San Diego: Rubber Legs and Whiskey

Me at rest. San Diego, CA.

Me at rest. San Diego, CA.

I love bicycles. I love beer. I don’t drink beer often enough. During a recent trip to San Diego, staying classy was the last thing on my mind. We were called down there on semi-official business. It seems that F. was needed to translate at a Japanese/American wedding. My friends Chris and Hitomi are definitely made for each other and I wish them all the best. However while they were getting hitched, I was hanging with my friend Lane in Scripps Ranch just outside the city proper. From there, we rode bikes and drank beer and generally misbehaved as much as we could. He has two young boys (3 and 6) so we were limited but not dissuaded from having fun. Indeed, the hijinks ensued as demonstrated by the first picture Lane tried to take of me:

Photobombed. San Diego, CA.

Photobombed by a young metal fan. San Diego, CA.

That’s me, trying to do my best to look cool and hipster drinking an Orion Beer whilst wearing an Orion Beer shirt. In any case, it turns out that photobombs are awesome if done right. Notice the bullhorns this kid is rocking. This picture was taken the day after my ride with Lane and John. Let me explain that situation:

Lane likes to volunteer for the San Diego Center for the Blind‘s Blind Stokers Club. It’s a club within the nonprofit that gets blind people out on the back of a tandem and into the open air, to exercise and have fun. Riding a bike is not something that blind people normally do by themselves, so they have sighted riders like Lane to captain the tandems for them so they can concentrate on riding. It’s actually pretty awesome. John, our stoker, is a great guy. Right after I was introduced to him, I got the impression that he was the kind of person who was super excited to be there. To be honest, this was the first time I had ever seen blind stokering in action so I was very intrigued. Well, my intrigue soon led to my riding a lot faster than I normally do as a bike with four legs that are more in shape than mine is way faster than I thought. Let me put it this way: I saw the back of the tandem a lot.

After riding from Scripps Ranch through Del Mar and into South Carlsbad, we doubled back and took on Torrey Pines Hill. That hill must be some kind of sick joke as I found myself barely able to pedal by the time I got to the top. But I made it (swoon, ladies) and we soon headed to the Torrey Pines Glider Port for some sandwiches and awesome views. It was a great ride and I will never forget it. Well, I am not going to forget how totally out of shape I am and that I need to do some hill repeats to get my confidence back up.

We soon drowned the pain out of my legs that night with a visit to Ballast Point for some spirit tasting. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may recall how I drunkenly proclaimed that wine tasting is for pussies and spirit tasting is where it’s at. This is still true. I do not refute that one little bit. After more shenanigans after picking F. up after the wedding, we continued to eat well and reminisce and generally have an awesome time. We capped it all of with a visit to our friend Jerry in Pacific Beach. We ate some empanadas and talked photography and kendo (it’s what we all have in common). San Diego rules. I hope to get back there soon. It’s an amazing place to ride and it’s filled with amazing people. Too bad it’s named after a whale’s vagina.

Luis

Luis and his Leader 725 track bike.

Rides a Leader 725 Track Bike.
Shot on Ortega Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA.

You may be saying to yourself, “didn’t that fixie scene die out like four years ago?” I thought so. But that was when people were buying them because they carried some sort of hipster caché. Indeed, it used to be college students insisted on getting a beach cruiser. Not so anymore. They all want fixies. Why? Well they’re faster, easier to handle and a lot smaller and lighter than a cruiser. There are very few people left who are buying them because they are cool. Fixies aren’t a hipster accessory anymore. Those people traded theirs in a long time ago on account of the fact they realized they were posers. The people these days who are still riding them? Men and women. Real men and women (except for my friend Chris, he just hasn’t yet realized that he’s never going to be cool). Face it: track bikes aren’t going away. There are plenty of hardcore riders out there who scoff when they hear the scene is dead. They were never part of it.

Bikes are bikes. Everyone likes different kinds. But those that stay true to their roots are the strongest riders of all. We’re not triathletes for crissake. Our bikes aren’t just some type of tool, accessory or a means to an end. If I treated my bikes like that I’d kick my own ass.

Tyler

Tyler and a 2014 Kona Jake Cyclocross Bike.

Tyler and a 2014 Kona Jake Cyclocross Bike.
Shot in an alley off Ortega Street in Santa Barbara, CA

Some of you may not know about cyclocross. It’s a sport that has been around for quite a while but has really blown up lately. It started out as a steeplechase format where you would ride your bike from one point to another across fields and fences, rivulets and hills in relatively straight line. Nowadays, it is done on a preset track loop with a certain amount of dirt, mud, inclines, etc. What it boils down to is you ride a road bike with knobby tires through the mud and gravel, getting dirty and rad the whole way. There are sections where you must dismount and carry your bike up steps or inclines. The bikes needed to race cyclocross used to be just modified steel road frames that used cantilever brakes and knobby 700 x 35mm tires. Now, there are special models available from a number of manufacturers made specifically with cyclocross in mind. The Kona Jake line is a good example of where cyclocross is heading. Disc brakes are becoming more common and aluminum frames are reserved for the lower end price ranges.

