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From The Pro’s Closet: Ross Shafer’s 1984 Salsa Cycles Custom

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From The Pro’s Closet: Ross Shafer’s 1984 Salsa Cycles Custom

I doubt the readers of this website need an introduction to the brand Salsa Cycles, but what about the brand’s genesis? Today’s From The Pro’s Closet bike features Ross Shafer, the founder of Salsa’s 1984 Custom. This bike, much like Salsa itself, is riddled with lore, so we pinged the lore meister himself, Tasshi Dennis, to dish out the goods. Grab a bowl of chips and a dish of salsa, and get yourself a big scoop below…

It’s a Rally, Not a Race: The People Who (Pennine) Rally

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It’s a Rally, Not a Race: The People Who (Pennine) Rally

Already in its second year of glory, Rapha’s Pennine Rally has easily made its name as a worthy must-experience off-road event here in the UK. Respectfully inspired by the Second City Divide route, the Pennine Rally covers 500 kms of the best unboring, mixed and testing terrain that this (middle-ish) part of the UK has to offer. This special event runs over five days winding, climbing and descending its beauteous way from Edinburgh to Manchester.

Thanks in no small part to the magnificent Louis, the rally’s beating heart, and his socially conscious approach to its organisation, the 2022 Pennine Rally attracted a whole host of keen shredders, many of whom are doing rad things in their communities, and it shows. The Pennine Rally embodies its tag line of ‘its a rally not a race’ and the event as a result is a magnet for many of the change-makers who are working to create a UK cycling scene that is more inclusive, wholesome, and socially active.

I haven’t been hanging around in the UK for very long, but it’s clear that there is a unique scene here and it only feels right to shout about it, so I decided, as part of my own participation in the event, to photograph some of these folks, describe their endeavours and in doing so to some way capture a feel for what is going on here. Please behold and be inspired by this selection of the following incredible humans who make this magic happen.

Finding Strength Through Feeling: Insights from the 2022 Odyssey of the VOG

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Finding Strength Through Feeling: Insights from the 2022 Odyssey of the VOG

What’s your intention for the race?” Jaimie asked as we gathered with others the evening before lining up at the start line of this year’s Odyssey of the VOG, which is a 350-mile bikepacking event that takes riders through the rural farmland of the Willamette Valley, the rugged and vast Oregon coastal range, and the unrelenting gravel climbs found in the Willamette and Tillamook National Forests.

Excitement and nervousness-filled conversations about bike setups, weight, steep climbs, estimated times… are you going to sleep? Over an inch of rain was forecasted to fall the next day. Some wanted to win. Most were intrigued by the adventure. I told Jaimie, “I want to be present and enjoy while challenging myself. I want to feel it.”

Best in Class? John’s Review of the Tumbleweed Stargazer Touring Bike

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Best in Class? John’s Review of the Tumbleweed Stargazer Touring Bike

“Best in Class” is not something I would throw around casually. I often find it polarizing to establish such hierarchies when referring to subjective statements. Yet at times, a bike rolls into my temporary possession that deserves the highest of praises. I’ve been riding the Tumbleweed Stargazer for a while now and having reviewed a number of similar bikes in this space, I feel like that title is fitting, yet no bike is perfect…

Let’s check out my full review below!

A Muddy Race, A Million Buttes, and a Very Novice Mountain Biker: Scenes from a Weekend on the Maah Daah Hey Trail

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A Muddy Race, A Million Buttes, and a Very Novice Mountain Biker: Scenes from a Weekend on the Maah Daah Hey Trail

Of all the things I love most in this life, riding bikes, exploring the world, and writing about both of those things are very near the top of the list. So, you can understand my thrill when the state of North Dakota’s tourism board reached out, asking if I might be interested in riding one of the most difficult singletrack trails in America before coming home to write about it.

After a quick conversation with my wife—whose blessing was required to leave her alone with our kids (the three things steadfastly at the top of my list) for four days while I went off to the Badlands to fuck around on bikes—and a few pitches to some bike-friendly editors (at least one of which commissioned the piece you are, at this very moment, reading), it was confirmed; I would be heading out to southwestern North Dakota to ride a portion of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, which, at 144 miles, is America’s longest contiguous singletrack trail. Thanks to its steep grades, technical terrain full of all sizes of rocks and boulders, thousands of tight switchbacks, endless buttes, and rapid changes in elevation, it’s also widely regarded as one of the most challenging.

Nature is Luxury at Wales’ Fforest Gran Ffondo

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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.

Into the Gran Desierto de Altar with La Ruta Chichimeca Bike Tour

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Into the Gran Desierto de Altar with La Ruta Chichimeca Bike Tour

The 1st of July marks the start date for the most awaited cycling event of the year. Tens of cyclists from different origins gather to dedicate the next weeks of their lives to riding a different route every day, with a rest day every week. Those who manage to finish the route will have over 4000 kilometers under their legs. We’re not talking about the Tour de France here, this is La Ruta Chichimeca!

