Category Archives: Reportage
Blazing Trails and Ripping Hardtails with Blaze Bicycles!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
Pierre Chastain, the owner and fabricator at Blaze Bicycles, has been building bikes for over 10 years now. I’m not sure if this makes him a veteran or a rookie in this day and age, but I’m leaning towards veteran. Pierre knows what he likes, he also knows what he is good at, and this is how I know he has his shit together. Pierre started building bikes in Venice, California but has since moved to Moab, Utah where he lives and works today. When he first arrived in Utah, he partnered with Chris Hill at Moab Classic Bike. This was the beginning of what would become the Blaze Bicycles empire – I’m not sure it’s an empire, but it sure sounds good! Today Pierre is the sole owner of the bike shop, now branded Bike Fiend, where they concentrate heavily on getting people on these beautiful bikes made in the town they love.
A fun fact about Blaze Bicycles before I continue: Firemen love Blaze Bicycles. (more…)
Bike Fiend Moab: Where the Locals get Their Fix!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
Moab Classic Bike was started by Chris Hill back in 2012. It began by selling refurbished bikes to Moab residents and certified dirtbag adrenalin junkies like himself. Later, Pierre Chastain, the man behind Blaze Bicycles, would come on board to refine and reimagine the way the bike shop worked and what they would sell, eventually making Moab Classic Bike more of the bike shop it is today. In 2016 Moab Classic Bike would become Bike Fiend, Pierre would take full ownership, concentrating on Blaze Bicycles and the Bikepacking community at large, all while keeping the “dirtbag” vibes alive! (more…)
Words by Tenzin Namdol, Molly Sugar, Sarah Swallow, Jocelyn Gaudi Quarrell, Whitney Ford-Terry, and Mary Lytle, Founders of WTF Bikexplorers
Summit Photos by Gritchelle Fallesgon
Illustrations by Tessa Hulls
Ride Series Photos by Rie Sawada (Instagram + Website)
A few weeks ago one hundred cyclists from all over the country identifying as women, transgender, femme, and non-binary gathered in Whitefish, Montana for the first ever WTF Bikexplorers Summit. The Summit was organized to support, celebrate, and connect the community of W/T/F/N-B who use their bicycles to explore and a collective effort for a movement away from patriarchy and toward a liberatory cycling culture.
“This Summit is about bikes, but it is not really about bikes.” -Tessa Hulls (more…)
Melancholic Beauty on the Silk Road Mountain Race
Words by Lian van Leeuwen, photos by TH Photos, Gianmarco Dodesini Valsecchi, Jennifer Doohan and Giovanni Maria Pizzato
There’s a melancholic beauty to first times. It holds the excitement of the unknown, the nervous expectations of true adventure. With the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race, race director Nelson Trees set out to create just that: a great adventure. ‘I wanted to create a race in an area that is close to my heart but is unknown to many. A little daunting, a bit out there. Something that any reasonably fit rider would be able to pull off but would also push contestants beyond their comfort zone.’ And that he did. (more…)
Photos and words by Kevin Sparrow
When people hear of the Midwest, they typically think of farmland and prairie. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa have a rich history of glaciation that smoothed out a lot of the land we typically think of and gouged out lakes and terrain. Southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and western Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, known as The Driftless Region, is a unique area virtually untouched by glacial sculpting. As a result, this landscape greatly contrasts what one would typically think of the Midwest. Its narrow valleys, high bluffs, forested hillsides and beautifully sculpted topography is a real treat for cyclists in the region. (more…)
High Fives and Apricot Handups: Cycling the Pamir Highway
Photos and words by Amy Jurries
I pulled into camp early that afternoon, tired from a dusty, bumpy day in the heat with a slipped derailleur cable that forced me to ride the rolling terrain using only a couple of gears. I plopped down in the shade and chugged some sun-baked water as I began to hear rumblings from the Dutch cyclists in our group. They referred to a large number of texts from loved ones back home frantically asking if they were OK.
“OK how?” I asked one of the riders.
“A bunch of cyclists have been murdered right up the road,” he replied. “I guess it’s all over the news in Holland.”
