We rolled back into Kayenta from an overnighter with Jon Yazzie from Dzil Ta’ah Adventures and I reminded him that I wanted to shoot his bike. “Yeah! Leave the bags on it. As is…” I said to him. Jon took a few moments to tidy up the straps and make sure the bags were tight and neat before handing it off to me. He loves this bike and so I took it as an honor to photograph it. For me, there’s nothing better than riding with the person whose bike you’re documenting. It feels less transactional and more personal. You get to see how they treat their ride. Are they crashers or thrashers? In doing so, there’s a real connection that’s established. For Jon and I, we’ve spent a few years communicating over email when projects arise. Josh has done an exceptional job documenting Dzil Ta’ah Adventures’ trips in Arizona in the past and this trip was the first time I met Jon in person. It felt like a no-brainer to shoot his titanium Vassago Optimus 29+ tourer, so check it out in detail below.
This one is gonna be a simple write-up. Ally had a really amazing looking custom bike from a builder, Hoefer Cycles, I had never come across before. I asked Ally about the story behind the bike and she just responded, “I told him I wanted a sweet bikepacking rig that I could ride anywhere.” I reached out to Donald, the man behind Hoefer Cycles, and he corroborated the story and adding that “It’s really fun when someone comes to me with a request as open-ended as hers was and trusts me to deliver.” While handcrafting a detailed and intentional build such as this is nothing simple, the joy it produces is. Just look at that smile, Donald still remembered seeing Ally’s huge smile as she came back from the first test ride. After Ally had trouble finding something that truly fit, it seemed Donald had hit the bullseye.
February 28 – March 8, 2021
Arrival in Yuma, Arizona
The Impossible Route team arrived about as prepared for it as a groom to a shotgun wedding.
We planned on paper, but this was the Mojave Desert and Death Valley; and they would definitely hold some big surprises.
Things are moving a bit slow over here this morning after I spent the weekend in Arizona with the Silver Stallion team riding trails with kids and documenting a very busy Sunday in Fort Defiance at the Silver Stallion mobile bike shop pop-up in the Navajo Nation. Being present while this team worked all day in the sun and wind on its community’s bikes was a wonderful thing to witness, so expect some Reportage coming up next week. For now, I just wanted to say thank you to the entire Silver Stallion team for being such great hosts.
This video is embedded in today’s Reportage.
With $12,000 e-MTBs on the market, we asked ourselves, “what is the minimum you need in a bike to have fun?”… This is a wild ride, presented by Cjell Moné’s writing and Joshua Weinberg’s vision. Enjoy!
Swipe, BMX video, swipe, oh, nice curved top tube, super-sharp photo of a gorgeous frame sitting on OSB, @sklarbikes. Swipe, snowboard video, swipe, oh, (pulls phone away and back in toward the eye), brain knots and unknots, those seat stays are hard to comprehend @oddity_cycles.
Swipe, surf video, swipe…AD for an OG Klunker from State. Swipe, swipe, swipe, backswipe backswipe backswipe….$399?! Shut up. The lines on that thing aren’t half bad. Swipe, swipe… Backswipe backswipe… I can’t stop looking at this affordable klunker from State. It comes with Kenda chunky 27.5 x 2.2 tires, a 1 1/8 threadless fork, and pretty decent lines. Not a huge fan of the chrome riser bars, but hey those Vans grips…hmm hmmm. $399?!
Last year, State Bicycle Co’s team took off on their new 6061 All-Road bikes to ride from Flagstaff to the mighty Grand Canyon. Watch as their adventure unfolds in this video… #SouthWestIsBest
On November 1st, 2018 I rolled out to cover 1200 miles of the old Butterfield Overland Mail Route from San Francisco to Tucson, AZ. For almost a year prior the headlines had been dominated by news of things happening along America’s southern border. Child Separations. Immigration Caravans. National Guard deployments. On social media channels the rhetoric from all sides, which had already been getting increasingly strident, ramped up to a fever pitch. Normal conversations spiraled completely out of control. I found myself caught up in it all, furious at family members, friends, and strangers alike.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a lot of negative internet chatter when bike brands release hardtail trail bikes that are not overly slack, steep, or otherwise geometrically boundary-pushing in some way. My suspicion is that many of these comments come from riders that prefer lifts over pedaling uphill but nonetheless cast a shadow on mid-travel hardtails that are intended for folks that aren’t spending their days in terrain parks.
