Category Archives: Austin
Summer Solstice on the Swift Campout with Beat the Clock in Austin
Words by Gideon Tsang, photos by Gideon Tsang and Spencer Brown
On the morning of the Summer Solstice, Beat the Clock hosted a Swift Campout in honor of the longest day of the year. We awoke to the familiar cloud cover that has come with Texas’ rainiest year on record. Swampy barely beats the scorching summer sun but beggars can’t be choosers, eh?
13 of us rolled out from Sa-Ten Coffee and Eats onto the desolate roads of central Texas towards Bastrop State Park. The protagonist of the route is Old Sayers, a 10 mile gravel road filled with rolling hills and handsome oak trees. It always feels like we’re riding into a Terrence Malick film. If the storybook setting weren’t enough, we pulled over for a nature break at a tree swing. We swung with giggles and ‘Grams.
As we arrived in Bastrop early in the afternoon, the rain gods welcomed us by opening the heavens. The remainder of the evening was spent fashioning coyote scarves, camp coffee and of course, whiskey. If all days could be spent bike camping with friends, make them days longer!
Follow Gideon on Instagram and follow Spencer on Instagram.
Last week, Mellow Johnny’s had the great pleasure of hosting a frame builder’s happy hour that showcased the work of five local bicycle artisans. With so many talented frame builders in the immediate Austin area, it only makes sense to get them out of their work sheds and together for a party. Icarus, Chumba, Kirklee, Paramour, and Saila all descended upon the shop for a night where they could showcase their work and talk to established fans as well as potential clients.
The energy was rambunctious. Halfway through the night, I found myself surrounded by over 100 people who were enjoying beer, friends, and the company of some beautiful bicycles. The amount of “oh’s” and “ah’s” were uncountable. From someone marveling over the beautiful weld work of Lauren from Saila to an in-depth conversation about carbon frame repair with KirkLee, there was something for all tastes. The amount of support and admiration that was had for these humble local builders was a testament to the tight-knit and passionate community that is evident in Austin’s cycling community.
For myself, the highlight of the night was hanging out with the fellas of Chumba Cycles. After talking with them about their home base right down the road from Pace Bend State Park and witnessing their love of beer, it was clear these guys loved to shred and loved to have a good time. The coolest bike they brought was a fully loaded 29+ rig called the Ursa 29+. Able to fit a 3.0 inch tire, the Ursa is clearly a bike that has the potential to handle just about any terrain you could throw at it. Three bottle cages and the ability to run a Singlespeed, 1x, or 2x set up leads to extreme versatility and the option for fully loaded camping or an afternoon shred session at your favorite local trails. The Ursa they brought was outfitted with their Zulu series bags for handlebar, stem, seat, and frame. Vince from Chumba shared with me his story about taking the bike to Ecuador for a 7-day bikepacking trip from Cotapaxi to Chimborazo and all I could think about for the rest of the night was the plan for my next bikepacking trip!
All in all, the event was a huge success. Good times were had, there was much “nerding out” on bikes, and many Topo Chicos and beers were consumed. If you have a local frame builder in your town and you’re looking for your next bike, it’s so important to see what they have to offer. Check out a few more photos below and see the full gallery at Mellow Johnny’s.
I got food poisoning. My allergies are killing me. I have a fever. It must have been the shrimp I ate. Whatever the excuse was people all over the world got sick today, calling into their jobs and taking the morning off to ride bikes. The idea is genius and also a bit sketchy. You could get fired! Or you could just spend a day on your bike instead of in an office. That was the intention anyway.
When Sean from Team Dream Team first brought up the idea of #GetSickDay – which at the time was called “fuck work day” – I thought it was brilliant. After a bunch of emails behind the scenes, he organized a bunch of group rides in cities all over the world. Portland, SF, Los Angeles, NYC, London… the list goes on and on.
I happened to be home in Austin, so I led a mixed terrain ride and Andre led a road ride, both leaving from Mellow Johnny’s downtown this morning. We rode around 40 miles after determining the original route would take even longer. Rides like this take forever and that’s the intention.
Take your time, eat tacos, drink a beer and hit a few swimming holes!
… guys, I’m not feeling so hot. I think I might need a day to rest. What ever will I do?
Cough, nice flier, cough.
Thursday, June 25th
10am rollout from Mellow Johnny’s
Roadie or Dirty ride options.
Hey Austin! We know the weather has been a bummer as of late and that means the trails have been unofficially off-limits. Well, it looks like this week will be a bit drier and hopefully Thursday we’ll have somewhat sunny skies.
The Radavist and Mellow Johnny’s have your #GetSickDay plans covered with two ride options: a Mellow’s roadie ride or the Radavist’s dirty ride.
