North American Handmade Bike Show

North American Handmade Bike Show

I already posted about the best part about NAHBS weekend, but there was an actual bike show. The best part about the show wasn’t the bikes or the eye-candy, but seeing all my buds. Good thing I’m still terrible about taking picture of friends, so here’s some pictures and thoughts about them pictures.

North American Handmade Bike Show
There were so many bikepacking bikes at the show. I almost bought me a Breadwinner B-Road way back when (then I remembered I can’t afford a custom bike yet)
North American Handmade Bike Show
I liked seeing the new components and accessories on display. This was a cool new Portland Design Works rigid dry bag system.
North American Handmade Bike Show
I’ve always dreamed of this setup, especially the more I get into racing (and as Stevil at All Hail the Black Market always says, bike racing sure involves a lot of driving). Maybe someday soon.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Ritchey is releasing some cool new bikes this year, I don’t think this is any production bike, but it looks like a modern update on the old school camo Commander.
North American Handmade Bike Show
I’m always late to whatever’s hip, but I’m looking into getting a rack for the touring/commuter bike. Pass and Stow had their own booth along with a bunch of their racks in other booths.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Peacock Groove had by far the best booth. No fad bikes here; well, unless you consider fat bikes a fad, which I don’t, or cargo bikes a fad (what are you high?)
North American Handmade Bike Show
Devil’s in the details on this fat mini-velo. 20″ fat wheels! Sweet!
North American Handmade Bike Show
Well decorated booth with some robutts. Thanks robutts.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Well, this win’s for second best motorcycle at the show (next to the Breadwinner Yamaha). Electric cargo bikes make sense to me.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Custom rack flair.
North American Handmade Bike Show
More component bling.
North American Handmade Bike Show
I’ve heard nothing but good things about these bottom brackets. I wanted to throw one in my Carver, then I exploded it right before Tour Divide and had to put in an “Emergency Phil Wood” which probably doesn’t need to be upgraded.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Cal Poly fabricated nearly this entire bike. I don’t remember what they DIDN’T fabricate, but there wasn’t a whole lot (it was easier to say what wasn’t than what was).
North American Handmade Bike Show
Disc bling.

North American Handmade Bike Show

North American Handmade Bike Show
For a straight forward road bike, this was probably my favorite. Biwakoguma Bicycles from Japan built this lovely classic looking road build with an absolutely stunning paint finish.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Triple triangle beauty.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Galaxy. Appropriately named.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Even the matching hat was stunning.


North American Handmade Bike Show
“So, I’ll be taking this, since it has my name on it.”
*Stares back with bewildered look*
“How many morons have made that joke today?”
“Actually you’re the first”
I truly am king moron at times.
North American Handmade Bike Show
WTF Bike #1
North American Handmade Bike Show
Dominic picking up WTF Bike #2; sub 10lb stainless steel “I’m Going to Break On You” race machine, from English Cycles. We laughed, but in retrospect, this bike is dumb in the least fun way.
North American Handmade Bike Show
Squid! There were quite a few Squid bikes at the show. I love their wild paint jobs. Living in the Bay Area it’s always fun to see a few Squid’s out on the CX course every fall.
North American Handmade Bike Show
More component excitement! This is probably what I’m most excited for, a modern outboard bearing White Industries Eno crank!

That’s all she wrote. I probably didn’t even see the whole floor. There are people who posted more timely better looking photographs, but hey, I already have a job. Check out more on my Flickr.

North American Handmade Bike Show

The Slow Road to NAHBS

Bikepath Walnut Creek, CA

The week leading up to the North American Handmade Bike Show in Sacramento, many of my friends were posting Facebook plans on how they were getting to the Sac Convention Center. Some planned an early start so they could spend more time in Sacramento (not sure what for), some planned a reasonable 9 AM start to finish before nightfall, some just drove, some took the train. I was waiting til the last minute to make my decision, then my buddy Morgan messaged me asking if I wanted to ride with him at noon and camp out somewhere along the way. Wanting to stop at what is probably my favorite bar in California on the way, I thought this was perfect.

