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…
2022 Bespoked Mega Gallery, Part 01: Sturdy Cycles, Quirk Cycles, Donhou Bicycles, Sideways, Lord Cycles, Stayer Cycles, Ted James Designs, and Auckland Cycle Works
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…
Building Routes and Community for the 2023 Komoot Women’s Slovenia Rally
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.
Hotdogs and Mallets: The Eugene Bike Polo Club
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.
2022 Single Speed USA: Decorah, Iowa Edition!
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.
Dził Diyiní Biyí Iiná Hóló: Life Within the Sacred Mountains at Rezduro 2022
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.
Apply Now: ATB Challenge Season 2 – Flèche it Out (Now Open For All Across the Globe)
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!
Nature is Luxury at Wales’ Fforest Gran Ffondo
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.
Suds and Buds at The Custom Bike Show in Golden, Colorado
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.
Concours de Machines 2022: Backstage of the Adventure with Cycles Manivelle
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.
A Camp of Our Own: How RAR New Haven Built The Community We Needed at Gravel Camp
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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