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sun hats

The coffee shop had a drink called the Trophy Wife, a sure sign that I’d strayed a long way from my usual neighborhood. Which, is not to say that there are no trophy wives where I live, just that none of the local coffee shops had ever seen fit to celebrate them with a menu item. I never did find out what was in the Trophy Wife, though as it turned out, there was also a Gold Digger. I just ordered my usual espresso. It was correctly pulled ristretto which shows that while they may not think much of women who marry for money, they do know their way around an espresso machine. You do you, Trophy Wives, you do you.

Meanwhile, I reviewed some clothing from Rapha, http://www.mensjournal.com/gear/articles/cycling-style-watch-raphas-new-lines-collection-is-awesome-w486471 and a couple of surf backpacks, http://www.mensjournal.com/gear/articles/surf-pack-showdown-two-essential-packs-to-carry-your-gear-w488249 I am especially stoked on the Da Kine pack, which is super roomy and totes waterproof. Not in the story: I use the laptop sleeves to carry bikinis. I’m sure the average dude would find this advice helpful.

On the way home, I drove through Malibu. The surf was flat, but a horde of people in sun hats were sitting in the line-up, enjoying the day. There are worst ways to waste away an hour or so.

Further up the coast, it turned out that there was more to do than sit around in sun hats. The best days are the days when Surfline gets it wrong. Instead of a crazed swell-seeking horde, a bunch of giddy locals and random passersby romped up and down the point and giggled liked fools. The sun was out and there were waves in an expected place. There’s nothing not to like in a set-up like that. By chance a friend from up north was passing through, and she got to experience a magical day. Good things are even better when there’s someone to share them with.

sediment sandwich

Even when I write about mountain biking it somehow ends up being about surfing. A few months ago I went out to the desert to ride. It was all dry washes and twisted juniper and layers of ancient rock stacked up one on the next like a sedimentary club sandwich. I rode some good trails and some not that great trails.

When I came home, I got invited to join in Joe Parkin’s guest-edited Dirt Rag issue. So I wrote about mountain biking in the desert and somehow it ended up being about surfing. There are bikes, too, of course. I mean, I did actually ride mountain bikes in the desert, but it’s sometimes hard to escape the obvious metaphor when your rolling single track through what was once a prehistoric sea.

Thanks to Joe for letting me do my thing without imposing all that much in the way of boundaries. Or really like any boundaries at all. Write like Chas Smith is pretty much an invitation to mayhem. I did my best. Here’s more about the issue, which includes way more talented people than I am, and how to grab yourself a copy. Yes, single issues are available over there at Dirt Rag. http://dirtragmag.com/dirt-rag-issue-199-is-here/

drive

I did a little road trip up the coast last week. I had a work thing to do in Napa, but I decided to take the round-about way to get there. I drove to Santa Cruz, then up highway 1 to Pacifica. If you need a place to stay within reach of San Francisco, but not in San Francisco, Pacifica is pretty great. It’s stupid scenic. Stupid.

Also, the Holiday Inn Express is super clean and overlooks the ocean. The lovely man at the front desk gave me a room upgrade which is pretty much the best thing ever. I got a sandwich at Dinosaur’s with tofu and other things on it and some spring rolls and it ruled the world. The only thing missing in Pacifica is solid espresso, but really, you can’t have everything in life.

So yeah, drive from Santa Cruz to Pacifica sometime. You can see the weird old bunker at Devil’s Slide and a whole bunch of ocean. Very cold, windy ocean. Which is alright, really. You’re not actually going to go in it, you’re just going to look at it. And it’s scenic as fuck.

After the scenic, windy, freezing ocean part, I drove through San Francisco, where I cruised the Great Highway and saw more freezing, windy ocean parts. Also, I guess some sharks live there, but I didn’t see any.

#novanlife

ghostbikes

The ghostbike dedicated to Salvador Barragan leans locked to a palm tree in Oxnard, California. Unbroken lines of cars stream down the four-lane road past the stripped-down, white-painted bike. A faded tag on the wall recalls a turf war, likely long forgotten by now. The wall, built of pale pink cinder blocks, is a typical sight in California, dividing backyards from roadways, preserving the illusion of tranquility against the rush of suburban life. Barragan died after he was hit by a driver making a u-turn.

Ghostbikes are fleeting, ephemeral memorials to cyclists killed by cars while riding their bikes. The bikes, their parts removed, are painted white and placed on the roadside. Most ghostbikes are removed very soon after they’re placed. Maybe it’s easier that way. On rare occasions, a ghostbike may stand for many months, a stark reminder of a last ride and a life cut short.

