What will soon be seven summers ago, Crust Bikes CEO Matt pedaled his prototype Evasion to the end of Long Island to catch a ferry across the Sound to where the fishing boat I was working on docked each evening. I readied the lines as the boat backed into the harbor. Looking up, I could see a backlit figure of a cyclist above the docks in the parking lot— late summer setting sun illuminating orange and golds through course, untamed hair. Chest hair. We had been expecting each other…
I grew up working at a Specialized shop, and learned how to mountain bike by watching Ned Overend’s Performance Mountain Biking technique VHS. While I always appreciated the refreshing ideas of small makers, I thought it advantageous for larger brands to be able to invest more in their materials and construction. This was a time when top-end bikes were made of metal, and made domestically.
Metal Matrix (M2) composite is a prime example of this. The big S sourced a 6061 alloy infused with an aluminum oxide ceramic particulate by Alcan. Say that again, backwards now. Alcan called it Duralcan, and I am proud to display their logo on my top tube—that cool typeface!
Sometime back in late February the event calendar for Team Brooks Cool Breeze looked like any stadium tour you’d expect for such a glamorous gaggle of athletes. Grav’l, touring, MTB, hang gliding, street luging…. you name it, we were gonna do it. Times were fast, relaxing, and exciting, but little did we know that even lifestyle celebrity “athletes” would have little fun in the months to come.
Ronnie and Namz from Ronsbikes.com have just announced the details for the Nor’Easter 2020. How does one throw an event in a Pandemic? Well… they have that figured out:
“This year is a hard one for more reasons than the human brain can comprehend— therefore, the way we will be conducting this event is a little different from years past.
First and foremost we seek to avoid any sort of large group congregation in any place that might funnel folks together. Our plan to prevent this is to have no specific event space as we have in the past; and sadly no Pizza truck from Fire in the Kitchen. You wanna eat food, you gotta bring it and make it yourself. You wanna drink beer—- same thing. You wanna poop—- dig a hole in the woods and have at it, etc.”
Head to Ronsbikes.com to RSVP for the event and read more about this event!
This pandemic has us scouring social media for videos to share, in an attempt to transport us back to the time when group rides were the norm and our calendars were filled with fun rides. That’s what brought me to find this recap video from the 2019 Nutmeg Nor’Easter.
If you have a Fab’s Chest, one of the best bags for bicycle touring, and are looking for some more support, then don’t miss out on this instructional video, produced by Ron and Namz for their Pec Dec bag support system, in stock now at RonsBikes.com.
Behold, a timeless diamond in the crust. The “cantibolt” is the “sign a waiver” lightest tubed-cantilever-1” threaded offering from Crust Bikes; the first name in Boastfully Poor Business Decisions Index Weekly. A riff on the Jan Mule that so famously/infamously dons just about every other page of Bicycle Quarterly; the Crust version has coincidentally received praise from its muse… the sultan of supple; the prince of planing himself… Jan Heine uuuuuuvvv Bicycle Quarterly.
Long-time readers will recall this bike from 2015. That photoshoot was a lot of fun and while we lost a bulk of the gallery images when our server failed, a few photos survived, including a drive side shot and the Brüt Rosé spray photo, which still to this day is tooooo hawt.
That suntanned, SUNTOURist, king of the grandiose, the beausage factory himself, Mr. Ronnie Romance, aka Ultra Romance, really knows how to put a bicycle together, even a simple one such as a fixed gear. Yet we’re not talking a Kierin bike, those NJS-stamped sparkle machines, or even a British Path Racer. This is a bike designed specifically for a plump, rough and tumble tire, with a relaxed fit, eons past the aggressive saddle-to-bar drop bikes of yesteryear, yet somewhere in-between the monster-truck abilities of a tracklocross bike. This Madrean Fabrications ‘country fixed’ is unlike anything I’ve seen in recent memory… or maybe it’s just my old age.
Remember that fancy, lightweight, and supple rear tire Bené René used on his Crust Bikes Lightning Bolt build? The one where he got in the freezing water in his skivvies? How could you forget? Well, the testing period is finished with the Cava tire, a file tread, fast-rolling, gravel tire with a plump profile of 47.99mm wide on a 650b diaphragm. Head on over to Ultradynamico to see the specs on the Cava and to pick up one or a pair.
This bike is the direct result of many experiences, beginning with my 44 Bikes touring bike and culminating with the Moots Baxter I spent a great deal of time on last year both fully-loaded and set up in what I could call expedition mode. After a lot of back and forth, I realized that I like 29+ bikes for bikepacking and yeah, titanium is really nice for desert riding. These mental musings came to the full realization after spending some time talking with Adam from Sklar Bikes this summer in Bozeman.
18 lbs? 17 lbs? 16 lbs? What is weight anyway? Weight doesn’t matter but it doesn’t hurt either. Especially when your golden locks and bronze tan lines float effortlessly across white gravel roads, coating the roadside flora in a light layer of sedimentary seasoning. Dust, baby. It’s good for you. Yes, Ronnie Romance knows how to build a bike from a fine assortment of vintage components, exotic, supple rubber, and a bit of suntan oil. Case in point, his Crust Bikes Lightning Bolt is lighter than a soft whisper.
What do you get when Bené, aka Ultra Romance, aka Ronnie McFly, aka Glistening Gandolf coerces an XC/roadie racer boi into embracing the long and slow lifestyle? Well, you’re about to find out. While Benedict and Sean from Team Dream were working closely on those nifty merino wool bib shorts, Benedict convinced Sean with his silver tongue to build up a dream bike. A veritable ex-roadie 2.0 cruiser, complete with all the iconic componentry of MTB and randonneuring’s heyday, which pinch me if I’m wrong, is always the present time. What you see here is the result of much toodlin’ and many man hours spent scrounging for parts. All aboard a Crust Bikes Lightning Bolt.
Words by Coach Ronaldo Romance Jr. and photos by Team Brooks
(Gallery Photos are 95% disposable film cams that I handed out to the team. Felt like it captured the inner “race” pretty authentically; and the medium was pretty fun in a “trip to the water park” “safe grad night” sorta way)
Booming Billowing Blooping Blurping Gravel.
Even with DK getting as much coverage as the TDF, I trust the pace of the news these days has left your mind blank of such cognizance once again. That’s good, as my memory of competing in the event 2 years ago has also been selectively erased, perhaps that’s why I reluctantly agreed to participate in this particular edition.
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.
Also, we have a new website dropping on Monday, so we’ll be laying low this weekend preparing for the big reveal! Ride ya bike!
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.
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!