Like many events and people in recent times, the Mission Crit came back to life this year after a bit of time off. Call it what you will, a vacation, perhaps. Regardless, for the first time in two years Mission Crit founder/race director James Grady dusted off the bullhorn, timing equipment, cones and barriers to run a race that is currently one of a kind. Since the unfortunate folding of Brooklyn’s Red Hook Criterium in 2019, the Mission Crit has remained as the sole surviving high profile fixed gear criterium race in existence.
Sometimes, adventure comes calling.
It’s early morning in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. As the sun crests over the ridge, the clouds in the valley slide up and over the surrounding mountains. Like lost spirits of past floods clocking out from their shifts haunting the city, the morning rush hour of weather is a wondrous sight to behold. It’s like watching a timelapse video in real-time. I told myself I wouldn’t talk about floods, or THE flood, when mentioning Johnstown, PA, but here we are. Here we are for Higher Ground.
The first time I caught sight of Ronnie at this past weekend’s Nutmeg Nor’easter, he was handing out welcome gifts as a crowd of riders waited for the ferry’s return on the west banks of the Connecticut River. “Get your poop bag, everyone gets a poop bag,” he exclaimed—like the bygone vendors who’d hawk peanuts at old baseball games—doling out little green compostable doggie bags between hugs and hearty salutations. I later learned 250+ riders had shown for the two-day rootsy New England bikecamping event; a far cry more than the group of five dozen that made up the inaugural Nor’easter six years hence. For me, this would be my first time in Nutmeg country!
Please join us in congratulating the six teams selected to participate in the ATB Challenge: Fleche It Out Reality TV Game Show. See who they are and their planned rides below!
We’re back today with Josh’s second installment of coverage from the Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show! Let’s jump right in below with more recapping and a gallery of beautiful builds from Prova Cycles, Clandestine, Black Sheep Bikes, Etoile Cycles, Dawley Bikes, Avalanche Cycles, Coal Bikes with Black Cat Custom Paint, Fahrradbau Stolz, and Sour Bicycles…
Just over one week ago Josh was in London for the 2022 edition of Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show. Under new ownership and management, the show moved from its former location in Bristol, England to the Lee Valley Velo Park in Stratford of East London. With three days of track racing, talks, food, hangs, coffee, enviable new products, and—of course—hundreds of eclectic and beautiful bicycles on display, the show was a major success for the new organizers, exhibitors, and attendees.
Let’s dive straight into Part One of our recap below with a look at bikes from a bevy of builders: Sturdy Cycles, Quirk Cycles, Donhou Bicycles, Sideways, Lord Cycles, Stayer Cycles, Ted James Designs, and Auckland Cycle Works…
Katja says, in Slovenia when a family has salad for dinner, they all eat from the same bowl. The bigger the family, the bigger the bowl. One person gathers vegetables from the garden– green leaves, fresh beans, tomatoes and cucumbers, onions and herbs. One person chops them up. One person dresses the salad with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. One person tastes it to make sure it’s just right. They place the bowl in the middle of the table and everyone digs in with their own fork. There’s the usual family back and forth– who’s eating too fast, who’s picking out only the best parts, who’s pushing down too hard with their fork. When the vegetables are all gone, someone picks up the bowl and drinks the juice.
When I think of our route-building project in Slovenia for the upcoming 2023 Komoot Women’s Rally there, and all of the people that played a role, this story sticks with me.
For years the words “Bike Polo” have elicited, in my silly little noggin, some sort of barbaric mosh pit of hardcore/anarchist/fixie-skidding/male-presenting jousters, bloody-fresh shinners and maybe getting whacked by one of those croquette things being swung around like a Morgenstern circa 1490. A fight to the death on bikes. I grew up dancing ballet and racing BMX, forging me timid of sports balls and physical contact sports, in general. I had this unfounded bias that bike polo was too edgy and savage; like something I’d not ever try because of my aversion to sports where another human might hit you with a ball, a mallet, or heaven forbid, their own sweaty soul-sack. I imagined a lot of brute force and all-out thrashing: Steel bike frames colliding in explosive fashion inside of a cartoon fight cloud, mallets and balls flying from all directions, and me in the center with time standing still, going full-on Neo (The Matrix, 1999 film) from the saddle in an act of self-preservation.
I was wrong.
Single speed mountain biking. It’s kinda dumb right? How hard is it to shift a derailleur, c’mon.
Let’s not sully the holy sanctity of this article with such petty things as single speed arguments (for or against). What a cliché. If you’re new here, suffice it to say there are all sorts of reasons—from cost to curmudgeonliness to cache—to ride single speed mountain bikes. Those reasons don’t necessarily make sense. If you’re a regular reader, you already know how 1-speed bikes fit into today’s bike culture…enjoy your unsullied reading.
This article is about the bond shared by single speeders and how events like Single Speed USA (SSUSA) carry and strengthen them. I also want it to be about bikes as well, as I know more than a couple of people here might be into them.
Rezduro takes place in the remote community of Hardrock, Arizona which is located on the Black Mesa plateau/region on the Navajo Nation. What started out as a vision by Nigel James and friends has turned into the first and only Indigenous-led mountain bike enduro race. Nigel James dreamed of bridging his grandparents’ sheep herding trails with his passion for mountain bike enduro racing as a result, Rezduro was born in 2021. Rezduro is organized by Diné (the Navajo people) on Diné lands.
