Category Archives: photography
Ride in Peace Jacob Smoller: A Tribute Jacobs Track Bike
Photos by Kyle Kelley and words by Billy Sinkford
Preface: Jacob Smoller recently passed away in Boston. Coinciding with this unfortunate event, Kyle came across a Jacobs track bike in Los Angeles. To celebrate Jacob’s life and work, we reached out to Billy Sinkford, a good friend of Jacob to write a memorial piece:
Try Harder. That was Jacob Smoller’s motto. His creed. Jacob would have turned thirty a few weeks ago and passed just a few days before his birthday. He was a Boston bike messenger, frame builder, beloved member of the international messenger family, and urban cycling community at large.
Be it music, racing, building bikes or riding them, Jacob was an artist with a strong creative drive. His commitment to the cycling community even stronger. Over the past 10 years Jacob had a hand in organizing countless cycling events and races, all with the emphasis on fun and inclusion, he was happiest bringing folks together.
Jacob loved this community, he loved bikes, and he loved Boston. Try Harder, never settle and give your all. He gave everything to the messenger community, his friends and family and we will miss him all the more for it. As everyone does, Jacob had his demons. It’s important to remember our friend for the light that he shined and not the shadow that he cast. He was a beautiful man who didn’t ask of anyone and stood tall with his decisions.
Jacob and I met over a decade ago during my transition from messenger life in Boston. I had some of the best times of my life with him, late night antics, exploring the country by bike, and candid conversations over the years. He is a friend that I hold close and his loss has rocked my world. I miss him with all my heart, ride safe my friend. I will miss our talks.
Follow Kyle on Instagram and Billy on Instagram.
There’s nothing like taking a brand new bike and throwing it into the proverbial fire.
Bikes like this are not meant to be babied, nurtured, wiped down with a micro-fiber cloth and sprayed with chemicals to make them look shiny. They’re meant to be abused, smashed, shredded and put to the test, straight out of the gate. Especially bikes specifically designed for arguably one of the most intense endurance races in the Continental United States.
The Salsa Cutthroat is what I would call a first for the company. In the sense that it’s a bike designed for a specific event: the Tour Divide Race.
Stories. We all have to have stories to coincide with photos right? Nowadays, someone has to get lost, or their life threatened, or lose a battle to nature’s mood swings. Catastrophe, calamity and someone’s a casualty of what everyone seems to be dubbing “adventure.”
Truth is, a bike ride is hardly ever an “adventure.” Much less a bike launch. I don’t like that word: “adventure.” It tends to envelop so much of our day-to-day lives, especially those of us who spend a great deal of time outdoors. Was it an adventure? No, it was a hike. Or we went swimming. Or we got lost for an hour. “Adventure.” It’s been watered down, branded, packaged and delivered to us in a freeze-dried, waterproof pouch. We share our curated lives exposed through meticulously VSCO’d / Photoshopped vignettes on Instagram.
While this may seem cynical, I can assure you it’s far from that. It’s more of an explanation, or a primer if you will and here comes to the top coat: while the word adventure’s definition is subjective, the spirit of conquest is the thing that ties all facets of that word together. For some people, conquest lies in what others might deem an obtainable task. For others, it’s something so far-fetched that it’s more of an impossibility than a probability… Whatever it is, “adventure” means different things to different people, but we should all be more creative in how we define it. According to my opinion anyway.
Over the next few days, I’ll be rolling out coverage from what we all began to call the “Tour Divide Simulation Ride” but first, I’d like to begin with a quick gallery from the Grand Depart in Banff, Alberta.
Traditionally, the race begins in the YWCA parking lot, just across the river from the main tourist thoroughfares in Banff. This year’s turnout was the biggest yet, with around 150 people registering for the race. A quick headcount revealed around 130 at the start, with a handful of people beginning a day early or later that morning.
Still, to see a Grand Depart this size for a race like the Tour Divide was more than I expected and quite the scene. Men, women, old, young and even a canine left Banff with aspirations of finishing this grueling challenge. Over the next few weeks their mind, body, bike and soul will be put to the test…
Our trip was a bit easier but even after three days on the road, I have a new found respect for anyone willing to tackle such a feat. Best of luck to all the racers and riders still out there on the TDR.
From the backcountry of Alberta, Canada to the Italian countryside…
It’s been a whirlwind month here at the Radavist and so before this beaut gets lost on a hoard drive, I really wanted to share it. This bike was owned by Emilio De Marchi and still resides in their storefront which has been here since 1951. The frame itself is from the early 1960’s and is labeled under the brand’s name De Marchi. This cruiser was made in the same town as their garments from a small time builder of which no one could remember his name.
Over the years, it got updated with a more modern mix of parts including Campagnolo GS and NR. Most impressive to me are the droves of old Italian men who ride bikes like this in Conegliano, where the bicycle is the way of life for many people.
Without getting too far ahead of myself here, I have to admit the giddiness flowing through my veins at the moment. I’m in Banff, Alberta at the start of the Tour Divide Race, arguably one of the most intense self-supported off-road races. I’m here with Salsa Cycles, and while we’re not doing the entire TDR, we are riding a three-day section of the race. Why? Because Salsa has supported racers and riders in the TDR for years and all the time and energy put into supporting athletes who train for to events like this has culminated in a bike that’s just being launched.
At this point, if you’re even reading this still and haven’t sprung right into clicking through the gallery images, I need to point out that Salsa champions the drop-bar off-road touring and racing bike. They love the hand positions, the unique stance and the options for drivetrains. That said, over the years, they’ve perfected what is arguably their best “all-road”, dirt-tourer: the Cutthroat.
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.
Through the Valley and Over the Pass
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
On many occasions over the last couple of years I’ve gazed at the old, abandoned road that zig zags its way beyond 11k ft, above an already stout paved climb outside of Bishop, CA. Thousands of feet up these rugged slopes is a gateway to the John Muir Wilderness. I’ve made quick forays a little ways up it in the past (on bikes ill equipped for the condition of this particular road), but I knew that doing this thing right would require a bit of time and planning.
Niner’s ROS 9+ One Hell of a Good Time
Words and photos by Kyle Kelley
The White Rim Trail in Utah’s Canyonlands NP has been on my radar for awhile. I imagined I would do it on a cross bike, carrying only the necessary food and water, one small camera and riding from the early morning to early evening. The reality ended up being quite a bit different. I rolled out on a Mid-Fat outfitted with custom bike bags, carrying 7 liters of water and enough food to feed a kindergarten class for two days! Shit… I even brought an abnormally large camera (at least for me) in addition to my standard point and shoot just because there was still room in the bags. I was rolling in luxury and the bike that made that possible was the Niner ROS 9+!
Pints of Beer and Tri-Flow on the 2015 Oregon Outback
Photos and words by David Klayton
Looking back on the 2015 Oregon Outback I’m inclined to call it the best yet.
This year was my second run of the Oregon Outback and I finished in two days and 11 hours. Day 1 included a bit of rain, but overall it was a blast and I reached my goal of getting to Fort Rock. Day 2 started rather abruptly as rain fell on my open bivy, but I rallied and rode out with Team Swift and Limberlost.