Before we begin let me give you a little background about who I am and how I found myself writing this review. I grew up in Bishop, CA. I raced mountain bikes there as a kid. Then I stopped, the reason is a tired story, and one that you have most likely heard before, it has to do with hormones, cars, beers, and girls. When I moved to Santa Barbara, CA to attend college and I started working at a shop called Velo Pro. This is where I started riding downhill bikes. Then I stopped, did some rock climbing, school, babe chasing, etc. A decade ago I moved to Portland, OR and once again I found myself at a shop, working at the Fat Tire Farm and riding downhill bikes. This is where it gets interesting. First came seat droppers and with it a yearn to explore more trails. I started riding trail bikes, then picked up riding road bikes and cross bikes. For the past three years I worked for Chris King, and my job gave me the chance to ride a wide variety of bikes. Through mutual friends and shared adventures John and I became friends and I have been lucky to post a couple rides and adventurers all the while sharing with him some of my favorite MTB videos and articles from around the web. It turned out that John needed a bike reviewed, so here I am. Lets get started.
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.
While the first day of the Sunchuli Pass’ coverage focuses mostly on gear and bikepacking check lists, there are a lot of excellent passages like the following:
“We went to Bolivia because of the mines.
Everywhere else in the world roads go where roads go and trails go where trails go. There is very little confusion about which is which, and it’s clear where one ends and the other begins. Roads are wide, paved or graded, and maintained to some degree. Trails get rad. In Bolivia, because of the mines, the situation is more fluid.
If gold was discovered on the top of Mt Whitney, and California didn’t give a fuck about large scale mining and environmental stewardship because it was the poorest country in South America, somebody with three snow shovels lashed to the front of a minivan would figure out how to build a road to the top. Now imagine thousands of Whitneys, only 40% taller, steeper and more rugged. That’s the Cordillera Apolobamba.
That’s why we went to Bolivia. To ride a network of the world’s most ambitious, ludicrous roads. Roads that defy physics. Roads that weave throughout an ancient and venerable Alpine Wonderland that is currently transitioning into to Tolkien’s Mordor.”
Like this? I do. If you do, you can continue reading more from Yonder Journal’s recent excursion to Bolivia. There’s also a great list of what kind of gear to carry and how in this post. I can’t wait to find out if they finished the damn ride this time. Also, how fuckin’ metal is that poster?!
Taking on the #FlowShiv
Photos and words by Chris Riekert
Here in the hallowed halls of the big red ‘S’; you know, the Death Star of the cycling world… you might be surprised to see there are some real people roaming around. Real people that are, first and foremost, big fans of bikes.
People like my buddy John Friedrich, the only man I know who would happily talk about the different weights of DOT brake fluid and what they offer to the rider, literally, until you’d choose water boarding over continuing the conversation… Or like our mechanic Patrick “Tree” Miller who seems like someone delivered to earth in one of those rescue pods shot through space as the planet Krypton went through nuclear collapse. Patrick is the NICEST most willing to help person I’ve ever met… and yes, he is a bicycle mechanic! How about that?
One of the nicest guys in mountain biking, Matt Hunter takes to Sun Valley’s high elevation singletrack with his buds. Whether you’re into covering a bunch of distance on a huge loop or setting up a base camp and doing day trips, Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest is a bucket list riding destination.
Yonder Journal’s Dead Reckoning looks to be their biggest clusterfuck to date and I mean that in a good way. Tidal surges, emergency heli lifts, male modeling, it had it all. Do yourself a favor and check out Dead Reckoning Day 05 and Day 06 now at Yonder Journal.
“Inspired by the sport of professional rally car racing, Deux North took a special group of riders to the Rally de Catalunya in Spain for Hunt 5. In Salou, they met one of the world’s best drivers, Kris Meeke, and recorded his story of passion and adventure. Traveling along the route of the World Rally Championship, from Barcelona to Valencia, Deux North ran into some of the most beautiful places on earth as well as some interesting surprises and setbacks. It was Kris’ story that inspired Deux North’s hunters over their four day trip and to this day. This is Hunt 5, as told by World Rally Championship driver, Kris Meeke, and Deux North’s Hunters.”
See more at Deux North.
Once in a while, a company like Specialized makes a truly innovative product, well before anyone else. I was both in awe and extremely jealous when I saw this contraption. Only compatible with the Zertz road bike, the Command Cockpit keeps the data where it needs to be, in your face. Smoother is faster, remember? But weight is most important. Specialized has won the “gram game” with this ultralight component.
Check out more below.
The latest from Yonder Journal is quite possibly (actually, it just is) the largest project the team has ever undertaken. Here’s the synopsis:
“In 2015, Yonder Journal will investigate, ascertain, and document the peripheries and possibilities of exploration by bicycle. We call this project Dead Reckoning*. At it’s core we will apply the technologies and methodologies of adventure biking, bike-packing, and ultra-lightweight touring, to multi-day expeditions with a focus on going Over Mountain, the concept of Over Mountain being the the most essential and transformative form of human exploration.
The first of our Dead Reckoning expeditions took us to New Zealand’s South Island where we would attempt to cross the island from east to west, traveling across roads, trails, and unmarked land that has seldom if ever seen bike traffic. The crux of our route would be a Broderick Pass, a seldom traveled route hidden deep in the Southern Alps. It was quite an adventure.”
Check out some samples below and the full, massive photo story at Yonder Journal.