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’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.

 

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.

 

Stinner Stinner, bourbon dinner.

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About a week ago I went to see Aaron Stinner talk a bit about bike building at Mission Workshop.

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A ton of great people showed up to the event. Who wouldn’t when it’s sole advertisement was “Free beer and bourbon”? We mingled, drank, mingled some more. I was only hanging out for about five minutes before someone dropped one of the Stinner frames right into my beer, this party was officially on.

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Aaron’s work has grown in popularity following a 2012 NAHBS Rookie of the Year Award and his sweet Mudfoot project that we all know so well. Stinner’s frames have been ridden by some of the best, and only Ty Hathaway was man enough to break one. His frames are simple and built for a purpose (as are most customs). Aaron talked a lot about what inspires him and keeps his business moving. It was interesting to have a Q&A setup, he wasn’t just giving us a shpeel. It was like a good conversation over a couple(dozen) beers.

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All in all, it was very much like hearing any builder talk about their business. Working hard, staying true, making beautiful things. It was great to see the frames up close and hear all about the process A-Z. Most of what I loved about that night was all the great people who showed up. It was nice to see friendly faces, meet new folks and talk a bunch about what we love most – bikes. I had the chance to talk to Victor from Archive, Brad from Bicycle Coffee, met Storts as he farted and walk away from the scene of the crime, glanced at Ty Hathaway from GSC, Erik from AWOL and Mr. Brian Vernor(because I’m not cool enough for that crowd), and chatted up a bunch of old friends. It’s events like this that make San Francisco such a great place to live in. Take a central location and cram as many rad guys and gals as you can – who all love bikes – and just chill and drink free booze.

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Cheers to Aaron Stinner for coming down to share his experiences, it was a great event. I am already looking forward to the next Mission Workshop event, and all the free beer.

a most well loved notsoshitbike

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I got the opportunity to go shred with Victor from Archive Bags the other day. We went to GG park to get a little gnar and I couldn’t leave without photographing his sweet Serotta. I’ll keep this post short and sweet being that I should be working on finals, but I couldn’t keep the photos to myself any longer.

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So yeah, this is a pretty badass bike. It’s a 97 Serotta CMS, and I don’t really know what that means because I couldn’t seem to find more than a sentence about this bike online. Serotta made an ATX, a C4TI, and a whole bunch of other models, none of which are the CMS, so if you know what this bike actually is let me know. This elusive frame is a beautiful example of Serotta’s craftsmanship. It’s been shredded and tossed up and down trails for almost twenty years and still holds up like a man.

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The bike has gone through a couple of owners and shows it’s years. This is probably the most beat up looking notsoshitbike I have featured, but the maybe the most well loved. As they say, “The best bike is the one you ride.”

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With Chris King up front and some assorted Shimano throughout, a sweet old San Marco, Schwalbe tires, some Mudfoot decals and of course an Archive saddle bag made out of old Thomson bags, Victor’s CMS has a unique character and bunch of style.

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A big thanks to Victor for helping me with a little homework photo shoot, and for letting me shoot this beautiful machine.

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fuckyeahshitbike

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shitbike likes it hard and it’s been a while since i gave her a proper ride, if you know what i mean. so i put my thinking cap on a came up with something to sooth her desire and rub her right through to the bone. fifty miles of dirt, gravel, and climbs sounded about right. shitbike didnt have a clue of the plan, i wanted to surprise her with the awesomeness. we both got pretty and left for our hot date.

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smooth foreplay unraveled on the streets of sausalito. movin’ and groovin’ our way to the mountain. perfect cadence. perfect moment. shitbike squeaking ever so slightly.

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we got lost for a little while after we got to mill valley. there’s construction and i didn’t know how to circumvent the closures while staying the correct course. it’s all good, spending time with shitbike is spending time with shitbike. eventually we find the start of the fire road and head up. it’s like a german sensual massage from the beginning. rocks, gravel and more rocks. shitbike is shaking to the bone, my hands are growing weak around the bars already, it’s going to be a rough ride.

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we power to the top of tam where the  bumps cease and we take a break. shitbike is handling it all so well, not a single screw loose, ready for some more. we have a quick snack break of twizzlers and soon bid a farewell to West Point Inn.

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down down and down. bump and grind, bump and grind. rolling those rocks in the most non-elegant way possible. its rutted for her pleasure. still, im afraid we might have a blowout. we slow it down and take it easy, really soaking in the single track. it’s short lived and we’re on the road down to the next trail head before you know it.

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i love getting on shitbike again. she always reminds me of the most important reasons i ride bikes. here we are sitting on the top of a mountain, all it took was the two of us. one man. one bike. no limitations. the ability to go and the ability to be free are what drive me to saddle up every day. shitbike reminds me that it’s not about the carbon in your frame or the ceramic in your bottom bracket, its about the will inside your heart. to go out and achieve great things not because it’s what you and your bike can do but because it’s what you truly desire to do. she also reminds me of just how important lube is.

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descending on some smooth asphalt is like turning the lights on, shitbike’s flaws become more evident and she gets a little self conscious and mad. best to get back on some dirt quick.

we’re on to the next trail making our way back up the hill when we are joined by a friend. a kid from bear dev has ridden up and prepares to kick our ass. we’re down for a little challenge so we latch on as he passes and stay with him till the top. this was incredibly hard and incredibly stupid. don’t ever try to compete with a 16 year old monster mountain biker. neither of us has hurt that bad in a very long time. but we got to the top quicker than we had planned and had some extra time for some extra radness. more trails? i think yes. taking our only trail option adds on quite a few hills and mileage but we’re committed. to miwok we go.

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the sun is intense and we’re sweating out the last of the water. shitbike is squeaking constantly and sounding a bit dry. down some stairs, down some epic descents on dirt, and then straight back up. the climbs are dreadful but i’ve got to say- i love single speeds. for all their lacking versatility, they make up for it in ease of use and reliability. i wasn’t clicking over my cassette or fumbling on shifters. i sat and cranked, and worried about nothing. i was on the second to last hill when we ran into a suspicious stick. i was told by two old ladies that it was an elusive gopher stick. we carry on and hit the best descent in the area. a smooth fire road that leads into the headlands. its one of those descents you bomb fearlessly until your back tire starts shifting underneath you, and then you go faster.

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we’re on to the very last fire road of the day and in celebration we practice wheelies to our heart’s content. shitbike got a little excited and bucked me off more than i would prefer, but no biggie. celebrations had, we head back home. successful date, both parties fully satisfied.