Substantial Zippers: Finicky, sticky, delicate zippers with tiny, undersized pulls are the weak link in so many otherwise stellar pieces of gear. If you can't freely move it up and down with one hand in winter gloves at speed, it is going to be a problem.
Dates: I almost never head out on a ride of any length without a trusty Datesack™...that is a sackful of dates. No muss, no fuss. Medjools or Deglet Noors are the usual suspects. Medjools will have pits, Deglet Noors will be pitted. Easier for riding. Like sweet potatoes, they are super easy to eat in the saddle, sweet like honey and pack a ton of available energy for their minimal size and weight. Good stuff.
Ride With GPS: Quite simply the best route-planning and sharing platform available. Without Ride w/ GPS, we would not be able to do what we do nearly as well, as thoroughly or as efficiently. We cannot overstate the importance of this platform enough.
Adventure Tires: Schwalbe Thunder Burts (650x2.1") when it’s rough, Compass Switchback Hills (650x47) when it’s not. Additional roundmeats we like include WTB Riddler (a bit heavier, but solid) 2.25", 2.4", 38 + 45 and Resolute 42's. Compass Babyshoe (650x42) + Snoqualmie Pass (700x44) semislicks. Simworks/Panaracer 'Homage' (700x43 dark brownwall version) is a solid filetread center with hefty cornering knobs. Works well as a tough-but-fast rear setup.
Crosspollination: We believe it is better for cycling culture to ride with people outside of your immediate sweet spot. We like to think of ourselves as existing somewhere between adventure, rando, singletrack, mountain-ish, cyclo-maybe, sometimes-road, maybe-not-road, endurance-kinda, overnight-if you like but usually not. Connective tissue is a good thing. Embrace it.
Makeshifter Canvas Works Snackhole: It's a snack sack, it's a camerabag, it's a cockpit utility-perch, it's a third bottle cage, it's a soup stand, it's a beer coozie. It's kinda anything you want it to be, right where you want it. Waxed canvas. One-handed easy access. Left or right mount. Kinda perfect. Made in Portland, America.
Shoe Dryer. It dries your shoes. IT DRIES YOUR SHOES!!! Do you want wet feet? We didn’t think so!
The Year 1978: The Police and Van Halen both arrive on the scene w/ their debut records. As if that wasn't enough, the following records came into being ... Ashra: 'Blackouts'. Townes Van Zandt: 'Flyin Shoes'. The Dead: 'Shakedown Street'. The Jam: 'All Mod Cons'. Eno's 'Music for Airports'. Kraftwerk: 'The Man Machine'. Nick Lowe: 'Jesus of Cool'. Devo: 'Are We Not Men?'. Wire: 'Missing Chairs'. Big Star: 'Third/Sister Lovers'. Rolling Stones: 'Some Girls'. The Band: 'The Last Waltz'. Elvis Costello & the Attractions: 'This Year's Model'. Bruce Springsteen: 'Darkness at the Edge of Town'. Talking Heads: 'More Songs About Buildings and Food'. Ramones: 'Road to Ruin'. The Clash: 'Give 'em Enough Rope'....and films...sheezus. 'The Deer Hunter'. John Carpenter's 'Halloween'. Terence Malick's 'Days of Heaven'. John Millus' 'Big Wednesday'. 'Killer of Sheep'. 'La Cage aux Folles'...just to name a few. What a fuckin' time to be alive.
Rapha Merino Long Sleeve Baselayers: Great for sleeping in. Great for cycling in. Great for dancing if you are a Sprocket.
ANTHM Collective Saltzman Jersey: Locally owned and made, Merino wool, and Classic. Great cut. Available in a color called 'Spicy Orange' among others.
Oregon Timber Trail: 669 miles. 69,000 feet of elevation. Four tiers. Ten segments. One nutty idea to create a singletrack route spanning the entirety of Oregon, south to north. The dedication, organization, perseverance and vision that goes into this project is inconceivable to most of us.
The Eagles: Rarely has a fictional character done more real-life harm than Jeff Lebowski claiming to ‘hate the fucking Eagles’. I’m usually 97% behind the Coen brothers, but they seriously flubbed this one. If The Dude was the idealized man for his time and place then he would have actually fucking LOVED the Eagles, who were incidentally the ideal BAND for their time and place. The Eagles were the ultimate embodiment of early-70’s West Coast corporate-rock cynicism that set in after the fantasy of the Summer of Love failed to deliver. They weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed but they liked to party, were genuinely on-the-nose and reasonably good at what they did, which was high-gloss, boozy escapism. Take it easy already!
Biciclista: Jerseys, caps, bibs, socks, highly-curated Italian brands such as Ingrid, Zullo and Bice! Stefano also makes a delicious vegan soup!