The first time I found my way across the train tracks and into the strange little courtyard parking lot of Citizens I was awestruck. It was full of rusty old sculptures of flowers and birds and beautiful strange shapes welded out of discarded bike parts. I knew that I had found something that felt right in that deep way that feels like home and an adventure all at once. It was love at first sight and it only got better as I walked down a makeshift concrete ramp into the dark basement. It took my eyes a few moments to adjust and focus on the chaos that surrounded me. There were folks with bicycles in all states of disrepair and disassembly. There were piles of wheels, rusty frames, milk crates full of thousands of derailleurs and brakes, and every bike part you could possibly imagine. Every surface was covered in murals and the bright colors were dimmed by the shadows of sparse fluorescent lighting. The staff was indistinguishable from the crowd and everyone seemed like they would be just as comfortable in a post-apocalyptic wasteland as in a basement in the center of Tucson Arizona, which come to think of it often resembles a scene from a dystopian novel.
Alrighty just gonna come out and say it, this Industry Nine carbon wheelset is amazing. Fucking duhhhhh, for $2500 it better be sweet right? Well, yeah, it is. If you’ve read this far and gleamed as much as you need to know about a really expensive wheelset that you (and me honestly) can’t afford, great, look at the cool photos and enjoy.
If you are seriously interested in making this purchase and want to know my thoughts then, please follow me down the rabbit hole…
Bikepacking gear has evolved so much over the last couple of years and I’m always excited to see brands expand on products and concepts that are proven to work and also step up to create solutions to carrying gear on bikes in innovative ways. Utilizing 100% the waterproof and durable construction they are known for, Ortlieb just released updates to their classic bikepacking line and also added some interesting new products. In advance of the products becoming available this week, Ortleib sent me a handful of bags from their new and revamped bikepacking lineup. I’ve been using them on my Kona Sutra, fairly full and weighted, around my local singletrack to provide some initial insights and detailed photos of some of the new aspects.
Yesterday, we featured an Inside / Out piece on Moustache Cycles, a Flagstaff-based framebuilding operation headed by Richard May. Today, we’re checking our four of his bikes, with Richard describing each so enjoy!
Back in February of this year at Singlespeed Arizona in Bisbee, I had wanted to document the wild variety of funky, freaky, and beautiful bikes that had descended on the small town for the event. Unfortunately, the pace of that particular weekend didn’t lend itself to photographing individual bikes (something I certainly plan to do in 2021). Bike portraits, or not, it’s impossible to ignore the eclectic array of Mone, Oddity, Moonmen, and other eye-catching derailleur-less boutique fabrications and other unusual setups while in that environment. There were a handful of frames though – clean and somewhat understated with swoopy seat stays and moustache-shaped logo badges – that I didn’t recognize. While chatting with Nate from Absolute Bikes, I pointed to a member of Thee Deores (Northern Arizona’s premiere Mountain Biking band) cruising around on one of these swoopy-tubed moustachioed hardtails and asked if he knew anything about the bike. He responded by pointing to Richard May and informing me that Richard, based in Flagstaff, builds bike frames and other custom parts under the moniker Moustache Cycles.
The Santa Rita Pricklypear, Opuntia santa-rita, is a brilliant magenta-colored cactus, specific to the Sky Islands of Southern Arizona. The Ruta Del Jefe gravel race traverses this magical mountain range and this unique opuntia are the inspiration for Shimano’s new RX800 gravel shoes in a “purple and green” colorway. Pulling inspiration from the natural world brings awareness to these delicate ecosystems and the Santa Rita Mountains are still under attack from mineral extraction companies. Find out more about the fight to save these mountains at Save the Scenic Santa Ritas and see more details of these beautiful shoes at Shimano.
Towering over Flagstaff and the surrounding area, the series of mountain summits comprising what are contemporarily referred to as “San Francisco Peaks,” or just “The Peaks,” have held spiritual and cultural significance since long before Spanish colonists arrived and began assigning names to geologic formations.
The current administration has no regard for sacred lands, indigenous peoples, or public lands. After reducing Bears Ears, Grand Staircase Escalante, and other national treasures, the construction of the border wall has threatened the Arizona Trail:
“Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced their plans today to construct two miles of border barriers through the Huachuca Mountains within Coronado National Memorial and across the Arizona National Scenic Trail. Beginning Monday, July 13 the southernmost two miles of the Trail will be closed in the interest of public safety during construction activities.
This project will significantly impact the southern terminus of the Arizona National Scenic Trail, transform the landscape, and forever alter the Arizona Trail experience. The border barrier project includes 30-foot-tall steel barriers filled with concrete, the installation of a linear ground detection system, and the installation of lighting, which will be supported by grid power and embedded cameras. In addition to a 100-foot-wide road along the border wall which will be frequently driven by Border Patrol agents, CBP will also build an access road down Yaqui Ridge. This new road will be within 50 feet of the Arizona Trail.”
Read more about this travesty at AZtrail.org and remember to VOTE!
Last summer I was lucky enough to make my pilgrimage to Nutmeg Country while on a work trip to NYC. While getting a tour of Benedict’s “childhood home”, he showed me the bike pile in his basement. He looked at me and said, “Spencer, you need something classy, pick whichever frame you want.” Of course I picked the rusted Romanceür prototype…