If the stakes were higher than normal that weekend, the scene in a regional hotel bedroom with six partly drunk men wasn’t any indication. Listen closely and you’d have heard the nervous excitement as we re-lived Jurassic Park for the millionth time. We’d committed via packed Instagram thread to another Winter Solstice ride, with the ante well and truly upped. Eight raised a digital hand, the number surprisingly only dwindling to six at shit-hitting-the-fan time in spite of snow forecast at 800m. Time to trawl the drawers for those special pieces of clothing designed to keep toes attached and fingers from emulating smashed frozen sausages. (more…)
Leave it on the Road’s Desert Bear: a Ride from Joshua Tree to LA
On Saturday, November 10th, seven women embarked on an epic desert journey to help fund cutting edge cancer cell and gene therapy research. They navigated the arid landscape from Joshua Tree to Los Angeles, following a route, and more importantly, their hearts. A ride to remember, with a noble goal – help raise $100,000 to fund cancer cell gene therapy.
While Black Friday follows a holiday meant to celebrate the togetherness of friends and family, we oftentimes get swept up in consumerism. Hey, it happens. Deals here, deals there. Lines, lines, lines! The whole ordeal can really taint an otherwise pleasant weekend. Don’t even get me started on Thanksgiving in itself. (You should read the history behind what this holiday was founded on, written by the Manataka American Indian Council.) Now, I’m not writing this piece to get into the complicated history of Indigenous Lands and religious zealots’ squandering of natural resources. I actually like what this time of year embodies but I approach the subject with great care. No matter how you look at it, we are all on Native Lands. (more…)
Love Letter to a Velodrome
I had heard much lore about the NSC velodrome over the years leading up to me spending last summer in Minneapolis. It is truly a spectacle in physicality and community alike. Until you have taken a lap on those old boards you don’t truly understand what it takes to drop into those turns every Thursday night. After just a few months in this community, I was brought to tears as we left the velodrome to move to Arizona, Brenda and I literally drove our fully packed truck to the velodrome for one last night of racing. I lack the words to describe my sorrow imagining how everyone in this community will feel when this place is torn down next summer.
We met on a cold Saturday in April. Winter had worn on you, rotted your core. My job, along with other volunteers, was to strengthen your weak points; a job you would reciprocate months later. You creaked and moaned as we pulled up your boards to expose your insides. Afzalia had become endangered and so we patched you with lesser wood. Rotten next to the new, but “well-loved” was the word I chose to use when talking about you to friends and family.
Summer meant I spent every Thursday I could spare with you. My body leading up to that day reacted as it does before a first date: sleepless nights, unbridled giddiness, overthinking, and trying on my skinsuit countless times. Instead of butterflies in my stomach, my lower region decided to nervously poop for 24 hours leading up to our meeting. Was this love?
Once a week for three months, my weaknesses were unapologetically put on display. Dark truths of my life that I had done well to ignore were spoken so clearly from an inanimate and seemingly voiceless object. “Eat more. Or you will not be able to ride.” And so I ate because being away from you meant my body would wither. “Leave him and be free.” And so I left because the three hours I spent with you were more joyful than the past three years of my life. I always thought it was a cliche when I overheard folks saying bicycles changed their life. But there I was, truly living on two wheels without brakes and without fear, speaking a sentence over and over that had never felt comfortable coming from my mouth: “I am strong.” What was supposed to be a casual hobby quickly turned into therapy while my competition soon became family.
Unfortunately, your time is coming to an end. And I can’t save you the way you have saved me and countless others. The space you occupied, which was dedicated to bikes and their humans, will ironically become a place for cars to park. Your soft green grass once littered with grandma quilts that were occupied by sweaty bodies of exhaustion and elation will turn to hard concrete. Silence will replace the sounds of rumbling boards, cheers from dedicated fans, and ridiculous infield dance parties. The bright lights will go dark and no longer illuminate faces of determination and defeat. We’ve seen this finale before. Dorais. Olympic. Stone Mountain. Fallowfield. Meadowbank. Dieppe. Your name will be added to the long list on a Wikipedia page titled “Velodromes No Longer in Use,” followed by a short description that does your story no justice.
I started this relationship knowing there was an expiration date, and that awareness has not softened the heartbreak. I refuse to accept that the only narrative told of you will be two sentences, one of them including the word “demolished.” You deserve better than that because you are magic incarnate. Each board possessing the ability to not just call out my fragileness, but also my strengths. The pieces of you that will stay with myself and others, outside of the literal splinters under our skin, are in the form of lifelong friends and a passion to preserve the freedom and power we all felt pedaling in circles at the NSC Velodrome.
