Category Archives: Reportage
Golden Saddle Rides: DeSalvo Titanium All Road

As a big rider, I commend when a big bike can look so balanced. Perhaps that’s what drew me to this De Salvo All-Road the guys at GSC recently built up for a customer. It just looks so balanced. Part of my attraction to this machine is also due to Mike DeSalvo being such a stand-up guy and capable frame builder, but it’s not every day that you see a big bike like this have such a pleasant stance.

The formula is simple, the components to the equation began with a custom titanium frame. Custom in its fit, not necessarily its use. Mike DeSalvo builds lots of disc road bikes for his clients and while the others might not have a pump peg or a third bottle cage on the downtube, they’re two easy details Mike can add to his beautifully-fabricated titanium frames.

For a build kit, the client chose SRAM Red eTap, Boyd Wheels, Fizik, White Industries, and a Parlee Fork. Staple brands void of ostentatious flashiness. Why distract from such pristine titanium construction? Mike DeSalvo’s work is impeccable and this build came out so clean that I’m stoked to be able to share it here. Check out more at DeSalvo Cycles.

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If you want a custom build like this and live in Los Angeles, hit up Golden Saddle Cyclery.

Aug 16, 2018 5 comments
Idahome: Bikepacking in God’s Country – Aimee Gilchrist

Idahome: Bikepacking in God’s Country
Words by Aimee Gilchrist, photos noted in Gallery Captions

God’s Country Day 1:  Captain’s Log

The pain felt like a feathery flame, arriving fierce and lacing itself into the layers of fibers in my quads.  I bend over my bars to stretch and shake the lactic acid bath pooling in my legs. My chest strains to keep air in my lungs when it desperately wants to escape.  I glance around to see if the others show similar conditions to help calm my mind. Although I had fared well earlier in the day when we were sticking to the fire roads, now the steep grade of this narrow, rutted trail has me feeling worked.  I’m barely keeping my inner dialogue silenced. The steeper and higher we climb up the pass, the weaker my mental fortitude becomes. (more…)

Aug 15, 2018 5 comments
Jimmy and His Made in LA Dark Moon Fabrication 27.5+ Hardtail

Jimmy. Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. How do you have such sick bikes?!

Since he began working at Golden Saddle Cyclery, Jimmy has come up on some pretty sweet bikes, in a kinda serendipitous manner. Take his latest bike for example. Our buddy Carlos has been spending the past few months setting up his shop, since leaving the head fabrication position at Stinner Frameworks. Carlos wanted to make frames for his own brand and after some time, he was ready to get some out and under his friends. Jimmy smelled the opportunity and jumped on it, selling his hardtail to fund a deposit to Carlos.

The result is the first complete Dark Moon Fabrication 27.5+ hardtail. Carlos has made a few mountain bike frames, but mostly to test out details, not to ride. After working out the geometry with Jimmy, he got to work on a bike with a 65º head angle, 150mm fork, and a 75º seat tube angle. After I saw the geo and signed off on it, Carlos got to work. The frame utilizes a symmetrical yoke plate at the bottom bracket cluster, a wishbone seat stay, and clearance for a 3″ tire with a 34t ring. Jimmy’s bike is official and boy did he go with all the right components on this bike, all chosen to accentuate the sparkle paint job on the bike.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jimmy more stoked to ride a bike. In fact, he rode things he had previously deemed off-limits with such fervent energy and it shows in the riding photos. New bike day stoke is real!

If you’d like a Dark Moon Fab frameset, holler at Carlos on his Instagram. He builds road, track, all-road, touring, and mountain bike frames right here in Los Angeles. A bike like Jimmy’s sells for $1,650 for the frame and paint.

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If you want a custom build like this and live in Los Angeles, hit up Golden Saddle Cyclery.