Trail and Path: A Love Letter to Bike Touring the C&O Canal Towpath

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Trail and Path: A Love Letter to Bike Touring the C&O Canal Towpath

When I first started gathering the necessary gear to give bike touring (or “bikepacking” in the parlance of our times) a go, the concept struck me as an opportunity to escape from the predictable, mundane, “rinse-and-repeat” order of everyday life. An opportunity to embrace a new kind of freedom of aimless wandering through paths and tracks out in the near-endless natural landscape. After a couple of trips, though, I found the reality of touring isn’t the carefree meander I had envisioned. It can involve weeks or months of planning, trail markers, GPS tracks, resupply points… Which is not to say that escaping on a multi-day trip isn’t freeing, it is – very much so – but maybe not in the conventional sense of the word. I think author Robert Moor says it best in his written exploration of travel, On Trails:

“But complete freedom, it turned out, is not what the trail offers. Quite the opposite – a trail is a tactful reduction of options. The freedom of the trail is riverine, not oceanic. To put it as simply as possible, a path is a way of making sense of the world. There are infinite ways to cross a landscape; but the options are overwhelming, and pitfalls abound. The function of the path is to reduce this teeming chaos into an intelligible line.”

FYXO Builds: A Surly E-Ogre Year-Round Commuter

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FYXO Builds: A Surly E-Ogre Year-Round Commuter

Curating custom bikes for people is something I’ve done, dare I say, “since forever.” For nearly 20 years the most common way a custom project lands on my plate is someone desiring a build akin to my current ride. In the early years, it was track bikes, singespeeds, and classic road bikes. More recently, popular interest seems to have shifted to e-bike conversions capable of carrying small humans, bulky gear, or a combination of both.

The 2022 TransRockies Gravel Royale

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The 2022 TransRockies Gravel Royale

TransRockies has become an institution in the stage racing world: they have been around since the beginning. In late August, the inaugural Gravel Royale was their first foray into the world of gravel racing. The edition of the truly off-tarmac event makes sense, as the main critique of TransRockies in years past has been riders complaining about too many gravel roads. Sounds like they’ve just been honing the course for a real gravel throw down! After the four stages, Rob Britton of Victoria, BA and Rach McBride of Vancouver, BC took the top step in the Elite Men’s and Women’s categories, respectively. What follows is Barry Wicks‘ rider journal from each of the four days which gives a stream of consciousness account, followed by his interviews with other competitors. Each interview maintained the same format and consisted of just three questions designed to skip the small talk: What is your favorite color? What are you reading right now? What is the meaning of life? Enjoy the ride!

Heavy Lifting: A Longterm Review of the Old Man Mountain Elkhorn Rack

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Heavy Lifting: A Longterm Review of the Old Man Mountain Elkhorn Rack

The Old Man Mountain Elkhorn Rack solves a critical problem I’ve always had with my mountain bike. As far back as I can remember, owning a set of wheels translated into carrying stuff. A friend on the handlebars of my Sears BMX bike. A case of beer and groceries on the front rack of my old Vespa. An entire apartment in the back of my pickup truck. However, that functionality never existed for me in mountain biking.

Iceland’s “Forgotten Coast Route” Part Three: The Route Within

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Iceland’s “Forgotten Coast Route” Part Three: The Route Within

For the final installment of our coverage documenting the Forgotten Coast Route – a bikerafting trip connecting all of Iceland’s southern coast – expedition photographer Ryan Hill writes a series of short stories recounting some memorable moments from the media team’s point of view. Follow along with Ryan and the rest of the team which includes videographers Bryan “Bobcat” Davis, Jeremy Bishop, and Icelander Sigurdur “Sigi’ Petur.

So Close, Yet So Far Away: Bikefishing and Solitude in the Los Padres National Forest

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So Close, Yet So Far Away: Bikefishing and Solitude in the Los Padres National Forest

Less than thirty miles from one of the most populous areas in North America, lies the remote eastern reaches of the Los Padres National Forest. With its seemingly endless layers of pinyon, ponderosa and fir-studded peaks that stand sentinel over a tangled labyrinth of deep, rugged valleys, it’s hard to believe that such a wild oasis exists merely a stone’s throw from the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area and its nineteen million residence. And, in unbelievably stark contrast to the concrete-laden hustle and bustle of neighboring LA, this portion of the Los Padres remains almost entirely devoid of human presence for much of the year. For the months that motorized access is prohibited, one must hike or pedal their way into these wild and untamed canyons. Getting back there can be a rigorous effort indeed, but more than worth it for the unhampered solitude one can find.

April is typically a shoulder season here; heavy snow years and lallygagging winters can render the month bitterly cold, the trails can remain unrideable, and the streams too cold and icy for any desirable form of fishing. This winter was different however…the snow never really fell, and unseasonably warm and dry weather persisted through the once-rainy winter season and on into spring. So here we were, the first weekend in April, baking under an angry sun as we loaded bikes and prepared to set off deep into the Los Padres in search of wild campsites and native fish.

Bikepacking is Changing Navajo Youths’ Lives

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Bikepacking is Changing Navajo Youths’ Lives

I first met Janessa (15), Jodessa (13) and Jaron Segay (20) November 2020 in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Wanting to support Dzil Ta’ah Adventures owners, Jon Yazzie and Nadine Johnson, and their Navajo Youth Bikepacking Program, we invited these first three participants on a Four Corners Guides bikerafting course to cap off their season of learning to bikepack.

The kids didn’t talk much, and Jaron busied himself setting up camp for all of them or otherwise prepping their bikes and gear. The girls rode on borrowed bikes until dark night one, and fished for catfish with beef jerky night two. And when we first set out on Lake Powell, the three of them giggled and spun their rafts in circles for the first few miles before settling into a paddling rhythm. Since that trip, I’ve watched the kids blossom into full-fledged competitive mountain bikers. Based on their hard work, ability to take care of their own gear and confidence riding bikes, they’ve been chosen to participate in various bike- or adventure-related programs. I recently chatted with Janessa, Jaron and their mom, Jessica, to talk about how the Youth Bikepacking Program has changed their lives.