Perhaps you remember Beau? That crazy fella who rode his bike from Boulder, Colorado to Mexico City in the middle of the summer that we profiled last year? Well, John reconnected with Beau after his tour and asked if he had any stories he’d like to share. Little did we know we’d get a tale like this… Also, Beau is doing another postcard project, so read on below for those details as well!
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.
As much as I think I’ve changed through the years, my objectives are barely different from when I was 18. I nearly dropped out of my senior year of high school to play hardcore punk across North America, shoplifting and dirtbagging mostly through the West, sleeping wherever, and existing willfully at the boundaries of society (or in defiance of them). Reflecting, I sought an antidote to modernity. An alternative to working in the shipyard until my back gave out like the young men in my town were expected to do. I wanted to forfeit that life for something uncomplicated. Set up, play, tear down, eat, sleep, drive, repeat.
Whenever I stop riding for a while because of work, or life, or hurting myself (usually while sleeping, etc, etc), I obsess over these big rides that I am going to do once back on the bike. Like many of you, I can easily spend hours looking at maps trying to piece together the “perfect” route. But cycling, like most fitness-based activities, can be fickle. It doesn’t care that you used to do it a lot.
That certainly doesn’t stop a brain like mine from dreaming. So when I saw my 43rd birthday on the calendar, a group text started with some friends. In the past, we’d done some really ambitious rides for my special day, like the ‘Clouds to Cacti’ ride, for example, featured here a few years back.
It has been a little over a year since we relocated Chumba Bikes to our new, bigger, and brighter shop space in South Austin. We have yet to host an open house here due to COVID and trying to keep our staff as safe as possible. I approached Vince about doing a 35mm photography project to share our new shop space along with the hands that have moved Chumba forward. To showcase our new shop I shot a month’s worth of photos and compiled this gallery. I’m excited to give you a peep into our world at Chumba!
Jorge’s high-pitched voice turned serious, still a few octaves higher than you’d expect: “You must have a plan. In life, in travel, in everything! Always, have a plan and always stick to the plan.” My brother, Quinn, and I looked at each other… “Wellll ya, we kind of have a plan.” We continued to bump along the dark streets toward the center of Guatemala City, looking at the empty streets go by through the window. I think we were both starting to wonder if maybe our “plan” was a bad one. Each city zone we passed through Jorge told us to be careful, explaining the dangers of Guatemala City, and warning us to be home before dark. “Two gringos locos, people know,” said Jorge, not so subtly alluding to the fact we stuck out like sore thumbs.
When we arrived at our Airbnb Jorge jumped out of the car and rang the bell of the security door. The guard buzzed him in, and we followed. The guard was young. On his desk, there was a revolver that looked as big as his hand. I wondered if he’d ever even shot it. In some ways, I hoped that he hadn’t. It was around 11:00 pm and, after a day of travel, we could feel the day catching up to us. We thanked Jorge for the ride and turned into the elevator. A few beers on the small terraces sounded good to both of us, but listening to Jorge’s persistent advice against going out past dark we decided to skip the nightcaps and go to bed. The next day we woke up to the streets below our rooms busier than the night before and the memory of Jorge’s warnings faded a bit. With no food in the house, we planned to walk to the market for some groceries and then decided we’d start to track down the key to our trip – bikes.
Not Chaotic, But Like Jazz
“We are all building on what Dario left us.”
On August 23rd, 2018 Italian framebuilder, artist, music aficionado, cancer survivor, and living legend Dario Pegoretti unexpectedly passed away. At only 62 years old he had made an indelible mark on the cycling industry. After building uncredited high-end custom frames for names such as Induran, Cipollini and Pantani he started his own company, Pegoretti Cicli. Both a traditionalist and iconoclast Dario never wavered from his love of steel while also constantly playing with innovations in technique, frame design, and painting. In all of these, he was a renowned master.
I have written, deleted, and rewritten this article several times now. There was the version that leaned in hard to trying to be funny, the version that tried too hard to be philosophical and deep, the version that was a cut and dry day by day account of the trip, and finally this one – some words written less about the trip itself and more about why I am so thankful we approached it the way that we did.
This past fall, my very good friend Kevin and I shipped ourselves and our bikes halfway across the country to New Mexico for what was essentially a repeat of the same trip we’d done 3.5 years prior. Back in spring 2018, with our Tony, we went on a very similar New Mexican grand adventure. We had ridden a serpentine route from Las Cruces in the south – through Truth or Consequences, Magdelena, Mt. Withington, Magdalena, Moriarty, and all of the salty stream crossings, scrublands, savannas, forests, mountains, and mesas in between, to Santa Fe in the north. Now, Kevin and I were repeating the journey – only this time going from north to south in the fall instead of south to north in the spring. With Covid-19 vaccines in arms, three local DC area airports, and the world at our fingertips it did seem like a lot of trouble to repeat our last big trip with only minor variations on a theme.
Sami Sauri’s Into the Atlantic Islands project takes an artistic approach to documenting multi-sport endeavors throughout Macaronesia with episodic videos, analog photography, and physical fanzines. We recently previewed the Madeira Islands installment of the project and, since then, Sami and team released five episodes on YouTube to complete the sequence. Today, to complement the video series, Sami shares some context around the project along with a stunning image gallery that’s only adding to our urge to start traveling internationally again!
