We’re big fans of rigid bikes over here at the Radavist, especially made with titanium. Chris Corona, aka Dirt Drops, has one slick custom Caletti titanium MTB frame, best served neat with Chris King Bourbon.
Last weekend, Lael raced the Kenai 250, a two hundred fifty-seven mile self-supported mountain bike race in the Kenai Peninsula, the only area with an extensive network for singletrack trails in Alaska.
I had been holding back on these notes for about a year now because I felt that calling it a “review” sounded like too much. The audience here is used to deep comprehension reviews and it’s very intimidating to put it in the same category when my experience with bicycles is reduced to the five I’ve owned in my adult life, this one included. So instead this is more of a short story about a bicycle, with hints of technical information where it feels required.
This week’s Readers’ Rides photos are so sharp, we decided to share it as a full gallery. Hanson Little is an ex-pro BMX shredder and the hands behind Dark Realm Cycling, a brand that operates alongside his partner Vanessa’s Shop Realm. These two put out exceptional bags from their Austin, TX home. We’re featuring Hanson’s Crust Bikes Evasion Lite, a less-burly, lighter Evasion. This stripped-back version is quite the frame! Let’s look at it in detail below.
Rodeo Labs makes some of the most versatile drop bar bikes in the biz and their customers run the gamut of cyclists. Anytime I see one of their Trail Donkey 3.0 models in the wild, they’re always unique. From the kooky to the clean, Rodeo Labs owners take pride in their build kits and yes, even custom paint. One of their recent customers matched his paint and decals to his beloved FJ60, something I personally can understand…
For anyone as uninitiated as myself in Minnesotan lore and legend, the Boundary Waters is a immaculate sprawling maze of lakes in Northern Minnesota that share a border with Canada. I can’t remember who, but someone a few beers deep around a campfire eulogized about the boundary waters for quite some time, since then its hung in the back of my mind to check it out if the chance ever arose.
When I decided I wanted a custom bike there was only one person I really wanted to make it a reality. I’ve worked with Mike DeSalvo before, back when I was living in Portland, painting the first run of Speedvagen cyclocross bikes. I knew since this bike would be a once in a lifetime bike I wanted to go with titanium, and Mike is one of the best in the industry.
For decades, the little mountain overlooking my mother’s childhood home held a massive secret and my dad was in on it.
At just under 2,000 feet, Mount Weather sits along the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the rural Virginia town of Bluemont. It served as the backdrop to my childhood memories of time spent at my grandmother’s house. These days, whenever I visit the area on my bike and ride by the house, I look up at the mountain knowing it’s the reason I’m here.
And what my dad once told me, this mountain might be the reason we are all still here.
Longtime readers might recognize this bike. I first documented it in 2015. Unfortunately, when our server crashed, we lost the images from 2015-2016, so when I had the opportunity to re-document it, I had to jump on the opportunity. The frame was built by Ian Sutton of Icarus Frames. It was designed to clear a 45mm 700c tire, and yes, those are quick-release axles! This bike was ahead of its time in terms of “gravel bikes” and it’s still alive and well, now rolling under my bud Gideon Tsang who bought it a little while back. Gideon is a good friend of mine, going on 10 years. He’s a spiritual person, a counselor, and as much of a sage individual as anyone I know. Check out this piece he wrote for the Radavist about riding bikes and embracing the silence only found on self-isolating rides…
The first-place prize for Sim Works’ Social Reform Benefit Raffle is this Doppo ATB tourer, built by Shin in Japan, and decked out with a selection of Sim Works, Chris King, and Paul parts. Let’s check it out in detail in order to ramp up support of this great cause…
The Kenai 250 is a 257-mile, self-supported mountain bike race in the Kenai peninsula, the only area in Alaska with a large network of singletrack trails maintained by the forest service. The race organizer, Michael Braun, stitched together a route that connects the trails with highway miles. It’s 60% singletrack and 40% pavement. The race has been going on since at least 2013. This year, with 36 starters, it’s a record setting year for participation. This will be my first time racing it. I grew up in Alaska. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to ride and race in my home state. A couple weeks ago, Rue and I went out to tour the trails– several of which I’d never ridden. In a single day, from my bike seat, I saw a moose cooling off in a pond and both a lynx and a grizzly bear crossed my path. Alaska is still very wild. I’m really looking forward to riding through the night and experiencing this full route in one go. It would make a great multi-day tour as well.
