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We’ll Be at Bespoked 2022!

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We’ll Be at Bespoked 2022!

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!

2022 Concourse de Machines Part Two: The Race and The Show

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2022 Concourse de Machines Part Two: The Race and The Show

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!

2022 Concours de Machines Part One: The Contest and the Contestants

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2022 Concours de Machines Part One: The Contest and the Contestants

In 2018 I was invited to take part in the third edition of Concours de Machines as Dear Susan, in the medieval town of Bruniquel in the south of France. The Concours is a recent(ish) revival of a frame-building contest first organized in 1903 that ran up to the late 1940s. It was traditionally hosted in different locations around France, the goal of which was to demonstrate the superiority of artisanal “constructeurs” and their machines, over production bikes.

Before accepting the invitation, there were some red flags for me. For instance the idea of “better;” how you can numerically score one bike against another, especially if they’re designed and made around a particular rider for a particular course? There’s so much that just comes down to preference! Reading further into the scoring system, the seemingly arbitrary categories actually became quite liberating, in that scores were given based on abstract criteria rather than what constituted a good or appropriate bike. Limitations included things like: “the bicycle must have wheels with tyres, and a system with which to steer,” as well as point scoring sections like: “the bicycle must be able to power its own lights and it must have bags to carry everything you need for an overnight trip.”

This is the first of two reports from the 2022 Concours de Machines. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second installment!

Orogenesis: A New Way On Old Ground

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Orogenesis: A New Way On Old Ground

The longest mountain bike trail in the world: OROGENESIS. It’s an idea now, but with your help we’re going to make it real. Ever since the early days of the Repack riders, mountain bikers have dreamed about a trail that spans the mountain ranges of the North American continent. Now, 40 years later, we’re building it. In 2016, the instantly popular Baja Divide bikepacking route landed on maps and, shortly afterward, the Oregon Timber Trail appeared as well. It was obvious that we needed to connect the two. Five years and five thousand miles later, here we are. A new way on old ground.

Glorious Groads for All: The 2022 FoCo Fondo

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Glorious Groads for All: The 2022 FoCo Fondo

All year long, gravel races and events seem to pop up in towns across the US. With its approachability, it’s no surprise that “gravel” has become so popular with cyclists in disciplines spanning the continuum between mountain and road riding. IMO, the most successful of these races are the ones that embrace and exemplify the values and character of the communities in which they are based. Having lived in Fort Collins, CO for nearly fifteen years, the FoCo Fondo is a special one for me, as it shows off some of Northern Colorado’s incredible mixed surface riding with multiple expertly-curated routes while also fostering an inclusive and comfortable environment for a diverse group of riders.

A few weeks ago, at the tail end of a trip to the Choice City, I jumped in a course car with locals Peter Discoe and Taylor Kruse to document the event.

Megan Dean’s Frame Building Class at Center for Metal Arts in Johnstown, PA

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Megan Dean’s Frame Building Class at Center for Metal Arts in Johnstown, PA

The Philly Bike Expo brings together folks from all over the country each year, many of whom have transformed the event into a gathering of some of the finest frame builders in the world. I’ve made a lot of friends over the years attending the show and documenting these awesome builders. While at the show in Philly, I often approach it with a mission in the back of my mind to bring good friends back to Johnstown, PA where I live. It’s a place that desperately needs more cycling culture.

A couple of years ago I did just that and, with fingers crossed, I sprung this question on Megan Dean of Moth Attack: “This bike is unreal, it’s truly a work of art, have you ever thought about teaching a frame-building class?” I think Megan said something like “Funny you should say that… I actually have been.” I responded by telling her that I have a friend in town with a special spot we could use called Center For Metal Arts. It’s filled with light, a fire, and the glow of forged metals most days of the week. Not familiar with CMA? No problem, read on.

FAIL 11: Going South at Portugal’s “Heading Southwest” Bikepacking Race

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FAIL 11: Going South at Portugal’s “Heading Southwest” Bikepacking Race

Fail 11 is the latest installment in Ryan Le Garrec’s multimedia “Fail” series. Check out the related articles below for more of Ryan’s work.

Heading Southwest is a new bikepacking race in Portugal. It crosses the country with a set route of 1000 km and 15,000 meters of elevation gain. The route was designed to show the diversity of the country far from the clichés of coastal tourism and bigger towns. It showcases the country in a way only a local long-distance cyclist could provide. I have toured this beautiful place I call home for a while now, never have I had so much fun (and pain yeah) on the roads of this country. Massive thanks to David Cruz at finisterra.cc

From Baden-Württemberg to Frankfurt: A EUROBIKE 2022 Über-Gallery

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From Baden-Württemberg to Frankfurt: A EUROBIKE 2022 Über-Gallery

A few weekends ago I found myself at Eurobike in its new Frankfurt übervenue. Eurobike has always been huge, but this year I was made acutely aware of the distances involved by the cab driver who dropped me off at the wrong entrance, and then charged an additional nine Euros for the 10-minute cab ride to the correct entrance. I bumped into another journalist who showed me her step count for the day, which prompted me to check mine, showing that I’d walked almost 60km or 40 miles of Shimano blue carpets over the space of two days. Shocking!

