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Seven Rider Portraits from a Winter Overnight – Morgan Taylor

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Seven Rider Portraits from a Winter Overnight – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor.

Here in Vancouver we’ve been experiencing one of the coldest winters in decades, with more days below freezing than I can ever remember. Over the past six weeks, since firing up #coffeeoutsideyvr, there’s been much talk of packing up and getting out for some overnights. And lately, with sunset already an hour later than it was at solstice, it was imminent that the talk become action.

They Told Us Not To Ride Bikes in Yellowstone National Park – Morgan Taylor

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They Told Us Not To Ride Bikes in Yellowstone National Park – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.

They told us not to ride bikes in Yellowstone National Park. Why? Mostly the roads: little to no shoulder and overrun by tourists in RVs. That’s enough to spur some questions for a potential traveler, and with a quick bit of research, you’ll find the camping situation looks dire – especially from a cyclist’s perspective. Where can you even buy food that isn’t in an overpriced restaurant? And what’s there to see beyond geysers and animals, anyway? Maybe they were right.

Morgan and Stephanie’s Soma Wolverine Dirt Tourers – Morgan Taylor

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Morgan and Stephanie’s Soma Wolverine Dirt Tourers – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.

There are many ways you can build a bike for traveling and all of them have their virtues; striking a balance is not as much a universal truth as it comes down to where you want to make sacrifices. When Stephanie and I set out to build these bikes, we had the long term in mind. Not just the fact that we intended to spend all summer riding them around the western United States, but that we wanted bikes that would be useful beyond that trip.

For us, the guiding principle along the way was that we wanted bikes that would be fun around town and commuting bikes when we came home, which is really what determined the frames we chose. We were building bikes for a honeymoon adventure but the lasting legacy was a bike that would fit in to our daily lives when that chapter came to a close. To put it simply, we didn’t want to tour on touring bikes. And after 4,000 kilometres of fully loaded riding, we’re happy we didn’t.

Carter’s Glitter Dreams Straggler – Morgan Taylor

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Carter’s Glitter Dreams Straggler – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor.

In the time we spent in Los Angeles, Carter’s Straggler was one of the bikes in for service at GSC. Now, as a bit of a background, the Glitter Dreams paint on the first year Straggler was actually part of the inspiration for the builds that ended up becoming our Wolverines. So when I first saw Carter’s bike leaning against the wall waiting for its turn in the service queue, with its pink King hubs and purple valve stems, it had already caught my eye.

Then, the work began. One day, the Straggler was hanging out with the new Sim Works Homage 43c tires in that throwback green. Whoa! I immediately deemed it a clown bike – not in a bad way, but in the way that there was no way this thing would come together in a subdued and complementary fashion. It was going to stand out, that was for sure.

Elliot’s Sklar 27.5+ Hardtail – Morgan Taylor

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Elliot’s Sklar 27.5+ Hardtail – Morgan Taylor

One of the highlights of our time in Bozeman with Adam Sklar was being able to see not one, but two complete bikes come back from powdercoat and be delivered to their new owners. I already posted a gallery of Sam’s powder blue 29er, on which he then rode a good chunk of the Colorado Trail in what I take to be quite inclement conditions.

The other bike to be delivered is one that you probably noticed in yesterday’s gallery from Sklar’s shop. This gleaming white 27.5+ hardtail was commissioned by a customer from Sklar’s home state of Colorado. Elliot is a former downhill and 4x racer with what sounded like a fairly big set of dirt jumps in his front yard.

Sklar Bikes: He’s Got Curves – Morgan Taylor

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Sklar Bikes: He’s Got Curves – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.

Last year when we visited Scott at Porcelain Rocket, we were doing the usual: shooting the shit about the industry, and Instagram, and all of the opinionated yammering that goes along with that. The topic of Sklar’s top tubes came up. Yes, those top tubes that curve upward, reducing standover while making for an instantly recognizable silhouette. I was suspicious.

We Found Our Hearts in Montana – Morgan Taylor

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We Found Our Hearts in Montana – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.

Montana, oh Montana. In Montana we battled the desire for stillness with the impetus to keep moving. We sat and watched animals, we spent time in new places that excited us very much, we batted away mosquitoes and fled from them. We pedaled day by day, sometimes through remote terrain, not seeing anyone else for hours or possibly days at a time. We found our way.

Goodbye, Canada – Morgan Taylor

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Goodbye, Canada – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.

