adventure

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Climbing through the fog. I see but 30 feet in front of me. We are climbing, and it doesn’t stop. I’m out of gears, in pain, sweating all of last night’s beer out of my skin before the sun is above the hills. We climb on.

The gravel road levels out, bends around and opens to a vista. An entire field of fog, perfectly back lit with silhouettes of trees framing the edges, burns off every so slightly, allowing a surreal scene to unfold. We see the valley below, and the picturesque body of water at the bottom. The fog frames a landscape one might never see twice. It’s perfect, and beautiful, and we understand it is a reward of our hard work.

We spend some time soaking in the fantastical atmosphere, completely unaware of where we are, unburdened by any troubles or stress. We are thankful for this gift of beauty the land has offered us. The dense fog rolls in again. We climb on.

I went riding with a beast.

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Fresh off his dominating participation in the Tour Divide 2014, Mr. Dan fucking Hensley decided to let me ride some bikes with him. I met up with him at his place in and we talked a little bit about his experience before heading out into the oakland wilderness.

 

So I will provide a little background on things.

1. Dan is a general badass who likes to do badass things, like the Arizona Trail Race, Trans Iowa among other things.

2. The Tour Divide is a pretty badass thing to do. (if you don’t know what the tour divide is, click on the link)

3. Most people complete the tour divide on a fully geared bike, and a lot do it with suspension, and most have some sort of support along the way. Because, ya know, humans need help riding 2,700 miles.

4. Dan decided to ride this monstrous race, on a rigid single speed. And as if that weren’t enough, he did it unsupported, and just for fun. (and to raise money for Ride for Reading <— CHECK IT OUT)

5. Dan is a beast

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Some things I learned about the Divide from Dan.

1. During the Divide, all you do is mash, from sun-up to well-past-sun-down. You mash until you can’t ride any further, and then you collapse on the ground to get a couple hours of sleep.

2. The Divide is lonely. There are stretches of road where you go a hundred miles without seeing anyone. (sounds amazing to me)

3. You can eat whatever the fuck you want forever and take the Tour Divide Diet and lose every pound of fat you ever had. Dan ate ice cream and pizza and beer leading up to the race, gained 20 lbs. and still came out of the race under his usual weight.

4. Do it single-speed, do it rigid. If you want to go unsupported, through 3000 miles of rough terrain – you need to minimize the risk of failure. One gear means no shifty-do-dads with 1,000 plastic pieces to break. No lube on squeaky pulleys, no extra cables for shifters, no failure. A full-rigid bike means you can go across the entire country without losing a single ounce of effort to a fucking bouncing bike.

5. It’s not easy. If Dan says it’s not easy, it’s not easy. There are a lot of great things about this race but Dan told the honest truth about all the shit you encounter along the way. Don’t ever go into this race thinking it is some kinda gran fondo across the country. This shit is real, and not for the little sissy-girls.

6. The Divide makes you go absolutely crazy. Dan went the entire ride without finishing a six-pack. What the fuck. What does that to a man?

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Dan invited me out to ride some of his local trails. I heard there is some great riding to be had over in Oakland but never thought much of it. Oakland=City. City=No good riding. We met up and Dan lent me a ride. A beautiful little Surly 1×1, which after the ride I concluded to be one of the best bikes I had ever ridden. We cruised though the streets of Oakland on what I figured to be a never ending promenade to the quarter mile of single track Oakland has. So we finally get to this gnarly climb in the middle of a cute little neighborhood. This hill doesn’t end. Ever. Up and up and up on the pavement until we finally reach some park. Through the park and then into the trees. And then, bam, single track. What? In Oakland? Yeah. I would compare it to a mixture of Sutro and GGP here in the city. Winding single-track on a hill, with loose dirt everywhere. I was surprised that it just goes on and on and on. Not only was it pretty cool that there was this much riding so near to the city, but it was also some of the best riding I have done so close to the city. I’m no dirt jumper, and I usually like to keep at least one wheel on the ground at all times, so these trails were great for me. Quick, winding, just challenging enough to give you spurts of adrenaline at every corner – but also not enough to fuck my shit up. We rode for a good while, and Dan owned me every descent and ascent. The guy just wouldn’t stop and I was lucky to survive. After the ride we went had some beer and lunch and all was good.

I can’t wait to get back over to Oakland and ride some dirt with Dan. It was a great time and I look forward to discovering more rides in the East Bay.

 

That is all.

 

Also, this gallery is some shitty photos of the Ant that he rode in the Divide. And this LINK is his map through the Divide.

