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Longform

Snow and Sunsets in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Things to be Thankful For

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Snow and Sunsets in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Things to be Thankful For

What a year it’s been. To be honest, as the editor/owner/curator of this website, I was very nervous about how we would survive the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. So much of my work that goes into this site is about traveling to other communities, documenting shops, group rides, races, and yeah, people’s bikes. All that was put on hold and we had to resort to more bike galleries and reviews than I’m used to.

My passion comes from the aforementioned activities and while I love bikes, I love what they create and enable even more. All year, I’ve been personally battling a pendulum of moods but one thing that has been the great equalizer is a jaunt into our mountains, the Sangre de Cristo Range, the southernmost tip of the Rocky Mountains. Living on the last stop on the Colorado Plateau has its perks I suppose and a simple hour or two-long pedal in the foothills often gives me perspective that is much-needed in this year of uncertainty. It’s something I have to remind myself daily. Yesterday was a perfect example.

Bailey’s Rocky Mountain Hammer Basket Bike

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Bailey’s Rocky Mountain Hammer Basket Bike

The almighty basket bike. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Doesn’t need flashy components. Just build it out for practical uses… like wallrides!

Earlier this year, Bailey got the idea to convert this older Rocky Mountain Hammer frame into a basket bike. His intent with the bike was to have a no-nonsense, do-it-all beater that he could lock up anywhere and not worry about it. Yet, because it’s Bailey, there was a twist to this bike’s use…

Finding the Fun of Riding in Circles: Connecting Singletrack in Guaymas, Sonora

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Finding the Fun of Riding in Circles: Connecting Singletrack in Guaymas, Sonora

Up until the beginning of this year, I had barely stepped foot on a proper mountain biking trail. Not because my hometown lacks options to do so, it’s just that my approach to riding bikes as a commuter and tourer is to get places, and trail riding seemed much like riding in circles. This summer, as my long term traveling plans got postponed, a mountain biking trail 15 minutes away from home suddenly seemed interesting and I started to get the hang of riding single track as a temporary substitute for long, open dirt roads; after all, this 5 km trail did a lot for keeping me sane over the summer.

A Digital Preview – Of Crank & Chain: Cyclocross

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A Digital Preview – Of Crank & Chain: Cyclocross

Of Crank & Chain: Cyclocross is a 240 page photographic and written expression of domestic cyclocross in 2019. Both black and white and color images captured locally in the Pacific Northwest as well as at UCI events around the nation, the book is not organized by the events themselves, but rather by parts of a race day from the events spanning the season, blended together and presented as one continuous event. None of the images contain captions of the who and the where, because, in a way, a season is a singular event and also features images of amateurs and professionals and doesn’t draw a distinction between them. In the U.S., we are all just ‘cross racers suffering on the same track. In that respect, American cyclocross paints amateurs and pros with essentially the same brush. More than anything the book is about what it is to race cyclocross and what goes into it, as opposed to a year in review.

Golden State Skyline: Riding to and Climbing California’s Tallest Peaks

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Golden State Skyline: Riding to and Climbing California’s Tallest Peaks

The Golden State Skyline is a human-powered, self-supported linkup of all fifteen 14,000’ peaks in California, stretching from Mt. Shasta in the Cascades to Mt. Langley, the southern tip of the Sierra. Along with my friends Jonny Morsicato and Charlie Firer, followed by film crew Colin Rex and Nick Smillie, I set off to complete the Golden State Skyline on August 14. Our planned route covered 800 miles by bike, 100 miles on foot, and 100,000 feet of vertical gain, including technical difficulties up to 5.9. But life had other plans…

Kris Henry on His New 44 Bikes Full Suspension Steel MTB: the Snakedriver

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Kris Henry on His New 44 Bikes Full Suspension Steel MTB: the Snakedriver

My first taste of full suspension came when I was working as a wrench at a shop in Quakertown PA just after graduating from college and not really having a plan. On mornings off, I’d take out a demo and ride the local trails up on South Mountain in Emmaus. Those bikes were terrible. But at the time, I was young and loving any bicycle I could get my hands on. That was 1998. A degree project when I went back to school confirmed I didn’t have a clue about geometry, handling, let alone suspension kinematics. Fast forward to 2012 when I hung my shingle out starting 44 Bikes, I became solely focused on honing geometry and understanding fit. But deep down, I wanted to build a full suspension bike but I knew I wasn’t ready. Which brings us to the here and now. Things began to click after building hundreds of bikes and dozens of prototypes where I finally felt like I had a grip on geometry and handling. I wanted a new challenge. So in the Spring of 2019, I started acquainting myself with a platform I had largely ignored.

