I had been holding back on these notes for about a year now because I felt that calling it a “review” sounded like too much. The audience here is used to deep comprehension reviews and it’s very intimidating to put it in the same category when my experience with bicycles is reduced to the five I’ve owned in my adult life, this one included. So instead this is more of a short story about a bicycle, with hints of technical information where it feels required.
To begin, it is important to say that I am not a doctor, a data analyst, or an economist. Am I an expert regarding the growing pandemic that is becoming one of the defining events of our lives? No, I am not. I am a bike mechanic who likes to take photos. There are smarter people out there who could (or should) be writing about this, but as it is, you have me. And I find it extremely difficult—even inappropriate—to talk about this year’s Mid South without acknowledging the massive elephant in the room. For some of you, these images or just the thought of a large group gathering may be upsetting. You would be right to feel that way, and I get it. If this were any other year, it would have been a widely celebrated event, filled with love and excitement from the greater cycling community. In a lot of ways, it still was. But given that upside-down is the new normal, here we are.
Cocktails at the beach, world-renowned surf, and luscious ride patty fields. Great food, friendly people and a getaway from the hustle and bustle that is ‘Western Life.’ Sounds like a dream right? Well, it is…BUT, what if there was more? If I was to tell you that in addition to the above, this same destination was home to some of the most beautiful climbs on the face of the planet? What if there were wild monkeys swinging from above as you rode beneath the forest canopy on roads so perfect in places, that even the best roads of the first world would be put to shame. To be honest, even in writing this I excite my own senses from within. Sami Sauri and I have just spent 10 days exploring the islands of Bali and East Java on bike and can confirm that the above oasis does in-fact exists. It’s not a magical place from our dreams, but rather a short 2.5hr flight from Perth Western Australia. Paradise does exist, but not as you know it…
Credit: 906 Adventure Team. Cable, age 9, carving out his legacy.
(It’s a good day; it’s a bad day)
Shakespeare insisted that a name held nothing significant; in fact, a name is but an arbitrary designator. A rose, “by any other name would smell as sweet.” If the rose weren’t called a rose, we would still swoon over the sweet smell. Poor Juliet, the owner of a smitten young heart, failed to see everything that exists in a name. In my case, at thirty years old, I still carry my maiden name. Instead, I like to say it’s the name I’ve made for myself; I don’t see that changing any time soon. I grew up in the trailer park across the street from the General Motors Factory in Janesville, Wisconsin, and attended Jackson Elementary school. It was there I celebrated Andrew Jackson as a glorious president; Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. What’s in that name? A legacy of brutality*, I say.
*Yes, this is a reference to the 1985 album by the Misfits. Hybrid moments is one of my favorite songs of all time.
Take the Andes, a mountain range that stretches for an impossibly long 7,200km down the West Coast of South America. Chuck in 32,000m of climbing, crazy gravel sections, remote towns and villages, altitudes of nearly 5000m, huge canyons, glaciers and some of the best views on the planet, and you have a heady cocktail of elements that make up the craziest ultra-cycling race in the world. BikingMan Peru – The Inca Divide.
Words and Photos by Spencer Harding
It’s easy to get lost in the dreamy imagery of bike tours to exotic far-off lands. I’m always making myself feel like everything has to look like a crazy-ass skid backlight by a Kodachrome sunset at the end of the world…but let’s be real in a world of unreal imagery.
Pepper and Sam came down to Tucson to start their trip on the Sky Island Odyssey. Pepper was in from Australia after being away from the states for many years on her way up to a new job in Seattle. Sam, running from the winter on Prince Edward Island and needed no excuse to come down and get sunburnt. Monique and I had been talking at the shop about going camping for a few weeks without any plan coming to fruition. We decided to take Pepper and Sam on a little shakedown ride into the mountains near Tucson before sending them down south on their odyssey. Colin, fresh off getting an OK from the doctor to do some light pedaling after he tore his Achilles, joined us until the route turned uphill!
Tro Bro Leon is Its Own Unique Race
Photos and words by Ethan Glading
Don’t call it “the Paris-Roubaix of the west.” Or “Paris-Roubaix on dirt.” Don’t call it “the Paris-Roubaix x” of anything. Tro Bro Leon is its own unique race with a character and charm you won’t find at any other event.
Held in late April in far western Brittany, the race covers 205 kms of the beautiful Bretagne countryside, including 27 sectors of ribinou, narrow dirt roads that wind through woods, farmers’ fields, over hills, along the sea and even through tunnels. The weather is typically Breton: the riders face rain, dust, mud, sunshine and strong winds from all directions in the course of the race.
At the end of most trips, I end up with left-over photos or photos that don’t have a home in any one specific gallery. Yet, while in Tucson, I found myself carrying a camera and shooting photos on just about every ride, resulting in some pretty stout photographic documentation of a handful of rides. Without diving deep into the history or the meaning, I decided to simply present these routes with ample photographic documentation.