But due to the less-than-aggressive geometry of these bikes, they make fantastic commuters. I myself have a Surly Crosscheck that I built up with a SRAM Force road gruppo and a Brooks saddle. Although it has a steel frame, it is light enough to get the job done and I don’t have to worry about being delicate with it. Cyclocross bikes are sturdy, comfortable and fast. The 700c wheel size means you have tons of options for tires and a larger cassette ratio means you can tackle the hills on your commute or on the course. Whether you call them CX, cyclocross or if you’re a Fred, a ‘cross bike, they are truly an awesome fit for lots of uses.

Alex G.

Alex and his Raleigh Rush Hour track bike.

Rides a Raleigh Rush Hour track bike.
Shot on Ortega Street in Santa Barbara, CA.

Bicycles are only part of the person. If  bicycles are your entire life you’re probably a weirdo…or a framebuilder. There are more things in life than riding a bicycle. Alex is no exception. I first met him when I started working at the bike shop about two years ago. He’s a lot younger than me by a couple of decades (this seems to be a pattern with me). What he lacks in age, he makes up in life experience.  A lot of people would mistake him for your average hipster with a bicycle accessory. I will agree that on first glance he fits the recipe: he has tattoos, a fixie and one damn good sense of fashion. But he’s also a pretty awesome musician, playing drums in his band, Harness. He swears off drugs and alcohol (as most of us should), so he is already leading by example. Here’s what surprised me the most: About a year and a half ago, he left the bike shop to go to barber college. He now works at The Palms Barber shop here in Santa Barbara (37 W Calle Laureles, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. (805) 687-2529). He pulls off some pretty awesome haircuts. Give him a call. I really should go in, they’re right near the Trader Joe’s so it’s not like it’s inconvenient. I guess I am just lazy.

I’m on a kick lately where I have a lot of free time and the opportunity to shoot some of my friends and their bikes.  It’s going well. That is all.

Sandro

Sandro

Rides a Cinelli Mash Histogram track bike.
Shot on State Street in Santa Barbara, CA.
Riding to the Ventura County line with his friend.

I really like the Cinelli x Mash collaboration. I think they are producing some really nice frames with some cool designs and, dare I say it, colorways. I think if someone were to describe a track bike that can be used in a professional race but also casually, I think these would be the stereotype. I certainly wouldn’t want to ride around on the street with one of these things, though. Yes, it is made from Columbus 7005 Airplane Aluminum. But if you you know anything about bicycles, aluminum is your joints’ worst enemy. I don’t think any metal has done more to increase and promote biker’s palsy than our rust-free friend over here. It is really stiff and channels vibrations a little too well. Have you seen the hard plastic saddle on this thing? I mean, like my taint and I certainly wouldn’t subject it to that type of punishment, chamois or no chamois.

Personally, I would choose an older Keirin steel track frame for my daily fixie. They are a little more flexy, dampen vibrations a lot better and they are cheaper…well, unless you go with a 3Rensho, that is. In any case, I have to give mad props to our boy Sandro over here for braving the plastic saddle all the way to the Ventura County line. Better you than me, bro.

Marion

Marion

Rides a 1988 Raleigh USA Pro Technium road bike.
Shot on Ortega Street in Santa Barbara, CA.
Just got into town and looking for a place to go for a long ride.

Usually, I wait a while before posting a picture. Usually it’s because I have so many riders in the queue. However, Marion and her brother’s old bike really surprised me. She and her husband (sorry I didn’t get his name) were totally awesome. Speaking of awesome, check out this bicycle! It’s a Raleigh USA Pro Technium, an aluminum racing bike that used a very seldom-used method of joining the tubes called thermal bonding. So there are no welds on the frame and none of the big seams you find on some aluminum bikes. What struck me were the older Shimano 105 parts in the gruppo. They looked amazing. Anyways, please see below for more pictures!

Head Badge

Head badge of the Raleigh Pro Technium

Calipers

Older Shimano 105 calipers.

Derailleur

Shimano 105 derailleur still in amazing shape after all these years.

Cinelli stem

Cinelli stem? On this? Way cool!

 

 

 

Arne

Arne

Rides an 80s Vitus Dural 979 Road bike.
Shot on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA.
Out shopping.

I ran into Arne a couple of times before. I was really into the Vitus Dural‘s simplicity. I especially liked the color as it was reminiscent of raw metal. It is made of a combination of anodized aluminum-magnesium tubes bonded to polished aluminum lugs. I think this is probably the most interesting aluminum bike out there. Even though a lot of the original parts weren’t there, it is still a really great example of a unique bike aimed at the mass market.