Last summer, after Keith Bontrager spoke at Mission Workshop, I got to spend a few hours with him back in his home town of Santa Cruz, California. The intention was pretty simple, gather some ‘lifestyle’ photos for Trek and Bontrager to use in ads, magazines and their photo annual book.
I finally got all my film back from the #RadGoldenDream road trip that Golden Saddle, Team Dream and I went on. These two photos are some of my favorites and best represent the vibes on the road.
Ride Along: Garrett Kautz from Strawfoot
Words and photos by John Watson
Strawfoot is one of those companies that has gained a lot of momentum over the past year in the cycling industry because of social media and word of mouth. While Strawfoot is a bag company, they’re most known for their socks. I was first introduced to Garrett from Brian Vernor last year, when I visited his small shop in Santa Cruz.
Over the past few months, Strawfoot has grown. They’ve moved to a bigger shop, are sponsoring a cross team and yes, he’s continued making socks, which sell out almost immediately…
When Tyler from Pearl Velo emailed me last month, saying he was going to be closing the shop’s doors on September 1st, I was pretty bummed out. Granted, the only time I have been to Pearl Velo was during the Denver NAHBS and the #Outsideisfree party, but I was impressed with the community’s support of the shop, even during a blizzard.
What Pearl Velo stood for is what we need in US bike shops: selling an experience, not just products. The shop was small, but you could see an intent through it all. Tyler really believed in what he was doing, unfortunately, like everyone, his life changed and as a father, he wanted to spend more time with his family.
If you’re in Denver, swing through Pearl Velo and give Tyler a high-five.
You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t…
The last Yonder Journal Brovet in Austin was a clusterfuck of epic proportions. I planned the ride, which, in context was one of the best 300 mile loops in Texas Hill Country. That context though, is slightly mottled, since, you know, I live in Texas and these guys are from California and Oregon – which has some of the best riding in the country. Maybe they’re soft-skinned liberals and I’m ok with Texas being stuck in the 17th century, or maybe riding for 40 hours in the pissing – just above freezing – rain just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Context aside, I planned a 300 mile route, the weather was nice – 80 degrees and humid – hey, it’s Texas – and everyone arrived in Austin.
Cursed. We’re all cursed. Or maybe I’m cursed? For whatever reason, mother nature took a shit on us, then smeared it on the route. 300 miles got cut in half, we had to bail so people could catch their flights. Ty got drunk – after he and Kelli got engaged. Moi got drunk. Kyle threw up in my yard. Hahn got drunk and raided dirty laundry.
The story goes deeper than this over at Yonder Journal! Head over to read about the Curse and (Dis)Enchanted Rock. See a few more selections below and follow Yonder on Instagram as they’re in the middle of another Brovet down South!
If you’ve ever ridden with Eric Brunt aka Skullcrusher then you’re well aware of this dude’s strength on a bicycle. A recent transplant to Los Angeles, Eric spends his weekends doing insane rides (like going up Cloudburst, TWICE in one day) and soaking in the San Gabriel mountains.
The last time I was visiting Los Angeles, I shot some photos of Eric at GSC, working on his Ibis cross bike. Check out a ride along interview below!
It’s that time of month again. I’ve got all kinds of Randomness left over from a Recent Roll. Actually, a few Recent Rolls. There’s some LA, Pasadena, Austin, Moab and Fruita photos in here, all noted in the photo’s captions. Got a favorite? Point it out. Open up some commentary…
Tools of the trade:
Mamiya 7ii / 80mm
Portra 400 / Ilford HP5
Hans lives in Los Angeles and last year his wife bought him a Rock Lobster cross bike with a few added braze-ons. Hans and I spoke a lot about brake and tire options and it seems like he’s finally got his setup dialed in. One morning, as we were finishing up a MTB ride on Brown in LA, Hans went rolling by on his bike. I yelled “HANSSSSSSSS!” and he came scooting by, so I shot some photos with my Mamiya 7ii and earlier this week, I finally got them developed, prompting me to interview him with a few simple questions. Check them out below!
Sometimes, your wheels get dented or damaged beyond repair. That happened to Kyle while we were riding in Los Angeles back in January on his Stinner Mudfoot cross bike. I liked the way these three photos turned out from the aftermath.
I can’t help myself. No matter where I go, I always take my Mamiya 7ii and at least the 80mm lens. As I was packing for the Rouge Roubaix, I grabbed it, along with two rolls of 220 film, tossed it in my bag and took off for Louisiana. Most of the photos I shot were of landscapes, the vernacular, with a few Argonaut ‘lifestyle’ photos mixed in from the race.
Personally, I can never get enough of that Southern architecture and live oak trees…
Tools of the trade:
Mamiya 7ii / 80mm
Kodak Portra 400
Super Bowl Weekend. It’s an excuse for people to drink, eat and yell at the television while a bunch of men in spandex chase a ball around a field. Personally, it’s not my thing and luckily, not my friends’ thing either. So rather than spend the weekend indoors, myself, some friends and Beat the Clock Cycling decided to take advantage of the vacant Texas parks and plan a ride.
Well, I planned the ride. 100 miles, over half of it was dirt. I did one of the roads on the last Yonder Journal Brovet and I wanted to explore the area even more. We’d leave from Inks Lake and take a series of back-country, private roads and kick in Willow City’s popular loop before heading back to camp. Water? Food? None. We had to pack it all in. Most rode cross bikes or light tourers, with bags for food. There was maybe one stop along the way.