We were supposed to meet at noon, but going to a hockey game the night before, getting breakfast with the girlfriend, and not packing til the very last minute, meant that we hit the road closer to 1 30. That’s kind of the pace I was going for anyway; zero hustle.


Cross Check Bathroom Leaning

I stopped to use this bathroom on the bike path in Walnut Creek. Someone had been clearly smoking right before I got in there. Damn teenagers. The smoke made a cool effect that the camera didn’t pick up, at least the weird yellowing lighting was interesting.

We meandered our way through the extensive bike path network of the East Bay suburbs. We survived the few interactions with traffic, and Morgan’s Garmin’s brilliant routing to make it to the Antioch bridge just as the sun was hitting the horizon. We switched on our lights and began the journey into the Delta.


Diablo from the Delta

I love that every direction you go you can see Diablo. It’s not that close to home, but it makes me think I’m never that far.

This was about the only part of the night that sucked. It was about 16 miles from the bridge to Rio Vista where we planned to get dinner. I’m not sure if we didn’t eat enough, didn’t drink enough, or it was just the headlamp daze from staring at the light in front of our wheels.  I turned my head off and ignored the growing gap between me and Morgan.

Morgan knew of an Italian restaurant in Rio Vista, where we stopped for dinner. It felt like one of those places that Gordon Ramsey tries to fix (but never actually does) on Kitchen Nightmares, with kitchsy shit all over the wall and a giant menu. My pasta was great because it was food, but canned or frozen vegetables wouldn’t have wowed, pretty much any other time. How do you have a restaurant near where almost all American produce is made and have canned and frozen stuff? But, touring vegan for many a year, I don’t expect much when out on the road. Call it my snobbish city-folk tendency.

As we were sopping up the last of our meal I pulled out my phone to see how far we were to Locke. Google Maps showed two different routes, a faster one that was 16 miles and a slower one that was 15 miles. That didn’t make any sense to me so I pulled up the turn-by-turn. It was pretty straight forward, go north on CA-84, take the Real McCoy ferry, ride 220 East, then take the J-Mack ferry to East 220, continue to River Road, etc. Morgan’s eyes widen up, “We have to take the ferry”. Mind you it’s 9 PM at night. I confirm, the ferry is 24 hours. This is the dumb idea we needed to close out the night.

Going north on CA-84, we got some of the local flavor. Every half mile was a big crew cab pickup on the side of the road, country folks sitting around a fire drinking beers. What better way to spend a Saturday night on the Delta? We hit our first ferry, the Real McCoy, we shared it with a pair of cars. As we pushed off we pulled out some more whiskey for the brief river crossing. Once we hit the opposite side the first car rolled off the ferry, Morgan stepped on his pedal before the second car got out and the CalTrans employee starts yelling “STOP! STOP! STOP!” Morgan obliges, “You’re gonna get yourself runover,” we laughed. “No, I’m serious, this island is filled with nothing but druggies and drunks.” We break out in laughter and follow the second car onto Ryer Island.


After Dark River Crossings

All the best decisions were made that night.

We didn’t see any cars on Ryer Island. Most cars continued north on 84 it seemed, while we continued over toward Locke. With full bellies and good laughs the headlamp daze was gone. We hopped on the J-Mack where we were the only people on the ferry, crossed over toward Ryde. From Ryde it’s a short ride to Locke, we hit town, turned right onto the derelict Main St, saw the lights on at the only business open this late in this one block town, Al the Wop’s.

No Singles Sold Here

Let’s get some camp beers! Oh, wait, they only sell beer in big ‘ol ‘I’m goin’ fishin” packs. Oh well.

