Nicholas Karwoski recorded Benedict’s “Fred Talk” dubbed “The bicycle, a vehicular philosophy of simplification” that took place at this year’s Philly Bike Expo. Topping in at over 80 minutes, this might be a bit ambitious for you to tackle in one go, but definitely give it a listen. Thanks to Nicholas for pulling this together!
The Road to L’Eroica: An Italian Honeymoon
Words and photos by Ultra Romance
We had been running from winter… riding from winter… actually hike-a-biking away from winter in the Swiss Alps for nearly 2 weeks now. Snow, wind, rain, and low UV indexes had driven us out of the most verdant and bucolic panoramas I’ve ever eyeballed. Away from the abrupt mountaintops that rise from the undulating valleys like the jagged teeth of a gnashing puma eagle. My hair was damp and lifeless, and our bodies were craving the sunlight and ACTUAL early September weather (fair and pleasant for those of you who live in the Swiss tundra). In a split second decision, while climbing out of a cold and empty valley after hiking down a roots rock reggae slip n’ slide, we hopped a train south to Europe’s fashion capital, Milano. It just felt natural.
Ciao Italy! (more…)
Bicycle Touring the Tick Jungles of New England
Words and photos by Ultra Romance
The east coast is like a frumpy ex-lover. She wears the same green maple tree moo moo every day in the summer and wears nothing but a cold distant gray gaze all winter. Her breath smells like a yawning swamp, her clammy visage infected with ticks, mosquitos, and horseflies. Yet still, she’s comfortable and familiar, drawing me back time and time again with that ruddy olde face.
The Appalachian mountains of the northeast are among the oldest mountains in the world. 480 million years olde according to Siri; 483 million if you ask Alexa. By contrast, the sensuously photogenic Rockies are a supple 55 million years young. That’s another 428 million years of HARD livin’ for that olde bag of a spinster, Mrs. Appalachian East Coast. The glacially mowed over Appalachians sit plain and internet forgotten, cloaked in a canopy of hardwoods with nothing but a flip phone for company. This all sounds great in theory, and it really is, butttt they sure don’t photograph all that well… and if you can’t get that ‘gram, then why do it, amiright????! (more…)
“I was 28 years old. The previous 15 years of my life had been spent as a cyclist. Not the kinda cyclist you see in a bike lane at rush hour, or out dinging bells on rail trails, ha, I turned my nose up at those types. “Freds”, I’d say to myself as I looked down at my heart rate monitor while muscling my spendy spindly Italian race rocket over the next imaginary finish line.
My attire was a zebra print lycra leotard, my legs had been shorn before I’d even hit puberty. I was quite comfortable with being uncomfortable while pursuing my passion for bicycles and my petty amateur victories aboard them. So what happened?”
Read more from Benedict at Bedrock Sandals!
Pedaling in Anger: Training Camp Camping Arizona
Photos and words by Ultra Romance
What do you ride a bike for? Is it simply fitness and abs? Primordial warrior expression? JFF (just for fun)? Commuting? Too many DWI’s? Do you just merely believe that personal auto ownership should be banned, and only for commercial use? Or maybe it’s all of the above? Regardless, if you are reading this, you are likely some kind of cyclist, or merely just a fan of my creative spellings and punctuation style. So what kind are you? What does sykling mean to YOU???
As many of you who subscribe to the fan club letter my mom mails out bi-weekly may know, I’ve recently enlisted in a documentary art performance piece directed by Dan and Kyle at Yonder Journal. It’s entitled Project Y, and its purpose is to answer the question Y (why) (get it?) predominately white suburban career professionals train and compete in events that are both nonsensical and detrimental to one’s health and interpersonal relationships for no real reason other than the intrinsic reward of simply finishing. I don’t get it, or maybe I once did, but regardless, it’s a documentary MOVIE, and I wanna be a movie star, always have. The catch is, I have to race the Dirty Kanza 200. I’m a 20-40 mile a day kinda guy, so some training would be necessary, I suppose. (more…)
It’s the debate for the new millennia: carbon or steel for a mountain bike. But what about both? Sure, others have ventured into putting rigid carbon forks on a steel hardtail before, but you don’t catch sight of the reverse too often. Since signing with Specialized to produce his latest hair metal band’s new album on minidisc, Poppi acquired an S-Works Fuse 6Fattie to take on the Baja Divide route. While this was by far the lightest bike he’s ever owned, Bene decided early on that the Öhlins fork wouldn’t cut it for the desert rampage that awaited. As hard as it was to part ways with such a sweet bit of suspension technology, Poppi knew it’d be an issue hauling the amount of water needed for the Divide on a squishy fork with no braze-ons.
