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Fast Friends: Big Thoughts Through Big Sur

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Fast Friends: Big Thoughts Through Big Sur

Words by Tenzin Namdol, photos by Ronnie Romance

I was looking at everyone’s legs. The group of 13 included professional and semi professional racers, life-long athletes focused specifically on their relationship to the bicycle. There aren’t six packs; there’s, like, eight to ten pacs. Some even have muscular faces! How is that even possible to accomplish? Seeing my own soft animal body as lesser than their impressive builds. The grass kept getting greener and greener on the other side of my eyeballs and I felt myself getting smaller and smaller. Where in my body is this discomfort living? I had three days and the grand views around beautiful Big Sur to find the site of where this discomfort lived in my body. Aside from physical discomfort from physical exertion, I came up empty. Instead, I found an interstice where feelings of awe grew and that became my saving grace.

The Sierra Buttes Lost & Found 2019: Straight From the Mid-Pack

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The Sierra Buttes Lost & Found 2019: Straight From the Mid-Pack

Introduction: We pinged Erin Lamb to write about her experience at this year’s Lost & Found with John’s experience told through the gallery captions. We’re trying new models for event Reportage, so please let us know what you think in the comments! Enjoy!

I lost my wallet a couple of weeks ago, and I’m not searching to find Jesus. I’m pretty sure the wallet fell out of my purse in a parking lot when I pulled some shit out to throw into the back seat. And, the Jesus thing, just not interested. If you’re looking for a feel-good story about stumbling upon the light, then maybe this isn’t for you. This is more of a coming-of-age gravel riding tale dispatched straight from a middle of the pack 65-miler on the Sierra Buttes’ Lost & Found.

BTCHN’ Bikes: the Latest Chapter in Chico Framebuilding

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BTCHN’ Bikes: the Latest Chapter in Chico Framebuilding

BTCHN’ Bikes, the latest chapter in Chico Framebuilding
Photos and words by California Travis

The small college town of Chico, California has been home to a few very notable framebuilders over the years. Jeff Lindsay starting out building road bikes is 1972, and was one of the first pioneers to create mountain bikes under the name Mountain Goat in 1981. Bob Seals (inventor of the Klean Kanteen and Cool Tool amongst other things) took modern geometry and quality materials, combined them with classic curvy steel cruiser aesthetics and founded Retrotec Bicycles in 1992. Mitch Pryor of MAP Bicycles took custom randonneuring frames to the next level of meticulous perfection in Chico and then Paradise.

The 2019 Sea Otter Classic Mega Gallery

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The 2019 Sea Otter Classic Mega Gallery

Wow. Just wow. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this great – emotionally, not physically – after coming back from a tradeshow. It’s been three years since the last time I went to the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. In years past, it felt like a flat-brimmed, Monster Energy, bro fest and honestly, it was kind of overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, that is a broad stereotype and isn’t fair, but I’m not the only one who had that perception. This year, however, the ‘Otter felt more diverse, more inclusive, albeit with a few hiccups – like the racing announcer, and that Canadian company with the ‘booth babes’ wearing bikinis to sell their cheap sunglasses, but overall, I was impressed at how much Sea Otter has improved.

We’ll go into this more in-depth later, with an article by contributor Erin Lamb coming shortly, so right now let’s dive into the tradeshow itself!

Riding on Fumes at the Nova Course During the Eroica California 2019

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Riding on Fumes at the Nova Course During the Eroica California 2019

The world of gravel racing is still very foreign to me. At least the competitive side of things, yet I find myself getting roped into these races, namely the ones where they boast features like timed sections. These enduro-inspired gravel races, like Grinduro, adopt this format in hopes that people will hang out and make the event more casual, rather than an all-out battle for who crosses the finish line. In events like Grinduro, this works perfectly, keeping the pace party-level and the conversations lively. This party vibe isn’t easy to cultivate. You’ve got to convince people it isn’t worth charging ahead, stringing the group out.

So maybe that’s why I felt compelled to try out the Eroica California’s Nova race. It boasted timed segments, chiller riding vibes, and I have ridden in the area, twice before, as well as the Eroica California’s course, back when it began and ended in Paso Robles. With this year’s event starting in the sleepy town of Cambria, it surely would be one to remember. Oh, and it was.

Eroica and Nova California

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Eroica and Nova California

It’s been a few years, but we’ll be at the Eroica California weekend and riding in the Eroica Nova event. The riding surrounding Cambria is world-class with ripping descents and beautiful rolling hills. If you’re planning on going, be sure to say hello and show off your bike. Hopefully there will be a big gallery showcasing what bikes people brought to the Classic and Nova Eroica events. If you haven’t registered, do so now and we’ll see you there!

California Golde World Premiere

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California Golde World Premiere

California Golde is a movie. One about riding bikes in California and all the hardships that come with big, hard, ambitious tours. March 9th is the California Golde world premiere at LAND in Austin, TX, 501 Pedernales st 2e Austin, TX 78702, at 7pm, with a showing at 8pm, a concert by John Wesley Coleman III set at 8.30-9ish (ten songs), and another late showing at 9:30pm. Along with the film, a book will be for sale, with refreshments by Madre Mezcal, BANDIT, fun times by OLD PAL, and best of all, it’s FREE!

Inspired by the Amgen Tour of California

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Inspired by the Amgen Tour of California

This graphic from the Endurance Conspiracy has all the right vibes. Inspired by the ATOC, this image was created a couple years back but is being re-circulated for the brand’s journey to the Sea Otter Classic. Follow Endurance Conspiracy on Instagram. Thanks for sharing, Shane!

