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.

 

shitbike rides with some makers

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I was sick, hungover and should have been working on finals but simply could not miss out on the Sacramento edition of Meet Your Maker Tour. shitbike has been out of commission since last week so I loaded up the ‘goose, downed a couple espresso shots and hit the road.

Robert Ives of Blue Collar bikes headed up this round of the tour, and – whoa – what a great job he did. We all met at his unofficial headquarters, a bar named the Hideaway, and prepped for the ride. Within five minutes there were enough people to rival the largest MYM already, by the time we left it was well over the last MYM attendance.

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The plan was a quick and easy loop around south Sacramento. 50 miles, no hills and “most of it will be a tailwind”. The huge group rolled out around 10 and we spilt immediately into a a mess of cyclists storming through the neighborhoods. Cars are pretty nice in Sacramento, but I still wanted to get out of the residential areas. After some time taking left and right turns trying to meander out of it, we came to a freeway and some open road. It was a good time to make rounds through the group, meet new people and check out some bikes.

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I rode with a couple builders during the lulls and learned a lot about what it takes to start and maintain a small frame building company. These guys are ridiculously passionate about what they do, and their love for creating always trumps their desire for payment. They work hard to create bicycles that their clients will love a cherish forever. That’s not to say it’s an easy job. Every guy I talked to mentioned a time at which they didn’t know if “the whole bike-making thing” was going to happen for them. Some keep a part-time (or full-time) job while laying the foundation, some still have to supplement income with side jobs. Others are in the shop countless hours pumping out beautiful bikes to we can go ride them while their still in the shop making the next “big thing”. No matter what, each has a smile on their face when they describe their latest project. Each has a prideful grin as their name is called, preceded by the title “Frame Builder” at the start of the ride. These guys are an inspiration, in the creative realm, the business realm and in life.

This is why I go to Meet Your Maker. This is why Meet Your Maker exists. You get a chance, and the builders get a chance to come face to face with the other side. The builders are doing it because they love to make bikes, and you ride their bikes because they make riding more fun. To see these two heads meet makes for a an awesome ride. Everyone is happy to be out there. Its like a flurry of appreciation being spewed out from all angles, that and beer.

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The ride was mixed terrain, hitting mostly asphalt with the occasional gravel section and even some railroad. I definitely picked the wrong bike for the job but committed and had to suffer it out. The bulky Mongoose made for an extra effort up every levy and through all the “tailwind” we were riding with. Sacramento has a strange feeling to it. One second you are in a nice shaded road with generous vegetation on either side, and the next second you are in the middle of a dry desert praying for water. We made our first beer stop about twenty miles in and I couldn’t be happier. A tallboy in my hand, the sun in my eyes and only 30 miles to go.

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At about mile 21 is where I lost it. I don’t know if it was the Mongoose, or the sun or the ridiculous headwind, but I was pretty beat and just wanted to get back for some pork and beer. I decided the best way to do this would be to put the hammer down, to cruise in faster so as to eat sooner. After another stop where we fueled up with licorice and beer, I put it in gear. I rode with Mr. Klein on a dirt section and he distracted me with some good conversation. On the next portion of the course I tried to stay with Curtis Inglis, but that badass was on a quick-as-lightning  show bike and I was almost died trying to discuss his recent trip to Sweden. We finally made it to another stop and I stuffed a doughnut in my face before heading into the last leg.

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Ah, finally the skyline emerged from the trees and I knew we were close. At the last regroup I switched bikes with Darin who had just put together his brand new Blue Collar Cross with all the bells and whistles, and let me test it out. I rode that thing into Sacramento and it made the last five miles so much easier. Rigid as i-beam and light as a feather. We rolled past the capitol and the ATOC setup. We rode back into the neighborhood and down the last stretch to some bbq sandos and beer. At the Hideaway again, we all rack up the bikes and line up for lunch.