Not knowing what to do, he sent psychedelic waves through the internet, where they were received at Sklar Bikes‘ HQ in Montana. From there, Adam and Bene began chatting about a rigid steel fork for what would ultimately become one Romantical Baja Buggie.
With braze-ons for days, US currency as the fork ends and a thrü axle, Popi would be able to haul his extra stuff and still have the compliance offered by steel on washboard roads. The King Cage Many Things Cage and Andrew the Maker bags provided the extra cargo capacity needed. Even though many on the Divide ran into problems with their racks and cargo cages breaking, Bene found the extra time to reinforce his the best he could on the trail with pipe clamps and zip ties. Whatever works for his S-Works! These bags, in combination with his downtube storage solution, Swift Industries Fabio’s Chest front and rear bags on Crust Bikes Leather 66.6cm drop bars, Benedict was able to stuff as many bags of Baja cookies and chips into his bikes’ every crevice.
Now for the biggest bit of technological advancement: His friction shifting SRAM Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. By grinding down the lip on his barcon, he was able to flawlessly shift through all screamin’ twelve gears, making this one of the most unique rigid mountain bike tourers I’ve ever photographed.
So what’s next for Poppi? Well, Nam and he are about to embark on a journey through the Los Padres mountains up to San Francisco for some Rice A Roni before heading back down south to begin his secret training for the Dirty Kanza. If you’re on the road and you see Poppi and Nam pedaling their rigs, be sure to offer up some chocolate – the darker the better – and a high five.
“The ROMANCEÜR is a swashbuckling tender heart of a fantasy warrior, who not only seduces its rider, but acts as a psychedelic aphrodisiac on the psyche. Together you become thee Romanceür, a sacred, lustful partnership rendering all riding surfaces swooned out and speechless, pining for an intimate evening including a tray of rosé Jell-O shots.” – Ultra Romance from his Crust Bikes Diary
Recently, Los Angeles was invaded by some of cycling’s biggest celebrities and no, not Wiggo, Sagan, Vos, or Bryceland. The cyclists that found themselves hanging out at Golden Saddle Cyclery are from a different walk, er, roll of life all-together. These nomadic raconteurs favor dirt to pavement and fully-loaded bikes to ultralight carbon. Not to mention, they’re always on the hunt for the latest cycling expedition, which brings me to Los Angeles… (more…)
We’ve still got our year-end recap on the way, so look for it this afternoon or tomorrow. It’s been a long, long year!
There’s only one dude I know who could pull off a patch design like this… Head to Ultra Romance’s web shop to swoop!
Romantic Bicycle Touring: A Primer
Words and photos by Ultra Romance
You can witness all the beauty there is to see in this fine world: Yanni live at the Acropolis, the Venice beach boardwalk, or simply the Sistine Chapel, for example.
While encountering these wonders alone is undoubtedly inspiring and majestic, these enchanting destinations and undulating waves of road in between are enhanced roughly 70-80% of the time when the experience is shared. Add in the romantic element, and that analytic bumps up to roughly 86%, yet fluctuates down to 20% at times. That’s still pretty good!
With the popularity of bicycle touring on the rise in recent years, and justifiably so, the amount of “I’d rather be doing that” inspirational social media content has increased exponentially. It doesn’t take a masters degree in internet browsing to stumble across countless photos of glossy eyed 86% happy couples posing for duck face selfies with their laden touring rigs amidst a backdrop of the romantic unknown.
I must admit, I have gazed at these photos before, incurring wide eyed dreams of one day waking up in the dirt beside a real, tangible lover. Instead I continued to keep company with the likes of my ol’ faithful laminated 8×10 of Matthew McConaughey, propped up next to my inflatable pillow at night. Even still, I continued to tell myself “Bené, you’re tall, strikingly handsome, muscular, your hair is #1, and you have two amazing Instagram accounts… don’t get greedy, you can’t have it all!” And so I was settled into my ways. Just me and my McCaughey laminate, rubbing woolen elbows with the world and it’s mysteries. (more…)