I’ve been bad…

I know I haven’t been posting like I should. I had a helluva summer. Lots of work (two jobs) and lists of school, plus a ton of fun too. I’ll post little stories about all my adventures and a bunch of photos too!, but for now I want to put out a little post – ease back into it. So here, a little of what I’ve been up to.

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Beer with friends. Because fuck yeah. Beer. Yes, beer. And some more beer. I don’t remember much after this photo of a tranny touching up his dirtbag glam.

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Camping! And lots of it! I’ve been camping almost 10 times in the last couple months. More of that to come later. I have to say I have grown super fond of the mongoose all racked up with a full load, bombing down the fire roads of Northern California.

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And lastly, I went on a great vacation with the lady friend. We took a break from the city and reset our brains. I have a bunch of film to scan in and I will share those photos.

Ok so expect a couple posts this week and next. Lots of good shit to share with the world.

Btw, does anyone have a spare front wheel? shitbike is in dire need.

i’m still here! shitbike lives on!

I do my best to put out content consistently so you guys can waste a little bit more time not doing the things you are supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, lately I haven’t had the time to help you out. Two jobs and full-time school will do that to a guy. So I decided to take a little chunk out of homework time to present you with… a shit load of random photos. Here’s what I have been up to.

riding with skinny tires

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riding some more with skinny tires.

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Getting my horseshoe on with Timbuk2

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Getting my drink on with Timbuk2

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Rinding with the lady friend

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Riding some more skinny tires, getting my #trainingbro on.

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and hating bike thieves. because they suck.

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So that all for now. I should resurface in about three weeks or so. I promise some more substantial stories will come after my miserable semester. And they will most likely involve a motorcycle.

woah, a mountain biker.

There is almost certainly no community like the one which exists atop two wheels and a frame of steel. Those who cycle their way through life, see it differently at every turn. Those who grasp tightly at the handlebars and trust the machine as it pulls them forward, will breathe the fresh air of new experiences. Seek out the new trails and trust the wheel in front of you.

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It was Sunday. It was hot. It was time for a hotdog. We drank a beer and waited in the shade. Rested our legs before another climb. Saddle up, move forward. We reach the halfway point on White’s Hill where the entrance to Tamarancho Extension is. We lock the bikes, and start our hike. Up a little ways and up a little more. Sun is a bit stronger here.

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Mountain bikers are a different breed all together. Defining characteristics include: manly arms, wide-set shoulders, hair everywhere, and the ability to ride downhill. It was interesting to say the least, to sit and watch these strange creatures take to the hill climb known as the Dead Heifer. Huffing and puffing, sweating and digging deep.

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They make their way up and down the killer hills of Tamarancho Park, including a couple gnarly climbs and a flow track. We saw the pros. We saw the non-pros. We saw the badass motherfuckers riding single-speed. John and Cubby showed up, and showed ‘em up in t-shirts on steel frames. They were the only ones to hit the flow track properly. How does one aim a bike? I wonder as I watch them race down the hill.

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I want another beer. We hike down the mountain, unlock our bikes and ride. We ride down first and then climb another huge ascent to a grassy meadow where we find the pack of wild mountain bikers. They sit under tents sipping Gatorade. We sit in the shade of another generous tree and wait a while as the last finishers make their way through. After getting the race recap from John and Cubby, we saddle up once again, and fly down the fire road into Fairfax. I white knuckle the entire descent, and the others jump potholes and wheelie corners. Exhilarating, and suicidal.

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Fill up on a burger, some Pepsicola and a Corona and try your best to survive the trip home. Walk through the front door and collapse on the ground. Mission success.

 

MAP is just another word for notsoshitbike

Not so long ago I found myself in the middle-of-nowhere Sacramento chatting up builders from all over the state, one of them happened to be Mitch Pryor from MAP Cycles. We rode for a little while and talked about his most recent endeavors and how he really loved his job. Mitch just moved to Chico after calling Portland home for 5 years, and is anxious to get the ball rolling in the Golden State. So lets get to the reason you are here – Mitch’s very own MAP Cycles rig, a very notsoshitbike.

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My favorite part is that this bike is actually used. It’s not afraid to get down and dirty, there was grass and pods all over it by the end of the ride. It’s no showroom piece, even though it’s got all the bells and whistles needed to get in. The new PAUL QRs, a Son dynamo attached to a Schmidt Edelux Headlamp and Carradice Bags are all perfect additions to a beautifully made frame.

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Mitch was riding light but you could tell the bike could carry a full load gracefully. It handled miles asphalt, gravel and some pretty good dirt sections without a peep from its rider, and looked good while doing so. I’m glad to have had the chance to photograph a bike with it’s maker, especially a MAP.