The Sandal Boiyz do Mallorca: Toros De Gravel
Words by Benedict Wheeler, photos by Kyle Kelley
Note: this article contains NSFW imagery. Blame Benedict!
Mallorca was a place that every true fan of pro road racing knows about. Especially if you are into the DEEPly nuanced euro trash aspects of the sport…
Mallorca is where the professional teams come to train and party in the winter months. Scores of doping scandals, both performance and party enhancing, have clumsily unfolded with the spanning mountains and electric blue waters of Mallorca as a scenicback drop. Would simply going to Mallorca allow me to be immersed in cycling scandal like all of my heroes of the golden doping age? Would Michelle Ferrari notice my talents on the beach and pump me full of ox blood in his secret lab/discotheque??
After spending New Years in Tucson, I had to come back for more before the season kicks up and I find myself on the road throughout the spring and summer months. It did not disappoint. From the Super Stoke Weekend, to the Ruta Del Jefe, and much, much, more. I got my fill of the Sonoran desert, those mighty Saguaros, and all the delicious food. Expect more coverage to come in the next few weeks!
“The Explore Las Animas campaign will be curated around the Native American, Spanish/Mexican, and Anglo influences that make the Canyons & Plains region a distinct Colorado bicycle destination. Lightly traveled roads connect riders to a sublime landscape dotted with old mines, ghost towns, diverse wildlife, and public access to the San Isabel National Forest, Comanche National Grasslands, and Trinidad Lake State Park. Also, signature quality events emerging, like the SW Chief Bicycle+Comedy Fest, Pony Xpress 160, and Branson Hi Lo Gravel Country can help draw cycling tourists. All of these experiences will show why southeastern Colorado is a great place for a two to three day bicycle vacation”
What started as a weekend getaway on Super Bowl weekend with friends has evolved into something much more than that. Originally, our “Super Bro” weekend – please take that tongue in cheek – was just a bunch of friends camping and riding. The next year, it grew, more ladies attended, the weather kinda sucked but what can you do? It’s Texas in February. Once I left Austin, the event spread to our friends in Seattle at Swift Industries and the name was changed to the more inclusive, less inside jokey, Super Stoke weekend. What’s the point in joking with a name if you have to explain it each time?
The event continued, mostly in Texas, with a field trip to Seattle one April, before landing in Tucson this year. Now, it was a hard sell to get me to drive to Austin to ride in the rain, but I’d gladly drive to Tucson to ride in the majestic Sky Islands and the San Rafael Valley.
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.
Photos and words by Kevin Sparrow
When people hear of the Midwest, they typically think of farmland and prairie. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa have a rich history of glaciation that smoothed out a lot of the land we typically think of and gouged out lakes and terrain. Southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and western Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, known as The Driftless Region, is a unique area virtually untouched by glacial sculpting. As a result, this landscape greatly contrasts what one would typically think of the Midwest. Its narrow valleys, high bluffs, forested hillsides and beautifully sculpted topography is a real treat for cyclists in the region.
Over the past few months, the Cub House has been host to a number of pop-up shops inside its San Marino space. There’s a 10’x10′ room which happens to make for a perfect space for brands to display their product. This round, Sean, Danny, and Carla reached out to Japan’s Sim Works to open a “convenie” – Japanese slang, shortened from convenience store – filled with Sim Works, their outdoor brand, RAL, as well as Japanese snacks and trinkets. In the Cub House fashion, the team decided to make a big deal about it, throwing a group ride, and pinging Mick from 100 Tacos to cater the event.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, be sure to swing through the Cub House to see the Sim Works Convenie Store!
The Cub House
2510 Mission St
San Marino, CA 91108
“The Forest Service deals with resources and we need to convince them that recreation is another resource.” This quote, from Lost and Found founder Chris McGovern really resonated with me the entirety of my stay in the Lost Sierra. Is recreation a resource? Can it be? Should it be? Over the years, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship has been fighting the good fight, working alongside the US Forest Service, a subsidiary of the Department of Agriculture, who deals with our nation’s resources, from wood to minerals and even water. The federal government monitors how each state manages its resources.
The Verdugos are a staple of my weekly riding routine. With access points from every cardinal direction, your route up is often times determined by how much spunk you’ve got in your legs. There’s something for everyone including mountain bikers, dirt jumpers, roadies, dirt road riders, and a ragtag group of ex and current skaters, as evident in today’s story.
Every Friday morning, the guys at Golden Saddle organize a TGSCIF ride, leaving from Intelligentsia on Sunset Avenue and pedaling from Silver Lake to any number of road, dirt, and singletrack rides. Oftentimes, these 2-3 hour group rides venture into the surrounding hills, never really leaving the neighborhood, yet sometimes I rally to do a ride in the Verdugo Mountains. It just so happens that this week, we got to bring a lot of people up to this magical place for the first time.
We had a rippin’ TGSCIF ride today, which we’ll tell you all about tomorrow. For now, I hope this gets you amped up for the weekend!