Where I last left you we were less than 50 miles from home as the crow flies, having ambitiously pedaled three days from our front door and ridden a remote high mountain pass with way too much gear. We were solidly in travel mode, no longer just camping in the front yard. It was early July and while that sounds like it should be summer, we wore our GoreTex more in the week we rode in Canada than we did for the two months that followed. You know, the Great White North, and all.

There was still some amount of comfort in what we were doing: while the scenery was changing more quickly than we had anticipated, we were still spending colorful money and freely using our overpriced cell phone data. The people we ran into still knew where we lived – or at least had heard of it – and could drive there in an easy day.

Hope You’re Having a Great Holiday Weekend!

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Hope You’re Having a Great Holiday Weekend!

Photo and words by Morgan Taylor

Yesterday Nils took us out on a meandering loop of hidden dirt within the city of Los Angeles. It was one of the funnest rides we’ve done in our time here in LA so far. John’s up in Zion National Park (having a blast, as you can tell if you’re following along on Instagram), and tomorrow I’ll have a big gallery from Montana that I’ve been looking forward to sharing. Hope you’re out riding this holiday weekend!

A Pair of Honeymoon Hunqapillars – Morgan Taylor

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A Pair of Honeymoon Hunqapillars – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor.

Being out on tour for the past six weeks Stephanie and I have met a lot of other people traveling by bike. The different ways people travel on two wheels has become a point of interest for us: despite the fact that we can get caught up in gear nerding and finding the perfect setup, it’s so rad to see all the different approaches to problems that anyone traveling by bike faces.

Troy and Jen were part of the larger group of people who descended on Missoula for the ACA’s 40th. It turned out that they, like us, were also on their honeymoon, on matching bikes. Since they’re from Nutmeg Country their tastes trend toward traditional aesthetics, and their Rivendell Hunqapillars are all class – and pieces of flair. These bikes were shaken down on east coast toodles through backroads with good friends before setting out on tour.

Mark’s Crust Bikes DFL 26+ Dirt Tourer – Morgan Taylor

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Mark’s Crust Bikes DFL 26+ Dirt Tourer – Morgan Taylor

Photos and intro by Morgan Taylor, words by Mark Reimer.

Does bike travel in the backcountry have to look a particular way? No, of course not. As you can see by the range of bikes being ridden in Spencer’s gallery, the #DFLtheDivide crew was a group that largely did not fit the mold of bike touring or bikepacking. That ride was all about doing things differently, living on the fringe and pushing the ideas of what traveling by bike looks like.

The Crust Bikes DFL occupies that space: not quite a touring bike, not quite a mountain bike – simply a bike built for traveling over whatever terrain you want to cover. John looked at Matt’s early version of this bike – at the time called the Evasion – and over a year later the DFL remains an intriguing idea that gets people asking questions and thinking about how they might build their own adventure bike.

Mark’s DFL hosts a great mix of domestically produced hard and soft goods, with a parts bin build kit carefully collected and selected over the years. The 9-speed XTR derailleur is hooked up to an indexed 10-speed Dura-Ace bar end shifter, using a Wolf Tooth road link to help the derailleur wrap around the SunRace 11-42 cassette. The Schmidt dynamo and Nitto racks and Carradice bags, so many details to pore over…

I’ll leave the rest to Mark because he captured the essence of this bike so well…

Sam’s Sklar 29er is Headed for the Colorado Trail – Morgan Taylor

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Sam’s Sklar 29er is Headed for the Colorado Trail – Morgan Taylor

Adam Sklar has been building bikes for five years now. Among his first customers was Sam, a good friend from high school. Sam had Adam build him a single speed 29er, but Sklar #4 has since been through many iterations over the years. Recently, Sam was feeling like his original Sklar, while abundant with character and nostalgia, was ready to give way to a new Sklar. Adam’s style has certainly developed over his time building bikes, and Sam wanted to honor his friend’s success by commissioning another frame.

We Will From Now On Be Found in the Mountains – Morgan Taylor

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We Will From Now On Be Found in the Mountains – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.

Bikes instead of flights. That was the idea. Stephanie and I have been scheming on this plan for quite a while – about nine months to be exact. You see, we got married back in October, and wanted to go on an extended trip to celebrate. Over the winter we threw ideas around about what kinds of bikes we could ride on our honeymoon trip, and then keep running as fun all-rounders when we were back home.