Sturdy Progress: Inside / Out at Sturdy Cycles

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Sturdy Progress: Inside / Out at Sturdy Cycles

Andrew stops mid-sentence, pauses, “ooooooh!…….. Oooooh…. oooooh!” his pitch rises to a maniacal school child giggle of surprise and wild childlike delight, like a two-year-olds first taste of cake. Visceral and uncontrollable joy. “Tom!?! Is this a prototype or is this a FUCKING!…. ok…. That’ll do it!” a long pause of wild-eyed observation glancing desperately around the room, eyes hungry for an affirming reaction but forced to settle for Tom’s grinning but nonchalant response of “yea, they’ve gotten lighter as well”. Another longer pause as dust from Tom’s stoic “yogi bear” response settles, a mumbled and affectionate “asshole.” The recording tapers off into minor expletives, mumblings, and the low noises people make to indicate affection for bits of metal when they’re together in sheds.

Super Jambo Grom Pre 200

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Super Jambo Grom Pre 200

Shit on it, vomit on it, give birth to it… that’s what it’s like organising the Super Jambo Grom Pre 200. An informal 200km gravel event on Ngarigo land, Yaouk Valley, in my home country, Australia. An event that centres all the things we have learnt this year – but also to get loose and have some well-earned fun!

Introducing the Vanilla Classic Road Bike with Custom CycloRetro Engraved Shimano Dura Ace

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Introducing the Vanilla Classic Road Bike with Custom CycloRetro Engraved Shimano Dura Ace

My normal yearly schedule usually includes a visit or two to Portland, Oregon, a mecca for bicycle framebuilders. Over the years, I’ve been a part of documenting the projects that come out of the Vanilla Workshop, so when a sweet project like this comes along, I like to elevate it to the Reportage section of the site. Sure, this bike isn’t going to be for everyone, nor is it by any means accessible, but as cyclists, we should be able to appreciate beautiful pieces of craft and thoughtfulness. At least that’s how I look at it!

Anyway, this Vanilla Classic road bike build with custom CycloRetro Engraved Shimano Dura Ace is a blast from the past… and that’s its intent! Read on below for more words and beautiful photos from the Vanilla Workshop.

We Are Not Whole Until We Are All Whole

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We Are Not Whole Until We Are All Whole

We have all been on rides that, at some point, require us to dig deep. But we still find a way to get that last bit of energy out of our bodies. We fight, we endure. And on the other side of these rides, we emerge stronger. We need to make the same commitment to anti-racism that we do to become stronger on the bike.

Julien’s 2-11 Cycles MR4 Stainless Steel Gravel Bike

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Julien’s 2-11 Cycles MR4 Stainless Steel Gravel Bike

As I drive home to Barcelona from a photoshoot in the South of Spain, I dream about the next three days. They will be calm and tranquil while I worked from home. Then, my phone buzzes with a message from Mike, a friend and owner of a bed and breakfast in the Pyrenees Mountains in France. He needs help with a last-minute photoshoot further north in the Basque Country. By last minute, he means tomorrow. No time for a rest. I live for photoshoots. It’s my job. My passion. The lure of home will have to wait, as the car stays packed and continues northward toward France.

A few hours later I am in the French Basque Country, in the town of Saint Jean de la Luz. Mike has brought me to his friend, Julien’s house. It is like the rest of the neighborhood, an etxea, in typical Basque construction with white walls crossed by solid timber beams, covered with a clay terracotta roofs. And there in this iconic French village sits the subject for the day. It’s a fresh, stainless steel 2-11 Cycles. So fresh that it’s barely been out on the road yet.