As I sit here looking through the rolls of film shot at this year’s Cyclocross Nationals in Chicago, IL, the feeling is bittersweet. Traditionally, Nationals marks the end of the domestic racing season, but as I wandered through the parking lot catching up with old friends, it felt more like the beginning of something. After two years of canceled events, postponements, and isolation, gathering in Chicago for this year’s race almost felt ‘normal.’
On the weekend of October 20, 2021, something came to pass that hadn’t for what seemed like forever: the Red Bull Bay Climb in San Francisco, CA. Done in heats, the Bay Climb is a straight line sprint up Potrero Hill with pitches of up to 21%. Racers have to complete no less than 4 trips up the hill, as fast as they can, for a chance to win.
Here in the Mid-Atlantic we have a great ‘cross scene. Most races tend to have geat spectator crowds, full fields, interesting and varied courses, and, thanks to the highly variable and mid-atlantic climate, weather that spans from the hot and dusty to absurdly muddy in any given season. There is a lot to like in the Mid-Atlantic if you like cyclocross.
When we lost our image bucket from 2014-2015 a few years back, a bunch of really great content went blank. Over the years, I’ve been slowly re-upping our archives when I want to add a back-link to a current post or story. That happened last week when writing about the Buckhorn Bags Panniers. I remembered our “Escaping Black Friday” Reportage and tracked down the film scans, allowing me to re-up the fun. I also added the RideWithGPS route to the archive as well. If you’re in the Austin, Texas area and are looking for a good (and difficult) road tour, don’t miss this one!
If there’s a story you remember and really would like to see re-posted, drop it in the comments!
While many of the sites and vistas here are fairly well known, we will not be providing names and furthering keywording the area for the Internets. We encourage you to find a Canyonlands map, a cup of tea, and a good reading lamp and enjoy letting your mind wander the nooks, grottos, bends, and spires on the map unfolded before you.
The beauty of bikes is in the people who ride them—and how they all have a story. I have little doubt that everyone—serious riders, aeroed and grimaced, and carefree cruisers alike—have experienced that epiphanous fresh-air feeling of freedom that accompanies spinning your legs astride two wheels. Sometimes we just enjoy it at the moment—letting the short-lived wave of release and clarity wash over us during a weeknight burrito run, or a trip to the coffee shop. Other times we chase that feeling down with the hope that, somehow, it might change our life.
What first intrigued me about Josh Uhl was, however, not his history with bikes but his podcast Here For Now, which he started in February of 2021. Josh uses this platform to have intentional and intimate conversations with his guests about motivation, struggle, and the big whys of life. Listening to an early episode with Peter Hogan, where the recovering addict asserts that “Bikes aren’t God,” and to a later episode where the writer Zoe Röm reflects on the delusion of “authenticity” on social media, I found myself frequently nodding along. Yes, exactly.
This series is a look at the women pushing gravel cycling to be better than it already is. I photograph them to share their stories, their outlooks, their experiences.
With my hatchback stuffed with cameras and stands, camping gear, more cycling kit than I could wear, and my bike on the back I created this project. I put 3000 miles on my car over a month traveling around the country, connecting with these women in parking lots and trailheads, trekking through woods and up mountains. When I pulled up at the start line of SBT GRVL for my first bike race it was with many of them toeing the line as well.
Through every conversation, I learned more about them and the world of gravel that I’m falling so deeply into. I shot against a backdrop to single out, raise up, and celebrate these icons of the sport. Our time shared in this space I created sacred because of its intention.
What is more special than to create a moment, and then capture it?
“We have four kilometers to go with six hundred meters of climbing.” “Well, we can always walk.”
Self-named French “Team Tourist” is sitting cross-legged on a patch of gravel. Regardless of the weather or terrain, Mathias, Sophie, and Elise are smiling and calm, ready to take on anything.
Rue finds a tick behind her knee and Sophie lends us a tiny pair of plastic pliers to get it out. Then, she gives them to us as a gift.
“My hope is that we’ll all regroup here.”
Gaby’s phone rings.
“Okay. Well, that sounds like a good plan. How much is it? Okay. That’ll work.”
It’s day one and Sami is onto her second e-bike of the trip. She burned through the first one near Samoëns. She’s getting ahead and shooting from behind to make a video about our trip. E-bikes are incredible tools for media projects. Ali, the local expert, took her to a bike shop there to see if they could get a new battery and they said for some reason, it was so fried it wouldn’t charge. Instead, she’ll rent a new one with bigger tires, more suspension, and better brakes. With one camera enclosed in a scuba diving protective case, another strapped to a carabiner on her waist, a full backpack, and a drone in her hip pack, she looks like Lara Croft. On the new rig, she’s ready to rip.
I don’t consider myself an avid bikepacker. Yet, neither I think nor talk about riding my enduro bike (which I don’t have). Terminology in general has lost meaning for me in the past years in the bike world. I guess at the same time as many of us, I got overwhelmed with all the new kinds of everything, and the speed of development and diversity the market has achieved in such a short time. I tried to back off a little and find a short of safe place from where I can observe it all. And at the same time, the kind of biking I try to practice more is also quite determined by the act of observing.