The first time I was at Al the Wop’s was a similar circumstance. A friend and I rode out to camp the Delta in the summertime. That was when I fell in love with this establishment. We of course were sore thumbs in the local bar. Even for being a Saturday night the place was pretty quite with about a half dozen or so people lining the bar. “You just missed the ghost special!” Johnny O, the lively bartender hollered at us in his raspy voice as we rolled our bikes in the front door. Apparently there had been a ghost hunters show on about the opera house across the street from the bar. Locke, CA was built in 1861 for Chinese workers who were draining the delta swamps to make it the levied system it was today. The town’s population swelled and saloons and brothels popped up for the workers. Story goes that the opera house was one of these brothels and that if any of the women talked out of line they would be dumped into the river. People claim they can hear this girl yelling in the opera house from time to time. The locals didn’t buy it. I would have if I watched the show, because why watch those shows if you’re not going to believe them?

Al the Wop's

The Wops. Seriously, best bar in California.

The thing that is great about these small town bars is that everyone is up for a conversation. Especially if you’re from out of town. We chatted it up with the locals, as Morgan put down his first empty glass Johnny O offered another and Morgan promised, “you’ll have to keep ’em coming til you throw us out.” We made good on that promise. Even as we were the last two in the bar for most of the night.

Drink Specials

This was the drink special that Johnny O concocted for the ghost program. He had just enough to make two more for us, up front it tasted like booze, with an after taste of booze and a slight hint of booze.

“Hey, you seen a black guy running through here?” that was our alarm in the morning. I look up the embankment from where we camped and see a police officer, he noticed us and yelled down “Oh, hey! Sorry for waking you guys up!” Morgan and I were both perplexed as we looked at each other. Then as we looked up the embankment with our back to the water we heard a child’s voice “Look dad, bikes!” in surprise we turn around and it’s a father with his toddler daughter. They had apparently gone canoe camping out on the Delta somewhere. What a bizarre way to start the day. We packed up, still drunk, and headed up the road toward Sac.


The little girl on the canoe was freaking adorable. “We went camping on Scout Boy Island!” “Boy Scout Island,” her father corrected.

The adventure was over when we left the Delta. Twin Cities Highway left us from the magically strange place that is the Sacramento River Delta into the flatlands around Sac. By the time we hit town, we agreed we could go home and call it a good enough trip. But we did actually make it to the bike show, which would turn out to be the worst part of the trip. Which is that surprising? I’d rather ride a $400 bike than look at a $10,000 one.
The Flat Farmlands to Sac

Carver Gnarvester on Tour Divide

Most bike reviews are reviewed on loans. Reviewed over a week, or at best a month. But what better way to give a frame a true rundown, than running it down the whole length of the Continental Divide?

So, first off, why the Carver Gnarvester? Well, I got all caught up in the fat bike craze when it started, but I always thought they looked sluggish and maybe not as much fun, then 29 Plus came out and it made a whole lot of sense. It’s still arguably in it’s infancy (and may be phased out by B+ sizing, but that’s for another day), so there weren’t many frames (still aren’t), besides the Krampus and a few custom frames. I spent a good deal looking for something to clear massive tires. I hunted the internet for a long time and couldn’t find much out there. Then I came across the Gnarvester, which was not only 29+, not only had sliding dropouts, not only had 142 thru axle spacing, not only titanium, not only a standard 73mm BB but frankly had some fun trail looking geometries, as the frame is based off the titanium 420, Carver’s “rowdy” hardtail.

The Gnarvester did me well in the little bit of mud we had.
The Gnarvester did me well in the little bit of mud we had.

I had two major concerns about this frame when I was looking at it, the lack of a front derailleur capability and how it would handle with smaller lighter tires.

Either way, I went in and got this frame. The versatility of the sliding dropouts and the durability of the titanium had me thinking I could hang on to this frame for a while. I built it up to start with 3″ tires, which were fun, but I think the Vee Rubber tires are rather unimpressive (I actually like my current Ikon 2.35s better). The bike handled the trail riding I do in the Bay very well with the 3″ tires fully rigid. I hit Cinderella Trail, one of the few technical downhill trails in the Oakland hills a couple of times and I could throw the bike around pretty well and to get to the top I could climb the bike real well. After setting it up for the first time I PRed one of the popular XC loops in the Oakland hills, Redwood Loop, by a long shot.

