it got me stoked. The plan was to ride along the edge of the sea south toward Slab City, camp out for the night, and then return on the road paralleling the aqueduct. We drove out late Friday night and camped up in painted canyon. We had a gang divided between two 80s stunt jumpers and two fatbikes. The route south was pretty much unplanned and we crossed all manner of path; dry drainage ditches, beaches of dead fish bones, borderline impassable swamps, and even just riding straight across the desert in places. We got turned around a few times and had to succumb to the road for part of the day.
After sunset we arrived at Slab City, “The last free place in America”, a desert oasis of squatters living on the remains on an abandoned military base. After a quick dip in the hot spring we headed to The Range, the local venue that hosts an open mic every Saturday. We chilled out on one the many rows of dusty blown out couches and enjoyed the tunes. We made camp for the night in an installation of burnout cars and bikes some friends of ours have been working on for a few years now. As we faded out from the long day someone in the Slabs lit off a massive firework and a beautiful little desert fox quietly ran into our camp and peed on Alex’s sleeping bag.
Sunday we cruised out of the Slabs, stocked up on plenty of water in town, and made for the aqueduct. This concrete river flows gently down from the California/Arizona border bringing water to Southern California. When a levy broke in 1905 it spilled the entire flow of the Colorado River for a year into the Salton Sink creating the Salton Sea. We were stoked for the icy waters as the temperatures reach the high 90s. Sorry not sorry for swimming in your drinking water LA.
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Back at NAHBS, my lady friend Cari bought an Elephant NFE for her around town and touring bike. While we’ve done plenty of local, in the neighborhood rides and even a few fireroad jaunts while camping, we’d never done an official ride – to a destination anyway. For a few reasons, the most pressing issue being her general fear of descending down rocky, rutted and steep fire roads. Which, as you’ve seen in the Reportage here on the site, is pretty much all we have in Los Angeles. (more…)
Emilio Santoyo-Illustrated Team Dream All City Macho King Disc
Words and process photos by Sean Talkington, bike photos by John Watson
Custom bikes are one of the coolest traditions continued within modern cycling (IMO). The idea of having a bicycle custom tailored to your specific needs is pretty amazing and being able to (sometimes) participate in the finished aesthetic is the big fat cherry on top. I have always been drawn to the idea of having a bike that looks nothing like the ones my friends are riding. Its the reason why people like all of us visit sites like The Radavist. We come here to see cool bikes (generally speaking of course). (more…)
Bikepacking. It’s one of my favorite ways to travel and for Blackburn, it’s not only a passion for them, it’s a challenge. How can design be intelligent, intuitive, reliable and most important, resilient to constant wear and tear? You can spend all day designing products in an office, but the real test is out on the open road.
One of the ways Blackburn vets their products is through the Ranger Program. Each year, they send out a call for entries before selecting six or seven Rangers to get kitted out with a bike from Niner and full Blackburn product. Their journey begins, oddly enough, at the San Jose Airport… Well, parking lot B at the San Jose Airport. (more…)
The All-City Log Lady: Sometimes Bikes, Like Men, Jump Up and Say ‘HELLO’
Words by Kyle Kelley, photos by John Watson
From the beginning All-City has been ahead of the curve. They are dedicated contributors to the current evolution of cycling, pushing their own boundaries and those of the industry around them, making bikes that are actually fun to ride. They began making high quality, affordable track cranks and hubs when there was nothing but Campagnolo and Sugino to choose from. Next they introduced the world to the 32c production road “race” bike. After that, they took the cyclocross world by storm and produced a NAHBS quality production single speed cyclocross bike. And during the vintage MTB craze of 2014-2015 they made a modern day, old-timey MTB equally equipped for ripping down the trails as through the streets to the bar. (more…)
Four Seasons with the Salsa Blackborow
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
It started over a 2 years ago, when I was riding my current fatbike – a Surly Moonlander – for much more than just winter riding. It was slowly becoming my everything bike, and eventually that Moonlander replaced my carbon Cannondale Scalpel. Looking back, that piqued my interest in a more aggressive geometry bike, that could handle some sort of suspension fork.
There were a handful of manufacturers with tapered head tubes to allow for a Rock Shox Bluto or other fork. Simply put my next bike had to have the ability to run suspension, fat 5” tires, and through axles. Of the handful of bikes out at the time this wasn’t possible. Along comes a Blackborow. It has checked all of my boxes, and even some that I didn’t know I needed checking. THAT FOREST SERVICE GREEN, I had to have it. Things fell into place and a few months after waiting my dinglespeed build showed up. I have a tendency to build my bikes custom, so I stripped the bike down and rebuilt it with some stuff that I prefer to use. Industry 9 Hubs, dropper post, RaceFace NEXT SL cranks and the cockpit from Chromag. (more…)