New Global Handmade Bike Show MADE to Debut in Fall 2023

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New Global Handmade Bike Show MADE to Debut in Fall 2023

Introducing MADEwww.made.bike – an industry and consumer bike event with a mission to bring framebuilders, media and makers together to elevate and inspire. The show will be located in Portland, Ore., with the debut in September 2023. MADE is supported by industry sponsors and ECHOS Communications, a PR and marketing agency specializing in supporting cycling and active lifestyle clients. The show will feature events at Chris King, Speedvagen and Breadwinner Cycles, and the outdoor format creates opportunities for consumer demos and industry rides. Registration for MADE will open this September with confirmations already in place from Moots, The Pro’s Closet Museum, Bicycling Magazine, Paul Component Engineering, Mosaic, Bike Flights, Schon Studio, Speedvagen, Stinner, Abbey Bike Tools, Chris King, Argonaut Cycles, Breadwinner Cycles, WZRD Bikes, Retrotec, Btchn Bikes, Falconer Cycles, Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, Tomii Cycle, Frontier Bikes, Bender Bikes, BikeFlights, Monē Bikes and more.

Do It Because You Want To: The Arna Westfjords Way Challenge

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Do It Because You Want To: The Arna Westfjords Way Challenge

The route is just under 1,000km tracing the Westfjords of Iceland, the most remote area of a sparsely inhabited country in the Arctic. The challenge is to finish the mixed gravel and pavement route in 4 stages. The weather can be harsh. The wind can be fierce. But that’s what makes this place. It’s stunning and it’s brutal. Treeless mountains rise out of the sea. There’s very little development. Beyond a flawless road system, humans have left little impression. It’s a wild place and we get to ride our bikes through it.

The MountainCat 100 is the Best Mountain Bike Race in America!

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The MountainCat 100 is the Best Mountain Bike Race in America!

“It’s the best” must be one of the most common, purely subjective statements made so regularly with enthusiastic conviction. We do it all the time, but it’s ludicrous. You have to define a word like “best” in your own terms. It’s a value statement. Saying something is the best only tells you a little bit about the thing in question, but a lot about the person saying it and what they value. What’s the best gear ratio for a single-speed 29er? What’s the best tire choice for a course that’s littered with mud pits, rooty singletrack, and rock gardens, but is also interspersed with long, hot, 15 miles stretches of pavement? Do you like to mash or spin? Are you a confident bike handler and want to make the long road stretches easier? Are you strong-legged and get annoyed at spinning out on the flats?

So what am I really saying when I write that the MountainCat 100 is the best bike race in America?

Rooted in Community: How a Gravel Clinic in Vermont Enriches Relationships On and Off the Bike

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Rooted in Community: How a Gravel Clinic in Vermont Enriches Relationships On and Off the Bike

Open and inclusive environments mean places where people feel safe to explore new things as the fullest version of themselves – Kristin Motley and Laura King of the Rooted Vermont Women’s Gravel Clinic are on track to change the intimidation factor many may feel entering a sport that prior to recent years was dominated by men.

Change, Mourning, Love, Humility & Happiness: Stories from UNBOUND Gravel 2022

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Change, Mourning, Love, Humility & Happiness: Stories from UNBOUND Gravel 2022

It’s been over a decade since I’d been to Emporia to help establish Unbound Gravel’s Crew For Hire program. The world is a great deal different now. Having spoken at length with Kristi Mohn about things like generational change I was curious to see what, if any, of those changes had taken place in not just Emporia but also in the Unbound Gravel event itself. There was also the tragic passing of Moriah Wilson, the induction of the first class of the Gravel Hall of Fame, and a variety of other things going on that really made this year’s Unbound Gravel more significant than most.

Every day that I spent in Emporia had its own moments that showed me something new and unexpected. There were signs of the massive changes the cycling community, industry, and Emporia itself are going through. I witnessed grief, loss, love, and more. Throughout everything, there was one common theme: People who were doing the best they could.

Lost and Found 2022: A Triumphant Return

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Lost and Found 2022: A Triumphant Return

There’s more than 4,000 miles of graded dirt roads in Plumas National Forest connecting a dozen quaint and remote mountain communities across Plumas and Lassen County, California. The landscapes are stunning, from majestic mountain meadows bursting with wildflowers to craggy granite peaks and glacially carved mountain lakes. Hidden cabins and remnants of the Gold Rush can be found everywhere along the way. The only thing you don’t see much of in the backcountry of Plumas County is people, which is why this region is quickly becoming known as The Gravel Capital of the West.