I lived in Texas for five years and since moving away, there has been an explosion of MTB trail building in Hill Country. Jeff Kendall-Weed takes us on a ride through the Longhorn State and its new ripping trails…
Superstoke 2018 rolled out of the Hill Country State Natural Area at a cloudy and cool nine o’clock Saturday morning, one hour behind schedule. Past rides had departed closer to dawn, typically routed through more than one hundred miles of variable Central Texas roadway. This year’s route topped out at ninety, however- less mileage and group’s need for caffeine overcame any concerns about being caught out after dark.
Editor’s Note: When I lived in Austin, Texas, I wanted to bring my friends who were accustomed to racing a training on a weekend outing of camping and riding dirt roads. Since this time of year in Texas, the parks are often crowded, I decided that Super Bowl Weekend would be ideal, since everyone in Texas would be glued to their televisions and not driving their RVs to campsites around the state. Over the past few years, the ride has continued, further morphing into this year’s Seattle-Austin exchange program… Check out the first Super Bro Weekend photoset in our archives.
Part I: Central Texas Excursion (Code name: Vitamin D)
In the past few years, a tradition has formed in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, where the adventurous souls of Beat The Clock Cycling go out to explore the far edges of the cycling universe. This year’s edition brought with it a special layer of stoke. Through a conversation between delegates from Seattle-based Swift Industries and Austin-based Beat The Clock, an idea began to percolate. The delegates were discussing a future trip up to Washington when the idea of a cycling exchange program was born. For the Northwesterners, the pull of the warm Texas winter was too much to resist, and it was decided that the Cascadia contingent would join forces with the Texans. This idea turned into Super Stoke Weekend, where the visitors could experience firsthand what the Texas Hill Country had to offer. Anticipating a sprightly and somewhat daunting 300 miles of mixed surface riding for the weekend, the Seattle crew began an intense training regimen of weekly randos/taco cleanses.
Howdy! The folks at Speedvagen will be hosting two Texas rides as preparation for their forthcoming fit tour in March. They’d like to invite Houston and Austin riders to check out the bikes and enjoy some beer.
Tuesday 2/21/17 – HOUSTON morning ride
Start: Bicycle Speed Shop
Time: 7:30am – 9:30am
Coffee on Speedvagen after!
Thursday 2/23/17 – AUSTIN evening ride
Time: 6:00pm (25miles)
Come test ride an Urban Racer and enjoy a round of beers on Speedvagen after!
Buck Macho checking in. You won’t find any pictures of me here, because one of the conditions of me bringing outsiders to Central Texas was no photographs of me on bike websites. I was there, though, and I’m probably in the best position to tell the story, since it’s obvious my guests– Jason, Ty and Jesse – have a hard time handling their liquor.
Jason, Ty and Jesse are members of “Chet Bearclaw’s Adventure Cycling Team”, and I’m a longtime friend of the team’s owner/founder, Chet Bearclaw. My friendship with Chet started in 1998, when he crash-landed his hot air balloon in a field of my ranch. He had intended to circumnavigate the globe, but that’s a story for another time.
From what I was told, the last time Jason, Ty and Jesse had ridden bikes together was on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in the winter. Seemed like a dumb as dog shit idea to me, but to each their own. It’s not that I don’t like winter, but if I’m gonna be freezing my dick off, I’d rather be on a snowmobile going 75mph.
Big Bend National Park may be one of the last remaining corners of the untouched West. While booming city sprawl or flat oil country paints most of the modern Texas landscape, Big Bend is nestled in the far southwestern corner of the state within the beautiful Chihuahuan Desert and the Chisos Mountain range.
Words by Ty Hathaway, photos by Ty Hathaway and Jesse Scarantino.
Jesse and I had spoken of this trip before but never really had a set date or year or season or route, just thought it would be cool to do. So when he said, “I think I am going to go next week,” not only was I in the position to say yes, it is also sort of against my best interest to say no to Jesse- every trip we do, no matter how big or small, is always pure gold. You don’t just say no to that kind of stuff. It’s not too often I get along with people so well that we can do basically any trip and come out on the other side still psyched to be around one another. I decided it would be easier logistically for me to just say fuck it and drive to Big Bend State Park rather than fly to Austin, build a bike, and still have to drive to Big Bend. The idea of driving all that way on my own was very attractive at the moment- all that freedom, all that time to myself- but damn, I could really use this.