Last year the All Terrain Bicycle Challenge selected five challengers and unleashed them on a brutal 71-mile course in Vermont. For season two, the project is shifting from old school “maybe it goes” style ATB routes to randonneuring inspired distance and time. Applicants are challenged with creating their own ultimate route, and five lucky teams of three will attempt to complete their ride, documenting it along the way, for a chance to win cash and prizes from ENVE, Fat Tire, The Radavist, Acre, and Mythical State Of. We at The Radavist are stoked to be the media partner for this event, so read below, plan a route, apply, and follow along for more!
Oversized white t-shirts flapping listlessly between a great white softbox Welsh sky and endless hordes of casual, sunbathing daisies. Jersey pockets bulging with hard boiled eggs and gummy bears. Hushed whispers of chain ring print, oil tattooed cyclists entering a bird hide and unzipping Leica binocular cases. Nature’s comfortable chatter pauses incrementally to listen to the doppler shifting cacophony of a freewheeling Hope RS4 flying down a caution signed gradient. The Fforest Gran Ffondo must be, objectively, the finest road cycling event around right now.
Colorado has long been known for custom bicycles and talented framebuilders throughout the state. It’s also not a secret that our state has a high density of said talented builders within a short distance of each other. On Wednesday evening, a small group of custom bicycle brands gathered at New Terrain Brewing in Golden, Colorado.
Each framebuilder has probably their own relationship with the Concourse de Machines. Mine is not monochrome.
On the one hand, there is the excitement of creating a product with soul and sharing it with the framebuilding family. Our profession is “socially” atypical. It is at the same time very solitary: us and our ideas, our tools, the calm atmosphere of the workshop. And it is also inevitable to expose the brand/our work on social networks, the only lever to promote ourselves autonomously, without counting on the press. During the CDM contest, this too virtual sphere becomes the timespan of a few days entirely palpable and real. I find in the other framebuilders a sensitivity, convictions, a listening that it is hard to find in someone who did not go through the same choice of professional life as me. For many, it remains one. The contest is also about that: talking about our joys, our doubts, our desires, our difficulties, and that makes it very attractive to me.
On the other side, there is this shell that I try to put on myself since the frustrations felt during the CDM 2019. I had a bad experience putting so much soul into a project to feel pretty much unconsidered. Too young, too shy to show off, not enough in the good papers. So I take advantage of each edition to remind myself that we are doing this competition above all for ourselves, to continue to invent ourselves. The look of others is sometimes pleasant and often relevant, but it should not affect our own.
I couldn’t stop moving the day before Gravel Camp. I was so excited, so nervous, and full of jitters. For years this camp had been an idea; since last year it was a real goal; and for the past two months, it was practically a part-time job.
Together, my fellow organizers (and friends), and I planned a weekend bike summer camp for femme, trans, women, and non-binary (FTWNB) folks to build the skills, confidence, and community to adventure on their bikes. From all over the East Coast and as far as Colorado, campers were coming to New Haven, CT, to learn about bike mechanics, riding skills, and bikepacking — all while in a community with other Queer, BIPOC, and radically cool riders. After years of dreaming, it was finally here.
Bespoked is Europe’s largest handmade bicycle show and it’s taking place in just under two months, from October 14-16, at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark. As you might have heard, our friend Petor Georgallou, who has documented previous Bespoked shows for us, has purchased the show! So, to let Petor focus on running the show rather than documenting it, we’re stoked to announce that we’ll be there photographing bikes AND giving out awards and prizes for a yet TBD category.
If you haven’t already purchased tickets to attend, you can do so over at the Bespoked website. Also, be sure to sign up for Bespoked’s newsletter, which will have a discount code in the upcoming edition.
There are still a few exhibitor booths remaining, but they are going fast, so reserve yours now!
Saying we woke up would imply sleep, which is a luxury the night before the Concours de Machines race hadn’t afforded us, owing to thick black clouds of mosquitoes that infested our van. I lit a church of citronella candles and closed all the doors and windows, while Josh rolled himself up in a sheet and slept outside on a decrepit shezlongé that sat outside the factory. Mosquitos spent the night screaming and raging in our ears while doing their best to tear us limb from limb. At 4 am they sat lining the window sills, fat and bloated, drunk on our blood.
I killed a dozen of them with an old sock in one limp sleep-deprived swipe as a tokenistic act of vengeance, knowing they’d be saving their strength for another assault the next evening. I stood in Andreas’ elegant la fraise workshop contorting my body to scratch bites between nerve endings on my back, craving coffee as the pilotes clip clopped in on road shoes. For many of them, road shoes were a terrible choice. The 204km route billed as a road with some cobbles and gravel somehow encompassed 1466m of short sharp climbs in an oppressively pancake-flat landscape, as well as some muddy singletrack. The singletrack must have caught teams rolling on 28c slick tyres off guard, and would prove catastrophic for some.
This is the second of two reports from the 2022 Concours de Machines. Be sure to check here for the first installment!