Aug 14, 2018 12 comments
Paddles n’ Puppies: A Visit to Alpacka Raft HQ

Paddles n’ Puppies: A Visit to Alpacka Raft HQ
Words and photos by Spencer Harding

I’ve been fawning over Alpacka rafts for years but have yet to obtain one. I have used the shitty Klymit one, which resulted in my raft flipping while holding my camera at the end of a rapid. I learned the hard way that there is only one true name in the packrafting game: Alpacka Raft.

Last year my friend Molly (see our last trip for more cute photos of her and Sprocket) got a job working at Alpacka Raft HQ in Mancos, Colorado. Mancos is a quaint town nestled right between the full-on Rocky Mountains and the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau. Ever since she got the job I had been waiting for an excuse to stop by and check out the factory. Turns out Mancos is not even close to being on the way from Salt Lake City to Denver (to meet up for this year’s DFL the Divide trip) but was well worth the detour. (more…)

Aug 13, 2018 14 comments
Inside / Out at the Vanilla Workshop and the Workshop Buildoff Party

It’d been a while since the last time I had been to Portland. 2015 or so, if I recall correctly. In that time, a lot has changed in the city, and over at our friends at the Vanilla Workshop.

While I was in Portland at the Workshop Buildoff, I did my best at documenting the space, a few people, and the party scene from the kickoff. Portland’s got a deep cycling culture, and seeing it come out for this party was a great way to spend a Friday night. Feeling the frenetic buzz leading up to the event, only to be released with the first can of beer opening was a real treat and one that I enjoyed watching unfold. (more…)

Aug 11, 2018 12 comments
Richard Pool’s Allied Alfa Disc Allroad with Hypercolor!

Richard Pool’s Allied Alfa Disc Allroad with Hypercolor!
Photos by Bob Huff, words by John Watson

How do you make a special bike extra special? For Richard Pool, aka Bicycle Crumbs, he was sold on the Allied Alfa Allroad but wanted to jazz it up a bit. Richard works at the Vanilla Workshop – in case you were wondering who is doing all those snazzy new graphics! – so he consulted Lucas Strain, one of the painters at Coat, Vanilla’s in-house paint shop, on what to do with this frame to make it extra, extra special.

The result is the by-product of including Thermocramatic paint, over a raw Alfa. What this paint does is react with temperature and the easiest way to see this is by either putting the frame in a freezer, or rubbing an ice cube over it, but when Richard pinged Bob Huff, Vanilla’s photographer, he suggested cold water, sprayed from a hose on a hot day. Luckily they found normal garden hose water on a hot, hot summer day in Portland did the trick.

Is is gimmicky? You bet but does it look awesome, you bet! Coupled with this awesome bike, I think it turned out great. If you’d like a more in-depth look at the Alfa, check out our review!

Richard built it up with Turquoise King bits, ENVE Ar 4.5 rims, a Zip post and cockpit, SRAM eTAP WiFli and a Fabric ALM saddle.

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Follow Richard on Instagram, Lucas on Instagram, Allied on Instagram, and follow Bob Huff on Instagram.

Aug 10, 2018 14 comments
Spencer’s 1956 Schwinn Cruiser

When I was an architect, a few clients came to us with project proposals, revolving around a key object like a doorknob, a bookcase, or some other heirloom piece. In essence, they wanted us to design a house around this object. Believe it or not, this happens a lot with bikes as well in what I call “Genesis components.” Someone has a stem like a Ti Grammo Art or a crank like a Kooka and wants to build a complete around that part. More often than not, it’s that heritage piece that really ties a build together. These unifying pieces don’t have to be vintage and they don’t have to be the Genesis piece. Take Spencer’s 1956 Schwinn cruiser build for example.

Spence is an employee at Yuba Expeditions, the shop and shuttle company in Downieville that’s an extension of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. Everything sold at Yuba and every shuttle run purchased goes right back to the Buttes. It’s a solid system and gives dudes like Spencer and the rest of the team at Yuba, a great job in an even greater town.