Because I had to drop Lauren off at the airport that Friday morning, I drove with two others. The rest either drove out that night after work or rode the 75 miles from Austin, fully loaded.
Since we wanted to convey only the chillest of riding paces and as a protest to the Super Bowl, most of us left the lycra at home. Giro was kind enough to supply some New Road apparel, shoes and helmets. I brought the bourbon. Spencer brought a dull hatchet and we were all stoked.
Did I mention cliff jumps in January? Yeah… Check out more photos in the Gallery, all shot with my Mamiya 7ii and Portra 400 / Kodak TMAX 400. Many thanks to Giro for supplying equipment for this ride!
The winter is the time of year to camp in Austin. Some of the Beat the Clock Cycling club guys and I will be spending the weekend camping and riding a nice loop I put together in the middle of hill country. While I doubt I’ll be maxed out in gearing like I was in this photo, there will be a lot of climbing and a lotta dirt. I can’t wait!
Regular posting will commence on Sunday but I’ll be posting to Instagram @JohnProlly all weekend!
After looking back through all 800 photos I shot while on bicycle tour through China with Mission Workshop and Factory 5, I had a hard time breaking it down to a cohesive gallery show.
What I began to notice were themes in the photos, not apparent as I flipped through the files, but when I printed out a selection of photos, they began to tie in together. These themes represent not only my eye for cycling in urban environments, but also my background education and professional career as an architect.
China really changed my perspective on the world as a whole. I saw beautiful landscapes destroyed in the name of progress and capitalism. I witnessed a precious and old culture wiped out to assimilate with a preconceived notion of luxury. Everywhere I looked, I saw western civilization to blame.
Globalization, our desire to own and consume had changed China. Granted I had no benchmark for the status quo, I could only gather enough information through examining the landscapes.
The Chinese build for the sake of building. Supply and demand is a skewed balance, tilted in the former’s favor. This growth is unwarranted and most importantly, uncontrolled.
So where did this bike tour fall into place? It was, after all, Mission Workshop’s idea. While I was given no direction, no instructions, I did have really, complete freedom to do what I wanted.
We had an agenda: test out the new US-manufactured Acre clothing while riding a bicycle through some of the most polluted areas of China and document the trip for a gallery show. Was it successful? I’d say so…
Which brings me to this post: a selection of 50 photos, all shot with my Mamiya 7ii and Kodak Portra 400. These photos break down into illustrative observations, all of which are noted in the photo’s title. Some are obvious, others are not.
You’ll see the themes fairly easily and I’d like to hear what you have to say about them. Feel free to critique / comment, just be polite and constructive.
I still have so much leftover film from China, with some of my favorites being the roll of 220 I shot in the bamboo forest on the Mamiya. The guys from Factory 5 rode up to the top of this mountain range on their track bikes and I was on my cross bike, getting shots along the way.
Now, I won’t say the following tidbit of information was all that surprising to me. I’m not really a numbers person when it comes to running the site, but I do like to pay attention to what you, the readers, respond to. Not necessarily traffic, per say, or comments, or trackbacks, or whatever but when a bike gets as much love as Seth’s 650B MTB did, I take notice and as I said, I wasn’t surprised. This thing has pizzaz in a world of mediocrity.
While the serenity of a solo bike photo shoot is nice, sometimes I like to get the builder to hold their work of art and pose for a few photos. Case in point: Seth and his Rosko 650B MTB! Check out more in the Gallery!
Tools of the trade:
Mamiya 7ii / 80mm / expired Kodak Portra 400
A visit to New York wouldn’t be complete without me bugging Seth Rosko for at least an afternoon. In the past, I’ve tried to document his workspace but have never been 100% satisfied with the outcome, until this visit. The thing about Seth’s workshop is that it’s most likely smaller than your bedroom…
His shop measures roughly a four meter cube, barely big enough for two grown men to move about, much less a Bridgeport, jigs, tubes, component boxes and bikes. Every time I come back to see Seth, the shop is more dialed in and this time, I am confident with the documentation.
Seth’s been working a lot of keeping up with his grassroots racing support. A lot of up and coming racers in NYC are riding his steel bikes and that’s something he’s very passionate about. Cross, MTB, road, it doesn’t matter. If you pedal it fast in circles, he can build it.
Check out a few photos from my Shop Visit to Rosko Cycles in the Gallery!
While local developer group, Two Trees Management begins to plan construction on the lot across from the now defunct Domino Sugar factory on Kent avenue in Williamsburg, Ride Brooklyn snatched it up for a year-long lease. After working on the site for weeks, the Ride Brooklyn staff, along with volunteers have finally opened the gates to the first ever Brooklyn Bike Park.
This football field sized pump track offers various lines to rip on, depending on the rider’s skill level. When I was in New York a few weeks back, I stopped by to check it out and shoot some photos of this dirt oasis.
Check out more narrated photos in the Gallery!
July has been a busy month for me. When I wasn’t on the road, I was out and about here in Austin with my Mamiya 7ii shooting portraits and other randomness. This set is heavily focused on the 4th of July party at Yellow Jacket Social Club but also includes a few bike portraits. I hope you enjoy!
Tools of the trade:
Kodak Portra 400