 

After a couple of beers refueled each rider, we all sat inside with little red tickets in hand waiting for Robert to call out the winners of the huge raffle he organized in support of the Chako Pit Bull Rescue. I didn’t win anything but I drank a few more beers, and thats winning for me. In size only, this MYM was one of the most successful. In community and charity, this MYM was far above the rest. We came together with the same intent of all the MYM tours but with the added intent of helping out a part of the builder’s community. We came together to have the same fun we always do, did it better, and even helped a worthy organization. Robert did a great job and I am looking forward to the next time I can get up to Sacramento to drink a beer with him.

 

a dfl for christmas

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shitbike rolled down to the park (go figure) to attend the holiday installment of DFL. some good racing, accidental cross-dressing, and good times unfolded over the half marked course in the woods.
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its always a blast to come out to these races, every time is a unique experience. this edition included some serious racers who dominated most of the field and stayed in the pain cave the entire race. a fun course, this one features rutted terrain, sandy-death-trap-esque downhill 90 degree turns , dusty run-ups, giant log barriers, and useless u-turns.
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a huge turnout for beautiful bikes. everywhere you looked there was another great looking two-wheeled machine. some for crushing, some for cruising and all for having fun. Someone even had the same idea as I and did some Bay Area Bike Smash.
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I am definitely looking forward to the next race, and maybe shitbike will actually get out there and rub elbos with the other guys, we’ll see.

I met some makers…

Sunday I rolled with a bunch of great people out in the hills of Marin. We all survived some gigantic hills, rutted single track and multiple pitchers if mid-ride beer in celebration of awesome bikes. The group included some of the biggest names in custom frame building on the west side of the country and I was lucky enough to chat with a few of them.

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Sean from Soulcraft (educate yourself here) introduced the guests, explaining that this ride was a way to meet face-to-face with the people who are building the many bikes in the crowd. It was time to ride, talk a bit, get to know who these builders are and what they are all about. We slow pedal out of Mill Valley, up the hill and onto some fire roads.
Along the way people started to notice that there was somebody in the pack riding a slick-tire road bike with a basket, and everyone seemed to chuckle a bit as I rode past as though I were on a paper-route. shitbike was one of the least suited bikes for this ride, but there were a couple carbon road bikes and some tandems joining for the challenge.

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There were too many beautiful bikes to take pictures of, and that really goes to show what a large amount of people appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of custom bike frames. Some other builders on the ride include Sycip, Hunter, Rex, Retrotec, and more. They all have an incredible dedication to their craft that is evident in their bikes. I look forward to learning more about this world and maybe someday owning my own custom frame.

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The ride included fire roads up Mt Tam and a single track down the ridge to muir Woods area and back up over the hill to Mill Valley. The terrain carried from very shitbike-able to questionable shitbike-able and most made it through without any problems. The last stop for beer really got us thinking about how nice more beer would be. A group of us ditched the last leg of the ride and shortcut to beer and burritos in the park. If you’re ever in Mill Valley, stop by a very shitbike-approved shop Grilly’s for your spicy burrito cravings. With our legs shot, our stomachs full and hands cold with bottles of beer, we all started talking about our favorite frames, components and ideas. I learned more about the history and current state of the business while sitting half drunk inside a tree grove than the hours I spent on the internet. Every guy (or lady) who showed up was the nicest guy (or lady) you have ever met and it was such a great experience to just sit and talk after an epic ride.

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riding Sutro with shitbike

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Yesterday I cruised on up to Sutro Mountain in San Francisco so see if shitbike could survive it. I learned a lot about a bike’s limitations: they don’t have many. shitbike is about as bad as you can get for “off-road” conditions but it held up perfectly fine over the terrain. Jumping roots, sliding around corners, managing the switchbacks, shitbike held together and did it’s thing. I learned that whenever you are fucking up lines, bottoming out jumps and generally riding poor- that’s you, not the bike.

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Meet Your Maker

So I did not make this flyer and I do not support such… weird design, but you need to be there!

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Meet Your Maker is an ongoing tour of bike frame and component builders in Northern California, a chance to ride with the big names in custom bikes, and drink beer with them and chit chat about your next frame. shitbike will be out there this Sunday shredding a little and hanging out with the guys, so come check it out and I’ll buy you a beer.