Time Moves Slow: San Francisco to San Diego

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Time Moves Slow: San Francisco to San Diego

While I can’t recall when the seed of this idea was planted, by early spring our plan to escape the reality of 2020 by riding from San Francisco to San Diego was beginning to take root. The year had started upbeat as I’m sure is the case for most people at the beginning of most years, but before long it took a hard turn in the other direction. Starting with a whiplash-inducing breakup that led to moving back to my parents’ house outside of Denver; those events seem small now in the context of everything that followed. As Covid 19 swept the planet and most of humanity began to shelter in place, our collective grief and anxiety began to feel like the status quo. As the days passed at a glacial pace (that was somehow simultaneously lightning fast), the snow in Colorado melted and this idea began to sprout as the earth began to thaw. At the same time, my best friend was dealing with his own lockdown situation down in Baja. Lorenzo had moved down to Ensenada late in 2019 to open a Gelato place (appropriately named “El Gelato”) and was absolutely killing it in the gelato game, helped in no small part to being probably the only gelateria in all of Baja. But when Covid hit, it hit hard and the dusty little town he was calling home completely shut down. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, I started receiving regular text messages from him about riding away from all this bullshit.

Dancing on Fascism’s Grave: Beyond Bike Racing in Euskadi 

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Dancing on Fascism’s Grave: Beyond Bike Racing in Euskadi 

More than a year later, I’m still captivated by the memory, the scene, the moment.

It was a hot autumn day, one of the last of the year before the seasonal chill poured from the Bay of Biscay into the Spanish Basque Country. A young man stepped into the middle of the road. He wore a flapping outfit of white with a red handkerchief and belt. It was the kind of attire that flails down the narrow streets of Basque cities during the annual running of the bulls in Northern Spain.

Haute Neanderthal: Inside Rock Lobster Cycles

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Haute Neanderthal: Inside Rock Lobster Cycles

Just before Covid hit the US and races were canceled indefinitely, I had a conversation on a ride with good friend Brendan Lehman (who is sometimes, more often than not, known as the official unofficial mis-manager of the Rock Lobster race team) about joining the risk of Lobsters and racing on a custom frame built by Paul Sadoff himself. I’d been riding with the Rock Lobster crew here in Santa Cruz for several years and we all seemed to share a common bond in doing remarkably stupid endurance rides, putting mental and physical limits to the test for fun and adventure. Since I first laid eyes on one, there has always been something alluring to me about a classic, team issue, seafoam green Rock Lobster. Not only will I get to ride and race on this custom bike built for my body dimensions, but I also get the pleasure to ride it with the builder himself. As a photographer, I figured it would be great to capture the build of my custom frame from start to finish and get to know Paul a little better in the process.

Ryan Wilson’s Rig in Review: 8 Months in Asia on the Tumbleweed Prospector

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Ryan Wilson’s Rig in Review: 8 Months in Asia on the Tumbleweed Prospector

I’ll be honest, the thought of a new bike is not something that really gets me terribly excited these days.  The places it can take me and the people I will meet along the way?  Definitely!  But when a post pops up on this site or any of the other bike-related sites I visit that starts getting into new-fangled hub spacings or microscopic geometry tweaks and angles, my brain tends to glaze over and forcibly pushes my hand toward clicking on the next article.  The things I look for when selecting a bike for my next big trip are based almost entirely on practicality and reliability.  I just want a bike that I don’t have to think about.

Cool Breeze in Nutmeg Country: Crust Chapter II

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Cool Breeze in Nutmeg Country: Crust Chapter II

Sometime back in late February the event calendar for Team Brooks Cool Breeze looked like any stadium tour you’d expect for such a glamorous gaggle of athletes.  Grav’l, touring, MTB, hang gliding, street luging…. you name it, we were gonna do it.  Times were fast, relaxing, and exciting, but little did we know that even lifestyle celebrity “athletes” would have little fun in the months to come.