Category Archives: Santa Cruz
Ride Along: Garrett Kautz from Strawfoot
Words and photos by John Watson
Strawfoot is one of those companies that has gained a lot of momentum over the past year in the cycling industry because of social media and word of mouth. While Strawfoot is a bag company, they’re most known for their socks. I was first introduced to Garrett from Brian Vernor last year, when I visited his small shop in Santa Cruz.
Over the past few months, Strawfoot has grown. They’ve moved to a bigger shop, are sponsoring a cross team and yes, he’s continued making socks, which sell out almost immediately…
Navigating the Lost in the French Maritime Alps – Ty Hathaway
Words by John Watson photos by Ty Hathaway
The French Maritime Alps are riddled with the remnants of man’s conflict of bygone eras. With the most recent being the Italian invasion of France in WWII. The Battle of France took Italian troops over these very mountains as they lay claim to Benito Mussolini’s demands for a ‘surplus population’. Or, in short, simply expanding the Italian empire.
As it goes with war, many souls are lost, leaving nothing but the roads, paths and man’s ruin…
Dain from Giro was the key player in the Easton Dream Bike give-aways and now, he’s put together one of his own. Being good friends with Todd from Black Cat and a resident of sunny Santa Cruz, he knew where to go with his idea: a carbon and steel constructed road bike.
See more below!
So… it’s been a wild few days… Blackburn brought me out to the Whiskey Off Road to see some new products, meet the Rangers and document the weekend as I saw fit. All of which will make for some awesome posts – once I sort through the photos.
For now, here’s Robin’s – the Blackburn brand manager – DIY digi camo paint Santa Cruz Highball dirt drop all-road bike. SLX triple cranks, Cambium saddle, barcons, TRP levers, interceptor brakes and massive clearances (it’s a MTB frame after all). This bike is another great example of fully-customizing a production model frame.
I shot some photos of it, at the top of the range, before we got hit with a nasty snow storm that covered our camp site in a few inches of fresh powder…
Santa Cruz is a city that never disappoints. No matter what the occasion, I have a blast riding my bike. So when Giro invited me along to their Santa Cruz Effect media event, I gladly accepted.
Even though we were on a pretty tight schedule, we had two days of riding bikes in the woods and coastal roads of NorCal to look forward to. That meant we were to expect a lot of temperature fluctuations throughout the day, the perfect climate for merino wool.
The group included men and women, from all over the world, all of which were related to the cycling industry in some way. We had some locals with us, including Todd from Black Cat, Jeff Traugott, Jake from Steel Wül, along with a few Giro employees. Those dudes put on one hell of a ride, taking us through some great roads and down some incredibly fun (i.e. sketchy) descents.
Here’s our Strava from Day 1 and Day 2 for those interested in a route. I highly suggest doing this as a one-day loop. We were taking it chill…
Check out some narrated photos in the Gallery!
Tools of the trade:
Yashica T4 / Porta 160
Jeff Traugott is an artist and his palette is wood. He makes absolutely stunning handmade acoustic guitars in Santa Cruz. These pieces sell for tens of thousands of dollars and are a hot commodity.
It just so happens that Jeff’s shop is right next door to Rock Lobster. Both he and Paul are inspirational individuals who have made a living doing what they love. The word entrepreneur gets thrown around a lot these days, but these two are fuckin’ living the dream.
When Jeff isn’t building geetars, he’s out on one of three Rock Lobsters, this being one of them, an “all road” bike with long-reach calipers and Campy 11 speed. My favorite detail, aside from the frame, is the Calfee-wrapped carbon Easton stem to ENVE bar combo. Perfect solution for the inevitable slipped bars when blasting down rutted, gnarly descents.
I spent two days riding alongside this machine, which happens to be my size. After the first day’s ride from Santa Cruz out to the coast, I snatched up this bike and took it for a quick photo shoot as the marine layer rolled in over the redwoods… #NatureIsMetal
Steel Wül is a club in Santa Cruz, founded by Jake Hess, a local fire chief. He started the club to give people a super chill platform to explore the many roads in the area. I got to ride with Jake during the Giro #SantaCruzEffect event and his Caletti steel road bike looked so damn good the whole time.
Some of my favorite details are the custom-painted Ritchey stem, his family’s names on the stem cap, his battalion number on the NDS top tube, Steel Wül branding and the paint. When we rolled out of the Giro offices, the morning light made the frame just pop.
Granted, it looked even better after descending down that gnar gnar gravel on Gazos Creek…
I finally had the chance to actually ride bikes with Todd from Black Cat this week, rather than just talk about them at a trade show. There’s something to be said about a frame builder who makes time to ride his own bikes and Todd definitely does that.
Two of my favorite bikes that I’ve featured on the site came from Todd’s workshop at Black Cat Bicycles – and they just so happen to be owned by two great people. There’s something about Brian Vernor’s Hardtail MTB and Eric’s MAX disc road that just do it for me.
Watching a frame builder rip on his own bike is something else and midway through our ride yesterday, I had to take the time to shoot his bike.
Funny side story: Todd was inspired to build this bike by the titanium Campagnolo seat post he came across after seeing what they fetch on eBay… He couldn’t just sell it, he needed a new bike for it!
Photos by Brian Vernor
This morning, Brian Vernor left for a week long bike tour with these three companions. Where they are going, what they will be doing and why they’re doing this is still a mystery. A mystery that you can follow along with the Blackburn Designs Instagram.
That Santa Cruz is hot!!!! But not as hot as Brian’s Team Dream Hat!
Photos by Andy Waterman
Pinkbike has an exceptional story showcasing Lyle from Mission Workshop / Acre riding the English Lake District with photographer Andy Waterman. I’ve never had the chance to ride terrain like this and although it looks fun, there’s a price to pay for the beauty. Steep, slick, rocky climbs (hikes) and moody mother nature…
Head over to Pinkbike to check it out!