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!
Over the years, we’ve featured many of Benedict‘s bikes here on the site. They’re always a lil bit of weird with a dash of kooky but the result of a lot of ‘pondering over a wooden pipe’ functional. For the latest build, which we dubbed the Warthog Wash Wiper, all the above applies.
In short, this bike is a desert bulldozer, yet not one you’d find Hayduke underneath with a 3′ wrench and a cheater bar. This is a bicycle, not a machine for destruction. The Warthog Wash Wiper, aka WWW, is an all-rounder dirt tourer, and it comes alive when the sand gets deep, where normal bikes become less than ideal trekking poles.
A bar bag that turns into a fanny pack or vice versa. The Fabio’s Fanny Pack is a bag for sharp shooters. A photo bag that allows for easy access and can expand to carry even more! This pack is on pre-order now, with an April 2nd delivery from Swift Industries over at Ultra Romance’s Web Shop!
“The kinda danger I’m into is riding tubes in the desert”
“Any bike can be a mountain bike if you ride it in the mountains”
These are just a few quotes pulled from the freshly shaven mouth of Ultra Romance, the cycling sensation, turned Rivendell sponsored rider and mobile dealer. Bené, as I like to call him, is wintering in Tucson where I was spending my New Years with friends. Turned out, there were a lot of out of towner cyclists around, so we organized a ride at the 50 Year trails. More on that later…
We’re in Tucson, riding bikes and soaking in the Sonoran, while avoiding jumping cholla. Yesterday a big group met up to ride bikes at the 50 Year trail network and things got nutty!
While the God-fearing Christians of the lower Connecticut River valley ended their day cleaning off their lawn care equipment, a small group of Wiccan-observing, season-worshipping heathens rolled their tires through the forested glades of the Nutmeg Country triangle in honor of the Swift Campout. We smell of essential oils and the crystals around my neck jingles at each pedal stroke. The leaves on the trees have matured from their Spring-emerged highlighter green to a darker, more robust hue, properly at the ready for the next summer storm. The back-to-back Nor’easters these trails have endured in recent months have left branches and huge fallen trees in the path as we head for the lean to’s in Cockaponsett State Forest- a mouthful, I know, especially paired with the Pattaconk Lake that nests inside. This area is full of names like that: Hammonasset Beach is a rock throw away from Benedict’s home, the Quinnipiac flows into New Haven harbor several miles away. Connecticut is a colonized spelling of the Native Algonquian, Quinnehtukqut, which translates to “place of the long river”.
You asked and the time has come! The Ultra Romance and Swift Industries Fabios Chest Pre-Order is live now, in two sizes, with many fabric options, including X-Pac! Head to Poppi’s webstore to order!
Tucson to Kanza: a Long Ride to a Long Ride
Word and photos by Ultra Romance
Dirty Kanza: How does one prepare their mind, legs and undercarriage for a 200 mile “race?” How do you relaxation cycle ésport™ without relaxation? How does one saunter through the day, resting in the sun whenever the mood strikes, dine on expensive chocolate after a fine fine yogurt cupping at the local co-op, all whilst riding 200 miles in one go?? Can that even be kinda fun?
I suppose it depends on your Myers Briggs score divided by how many years you’ve spent in dental school. Dentists were all over the road scene, and as road has taken a major swan dive into a pile of 20c used rubbers (sounds dirty cuz it is), grav grinding (sounds dirty but only mildly) has become the future world arena for the well-to-do-sadistic. Dentists are sadists by nature, nothing against them, they just are. They drill and pull teeth outa screaming peoples faces all day. They love training for 200-mile races.
Something happened to me while I was riding the 90-mile NOVA Coastal Route of Eroica California, I started loving the ride. A bit of a “duhhhh” moment, right? That may have had something to do with the skill and knowledge of the route-maker who has expertly joined some of the most stunning roads of San Luis Obispo County. From wineries to summits to the Oceans’ shore featuring some loosen-your-filling descents. I’m sure we could have easily found a dentist at Eroica to fix that last problem. So, not really a problem. It also helps to have beautifully cheerful people at rest stops handing you wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, and praising your athleticism. I felt so undeserving of such treatment, but that’s for me and my therapist to figure out together. Regardless, treatment like that could make a cyclist out of just about anyone.
… is open! In size small and large (pictured.) These expandable bags have an insane carrying capacity and quickly became my go-to handlebar bag for bikepacking. Head to Poppi’s Webshop to pre-order.