Shot during the 2002-2004 cyclocross seasons, Pure Sweet Hell is a film by Brian Vernor and Willie K. Bullion that looks at ‘cross racing’s roots in an era before web edits and Instagram. Check out more backstory at Metroactive.
You might be wondering, out of all the gravel events popping up around the world, what makes the Land Run 100 special? Why ride gravel in Oklahoma, in a place known as “Tornado Alley”? If you are wondering this, you are not alone.
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in my first Land Run 100 gravel race. Bobby and Crystal Wintle host the event from their shop, District Bicycles, in the center of historic downtown Stillwater, Oklahoma. The race attracts two thousand gravel cyclists from around the country and has some legendary stories attached to it. For instance, in 2017 rain soaked the red dirt roads to the consistency of peanut butter mud and only ~25% of the riders who started the race finished. Despite the treacherous conditions that bad weather can bring on race day, the Land Run 100 has established itself as a must-do event on the gravel race circuit. Before I talk about why I think that is and what I learned from my experience there, I’d like to acknowledge the history behind the name of the event.
Brian Vernor made this video featuring many of our friends for Cycling Tips. Head on over to see the photos from the story!
Photos by Wolf Ruck, words by Brian Vernor
“It was my friend Kevin Wilkins, founding editor of The Skateboard Mag and an avid mountain biker, who first came across the film on YouTube and sent it to me. The upload date said 2010 and the quality of the video was grainy at best, a poorly digitalized version of old celluloid that made it hard to view details.
But you didn’t need a sharp image to see the obvious— if dated—skills of the mountain bikers it portrayed. The mustaches, the fanny packs, and cutoff-jeans, the insane bike setups with everything from drop to bull-moose bars, the riders’ radical style; it all added up to a masterpiece both timeless and purely 1980s.
The film was titled Freewheelin’, and was made with a windup 16mm camera by someone named Wolf Ruck. I immediately emailed Kevin back, and our conversation went crazy from there. We scoured the internet for more information, but beyond the grainy YouTube video, Freewheelin’ seemed to be completely forgotten. The original publishing date said 1985, ancient in mountain bike terms—so ancient that, as far as we could tell, the poetic, funny and, by any standard, action-packed romp was the first mountain bike film ever made.”
Check out this story at Freehub Magazine and make sure you pick up a subscription!
Photo by Brian Vernor
“Do you have a spiritual practice?”
Of the many questions I expected a psychiatrist might ask me, I hadn’t expected that one.
I was in his office seeking help for my depression, anxiety, and irritability. For more than a year I’d been struggling with some of my personal relationships, but most especially with my wife Shana and our young sons, who are 8 and 5. I could go from calm to explosive almost as quickly as a firecracker. My boys thought me angry, sometimes mean. Shana and I had been distant for months; I couldn’t recall the last time we’d kissed.”
Continue reading this article at Bicycling Magazine.
If you’re looking for something different to do tomorrow evening, check out this event at Rapha’s new Cycle Club in Santa Monica. The event starts at 6, and the speaking portion will get rolling at 6:30. The theme of this evening is to “See things differently”, and there will be speakers from OMATA, photographer Brian Vernor, and frame designer Spencer Canon of Ritte Bicycles.
The Red Hook Crit turned 10 this year. I first did the race in 2010, Brian Vernor was also there for the first time, making a movie and shooting photos. Seven years later we were both in the media tent at the 10th edition of the race trying to take it all in while simultaneously being completely blown away by the race. A few days later I got to see his photos from that day (the one’s you see in this gallery) and the images he made just struck a cord with me. The choices he was making about what to photograph and what not to photograph made me feel like he was understanding the race in a way that was similar to mine. So I called him up to just talk about the Crit, his photos, and why he keeps coming back.
Photographer and videographer Brian Vernor recently worked on a project with Terasu in the streets of LA. Head over to Terasu to check out some photos.
Photos by Brian Vernor
“On a recent trip to Yorkshire, I visited the A & T club on practice night. I hadn’t seen speedway racing in-person and I was curious about it. This night there were just a handful of local club members practicing, and I wasn’t able to see the races the following weekend.”
“Why do I keep saying yes?” That’s the thought I had, sitting in the San Jose airport heading to Las Vegas to meet up with the folks at Blackburn to embark on a two-day “InterbikePacking” trip in the desert, organized to coincide with Interbike, the giant annual American bike trade show that attracts, in decreasing numbers it seems, exhibitors, retailers and cycling enthusiasts from all over the world. I hadn’t looked at a map and knew only the vaguest details about the trip, one of the most concerning being that there might be a kayak involved. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly an expert on the bike, but compared to my proficiency in the water I’m Greg LeMond. I also heard there would be sand…a LOT of sand. None of this was making me excited, but when asked if I wanted to go, I just said “yes”.
“By chance, ten years ago, I interviewed Brian Vernor, a filmmaker based in California who was shooting bike flicks on Super 8 film. It was his seminal but gritty ‘cross feature ‘Pure Sweet Hell‘ which instantly grabbed my imagination and that interview sparked my journey back into cycling, leading deep into the filthy, glorious world of off-road riding and racing.”
Check out more at Grit.cx!
Roll With It in the South
Photos and words by Brian Vernor
There’s a shocking casualness to the hallucinatory contradiction of culture that is The South. I’d seen this place in great detail as a child, often visiting family throughout Tennessee and Alabama. Though I grew up in Santa Cruz, and went to college in California, I wanted to reconnect with The South in that awkward period of life right after college, before I could say “I want to do _____ with my life.” In 1998 I had finished school, got heavily into nothing, and spent seven months playing with cameras in Santa Cruz, enough time to forget what my degree was in.
This is without a doubt the most interesting magazine cover I saw in 2015 and over at Adweek, there’s a battle going down. Vote for Brian Vernor‘s photo of Benedict at Adweek and let’s show them that bicycles are rad!
Ritchey Design: Three Peaks. What is it?
Brian Vernor: It’s called a cyclocross race, but really it’s a long distance adventure through the English countryside. The course carries you up and over three significant peaks, all of which force you off the bike for an unreasonable amount of running, hiking and shouldering. I grew up in Santa Cruz, California and at the time it was (and still is) one of the hubs for cyclocross in the United States. I started racing there in high school and I heard whispers about “Three Peaks” from some of the elder statesmen of the sport who’d gone to Europe to race and explore the less conventional rides and races out there. Three Peaks was always discussed with great reverence. And fear.
If you’re like me, you want to know more about Yorkshire’s Three Peaks “cross race.” Earlier this year, Brian Vernor with the help of Ritchey was able to compete in this infamous event, resulting in a video, photos and a complete story to come. For now, Brian’s got an interview up on the Ritchey Blog, so head over and check it out!