Category Archives: Rides
Ch Ch Ch Ch Cherry Canyon
Later!

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.

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Dec 19, 2014 4 comments
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 54 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 38 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
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
Wednesday Night ‘Cross Practice on Randall’s Island – Chris Lee
Evan Murphy gives instructions to a group of racers before starting drills.

Wednesday Night ‘Cross Practice on Randall’s Island, New York City
Photos and interview by Chris Lee

Ride over to soccer field 70 on Randall’s Island in New York City around 7 pm on a Wednesday and you’ll be met with bikes rolling around in grass and dirt, someone yelling “come on you can do it!” and a group of 15 or so racers running drills around cones and trees. This is the home of the weekly ‘cross practices in New York City.

Evan Murphy, a cat 2 cyclocross racer, runs these weekly practices with his teammate, Kyle Murphy, a cat 1 racer, every Wednesday on Randall’s Island. The Murphy “Brothers” bring cones and homemade barriers to run drills and mock races. These practices not only build the skills needed to become a better racer but also helps build a community of racers in a city and in a sport where stepping out of your comfort zone is the name of the game.

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Nov 17, 2014 1 comment
We Wait All Year for This, Right?
The 2014 ATX CX Cup

“Cross is coming” “Cross is coming”.

All year, we wait for cross reason. Truthfully, it’s the only racing I actively seek out. Sure, if there’s a MTB race nearby, I’m not going to say no, but cross is the only form of racing I truly love.

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Nov 16, 2014 17 comments
To Die on the Day of the Dead – Cani Sciolti Valtellina
To Die on the Day of the Dead

To Die on the Day of the Dead
Words by Alexei Popov and photos / preface by Cani Sciolti Valtellina

Preface.
It’s truly bizarre, but every time Mr. John Watson asks me to post some stuff on his website it is always something that has to do with failure.
Yes, FAILURE.

Failing is part of our everyday experience (I think I fail every single day, in one way or another) but it’s a term that’s not so well renowned in the cycling blogsphere (and beyond…)
Nevertheless we, as Cani Sciolti Valtellina, have a special attractive relationship with the unknown, which always drives us over and above the boundaries of the “well planned / all into account” philosophy to dive into the aleatory world…

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Nov 12, 2014 12 comments
FOMO and the Blast Zone – Kyle Von Hoetzendorff
FOMO and the Blast Zone

FOMO and the Blast Zone
Photos by Ethan Furniss and words by Kyle Von Hoetzendorff

Ours is a world ripe with opportunity, one in which we have been blessed with the time and resources to pursue activities of leisure. I have spent a significant amount of time planning and accumulating a trove of memories that are anchored in recreational pursuits; time I mostly cherish, time like it or not I can never get back, because time is never in my corner. It races forward, thoughtlessly giving away it’s infinite increments, while I am left to selfishly consider how best to squander my finite tokens. We’re the singular results of our choices, moving from consequence to consequence with such persuasive and pervasive insistence as to appear pre-determined. Actionable or not, the appearance of choice haunts our rationale like a plague, at every turn a cross roads, at every stop a trailhead, skeins of choices beget skeins of choices towards a knotted and unpredictable future.

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Nov 11, 2014 18 comments
Skipping Town on Halloween to Go Bicycle Camping
Recent_Roll_BTCCamping-COVER

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:
Leica M7
Zeiss 50mm f1.5
Portra 400

Nov 6, 2014 17 comments