Blackburn knows how to party!
Roll With It in the South
Photos and words by Brian Vernor
There’s a shocking casualness to the hallucinatory contradiction of culture that is The South. I’d seen this place in great detail as a child, often visiting family throughout Tennessee and Alabama. Though I grew up in Santa Cruz, and went to college in California, I wanted to reconnect with The South in that awkward period of life right after college, before I could say “I want to do _____ with my life.” In 1998 I had finished school, got heavily into nothing, and spent seven months playing with cameras in Santa Cruz, enough time to forget what my degree was in. (more…)
The touring world is changing, no doubt about it. Steel frames are still the norm for obvious reasons, but disc brakes are now widely accepted and people are venturing far and wide with component choices that only a few years ago may have been considered imprudent.
One group doing this is the young and adventurous among us, arguably oblivious to their equipment’s lack of serviceability. Under these pioneers, bikes go into the wild with sometimes ugly, yet highly functional home-hacked solutions that get the job done. They are out there for the pure experience, pushing the boundaries of equipment that only a few years ago was considered cutting-edge technology.
Another side of this coin is people at bike companies, with access to the newest stuff before it hits the market, building custom bikes to their own specs to push the limits. It’s not uncommon to see mountain drivetrains on road frames, tires that are too big to pass safety standards, and so on. These bikes, however, rarely make it past the engineers’ and product managers’ personal collections.
When product managers spec bikes, they are held to account by bean counters making sure bikes will sell through – and that means sticking to tradition and not taking chances. I love it when companies have the guts to spec a bike in a way that’s pointed at radness rather than tradition. When I see a production bike deviate from industry norms in this way, my eyes light up; the Kona Sutra LTD is one of those bikes. (more…)
Photos by Marc McShane
A reader sent this along and I am completely floored about how beautiful this Flickr stream is. If you’ve got the itch to hop on a tour this spring, check out Marc McShane’s photography!
Warning: this is graphic.
Guns are a polarizing point of discussion, yet in areas like Denali, they are a part of life. You shoot what you eat and this group of people prefer to do this by bicycle. Again, this won’t be for everyone but I found it an interesting take on using a bicycle to enter an area like this. At the 2:00 mark, there’s a meaningful discussion about what it means to end the life of a living creature that everyone should listen to, regardless as to your views on eating meat.
Plus, a three-legged dog and epic landscapes.
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!
I have friends who have done this route on motos and when I asked them if they ever saw cyclists en route to Patagonia, their reaction was always along the lines of: “YES! It looked so miserable.” Understandably so with the endless dirt roads, heat, dust and lack of water. It’s strange how something that truly is miserable in the type 4 fun kinda way, could be so beautiful and life-altering. Why is that?
“The routine is the enemy… of time.”
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+!
Ok. This is wild and well worth the watch. These two guys got the itch to do a bit of a tour, make a video and carry it on with an Instagram account. Follow along!
I love getting random videos like this dropped on us. How about some super chill touring from Russia?