As further, horrific details of the terrorist attack came in sporadically throughout the evening, we all sat in shock. A car filled with five IS-sympathizers rammed into a group of seven Western cyclists just outside of Kulob, then attacked them all with knives. Four died: two from the US, one from Switzerland, and one from the Netherlands. This was not only a little “too close to home,” but also completely opposite the Tajikistan we had come to know and love the past two weeks cycling along the Pamir Highway. Not to mention quite a blow to Tajikistan’s recently declared “Year of Tourism.” (more…)
Shop Visit: Freeze Thaw Cycles
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
Since 05 Freeze Thaw Cycles has been providing great service work and community to State College, from their weekly rides to their mini bicycle museum, they’ve got the best vibe around them for sure. Justin and some friends started recycling bikes to create alternate transportation, and a lot of their core values hold true today, some 13 years later. With assembly being of utmost importance every bike built gets stripped to nothing and rebuilt, faced, chased, and ready to roll, which is atypical from most shops today. Over the years, Justin has procured one of the largest collections of Grove Innovations as well as some other builders. Those bikes now line the walls above the main floor, just out of reach, but not far enough away that I didn’t stare for hours, no really! It’s wild to think that this rad of a space is nestled between some of the best MTB trails in Pennsylvania, that’s a good 2 for 1 deal. If you roll through the area anytime soon, stop by and say hi, you won’t be sorry!
Follow Jarrod on Instagram and Freeze Thaw Cycles on Instagram.
Joe’ DKXL Prototype Salsa Cycles Warbird Carbon
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
Joe’s proto Warbird has taken what Salsa has learned from their athletes and staff to refine what was already a fast gravel bike and give it some new features. The fork/frame is all new but with added versatility like dynamo routing in the fork, fender mounts, and a much cleaner Di2 setup.
Joe has already raced the DKXL aboard the new bird, proof that the new bike is ready to rip some gravel. This bike doesn’t just look fast, it is, but stays comfy over the roughest of b-roads thanks to the 2nd generation updated vibration reduction system. Aside from the entire suite of SRAM parts, including Zipp wheels, and SRAM Drivetrain and Brakes, the left lever can operate his dropper mid-race if needed making this, the most capable Warbird yet.
Follow Jarrod on Instagram. and Salsa Cycles on Instagram
Saddle Drive Is The Best … Time For All
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
Saddle Drive is a dealers only event in which QBP invites bicycle retailers from all over the country to take part in what is usually two days of seminars, stoke, and shredding, yes there’s a whole bunch of product in there too, unfortunately, I can’t share much as most of it is under embargo. This year some forthcoming thunderstorms (PSYCH) condensed the shred/expo time to just one day. The morning before the demo, QBP held a women’s only ride and 97% of the attendees traversed some of the best forest-service roads near Seven Springs, PA . Even with the condensed timetable, I was able to take some familiar bikes down some familiar terrain and even venture further off route.
Thanks to a little Google Earth logistics we were able to take some singletrack over the road to visit some cutty spots at the top, ALWAYS TAKE THE SINGLETRACK! There were some rad new products including Ketl’s revamped women’s line, Teravail’s answer to the industry that the world needs more gumwalls! (Twenty-nine X 2.6″ Kennebec PLEASE) and some revamped Whisky Rims just to name a few. It was All City’s Tenth Anniversary and let me tell you that 10TH Anniversary Mr. Pink is wild in person! Finishing out the demo day I was able to shoot some of Salsa’s new line of bikes which will be featured here once the embargo is lifted, thanks to Lindsey Beltchenko, Salsa’s Marketing Manager. I wanted to cram every bit of time we could into the day and we dipped to a natural rock slide just outside of the resort and visited a cafe that had Kyle stoked the whole way back. We made it back in time for All City’s 10TH Anniversary Party, here’s to 100 more, as a bonus check out Jeff’s rad Gorilla Monsoon. Thanks to everyone at QBP who makes this event a success, and everyone who made this event a blast! This was definitely a Saddle Drive to remember.
Follow Jarrod on Instagram. QBP on Instagram and All-City on Instagram
If there’s one route people ask me to show them when they’re visiting Los Angeles with a road bike, it’s how to get to the Hollywood Sign. It turns out, cyclists can fall victim to iconic destinations just as commonly as non-cyclists. That’s what you do when you come to LA right? The one thing that separates this spot from other tourist destinations like the Chinese Theater or the Walk of Stars is you’ve really got to work to get up close and personal to the Hollywood Sign.
There’s an old joke in Hollywood, stemming from a conversation between Johnny Carson and Bette Davis. Carson asked Davis for advice on “the best way an aspiring starlet could get into Hollywood,” Ms. Davis replied without hesitation, “Take Fountain!”
Fountain Ave is a bicycle-friendly connector between Silver Lake and West Hollywood. It runs east to west and is parallel to Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, two very congested arteries and very dangerous to ride bicycles on, especially during rush hour. By contrast, Fountain takes you past cafes, farmer’s markets and while the beginning is a two-lane road, it widens up once you reach Hollywood. There are “sharrows” the whole way, reminding motorists to share the road with cyclists but don’t be surprised when a Maserati goes 80mph past you, tailpipes brapping. (more…)