The dirty will be arguably more, uh, interesting as we take you on a cutty, go nutty trail ride to some interesting, off-the-beaten-path routes. Expect lots of potential hiking, swimming, boozin’ and yes, shredding.
Cyclocross or mountain bikes are a necessity here.
Due to the nature of the trails, we’ll be navigating a lot of overgrown territory, so I’d err on the side of shorts and a t-shirt, rather than your favorite new kit. Unless you feel like ripping through lycra on a tree branch. It’ll be a chill pace, but we’ll be packing in some miles (around 50), so plan and dress accordingly. The bigger tire you can fit into your cross bike the better. Mountain bikes will be a bit overkill on this ride.
Bring two inner tubes, a pump and any tools you’d need. We ain’t fixing your flats for ya!
As I’m pedaling away from Mellow Johnny’s on Ben’s bike to photograph it, I couldn’t help but try to think of some clever way to describe it or at least the back-story. These days, custom paint is divided into a few categories with the most prominent being either high-concept or merely aesthetic. Truthfully, I’m not sure where this one sits on that spectrum.
When I look at this orange, yellow and black steed, it reminds me of some menagerie. It was painted by Dustin at Violet Crown Finishing in Austin, Texas. Close my eyes. Open them. I see a koi fish. Or a tiger. Moreseo, a koi though. Perhaps it’s the sparkles? Tigers don’t have sparkles. Was that Dustin’s inspiration? Who knows. Ben, the owner (a mechanic at MJ’s) has a lot of traditional Japanese tattoos.
When you ride a bike like the Specialized Crux, it’s hard to stand out from the other fish on the field. They’re literally a dime a dozen. Affordable, performance-minded, lightweight and they look great, right out of the box. Sometimes though, you want something a little more flashy, without springing for a custom frame.
The frame was a cheap pickup, actually a trade. The Giant wheels came from a friend, for free. The rest of the parts were scrapped from a free bin, save for the Pro cockpit and post. I don’t want to tell you how much money Ben has invested in this frame, because it’ll make you mad. That and his friend Dustin wanted to really paint a bike.
You don’t need to go custom to have the custom experience. Painters are just as talented as builders and they have the ability to transform even a bike like the Specialized Crux into something that will truly stand out from the other fish in the school.
Case in point… wow.
Benedict from For the Love of Mud recently was in Austin for an extended period of time with work. While here, he shot video of a few local female BMX rippers and just released a short teaser for the project. I can’t wait to see the full cut!
The allure of the eBay score is strong, especially after so many Landsharks have been recently featured here on the site. Such temptation was too great for Andre. After looking on eBay for a few months, he finally scored this Road Shark with Shimano 600 for $400. It came as shown, minus some dry-rotted tires and no saddle, which were easily replaced. It’s in ok overall condition, just don’t look too closely at the bar tape!
The future of this bike is uncertain. There’s been talk of long-reach calipers, 650b conversion with porteur bars, or a modern 10-speed group, and my vote goes to keeping it as-is, just overhaul the damn thing a bit. For now, Slawta’s crazy personal touches shine regardless as to how much patina is present. My favorite detail is the chomping shark mouth on the internal cable routing exit…
Hey Austin, Texas, you (we) have a lot of great framebuilders in town. Many of which can build you a completely custom bicycle for less that what you’d pay for a made-by-machines carbon high end frame. Understandably, it’s difficult to commit to a high-dollar item, but Mellow Johnny’s has put together a meet and great happy hour on June 12th in order to lower that barrier for entry.
Head over to Mellow Johnny’s for more information and you can trust that these builders are more than capable at delivering a product you’ll want to always ride.
Drew from Engin Cycles is a wizard of custom mountain bike framebuilding. Over the years, he has built some of the most dialed titanium bikes I’ve seen. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rowdy hardtail with 140mm of travel up front, or a snappy, steep XC race machine to tear the field apart, what Engin offers to their customers is custom, performance machinery.
So where does a 29+ rigid mountain frame come into play? It’s not exactly performance, but it does offer up a unique problem solving opportunity. One that Drew couldn’t pass up.
Tyler’s bike utilizes Paragon’s 29+ yoke to ensure chainring and tire clearances. The rigid steel fork is painted with cerakote, as are the frame accents and Tyler chose a mix of X9 cranks, XX1 rear mech and XTR brakes, with a Stan Hugo up front and a Blunt SS on the rear. The Groovy bars really just add the icing on the cake for me.
Fatter tires at a low pressure are perfect for Austin’s Greenbelt trails, which offer a rocky, rooty and sometimes slick environment. Tyler’s been vibing with this bike all spring and is sold!
See more for yourself in the Gallery.