Riding Through What Remains: A Look at the Camp Fire Devastation – California Travis

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Riding Through What Remains: A Look at the Camp Fire Devastation – California Travis

Riding Through What Remains
Words and Photos by California Travis

It’s been one month since that morning but it feels like so much longer, and the ruins look like they’ve been rusting in the elements for years. On November 8th around 7:30am I started a group text about a Thanksgiving Day ride and by 8am it had turned into people sharing photos of a smoke plume southeast of Chico that looked rather ominous. I took my own photos on my ride to work at PAUL Comp, because with half the sky and the rising sun being blocked by thick black smoke, the effect was very dramatic. Living in Norcal, we’ve gotten pretty used to fires, so didn’t think too much of it beyond how cold and dark it was with the sun blocked out most of the morning. When our accountant showed up to work from Paradise looking frazzled saying there was an evacuation order, things started getting very intense very fast. It hadn’t rained at all since spring and the area was so dry we had to use a cement drill to put stakes in the ground for our cyclocross race the week before. With high winds, the fire was spreading extremely fast. I texted my mother and stepdad who lived in Paradise to check on them. They had headed down the hill to Chico for work and were halfway down the hill when they got the evacuation order, so by then, it was too late to turn around and grab any valuables or photo albums.

Fall Favoritism in Owens Valley

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Fall Favoritism in Owens Valley

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.

2018 Grinduro: Caletti Silver Surfer Scrambler

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2018 Grinduro: Caletti Silver Surfer Scrambler

Another super clean flat bar all-road, or “hybrid” bike on display at Grinduro was this steel Caletti Scrambler, painted in a beautiful silver, adorned with the California Grizzly geometric graphic, topped off with purple anodized bits. Bikes like this really make sense for an event like Grinduro, where the washboarded roads can provide a challenging grip for drop bars, which are prone to slipping. It might be a matter of preference, but flat bar ‘cross and all-road bikes really look mean!

If you’d like to know more about the Caletti Scrambler, check out our review from last year!

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Follow Caletti Cycles on Instagram and Grinduro on Instagram.

Keep Santa Cruz Cross –  Chris Corona

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Keep Santa Cruz Cross – Chris Corona

Keep Santa Cruz Cross
Photos and words by Chris Corona

I’ll never forget when I first moved to Santa Cruz, standing in line at the grocery store and seeing mountain bike mags where tabloids usually sat. I rode XC MTB for several years in Philly and I just moved to MTB heaven. The dirt here is soft, smooth and loamy. The scent of the redwoods paired with the ocean mist is a smell like no other. The weather is mild and fog can roll in just as fast as it burns off, depending on nature’s mood. The scenery is like no other here – seeing a visitor’s look on their face staring at a giant redwood is priceless. Seeing the look on their face when they are standing on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, just 20 minutes after the giant redwood is even better.

A Santa Rosa Frame Building Flashback: 1990’s Rigid Kostrikin SSMTB

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A Santa Rosa Frame Building Flashback: 1990’s Rigid Kostrikin SSMTB

Santa Rosa – and all of NorCal for that matter – has a rich history with frame builders. From Eisentraut to Salsa, Sycip, and Retrotec, the names and faces of this little realm within the cycling industry have such great stories to tell. While I’m working on a few more posts from my recent trip to Santa Rosa, I thought I’d share this unique build with you.

High in the rafters at Trail House hangs this 1990’s Kostrikin rigid single speed mountain bike. These days, bikes like this are still rolling around, converted with “limp dick” stems, baskets and flat pedals, these once race-ready bikes have found a life living as commuters, bar bikes, tourers, and grocery getters. There was a time, however, when these were the pinnacle of racing technology. Although the single speed market was and seemingly still remains a small percentage of this population.

Inside / Out at Retrotec Cycles in Napa, California

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Inside / Out at Retrotec Cycles in Napa, California

I’ve never owned a bike that receives as much attention from non-cyclists as a Retrotec. With comments ranging from “can I fit big tires like that on my cruiser?” to “how’d you put disc brakes on that cruiser?” Once I follow up with an explanation, they quickly lose interest, yet are still entranced with the bike itself. That connection is not too far from the reality of the Retrotec brand, however. Back in 1992, a builder named Bob Seals wanted to race his old cantilever cruiser frame. This frame, the Retrotec number one, still hangs in Curtis’ shop to this day.

Bob’s intent was to make modern-day cruisers, designed to be ridden and raced. The look of Bob’s builds really resonated with Curtis and in 1993, he moved to Chico, CA to work for Retrotec. In 1995, Bob had exhausted his framebuilding efforts, prompting Curtis to take over, relocating the business to San Francisco. This presented a problem for Curtis, who quickly realized that cruiser bikes weren’t really a thing – yet – and work was slow. Curtis chugged along in San Francisco, building frames part-time and experimenting with new Retrotec designs, while sharing a shop with the Sycip brothers.

In 1998 Retrotec moved to Napa, California and everything changed.

Eroica Nova California

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Eroica Nova California

Eroica California‘s course is one of the most beautiful I’ve ridden and now you can experience the winding dirt roads on a modern bike, in a competitive yet fun event dubbed Eroica Nova. This race begins separately from the Eroica ride and is limited to 200 starting places. Head to Eroica Nova to register now.

Don’t miss this exclusive chance: NOVA Eroica is limited to 200 start place. Register now