Sweet Potatoes: Poke 'em with a fork, bake 'em, wrap 'em up and they're ready to go. Highest nutritional bang for your buck of just about any ride food. Travels well, wonderfuly palatable and loaded with instantly available energy. Doubles as DIY baby food and your cat will probably like it.
Pedal PT Bikefitting: Even small, millimeter-sized adjustments in bike fit can have a major impact on handling, efficiency and long-term injury prevention for riders who put in a lot of mileage over a wide range of terrain. *See ‘Stretching’.
Gore Wear Windstopper tech: Gamechanger for cold + dry and cold + damp conditions. C7 Windstopper Light Jacket is so effective that I end up using less layering below. Thermo bib tights remain comfy from misty subfreezing road pacelines to 50 degree hike-a-bike. Can't really say that about many pieces of gear.
HiFi Wheels: The 27.5 Hootenanny + 700 Mixtape Disc Clinchers are the ideal multi-terrain wheels for the type of riding we do: gravel, singletrack, hardpack, rocky forest roads, 15% climbs, smooth tarmac descents and everything in between. These wheels are fast, light, durable and ultra-stable in every environment we've ridden thus far.
Cymande's 1972 Self-Titled Debut Record: Afrocentric deep jazz-funk by way of the West Indies, bubbling up in London in 1971. Raw. Minimal. Visceral. Rhythmically complex. Easily one of my top 10 records of all time.
Bicycle Quarterly Magazine: Meticulous, logical, scientifically considered technical articles, bike tests, epic randonneuring and bicycle travel features. Part velo-historical anthropology journal, part engineering manual, BQ is financed almost exclusively through subscription revenue as opposed to advertising. Print is not dead.
Cashew-Date Turbomilk™: Raw cashews, dates, pecans, sea salt, water. Blend. Add cinnamon if you're feelin' frisky. Add nutmeg if you're a badass rulebreaker. Use the resulting Turbomilk™ as the base for a warm spicy chai or a turmeric goldenmilk in your ride thermos to keep the winter blues away.
Different Tires in Front vs. Rear: What's good for the front isn't always what's good for the rear. Each affects ride quality, handling, stability and speed in different ways. Beef up the front and add more tread for increased stability and comfort, go a little lighter and faster in the back for more efficiency on pavement. Different combinations work in different ways. Mix and match. Try 'em all.
Brian Eno: Nary a wrong note in his entire catalog, and if there is, it is likely a high-concept strategy for creative problem-solving. From Roxy Music to Another Green World to his landmark Ambient series, to his production work with the Talking Heads and U2, it is all great and he continues to release amazing records to this day. Start with ‘Here Come the Warm Jets’ and ‘Music for Airports’…work up to ‘Day of Radiance’ and ‘Lux’.
Smeltzer Bikes: Chad Smeltzer, Portland area custom steel framebuilder behind the all-road wonderbike 'Thee Gifford' and other stellar adventure builds. Currently working on a 27.5 adventure hardtail-plus collaboration with Chad under the working title of 'Supernaut'. It's going to be good. Very good!
The Movie 'North Shore': This 1987 surf action/drama gem follows our hero Rick Kane through the venerated action-sport formula. Big fish leaves small pond to seek fame and fortune in the big leagues. The new kid in town must prove himself amid fierce competition of professional surfers and aggro locals. Taken under the wing of Chandler, a reclusive North Shore shaping guru, our hero begins the difficult journey of preparing for the legendary 'Pipeline Classic'. Chandler urges Rick to forget about competition and master the old ways, channeling the ancestral spirit of soul surfing. In a dramatic showdown, Rick loses the big competition by a nose to flashy hotshot Lance Burkhart, who is incidentally exposed as an entitled cheat. In doing so, Rick learns the true meaning of soul surfing, winning the respect of the judges, locals and Chandler alike. Think 'Thrashin' or 'the Karate Kid' on a surfboard. Pure. Gold. Nobody messes with the Hui.
Shakedry Tech: Waterproof, windproof, ultralight, ultra-packable. We've tried the Gore Wear and 7mesh varieties and love them both. While there is no denying the next-level waterproofing, I'm curious to see how the technology progresses in terms of durability and insulation. The first gen versions tend(ed) to be extremely delicate with somewhat difficult zippers.
Wild Rice Porridge: Wild rice can skew both savory or sweet. Try it with maple syrup, walnuts, banana, berries, chia seeds, butter or Earth Balance and sea salt. Add almond milk or the abovementioned cashew-date Turbomilk if you wanna get crazy! See where things go from there!