We landed on the Soma Wolverine, a bike that in its few short years has developed a bit of a cult following. What surprised me, however, is that not many people had built these bikes with 27.5 wheels. There were so few people out there doing it that I wondered whether it would work out. I calculated wheel diameters, I stuffed various wheels into Wolverine frames on trips to the city, and I eventually decided that 27.5 with a larger volume tire was our ticket. More on the bikes in a later piece, though.

As the months moved along, a plan came together to ride straight from home in southeast BC, over the two mountain chains to the Rockies, and loosely follow the Continental Divide with national parks in our sights. Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton were within striking distance. At some point we’d head west, likely to northern California to see Yosemite and the Sierras on the way to Los Angeles. None of this was set in stone, though; we simply wanted to follow our noses and local recommendations on a mixed surface adventure through the western US.

My Thomson and Ortlieb Decaleur Hack – Morgan Taylor

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My Thomson and Ortlieb Decaleur Hack – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor

Carrying stuff on bikes can be complicated – especially when you’re a notorious over-packer who likes to have a DSLR on hand. The Wolverine is my first ground-up drop bar build in a while, and I wanted to ensure that both transporting and accessing my camera would be well thought out.

Since we got married last October, Stephanie and I have been putting the pieces together to take off on a multi-month trip beginning in July. Wanting to produce galleries and stories on the road means having a bike-camping friendly way to carry my camera gear. I decided on a Swift Ozette rando bag – and the Hinterland Collection made with X-Pac VX21 had classic rando utility with a technical, modern twist.

I got talking with Martina at Swift over email, and ended up heading down to Seattle to visit their studio and pick up my bag in person. While Martina does get out on a lot of adventures herself, she also loves to live vicariously through others. Finding out that Stephanie and I were headed in the direction of the Great Divide route and planning on sticking to dirt as much as possible, she recommended finding a robust decaleur solution for my Ozette.

Karen is the Original Owner of This ’80s Eddy Merckx – Morgan Taylor

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Karen is the Original Owner of This ’80s Eddy Merckx – Morgan Taylor

For those of us who are taken by steel frames and appreciate their ride feel and longevity, the idea of a “lifetime” bike is a familiar one. In practice, however, the idea that a bike could last a lifetime is often just that – an idea – and for some reason or another bikes don’t always stay with us as long as we’d initially envisioned. Not so with Karen’s Merckx.

Karen bought her Eddy Merckx brand new when she was living in Edmonton, AB, in the ’80s. It was originally equipped with a mix of Dura-Ace AX and Campy Record, 6-speed downtube of course. She rode it for a number of years before hanging up the road bike in favor of mountain bikes in the mid ’90s.

Now based in Kelowna, BC, Karen and her husband Chris run a full service repair shop for vintage and modern European cars, with a focus on the details that those machines deserve. Chris took this attention to detail to Meshkat at The Lions Cyclery in the form of a restoration project, and Karen was inspired to dust off the Merckx.

To retain the bike’s classic aesthetic, a silver Campagnolo Veloce group was installed from front to back. The tan sidewall Strada LGGs look perfect on the polished Weinmann rims. The stem, bar, and headset are all that’s left of the original build; with its bombproof new groupset, Karen’s Merckx is ready for its next 30 years.

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Follow Morgan on Instagram and follow The Lions Cyclery on Instagram.

Camaraderie in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains – Morgan Taylor

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Camaraderie in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains – Morgan Taylor

Words by Morgan Taylor, photos by Scott Haraldson.

No matter how you slice it, our little corner of the world is out of the way to get to. We are surrounded by wilderness in all directions, which presents both opportunities and challenges. The two major east-west highways in BC diverge around us in order to traverse the four chains of glacially carved mountains toward the continental divide, and relatively few people find reason to come through this neck of the woods.

Introducing the Salsa Cycles Redpoint

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Introducing the Salsa Cycles Redpoint

Words by Morgan Taylor, photo by Scott Haraldson.

Last summer we hosted the guys from Salsa Cycles for a few days as they came through our neck of the woods in the BC mountains collecting images and stories for the launch of their new 27.5″ wheeled, 150mm trail bike, Redpoint. Over the past week, Salsa has slow-released a storysite – Have Dirt, Will Travel – a series of essays on mountain bike road trips with photos from that trip. I’ve got a gallery coming from that visit next week, but for now, check out the storysite and all the details on Redpoint here.