Carver Gnarvester in Montana

But how did it fair on a 2700 mile mountain bike ride? Fantastically. There were some fit things I didn’t really have dialed (skinny bars and a long stem didn’t work, as much as I liked it on short rides). But the frame was very comfortable, the titanium absorbing the rough stuff, even with 2.2 tires. The 1×10 setup was plenty to get up and down, I did find myself spinning out on some descents, but it was so rare that I don’t feel the lack of front derailleur held me back. The bottom bracket height felt low to me, but only because I had been used to the height with 3″ tires. I might benefit from shorter cranks in the future, because the lower bottom bracket had me pedal striking on chunk (I like to pedal through stuff). My only complaint, is that the sloping top tube makes fitting a larger frame bag difficult, but it just meant I had to carry less and be inventive.

If I went back to Tour Divide I would not hesitate to bring this bike, but I don’t know if I’m going back to Tour Divide soon, instead I might throw more stuff on the bike and take a two week bikepacking trip and I am very confident this bike could handle it. And that’s what I like most. Starting from a Surly Cross Check, the Swiss Army Knife of bikes, I wanted something just as versatile and the Carver is a very versatile bike. My stable won’t need another hardtail for years to come.

Carver Gnarvester in Montana

Veganism on Tour Divide


Those who have seen the documentary Ride the Divide are probably familiar with Adrian’s vegan diet on the Tour Divide. I distinctly remember watching a bleary eyed Adrian aimlessly wandering the aisles of one of the tiny convenience stores along the route trying to find something animal free to eat.

Fast forward to Tour Divide 2015, Lima, MT. The town, if you can call it that, is not much more than a truck stop on I-15 in the Montana Basin. It’s early morning towards the beginning of the race. The gas station opens at 7 AM. I am waiting eagerly with my lycra’d kin, waiting for the door to unlock to resupply for the day, as there wouldn’t be much on route til Flagg Ranch near Yellowstone. I knew my options, mostly high fructose corn syrup garbage, or hydrogenated oily chips. Not many healthy options, Cliff Bars and bananas would be about the best I could get.

The doors opened, the crowd of cyclists pours in. Everyone else’s options were just as slim in this four aisle store. I see them grab for jerky, creme filled pastries, and of course all the stuff you never realized wasn’t vegan (dry roasted Planters peanuts have gelatin, why?). I have to move much slower than that, I go for Lays’ Classics to start, get my salt, move over to the candy, find some picked over Cliff Bars, but some. It’s still not enough calories for a full day. I start grabbing little candy and bar things I’ve never seen before flip them over and start reading ingredients lists. This is what it is. After a while you start to become pretty good to scan for words like “casein”, “lard”, “animal shortening” or whatever it may be. I find a few more things, but still don’t have enough calories. I start going for the heavy calorie hitters, Keebler Vanilla Wafers, Apple Pie snacks, more chemical than food, but energy is energy on the Tour Divide. I reach the counter with my haul and begin packing up and out.

Sugar is easy to find on the Tour Divide, too easy. By the time I hit Pinedale, WY my mouth was sore from all the sugars eating away at my mouth, but that’s the Divide on a vegan diet. There are some shining moments of good vegan food; the Breckenridge Whole Foods, the hippy cafe in Del Norte, and even the gas station in Abiqui had some great vegan treats, but for the most part, it’s gas station junk food for miles on end. Compared to the Trans Am, which I also completed vegan, this race was much tougher, mostly because the resupplies are fewer and farther in between, but it’s possible. I promised when I gave up animal products that I would never let it keep me from doing things I wanted to do, now with two big trips putting me out in the back country living on gas station food, I made it work.

Bikepacking the Capitol State Forest

I promised this time would be more about bikes than the last few. Gabriella went to school in Olympia and still has some good friends in town, so I decided to do an overnighter in the Capitol State Forest (where I’d been before) to let her have some time with her friends.


The cool thing about Capitol Forest is that you can link single track all the way across the forest. Sure there’s a decent amount of horses, but if you come in the water, horses aren’t allowed on single track. There’s actually three different ways to cross via singlet rack with endless fire roads.
The Carver doing what I intended it for. Only wish I had 3″ tires.