Help>Slip>Franklin: One of the better live transitions frequently performed by the Grateful Dead from 1975 onward. Consisting of the songs 'Help Is On the Way', 'Slipknot' and 'Franklin's Tower', the sequence first appeared on their 1975 album 'Blues for Allah' and depending on the show, can come across as either a spring-loaded, wiry coke-fueled, hyper-focused progressive rock odyssey or a narcotic, hazy, noodly fog which only sometimes clears at the drop into 'Franklin's Tower'. This is the quintessential Dead to me. Always janky, always loose as fuck, venturing halfway out on a limb, flying blind, but somehow always managing to pull it back in just at the right time. Two notable Help>Slip>Franklins: 6.24.76 at the Tower Theater outside of Philly. Also 5.22.77 in Pembroke Pines, FL. The studio version is this case is spot-on as well.
Honjo Aluminum Fenders: Unbelievably lightweight, ultra-solid, infinitely customizable, instantly classic. They come in hammered, smooth, matte, silver, brass and black anywhere from thin 700c road sizes to huge burly flat 65's for 650b. They take a while to install but they're worth it.
Golden Pliers Bicycle Repair & Supply: Best bike-whispering in the Oregon Territory. Full-service bicycle repair, service and adventureshop, tire gallery, shirt-store, gripmonger, lube consultant, vegan kitchen, map station, hydrationary, Bicycle Quarterly archival library, taproom, bubblywater and snack-cooler!
Beacon Sinewave Headlight: Generator lights are a must-have for epic winter days, epic summer days, or hell, any rides that may or may not end before the sun goes down. The Beacon also has a USB out so you can charge your things, stuff and e-doo-dads.
Stretching: Hamstrings, IT bands, hip-flexors, glutes, quads, psoas, iliacus, iliopsoas...stretch 'em all, everyday. If you're waiting until ten minutes before your ride to stretch, it's already too late. Good stretching habits will go a long way toward increasing endurance, reducing fatigue, optimizing recovery and avoiding injury.
Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Gloves: I'll admit. I was a skeptic. Waterproof? Knit? Really? Really! They work. Really well. Any time I have ever gotten wet inside it was due to water seeping in the cuff from inadequate wrist coverage. My one wish is that there were a version with longer cuffs to create a better wrist/rainjacket seal.
Front Derailleurs: Go ahead. Convince yourself 1x is better. It's simpler, right? It's easier? Because shifting is hard, confusing and time consuming, right? 2x will always provide a wider, more versatile gear range with smaller steps between gears allowing seamless pedaling and a more dialed cadence. It's just a fact.
Under Armour Synthetic Compression Base Layers: Pro-tip, I know, it's a bit of a redneck brand, but their thermal compression layer tops are unfuckwithable fall>spring baselayers. They come in stealth black, are dirt cheap ($49 at Fred Meyer), super warm, infinitely comfortable and fit better than any of my Rapha or Smartwool underlayers.
‘Thembi’ by Pharoah Sanders: Astral Jazz at its most essential. If Coltrane was the father, Pharoah Sanders is the son. Released in 1971, ‘Thembi’ is part astral meditation, part hazy psychedelic dreamscape and part shamanistic yazz freakout tempered with just enough studious traditionalism to keep things grounded. The mix is wonderfully spacious with judicious use of organic West African cross-rhythmic percussion.
Ruthworks bags: The ultra light brevet bags are perfect for long days. Highly recommend a custom framebag tailored to the specific dimensions of your bike. Handmade in San Francisco.
Sealskinz: Belgian Style Cycling Cap, Ultra Grip Gloves (both waterproofish), similar idea to showers pass gloves but longer cuffs, warmer and potentially grippier.
The music of Ashra: The solo output of German composer, producer and Ash Ra Tempel founder Manuel Göttsching. Ashra released six studio albums between 1976 and 1991. Spanning the space between psychedelia, kraut-space-rock, art-disco and early electronica, Ashra is like drone-rock engineers trying to play jazz with synthesizers. Textural, layered, spacious and patient. Desert island playlist material.
Simworks Flat 65 Fenders: Perfect for larger volume mtb tires on not mtb bikes. Can fit a 2.25” underneath. I’m running 2.1” with room to spare.
Garmin inReach Mini: Always be able to SOS or text home without cell service. There’s a cheap helicopter rescue plan that you can add on.
Waterproof Socks: We like Sealskinz and Showers Pass varieties. The Seals have a nice little grippy bit at the top which acts as a water seal from water running down your leg. Like the Showers Pass Crosspoint gloves, they're also great when it's not raining due to the windblocking internal membrane.
The Equals: The year was 1965. North London. Eddy Grant (of Electric Avenue fame) forms the first major interracial rock band in the UK. Fusing high-energy British R&B with the rhythms of ska and bluebeat. *See ‘Hold Me Closer’, ‘Baby Come Back’, ‘Michael & the Slipper Tree’ and ‘Police On My Back’, famously covered by The Clash.