The way I ride road bikes has evolved with the way the bikes are being built. As I have moved away from pack racing over the past 10 years, I have desired more variety in my daily rides. Most of my rides involve sections of steep LA county fire roads or linking hilly neighborhood climbs together by zigging and zagging through hidden dirt paths.
I am not unique in my desire to get away from cars on the bike and explore less congested areas. Gravel bikes are the spotlight of most all bicycle brands offerings. After talking with my friends at Pro Bike Supply and seeing a ton of beautiful OPEN’s on the internet I decided it would make for my perfect Los Angeles go-anywhere bike. The option of RTP (ready-to-paint) U.P. frames confirmed my choice and I quickly started brainstorming color combos.
After picking up my frameset from Pro Bike Supply I headed up the freeway to Premier Bicycle Werks in Orange, CA. This paint shop came highly recommended and upon entering the industrial space I quickly recognized the owner and painter, Chuck Morris, from So Cal Cross races back in my Mudfoot race days. His shop is far more than a paint studio. The space is a reflection of his life. Packed with car parts, a Lambretta scooter, frame building jig, vintage mountain bikes, and beach cruisers, and endless magazines about everything. I spent hours digesting all the artifacts in the space.
One thing I did not find in Chuck’s shop was a Pantone chart. He relies on his lifetime of knowledge gained from growing up in car shops, hundreds of bikes painted, and a keen sense of design to reach his client’s desires. Chuck took my ideas, interjected a few of his own and then pulled several jars of paint from his cabinets and started mixing. After a few test sprays, we landed on olive drab with a tiny bit of gold flake and cream logos, to be finished with a satin clear coat. Though the RTP frame makes anything possible, I decided to stay with the factory design, but with colors of my own.
I finished My LA go-anywhere Bike with a SRAM eTap AXS Red 2x groupset. The combination of the 46×33 up front and 10-33 in the rear provides a ton of low-end gearing for getting up the steep LA gravel, without having huge gear jumps or losing all top-end gear. One of the features that really drew me to the U.P. was its ability to cross over from a wide tire gravel grinder to a fast-rolling skinnier tire bike. In all likelihood, I will run two wheelsets, but for now, the combination of Zipps 303’s with WTB Exposure 700×32’s is extremely fun and responsive. The last bits include a Chris King headset, Zipp Service Course SL cockpit, Fizik Arione saddle, and Specialized Carbon Rib Cage II bottle cages with integrated multi-tool.