In this issue
Coverboy Jeremy Gray shows off his bikepacking skills (and colorfully inked torso) astride a Rivendell Hunqapillar near Glorietta, New Mexico, setting the tone for our most dynamic issue yet. The cover was shot by serial adventurer Cass Gilbert, who’s also friends with feature writer Nicholas Carman, who reports on his European bikepacking experience from the North Sea to the Black Sea, and all points in between.
Our ghost editor is Ernest Hemingway, the late adventurer and author who inspired us to take advantage of our days on earth. His legacy weaves its way through the pages, which also include tips on avoiding heat stroke and taking better bike photos. We even convinced Keith Bontrager to share his mushroom foraging secrets.
By Léo Woodland, Illustration by Rich Kelly.
It’s been held by General De Gaulle’s chauffeur, by a professional, by several amateurs… yet never, so far as I know, by an American. It’s the record for the greatest distance covered in a year. And 75 years ago this winter the record was broken by the oddest man of all, and certainly the most disagreeable.
Walter Greaves had reason to think little of the world. For a start, he had only one arm. But he developed his grievance into such an unpleasant personality that one member of his old club told me he didn’t dare reflect on the old record-breaker “for fear of what I may say about him.”
The idea for a one-year distance record was born in the days when bike companies advertised the reliability of what they made. Working men bought bicycles and they wanted them as indestructible as themselves. What better proof than a bike that had gone further in a year than any before?Tweet Print
Bicycle Times contributor Nicholas Carman is organizing an evening event in Anchorage called “The Art of Bikepacking” on July 16 at 7 p.m. at The Bicycle Shop, on Dimond Boulevard. According to Carman, the evening will be part art opening, technical seminar, and inspirational storytelling. There will also be a special presentation with Eric Parsons entitled “A History of Revelate Designs”. Of course, there’ll be free food, beer, and stuff!
Read more about the event.
The 2014 Tour de France begins Saturday in the United Kingdom, and to commemorate the special event, fashion designer Sir Paul Smith has developed a surprisingly understated steel bicycle made by U.K.-based Mercian Cycles, to be sold online by mens fashion outlet Mr. Porter.
The collection is called Paul Smith 531, named after the famous Reynolds lightweight bike tubing used by Tour de France champions up until the early 1980s; the number 531 refers to the ratio of manganese (5), molybdenum (3) and carbon (1) in the steel alloy.
Click through to see video of Sir Paul talking about his love for cycling and the making of the bike.Tweet Print
I was introduced to the benefits of waxed canvas as a Rivendell Bicycle Works employee in the mid 1990s. Specifically, using Filson seconds as a way to wrap tools to fasten to my Brooks leather saddle with a handy leather toe strap. Fast forward nearly 20 years and I discover a Seattle-based craftswoman named Erica Hanson who has refined what Rivendell founder Grant Petersen called a ‘burrito wrap’, and providing tool rolls for bicycle and motorcycle use.
At 17″ x 9″, the Nomad carries much and packs tight.Tweet Print
Like most cyclists from the 1980s, I’ve been a steady wearer of Lycra tops and bottoms for the road, and baggies and loose-fitting tops for the dirt. A costume for a specific gig, as it were. Now, the garment game is changing, and I welcome it for several reasons, several of which evolved on the same weekend in early April.
As fate slammed our Dirt Rag editor to the tarmac during a freak motorcycle accident in late March, so too went his ability to attend a few media launches prior to the Sea Otter Classic in early April. So, I got called up from the bullpen to attend the Specialized MTB apparel launch in nearby Santa Cruz. There I experienced two things that changed the course of my ride clothing choices: poison oak, and the heavily pocketed and smart Specialized Mountain Bib liner shorts with S.W.A.T. (storage, water, air, tools) technology.
The first was somewhat avoidable (it was uncharacteristically muddy on a hot day on a borrowed bike on a new trail for me, but I digress), but the second was fate, providing an ‘aha’ moment to help me rethink traditional clothing choices: what if the S.W.A.T. bibs could be used under non Lycra uppers and lowers, providing a bit more freedom of movement and making me look less like a mutant ‘spandex’ freak to non cyclists on the roads?
Read the full story
Twice this year, an unsolicited bike box from Trek arrived at our West Coast editorial office. The first was the 2014 Domane Classics Edition, a Wisconsin-made carbon road bike stoked to the gills with (almost) all the latest gear to set a racing cyclist’s heart aflutter: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting, aggressive-positioning carbon frame, fork, and deep-section wide rims with the popular 700x25c tires. What sets it apart from the Domane 4.5 we reviewed is the smaller, more aerodynamic head tube, 1cm longer wheelbase and top tube.
All that’s missing on the Classics Edition are tubular tires, an SRM power meter, a gargantuan set of lungs and slow-twitch muscles, and it’s the exact duplicate of Trek Factory Team superstar Fabian Cancellara.
The second was the 2015 Domane 6.9 Disc, a similar design platform on paper, with a taller head tube (by more than 3cm), shorter top tube but similar wheelbase to accommodate much larger tires (up to 32s), and disc brakes with thru axles front (15mm) and rear (142×12), like a mountain bike. It also has the full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting drivetrain, but with a more amateur-friendly 50/34 compact crankset and 11-28 tooth, 11-speed cassette for most terrain.
Why disc brakes on a high-zoot road bike? To move beyond the century-old caliper rim brakes and provide more slowing and stopping power for tired hands over the long haul in all conditions, it appears, and to shake up the staid and slow-evolving road bike market to reflect what most non racers want from a high-end machine.
Read our first impressions here.
I’ve been a drop-bar, off-roading rider for a couple decades, so the whole ‘gravel’ category is a little late-coming and a bit cliché for me. Who wouldn’t want to ride a properly-specced and comfortable performance bike anywhere and everywhere? Isn’t that the point of adventure seeking?
What’s new for me and others is the marriage of drop bars and disc brakes, which makes perfect sense for many reasons, including better speed control and less hand fatigue. I’m more comfortable on drop bars, and make use of all the hand positions afforded by the extra real estate, so having better control at the levers gives me more confidence. The Pivot Vault caught my eye as a modern carbon all-rounder to stack up against my 24-plus years of off-road riding experience, and it offers several interesting features.Tweet Print
Not everyone wants or needs to monitor their heart rate while bicycling, but for some it’s an important health and fitness gauge. In my case, after two false alarms for anxiety or stress-induced heart issues in less than three years, I’ve turned to heart rate monitoring for safety’s sake as well, but have been turned off by the dreaded chest strap.
So imagine my interest when a helmet-based heart rate monitoring system appeared. I’ve worn Lazer helmets for five years, and the Belgian company’s partnership with LifeBEAM, comprised of pilots, engineers and cyclists, began to make sense.Tweet Print
Billed as ‘the Greatest Show and Tell on Earth’, the 9th annual Maker Faire was unleashed on Bay Area hackers, geeks and nerds at the San Mateo County fairgrounds May 17-18, with plenty of drones, 3D printers and curiously cool blinky L.E.D.s. My son Henri and I took our bikes on CalTrain to avoid traffic, snarled parking and to sample free bike valet parking, courtesy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.Tweet Print