I can tell you one thing; whenever someone tells me what I should do, I almost always do the opposite. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. In some psychology class years back, I learned about the theory of psychological reactance. It all boils down to an idea that people believe that they possess freedoms and the ability to participate in those free-behaviors. When those behaviors are threatened, something within us is sparked and we react. I find myself pretty apprehensive when it comes to telling anyone what they should be doing. For that matter, I mostly, don’t care what anyone else is doing. A person’s true character comes out regardless. You are what you do.
The story of this bike begins as most good stories do, with a group of kids, a backyard, and the bikes we got for X-mas. We would spend every afternoon after school modifying our bikes removing the brakes, and switching the wheels, twisting the forks, and reversing the handle bars all to suit our childish logic. Then we’d race them around the yard, until dark. To us, that was cycling. It wasn’t about going faster or longer, it was about making it our own.
That childish curiosity is how we’ve looked at the bike ever since. As a form of expression, discovery and freedom, it’s that idea that has taken us from the Frankenstein bikes in our backyard across the roads of the entire World. Our bikes are the tool that has allowed us to do what we love in the most beautiful places in the world with the most interesting people.
My dream was to ride all of the major roads in Alaska and I did in 2017. I’m fourth-generation Alaskan. It’s where I got into endurance riding on my mom’s Specialized Ruby in between bartending shifts in 2014. Examining the map and fitting in the biggest rides I could on my two days off led me to the goal of riding them all, imagining what the 2D map could look like in real life and why the roads existed in the first place. Three years later, I had a wide open summer and I was ready for an open-ended adventure. Four thousand five hundred miles took me past Wiseman to the north slope at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean, through Chicken to Eagle on the Yukon River, to the three hot springs north of Fairbanks, into Denali National Park and across the Denali Highway to Paxson. I used The Milepost, the local guidebook that chronicles every mile of Alaskan road with conditions and services. If the road is listed in The Milepost, I had to ride it. About two-thirds were paved and a third, high-quality dirt.
Over the past few years, I’ve found myself only riding 150mm travel hardtails and full suspensions with slackened front ends and steep seat tubes. In my mind, why would you want anything else? Then I moved to Santa Fe, where we have even bigger backcountry loops, steep climbs, and long, rocky descents. Yet, we also have sweeping, undulating XC trails. Suddenly, all those 150mm bikes are a little too much for a lot of the trails here, most of which are in my neighborhood. Then Chumba came to the rescue, sending along their Sendero 130mm 29er hardtail for me to review and I fell in love with XC bikes once again.
Read on for how this beauty of a bike handles our chunder and Chamisa-lined trails here in Santa Fe…
The current worldwide situation has forced Kyle and I, along with everyone else, to rethink our spring activities. With mountain bike races cancelled and out-of-state trips a no-go, we were suddenly left with a lot of empty weekends and an excuse to explore more of New Mexico. We finally had the time and motivation to give this bikepacking thing a try, something that had been at the back of our minds for quite some time. Despite both of us having spent thousands of miles backpacking the Sierra Nevada, Cascade Mountains, and the canyons of Southeast Utah, we still were new to the world of bikepacking.
At a time when every voice counts, it’s important to stand up and use yours to support those in, and outside your community. As an athlete with a platform, professional CX racer Tobin Ortenblad, and his good friend and fellow racer Dillon Hollinger, wanted to use their own voice to bring the cycling community together by raising awareness for social injustice. To do this, Tobin and Dillon developed a fundraising campaign around an Everesting attempt, but with a little twist…
Where do we even begin here? Boone is what I would consider a friend. Someone I met years ago in Portland who is now in Bend and still doing what he loves: making rad shit. Right now, however, he’s making rad shit for himself. When he and I first met, he was working for Argonaut Cycles but that wasn’t his first framebuilding job. As with everyone making bike frames, there’s a story to tell, and that’s what we’re doing here today, so sit back, turn on some metal, and check out the wild shit inside Boone Metal Fab.