Let’s play a quick word association game. Think about Los Angeles for a second. What comes to mind? Chances are if you haven’t spent much time there, or even if you have, you’ll quickly rattle off something along the lines of: traffic, congestion, Hollywood, smog, sprawl and road rage.
As the roughly 3.8 million residents move about the city’s crowded freeways in their cars, the ever-expanding population of cyclists take to both the urban streets as well as the surrounding hills and mountains. While LA is flat in some areas, it packs in its share of elevation. With Mount Lukens being the highest point within the City of Los Angeles at 5,074′, Mt Baldy breaks 10,000′ in LA County. Everything from sea level to around 9,000′ is accessible by bicycle. If you know where to look.
Southern California is a second home to me, for many reasons, the obvious of which being the excellent cycling and the people that live here. Life’s a bit easier when it’s always sunny and excellent riding is at your finger tips. Perhaps that’s why Ben from Argonaut has always liked the crew at Pedalers Fork in Calabasas. They’ve got world class roads and trails literally surrounding their unique restaurant, coffee and bike shop.
I can’t tell you how many times people attempt this business model, yet Pedalers Fork didn’t just attempt it, they nailed it. Excellent food, great coffee and high end bicycles. Pedalers Fork has created an environment that caters to the local cycling scene with group rides, fund raisers and parties. While their bike is small, they turn out many precision high end builds. Up until this point, they’ve sold only Moots. Not because of any exclusivity deal, but because they were looking for a carbon fiber match to the brand. That’s where Argonaut comes in.
A few weeks ago, Ben from Argonaut asked if I wanted to come out to Calabasas, ride bikes, eat great food and hang out with friends. All to celebrate this new union. Well, that and Ben would be giving a presentation of sorts about the brand to a few select people… and I’d shoot some photos.
We spent the morning riding bikes over the Santa Monica Mountains, with lunch at Pedalers Fork, an afternoon Putt n Pump track action at a secret location before attending a dinner, curated by Chris DiMinno of the Chris King Gourmet Century.
Rough day, huh?
Waking up to unfamiliar sounds, namely from animals, is highly underrated. Like an alarm clock going off full tilt, your brain processes new audio notes with a different intensity. Maybe that’s why I sprung from my bunk in our hut at 6am that morning. Scratching my head, semisomna, asking myself “what the hell was that?”
We’re too far south for it to be a Bunyip – the Australian Yeti – and too high in elevation for it to be a chicken. There it is again, now multiple times, surrounding the cabin. I grabbed my coffee kit and headed out to the porch to see what the commotion was all about. Immediately, I began to witness these wingless birds chasing each other around, making this unique call.
The Weka had welcomed us to the Old Ghost Road. A flightless bird, a bit bigger than a kiwi, diurnal, and very vocal. At a certain point, the need for coffee and a few sunrise photos overtook the interestingness of a damn bird.
Pardon the brief nature geek moment, we’re here to talk about bikes.
Europe is blessed with ripping trails, from the seas to the tops of the alps. Many of these trails began as footpaths, or cattle trails, or even military roads, traversing mountains, connecting towns or other trade routes. New Zealand, however, had very little need for such intricate trail networking. Being an island, it was easier to go around the mountains, than over them, even in colonial times.
However, if anything can motivate man, it’s gold.
Which is why and how some of the first mountain trails were made in this country. The path we rode on the Stigmata the day before, the Charming Creek Trail, was the beginning of a network of mining rail lines, which stopped just before our home base for the remainder of the trip, the Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge.
After settling in New Zealand, just outside of Nelson, we awoke to one of Mother Nature’s most memorable spectacles of the year in the form of a full-nuke sunrise. Skies were scorched, clouds were obliterated and as it began to mellow out, I put down my camera and began to grind my coffee beans in preparation for my morning ritual.
When I was first contacted for this media launch, I heard four words: Santa Cruz New Zealand. During what I call the slow and sleepy first of the year, news like this is exactly what I needed to kickstart my stoke for 2015. All I could think of were the sick trails that photographer Sven Martin had been sharing on his Instagram and what HouseMartin seems to be best known for: trekking into insane singletrack and ending rides at the beach.
Eroica translates to the heroic in Italian and perhaps that was the intention when the Eroica California team designed the course for the forthcoming event in April. While the original event was born in the Italian countryside, on pristine strada bianche, the California event takes to the hills and mountains separating wine country from the beautiful coastline…
A few of us are camping and attempting to recreate last year’s Super Bro Weekend, even though the looks less than favorable. We’ll see you later this weekend. If you’re looking for some ride inspiration, check out: Super Bro Weekend.
The Long Road to Titus Canyon
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
It started for me two years ago when I made my first trip to Death Valley National Park. I was rolling along the road to Ubehebe Crater when I passed a little dirt road named “Titus Canyon” that gradually sloped out of the valley floor until hitting a seemingly impassable rock wall a few miles in the distance. No signs of the road switching back and climbing over it… just abruptly ending.
Fast forward to a year later, I had done a bit of research and found that the road does in fact go through the range and over the Nevada border. It’s a 25 mile stretch of dirt that is a one-way road from the Nevada side into California. Plans were set, and I was going to give it a shot. Only hitch was that I wanted to climb it rather than descend it (on a road bike), so I would be heading up going the “wrong” direction, then looping around over a paved pass back into Death Valley…
Wet and Wild On Mt Lowe
Photos and words by Sean Talkington
There is indeed a stigma attached to Southern California’s weather. Outsiders envision year round palm trees, 80’s style picturesque sunsets, flip-flop sandles, tank tops and oceans of suntan oil being slathered on daily. For the most part that assumption is absolutely true. We have it pretty good! So good in fact that this place will make you soft. Send me your toughest east coast transplant wearing his/her shorts in negative degree weather and put them in a LA’s treacherous “low 50’s” for a few years and I’ll send that person back to you in some Ugg Boots, “Juicy” sweatpants, Dior sunglasses, a fashionable parka and a tiny chihuahua that fits in a purse…because that’s how we do in this city!
Death in the Valley – Team AWOL
Words by Erik Nohlin, Garrett Chow, Dylan Buffington, Sean Estes
Photos by Erik Nohlin and Dylan Buffington
“Let’s ride into the middle of the desert on our bikes.”
It was plain and simple. This was the brief that convinced a few friends to dive into Death Valley head first. We planned the trip in three weeks, the drive took 7 hours, and all of a sudden our feet were planted on the dirt of the Inyo Mountain Range that would lead us into Death Valley. We were set for an adventure but what we found was an epic one.
On long rides, moments and memories start to blend into each other, making it hard to differentiate this mountain from the next, that turn from this bend. As part of the Team AWOL spirit, there is a responsibility to tell a story. Whether that be with photos or reports, every rider will explain the pain of a climb a little differently than the next. This is something that is taken to heart especially when riding with a group. In this report, we are including everyone’s voice as a way to adjust the method of storytelling. We find this to be essential to understand the bigger picture. Not only do we view and take in the photographs, but the style and reflections in each of their writings brings unique perspectives to understanding the truth in the story…