Returning to Minneapolis from my solo bike trip in Scotland, the last thing on my mind was riding bikes. Turns out pushing your fat bike through rivers, bogs and pouring rain for three weeks makes you want to never look at a bike again. I needed a break and I had planned on recovering by a lake for the rest of the summer. That is until I received an email that my new gravel adventure bike was ready in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Long-time readers will recall this bike from 2015. That photoshoot was a lot of fun and while we lost a bulk of the gallery images when our server failed, a few photos survived, including a drive side shot and the Brüt Rosé spray photo, which still to this day is tooooo hawt.
The Hawes Trail System, located in Phoenix, Arizona’s East Valley, is quickly becoming one of metro Phoenix’s more popular mountain biking destinations for both tourists and locals. Situated in the Mesa Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest, the zone is known for spectacular views and around 25 miles of designated trails that range from easy to very difficult; featuring bermed corners, steep climbs, and chunky rock drops.
The idea for a WTF Bikexplorers Gravel Program sprouted in 2019 as I spun back into the gravel race scene. I saw the same deficit in diversity that bike-touring had (and still has) when five friends and I decided to organize the first WTF Bikexplorers Summit in 2018. Despite gravel racing as a rapidly growing sport within cycling, it is still very grassroots. It is not controlled by the UCI – yet – or any other sanctioning bodies and therefore it has the opportunity to mold and change to be the way we want it to be.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
The world offers itself to your imagination,
Calls to you like the wild
geese jaguar, harsh and exciting
Over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.
-(modified) Mary Oliver “Wild Geese”
The weather matched the event in challenging the assumptions of what a desert landscape or a gravel race should be for most of the riders of the Ruta Del Jefe this year which was hosted at the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch in Elgin, AZ. The imagination of a desert as a dry and sunny landscape dotted with saguaros, prickly pears, and cholla was expanded for those who held that thinking. Home to the Madrean Sky Islands ecoregion that includes the Santa Ritas, Whetstone, and many other mountain ranges, this area is a treasure trove for those who eat gravel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sky Islands refers to the unique interplay between the low lying desert grasslands and the dramatic wooded mountains that become islands in the sky for their residents. Natt Dodge introduced this concept as “mountain island in a desert sea” back in 1948 which was then cemented by Weldon Heald’s book Sky Island in 1967. In the lowlands, this area is home to many unique varieties of grasses who abundantly glow their sunshine and straw colors to her visitors.
We at the Radavist are very excited to have our hands on two of these redesigned bags so stay tuned for a full-fledged review in the coming months!
Swift Industries® unveils its 2020 product-line with the Zeitgeist Saddle and Handlebar Bag in the limelight. The improvements to the Zeitgeist mark an inspiring step for the cult brand’s design trajectory as the female-led team went full steam ahead to elevate Swift Industries’ top-selling bag from an already notorious saddle bag to moonlight as an equally hailed handlebar bag.
Something happened down in the Sonoran Desert this winter. Maybe it was Ronnie’s influence but people began riding gravel roads on fixed gear bikes. These bikes aren’t like the street track bikes, popularized by MASH and the like in the mid-2000s, yet they utilize a gravel bike’s geometry, down to the tire clearance, yet they just don’t have gears, or in this case, brakes. This type of machine is great for developing a smooth pedaling cadence and perhaps its the long and low rolling hills of the grasslands found around Patagonia, Arizona. Yesterday we looked at Ronnie’s Madrean and today, we look at Adam Sklar‘s own bike.
Our friends at Freehub recently bikepacked the AZT and created a beautiful video showcasing this ride. “Without an agenda, time becomes irrelevant. When it comes to bikepacking, this is the perfect mindset to have. Void of all expectations and obligations, Jackie Paaso and Stan Jorgensen set off on a three-day, 90-mile mission on the Arizona Trail, embracing the moment and abiding only by the rhythm of mother nature.”
It was a rainy afternoon in Sedona. I finished my volunteer shift, and headed into the festival to try and get a demo. I had heard of this new company, Revel Bikes, that was supposed to have some real pretty and real fast carbon full suspensions. I wanted to try one of those bikes as soon as I could. I arrived at the tent about 10 minutes after the event opened to the public.