Downieville isn’t a hilly town. It’s pretty flat along the main drag, so Spencer wanted a beater bike to kick around on. That’s when he pieced together this 1956 Schwinn cruiser, which fit a nice knobby tire, a modern unicrown fork, a Brooks Saddle, and yeah, the Genesis piece – the bar that really tied the build together.

A few years back, S&M introduced a new handlebar to their MUSA lineup. The Husky High MX bars are replicas of 1972 – 1977 Husqvarna Motorcycles High Crossbar. Once Spencer saw them, he knew where they needed to go.

Genesis components aren’t always the beginning of a bike build, but they do make a build unique to the owner. The context of this bike made it so unique to me, as it sat next to multiple $10k+ carbon full sus builds. Thanks to Spencer and Yuba for making my last trip to Downieville so much fun!

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Follow Spencer on Instagram and follow Yuba Expeditions on Instagram.

Aug 9, 2018 27 comments
Darren’s Blue Collar Nigel All Road

If you look for information on Blue Collar Bikes on the internet, ya won’t find much. Robert Ives likes it that way. He builds bikes, enough to pay his mortgage, and lives a fine life in Sacramento, where he’s been building Blue Collars since 1998. Robert came from Ventana before branching out on his own, where he builds steel bikes, made to take a beating, with the flashiest thing on them being that fancy head badge. I look forward to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship events because I know someone will have a Blue Collar.

This trip, it was Darren, a good friend of Robert and Paul from Paul Components. Darren began building this frame in Robert’s shop one day and left it incomplete. As he got busy with life, little did he know, Robert was slowly completing this frame. At last year’s Grinduro, Robert handed it over to Darren, who’s been riding it ever since.

After we took on the Classic Downhill shuttle, I grabbed this bike, a Nigel XL, to shoot it behind the Downieville Hardware store. Ya don’t get more Blue Collar than that! If you’d like to read more about Robert Ives’ career and life for that matter, head to Dirt Rag, for a damn interesting read! Check out Blue Collar on Facebook too.

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Follow Blue Collar on Instagram and follow Darren on Instagram.

Aug 8, 2018 9 comments
Practice Makes Perfection at the 2018 Downieville Classic

The Downieville Classic has been a work in progress since its inception in 1995, yet most recently the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship – the trail organization that throws the race and maintains hundreds of miles of trail in the Lost Sierra – made a massive leap in progress, but not without a lot of persistence, a little luck, and yes, tons of practice. Whatever mountain biking is to you, be it sport, hobby, lifestyle, or all of the above, it requires practice. The SBTS has logged over 25 years of practice working with various Forestry departments: learning the ins and outs of trail stewardship, including but not limited to the politics and practices of making and maintaining mountain bike trails. (more…)

Aug 7, 2018 43 comments
A Solstice Ballad for My Hometown – Tenzin Namdol

A Solstice Ballad for My Hometown
Words by Tenzin Namdol, photos by Ultra Romance and Thomas Hassler.

While the God-fearing Christians of the lower Connecticut River valley ended their day cleaning off their lawn care equipment, a small group of Wiccan-observing, season-worshipping heathens rolled their tires through the forested glades of the Nutmeg Country triangle in honor of the Swift Campout. We smell of essential oils and the crystals around my neck jingles at each pedal stroke. The leaves on the trees have matured from their Spring-emerged highlighter green to a darker, more robust hue, properly at the ready for the next summer storm. The back-to-back Nor’easters these trails have endured in recent months have left branches and huge fallen trees in the path as we head for the lean to’s in Cockaponsett State Forest- a mouthful, I know, especially paired with the Pattaconk Lake that nests inside. This area is full of names like that: Hammonasset Beach is a rock throw away from Benedict’s home, the Quinnipiac flows into New Haven harbor several miles away. Connecticut is a colonized spelling of the Native Algonquian, Quinnehtukqut, which translates to “place of the long river”. (more…)

Aug 6, 2018 5 comments