The NSC Velodrome in Blaine, Minnesota is being torn down after the 2019 season. It has hosted countless Thursday Night Light competitions, Fixed Gear Classic, Track Cycling Championships, and Olympic Trials. One of the largest WTF fields in the country called the boards home, and numerous racers from around the country were able to experience riding what can only be described as a wooden roller coaster. The track community in Minneapolis is currently working hard to contact legislators to find a location and funding for an indoor cycling center that will not only benefit athletes but the community as well through youth job training programs and a variety of learn-to-ride cycling classes for children and adults.
El Camino de Los Huasos: A Ride Through the Central Chilean Andes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
More than anything else, I’ve learned two things in my time in Northern Argentina and Chile. First and foremost, never trust a zipper. Little known fact: over 8.9 million zippers have been destroyed in Argentina’s desert in 2018 alone. OK, so maybe I made that up, but if I owned 8.9 million zippers that would definitely be true. The second lesson? Avoid shipping here at all costs, but if you must, you’d better have it planned out well in advance. Unfortunately, after damaging my derailleur and a number of other pieces of equipment in the harsh northern desert, planning and shipping in advance were not really on the table, so upon arriving in the sprawling urban center of Chile known as Santiago, my trip was in the notoriously slow hands of the Chilean customs offices and postal system. (more…)
“The real interest of the myths is that they lead us back to a time when the world was young and people had a connection with the earth, with trees and seas and flowers and hills… we can retrace the path from civilized [humans] who live far from nature, to [people] who lived in close companionship with nature.” -Edith Hamilton, Mythology
Andreas came to greet us on top of the hill where we had slowed to open a goat gate along our route. We were just a couple of miles outside the city of Heraklion where we landed just a day before. Where we saw Anarchist graffiti enough to fill my whole black heart. Where we ate a meal so sublime that we decided to ditch our plan of ferrying over to the mainland and opted to spend the two weeks we had in Greece right here on this island. Just a few miles up and out of the city sees the landscape change from the graffiti-ed buildings to rural, agricultural hollers. Andreas was checking in on his goats, pigeons, and rabbits when he sees us and approaches with twinkling eyes. (more…)
It’s no secret that California is home to some exceptional bike riding. It doesn’t matter if you’re a roadie, a gravel grinder, or a mountain bike park rat, there’s something for everyone in the Golden State. My romping grounds of choice happen to be a quick, three-hour drive from my home in Los Angeles. After catching up on work Thursday morning, I left my home and headed north on the 395 to Lone Pine, California where I’d spend the next two days riding my newly retrofit Firefly. Kyle and I rode these roads last year and I spent the whole summer planning a return. (more…)
Scratching from the Silk Road Mountain Race
Words and photos by Max Burgess
So what happens when you make the decision to quit the first edition of one of the most anticipated endurance races on the planet? I’m laying outside a yurt at 3,000m above sea level, next to Son Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan. I’m exhausted. The last few days of the Silk Road Mountain Race have tested me to the limit both physically and mentally.
It is the first time for my race partner Justin and myself to take part in an endurance race and if the truth be told, we never really came to race. It was evident from the first day out of Bishkek, as we meandered up Kegeti Pass along with our friend Jon. A few weeks earlier, I had divided the entire race route into manageable chunks that would put us at the finish in 13 days. But, as I’m lying by Son Kul lake at the first checkpoint, the reality dawned on what we are actually taking part in. We are already 24-hours behind our schedule within five days and can’t afford to loose any more time. Missed flights home are not an option for either Justin or myself, especially that I have a ten-year wedding anniversary only a few days after my return! (more…)
To preface, I was invited to ride the Oregon Timber Trail by my friend Rie, who immigrated to the states recently and runs Simworks USA. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to do the tour, but thought it would be a good opportunity for me to ride with her two friends from Japan: Keita and Innochi. Keita is a Chef that started Earlybirds Breakfast and Innochi makes really cool backpacks under his brand, Welldone Nagoya. There was only one issue: they didn’t speak English. (more…)
A week ago, I embarked on a journey across Highway 50 in Nevada, seeking out mountain bike trails. We’ve come to call this trip the “Nevada Highway 50 MTB Road Trip.” This is the third installment.
Previously: Nevada Highway 50 MTB Road Trip: Carson Valley’s Clear Creek Trail, Nevada Highway 50 MTB Road Trip: Kingston and the Toiyabe Crest Trail, and Nevada Highway 50 MTB Road Trip: Ely and Cave Lake Trails.
Conveniently located a few hours from St. George, Utah and its magnificent MTB trails, is Caliente, Nevada. As we diverted off the gem that is Highway 50, I didn’t know what to expect. It was already dark by the time we pulled into the Caliente Hot Springs Motel and Spa – it sounds fancy, but don’t worry, it’s very approachable – and after a long day, we were all cooked, heading to bed immediately. Come morning, we were filled in with the day’s agenda. (more…)