Every bike was gone.
My favorite event last year returns for 2020 with a plethora of new activities. The Ruta Del Jefe weekend will include a 55-mile gravel ride, bikepacking tour, 12-mile run/ride…
Ruta Del Jefe is a 125-mile self supported adventure race following dirt roads around the Santa Rita Mountains, the lair of one of the only North American Jaguars to live in the U.S., El Jefe. Rural Del Jefe takes place on Tohono O’odham and Hohokam lands, in the Sky Islands region of the Sonoran Desert and the US/Mexico borderlands in Southern Arizona. The race follows remote and rugged dirt roads through one of the most biodiverse and beautiful places in the world yet, the region is plagued with many environmental threats and a humanitarian crisis that need our attention and action.
Want to learn more? Well, head to the Ruta Del Jefe website and be sure to check out our Reportage from last year’s race! Remember, registration opens December 13th at 7:00 am mountain time and is limited to 100 racers, so jump on Bikereg to set a reminder.
Alrighty, y’all today we are talking about the Rustler from Salsa Cycles, their new “ultimate trail bike” with 130mm of split pivot rear travel and a 150mm Rock Shox Pike taking care of business out front. Now that’s about enough for numbers for awhile, I ain’t no nerd talking about leverage ratios at an Interbike booth ok? We’re gonna talk about feelings today; how was your ride yesterday? How are you doing today, like actually? Go ahead, tell me what’s good below.
“See that rock formation over there, and the other skinnier one in the distance?” Jon Yazzie says, “they represent the story and fate of Big Snake and Owl Maiden. Big Snake came from what is called Sugar Loaf near Mexican Hat, Utah slithering its way down, and eventually ending up coiled around Agathla Peak or (what Kit Carson called) “El Capitan.” The Owl promised to look over Big Snake until he came back to life again. Owl is frozen in sandstone looking right at big snake on Agathla Peak.” Having passed through Kayenta countless times, driving from the southwest US to Moab, or further into Colorado, these prominent volcanic plugs and sandstone towers rising iconically out of a sea of sandy fields and sandstone mesas have always caught my eye. As we rested there just a few miles into the ride, legs slung overloaded bikes attempting to absorb everything Jon was telling us about the surrounding landscape, I knew this was going to be a special weekend.
Riding through a landscape gives you a deeper appreciation for that place. It’s sensory. You breathe the air and you feel the sun and the wind and the weather. You muscle over the hills and your tires surf through the sand and over the rocks. You learn why roads exist and where they lead and who lives among them and what grows there. Sometimes you meet the people and the animals. Sometimes you share the space with fellow travelers and sometimes you ride alone. The farther you pedal, the more your mind becomes part of that space– the space between your body and your bike and the earth. Your mind is in the sky and the tall golden grass. When your body and mind relinquish control over expectations and judgments and find connection to your surroundings, you enter the spirit world, a place of truth and acceptance.
The grass grows steadily, towering over us until we can no longer see the San Pedro Trail. My partner and I hadn’t seen anyone else that day and it was peacefully quiet. We can only hear the bees buzzing, ignoring our presence among the thicket of yellow flowers growing wildly across the trail. It was still early in the afternoon and we already had an eventful morning – dodging thorny bushes cutting both our arms and legs, navigating muddy streams covered with overgrown grass, surprising a few jackrabbits from their homes, and getting startled by two rattlesnakes lying across the gravel path.
With cooler temps approaching, I really wanted to circle back around to our late spring trip to Sedona. Colin and I bugged out for a bit, camping just outside of town, riding bikes, 4-wheeling, and enjoying the local cuisine. While this isn’t necessarily a “Guide to Sedona” nor will it dive into history, both colonial and indigenous, it is meant to spark a desire to ride in this veritable mountain bike theme park.
Ben has been regaling me with stories of putting this tandem together for quite some time, each time he was looking for one last little bit to make it all fit together. Before we met up for coffee outside the other week, he pinged me to ask if he should bring the tandem to which I responded: “Of course, coffee and cool bikes, duh.”
For State Bicycle‘s latest video in the ‘Riding Fixed Up Mountains With Pros’ series, we take a ride up Mount Graham with Eric Marcotte.