From 2010 ’til now, Austin has been the homebase for the Radavist. In that time a lot has changed both on this website and in the city itself. Austin has grown. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s outgrown itself however, it’s just opened up, unveiling new layers of idiosyncrasies. Like a flower in perpetual bloom, the cyclists in this city continue to reveal new and interesting perspectives on the one thing that unifies us all: the bicycle.
Part commuter, part touring bike, beautiful functionality with that Icarus flair.
Chris wanted a bike that did all of the above. Having already commissioned Ian to build him a matte black road bike, he knew exactly what he wanted in a commuter. Tubus titanium racks, SON hub, Edelux lamp, Chris King, Paul components, custom painted Berthoud fenders, Swift Industries panniers, Jack Brown Blues and White Industries cranks, all being operated by SRAM’s XO long cage rear derailleur and barcons.
A lot of the parts selection was informed by my Geekhouse when Chris was selecting his kit. Dependability was the most important issue yet as we said earlier, it needed to be beautifully functional.
Maybe he’ll have time to get out on a tour? Or maybe it’ll just serve him as it has for the past year as a commuter for Austin, TX.
It’s happened. The locals of Austin, Texas have embraced Lauren from Saila, the woman who welded for Seven Cycles in Boston for years, laying down tight weld lines over even tighter mitres.
Saila makes performance steel and titanium bikes ranging from “all-road” to cross and road. This bike in particular is a perfect example of a guy who wanted something special, yet didn’t want to splurge on componentry. Rather than dropping a couple grand on new parts, he built this race bike up with old parts left over from previous bikes.
Titanium is a medium that yields classic beauty without the need of expensive paint, or even expensive parts. Holler at Lauren if you’d like her to create a piece of work like this!
$600. That’s how much Jacob paid for his Team Fat Chance frame on eBay. It was in pristine condition with the original Yo Eddy! fork and a brand new paint job. Here’s when the collector would begin to scrounge up all the NOS parts to restore it to its original glory, yet all Jacob wanted was a bike he could ride Austin’s Greenbelt trails on. Even with the rebirth of a Fat Chance brand, there’s something to be said about 20-year steel frames. Especially with a legacy like Fat City.
While most of the build is straight forward, the Bullmoose bars and Velocity Cliffhanger rims, laced to Deore hubs are the standout details. Now his Onza tires are tubeless, which means he can run lower pressure and not worry about snakebikes on limestone ledges and the Deore hubs will be easily serviceable after the rain brings creek crossings.
His 1x setup was made possible by a clutch Deore derailleur and a Wolf Tooth ring, mounted to vintage Shimano cranks and braking is being taken care of by Chico’s finest, Paul Components.
For around $1,500, Jacob built up a vintage mountain bike with style and while it might not tackle a rock garden as fast as a modern full sus bike, sometimes the ride isn’t about being timed.
Cole and Jonathan at Mellow Johnny’s did a great job on the build and this bike looks so good covered in limestone dust. Shred on, buddy.
When Taj from Fairdale reached out to us and asked if we were interested in testing their steel road bike, the Goodship, I had a hard time containing my excitement. Fairdale, who has an office in Austin is a staple of the cycling community here. You can’t go to a downtown restaurant, East Side bar, local swimming hole, or ride through campus without spotting a Fairdale between the legs of an excited Austin dweller. The company radiates positive vibes and makes quality bicycles.
Fenders aren’t exactly my favorite bicycle accessory. Granted I live in Texas where it “never rains” or so it didn’t really until this year. We’ve had a very wet spring and summer, resulting in a lot of unexpected rain riding. So much so that I finally broke down and decided to ditch the big, plump tread of my Bruce Gordon Rock n Roads for some fenders and the biggest tire I could find that would fit…
What do you do with that old racing frame you had for over a decade after you decide racing just isn’t for you? Or those gaudy old wheels kicking around the bike shop you’ve worked at for just as long? For Peter, one of Mellow Johnny’s longest running employees, he got crafty.