The view I woke up to at my campsite. I had to settle on a more DIY site as horse trailers occupied every site. Some people were friendly and inviting, others, not so much; someone’s gotta keep the hate alive.
This was one of the rare flat sections of trail. The single track was a lot of tight climbing and descending, The climbs were real tough and the descents were over far too soon. I only made it about half way of how far I wanted to go.
Rain forests of the Pacific North West are a great place for macro photography. I’d love to come explore with a macro lens someday.


Open patches like this remind you that this is just as much a conservation effort as one of commerce.


The American Road Trip: Montana

Raft Guide (Spencer), MT
Gabriella’s friend Spencer was our host in Missoula and after showing us around the local bar scene (which is a happening one), he took us out on his raft the following day.

I-90 Overpass, Clark Fork, MT

Clark Fork, MT
We floated down the Clark Fork west of Missoula. Even for a weekday there were quite a few other rafters out.
Spencer and Gabriella Soaking, MT
It wasn’t Arizona hot, but the sun was shining hard that day. About halfway through we grounded the boat on a beach and took a dip in the cool waters.
Rafting Clark Fork, MT
This was our vessel. It’s fun to kind of try out these other sports besides cycling. One of these rafts costs about what a good quality mountain bike costs nowadays.

Gabriella, Clark Fork, MT

Clark Fork Beach, MT

50,000 Silver Dollar Bar, MT
On our way towards Idaho we stopped at the 50,000 Silver Dollar bar, which you guessed it, their bar is full of silver dollars.

The American Road Trip: Utah

Zion National ParkUtah. It’s the pinnacle destination for the American roadtrip. With National Parks, Monuments, and Forests dotting the whole Southern half of the state it seems you can’t go a day without running into a hundred RVs. This was one of the main destinations of the trip, Zion National Park. We were originally debating doing the two day hike, but instead opted for the single day hike. After seeing some really bored looking overnight hikers, it feels like we made the right choice.

Gabriella in Zion
One of the main reasons for this trip was to visit Zion National Park and hike the Narrows. The idea was from this lady, who drove through last year on her way to a wedding in Ohio. They were short on time so they missed the hike, so we made sure we did it.
Zion National Park
If you ever want to hike the Narrows, I’d say do it in a cooler time of year, not because the weather was bad, but because there were so many tourists. National Parks are definitely the Disneyland of nature.

Zion National Park

Zion National ParkZion National Park

Zion National ParkZion National Park

Snake in Zion
I believe this is a Groundsnake. I felt bad for this guy being poked and prodded by a bunch of European kids.

Zion NP 

Stars in Utah
Bryce Canyon boasts having the best nighttime photography, stating that the average place can see 2500 stars on any given night, in Bryce that number is 7500. This isn’t Bryce, but it isn’t far. A combination of high elevation, low-light pollution, and dry air make Utah ideal for stargazing,.
Bryce Canyon NP, UT
Bryce Canyon opens itself up for panoramics.


Bryce Canyon NP, UT
Including vertical panoramics. This is the Natural Bridge, which is actually an arch, not a bridge.
Bryce Canyon NP, UT
Bryce Canyon is named after Ebenezer Bryce who ranched the area and stated “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow”.


Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ
After all the desert we got some urban life in Salt Lake City. The only tourist thing we did really was check out the Mormon Temple Square. The organ at the Tabernacle was the only thing that impressed me. Growing up in Catholic churches of the East Coast, most other churches are lackluster.


Bar-X, Salt Lake City
And of course when in the home of teetotaling Mormons you gotta go drink. This was the fancy pants Bar-X. Gabriella and I decided to try potato vodka for the first time, something we’d been talking about. Guess what, it still tastes like vodka, which is gross.
Twilight Lounge, Salt Lake City
After Bar-X we went to the opposite of Bar-X. This is Twilight Lounge a dive bar whose decor feels like it hasn’t changed in at least forty years.