A while back, I did a photo essay for Bicycling on ghostbikes and it’s now live. The first ghostbikes were placed in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003 and they’ve since become a near-universal symbol for a downed cyclist. I interviewed a pair of activists in Southern California and photographed a series of memorials for the project. Head to Bicycling.com to see the story.

Of course, there were way more photos than we eventually ran, because that’s how it always works out. If you’d like to see the rest of the images, I put a ghostbikes gallery over on my photo site.

we like bikes

We like bikes. Especially blue ones. Obviously.

That’s one of the rad new bikes I saw at the Sea Otter thing. Maybe you’d like to see more?

Go over to Men’s Journal and have a look.

role models

One of my favorite parts of Sea Otter is hanging at the Little Bellas lemonade social. Lea and Sabra Davison founded the group which aims to bring more girls into mountain biking. And it totally rules. At Sea Otter, the Little Bellas cheer at the races and there’s a meet-up where a group of pros answer whatever questions the girls can throw their way. Also, I take notes, because some of their questions are better than mine. There’s also jersey signing and rap battles and hella sweet lemonade. It’s a pretty good time.

war and memory

In 1972, cyclist Rebecca Rusch’s father’s plane was shot from the sky over Laos. Steve Rusch was flying a mission for the US Air Force during the final years of the American war in Vietnam. Rusch has few, if any memories of her father.

But in March 2015, she went in search of his ghost, and herself. Together with Vietnamese rider Huyen Nguyen, Rusch retracing the 1,200-mile Ho Chi Minh Trail, an historic secret network through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos that Northern Vietnamese once used to supply battleground forces to the south. From her bicycle, Rusch planned to read in the contours of Vietnam’s terrain the entwined stories of the war and her family. — Read the rest at Bicycling.

lizard life

I went out to Southern Utah and played bikes with a crew of women. Southern Utah has crazy weather, on the whole. Last year when I was at Tour of Utah for Bicycling, it was all thunderstorms and flash flooding. The Dodge Dart did not like the flash flooding. This time around, it was rain. And hail.

But we rode bikes anyway and ate a lot of great food and drank beers around the fire. And then we rode bikes some more. Western Spirit handled the food and trail guiding and Diamondback dialed in the bikes. I recommend Southern Utah for all your bike riding and camping needs. It’s good out there.

My friend Kate wrote a story about our trip out to the desert for Cool Hunting and you can see more of my pictures from the trip there.

Back home, out of the desert, hammering keyboards, wearing the letters off. My keyboard is missing a bunch of letters. It’s totally fine. Nothing to worry about.

saturate

I went out to get some photos to finish up a project on Friday. Everyone dreams about golden hour and lens flair is hella trendy. But you know what I like even better? A nice, thick, coastal fog. No dumb shadows to get in the way. Soft, mellow whites. And deep, beautifully saturated colors. I mean, I know saturated colors aren’t exactly trendy either. But I love ’em. So fuck trends anyway.

You’ll get to see the photos from this project along with some words soon. This railroad track actually has nothing to do with it. I just happened to see it along the way. We have a lot of railroad tracks in coastal California.

If you need some comic relief, I highly recommend watching the video clip in this next one. It’s funny, and kind of endearing. Adam Sandler says he’s terrible at surfing. Then goes on to explain just what happened the last time he paddled out.

Click for the video, stay for some words about surfing Malibu and etiquette. Also, I have so gotten shut out at Malibu. But I can never resist the temptation to head down and try it once in a while. So dreamy, you crazy crowded right-hand point break place. So dreamy.

Also, some bikes. I went to Rally’s team training camp and I did the usual interviews. Training camp interviews can be really amazing. You have time, for one thing. You can sit there in the rental house on the rental couch and really talk to someone. But there is a certain same-ness to the narrative. The beginning of a new season is always hopeful. The athletes you talk to, they have goals and plans. They all want to be better than last year.

To find a way to make each story distinctive and to find a way to illuminate the individual becomes the challenge of these things. For this story, I sat at the kitchen counter as Matteo Dal-Cin made dinner for his teammates.

I’m heading out to the desert this week. I’m taking a film camera which is going to be so weird. I don’t really do film? But I guess now I do. Also, I’m taking Edward Abbey and John McPhee. I’m supposed to ride bikes out there, too. That’s a lot of things.

goals

"Who wants to get out of this barrel?" from Kelly Slater Wave Co on Vimeo.

Can I be Steph when I grow up? That would be swell. Also, a reason to visit florida, maybe.