Peter has had this frame since 2003, when it was fit with an actual road group. At the time, the titanium and carbon Serotta Legend was a rocket. Stiff rear triangle, compliant front end, or so they say. Whatever the marketing behind this bike was, within its design lay a beautiful possibility.
Those bolts, holding the seat stays to the dropouts can be serviced. If they can be serviced, they can be removed so Peter took the initiative to put a Gates Carbon Belt Drive system they had at Mellow’s to the test by installing the belt through that split in the stays.
There he was, with a decade-old, balleur commuter rendered in green and gold. What else could he do to this bike to put it over the top? How about a set of gold Campagnolo wheels from 2008? Voila. Personally, I think this bike is so wacky that it works and it’s been Peter’s go-to ride for years… Run what you brung.
The Driveway Race Series takes place every Thursday during the spring and summer here in Austin, TX. It’s a super chill spin from downtown, only taking a few minutes by the new Manor trail, a paved bike path that dumps you right at the gates. As part of a review for the Fairdale Goodship, Andre and I went out to the Driveway to shoot the bike, straight from the box to the 75+ field of racers.
While I don’t normally cover criteriums, I took a few minutes to document the races before editing the photos in black and white, something I rarely do as well. The resulting images are rather nice and capture the form of criterium racing.
It really is quite the scene out there at the Driveway, so if you’re ever in town, head on over to check it out on a Thursday night.
Last week our friends at Flat Track Coffee celebrated three years of business here in Austin. Wheels of all shapes and sizes showed up to ride a janky obstacle course, drink, chat and watch the shenanigans erupt well after the sun went down. Hopefully these party vibes will inspire some similar celebrations with the Fourth of July approaching… We’ll see you on Monday!
Tools of the trade:
Zeiss 35mm f2
Kodak Portra 400
It’s not a cross bike, it’s a road bike with clearances for bigger tires. Sure it uses an ENVE disc cross fork, but the bottom bracket drop, chainstay length and angles are more in line with what many would categorize as a road bike. A road bike that likes to gobble up rugged and rutted roads.
The Bruce Gordon Rock n Road tires were the starting point for Ian at Icarus Frames to build Tyler his new all-road machine. He wanted hydro disc brakes and road gearing, which he may or may not swap out in the forthcoming months for a clutch and a wider range cassette. With a burnt orange paint and subtle Icarus branding on the downtube, Tyler’s bike has a confident stance without being overly gaudy. Keep it clean with the paint and get it nice and dirty…
Truth told, I’ve been wanting a bike like this for some time now and it was a pleasure being able to document it both for Icarus Frames and Tyler.
Austin has a certain gravity. It attracts cyclists of all wheel types and for Matt, he wasn’t drawn here for the road cycling, or mountain biking. Matt began his experience with the bicycle on a BMX. He’s from Australia and Austin has always been the mecca for BMXing in the US. His friends here range from pros to companies like T-1, where he stays while in town.
It wasn’t until a surf trip in Mexico a while back where he finally got a bicycle. If you’d call it that. A clapped-out rig took him for hundreds of miles to visit a friend before he finally realized what he wanted in a bike. Later, a custom Bilenky allowed him to tow his surfboard on trips and the touring hook was set.
Fast forward a few years and Matt wanted to do something on his own. Since he’s not a framebuilder, he met up with a friend who’s dad was. They began talking about cycling and what it meant to Matt before drafting up a CAD drawing and getting a few prototypes made overseas. Crust Bikes was born. Sort of. Still incubating, this company right now spreads the stoke over Instagram, where Matt shares his travels and sells small items like patches, bottles and trucker caps.
Matt hopes to be building frames here in the States, under the welder of an experienced builder up in the North East. His first model would be this Evasion touring bike. Built for 26+ (Knard 3″), 650b or 700c wheels, the Evasion has the clearance and the confidence for everything from a sub 24 hour camping trip to full on excursion style riding.
I caught up with Matt last week and shot some photos of this unique rig. Built with a Rohloff, it’s virtually maintenance free. The Swift Industries bags, Brooks Saddle and other companents tell a tale through their patina. One that you too can follow along at @AFewSketchyMoments and @Crustbikes on Instagram