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Colorado Bike Expo trials and tribulations

Last weekend we posted up at the Colorado Bike Expo. Billed as the kickoff to the cycling season in the state, they may have wished the weather forecasters took them a little less literally.
Friday night was freezing cold, but since the expo was so empty it provided a nice chance to go hang out with other industry folks who we haven’t met yet, and check out the crit race that was looping around the west side of the expo. Our friend George, who’s been indispensable in the drafting and prototyping process, even took a break from creating his personal form-fitted alpine pants to say hi and grab some food.
Saturday was waaaaaay better. The sun was out, there were people to talk to, Conation Collective was even part of a fashion show. It wasn’t judged, but we’re just gonna say we won.

The only downside was that the Vanagon clutch completely failed and we couldn’t move it from where we parked overnight to be situated in the designated booth space. Apparently parking on an incline with low levels of clutch fluid is a bad idea. The organizers were super cool though and let us stay where until we could top off the fluid and get the van working again. That thing sure keeps us on our toes!

Hope you got to swing by and check out some clothes in person. If not, look for us at the next event!

Raising Friends with Lucky Bikes

Literally holding down the tent as a storm blows by.

Lucky Bikes is a bike shop, job training course, center for at-risk youth, and community hub in Denver. Last Saturday they had their Friendraiser – a mashup of a fundraiser and community party – in the parking lot in front of their shop.

Not to get overly personal, but I think what Lucky Bikes is doing is super cool. I started working in a bike shop when I was 15 and that community was a large part of my upbringing. So much of what I value today, who my friends are, and how I spend my time is based on what I learned in a small local bike shop in high school.

Super Dave and I drove directly to Lucky Bikes from the ride in Buffalo Creek and set up the Vanagon as Conation’s expo tent. It worked better than I could have possibly imagined, and I’m going to try to never put up the 10×10 tent again.

We met some awesome people and hopefully raised awareness of a great organization, and we did that with a bike ride all in one day. Pretty solid start to the weekend.

Buff Creek Camping

Denver is one of those places where a litany of adventures are all within a few hours. Want to trail run in the morning and get back in time for a concert? No problem. What about backcountry ski a 14er and then lounge by the pool all afternoon. Alpine starts make that totally manageable.

Friday night was Cinco de Mayo so I rolled around to a couple spots in town, grabbed some food and hung out with friends. Since tequila hangovers aren’t my favorite way to wake up, I decided to cut my evening short and roll up to Buffalo Creek where we were having a going away party for Shep. Shep’s been in the Colorado bike scene forever, wrenching for some of the top mountain bike pros in the world and constantly surprising us with his Encyclopedia Brown-like factoids.

With James, Super Dave, Alders, Shep’s brother, myself, Shep, and Shep’s girlfriend all fed, it was time for a ride. I don’t know Buff Creek very well so I figured I’d just hang on Shep’s and Alders’ wheels so I could follow their fun lines. Alders has been riding for Yeti for years, so I was pretty stoked when we got to the top and I was still cruising around behind him.

Back at camp we took our time packing up, enjoying the company and the woods and the ride. Conation had a spot at the Lucky Bikes Friendraiser that afternoon so Dave and I left as the party broke up, and headed back to the Front Range.

Moab Duathlon

They say you can tell it’s Spring time in Moab when the license plates turn green, referencing the influx of Coloradans spending mud season in the desert. We have a lot of fond memories of Moab, including testing the first round of Conation prototypes out there, but we wanted to do something new and different on this trip. When the idea of skiing the La Sals was introduced, we packed up the Vanagon with an obscene amount of gear and headed west.

Prep

Friday was spent poking around the Geyser Pass and UPS trail heads looking for the best way to link a ski line and bike ride. We rode through the construction zone that used to be La Sal Loop road, climbed a discouragingly steep 4×4 road, and hiked through peanut butter mud that added two inches to the bottom of our shoes. As the day wrapped up we snuck in a quick spin on Jimmy Keen trail, one of the most rustic trails in Moab that always puts a smile on your face. Or, in Tomas’ case, puts a face on his face.

Saturday morning we woke up to significantly colder temperatures, but after a couple hiccups headed up the mountain. …at about 20 miles an hour. Apparently 4 grown men, all their bike gear, and all their ski gear is a little much for the 1.9 liter, 30-year-old Vanagon engine.

Skiing

We skied up to an unnamed peak next to the 12,000 foot Mt Tukuhnikivatz, then cruised down an amazing wide open face. We all kind of knew that we were dropping below the trailhead, but the skiing was so good no one was willing to stop. From experience, I can say that only seems like a great idea in the moment. Hiking out, sometimes skis on our shoulders, took a while to say the least.

By the time we got back to the car it was 3:00. We had intended to be on mountain bikes by absolutely no later than 2:00, but again, no one was really willing to stop. So we changed as quickly as possible and dove into UPS, aka Upper Porcupine Singletrack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bikes!

Tomas and Becker were absolutely charging with their bigger bikes and enduro skills. Dave was sitting in a comfortable third slot, and I was falling apart. I was picking shitty lines, crashing on stuff I knew I shouldn’t be crashing on, and getting a real bad attitude about it. A stutter at the top of The Notch really shook me so I decided to take a couple minutes to myself and get my head together. When I finally met up with everyone, I knew the only way to get down was to latch on to someone’s wheel and follow with blind faith. That, and chow down a bunch of sugar.

It seemed to work, because a half hour later I felt like myself again hucking-to-flat with Tomas and nose bonking rocks. We finished at the Colorado River about an hour 40 after leaving the UPS trailhead.

Homeward bound

The next day the true cost of lugging all that weight up a mountain in the Vanagon showed when the fuel pump started buzzing super loud. Not wanting to end up on the side of the highway, and finding a replacement in stock, we decided to spend Easter morning putting a new fuel pump in. It seems we hooked it up right because it’s still running a week later!

(Hover over for color)

Bamboo Bikes with Container Collective

To me, commuter bikes are a utility. I need to be able to lock it outside a bar and not worry if I come back a day later. I’ve accepted that traffic accidents are not an “if” but “when” and I’d rather sacrifice my bike than my body. And riding every single day, no matter how good of a mechanic you are, is rough on components.

But… I do love cool bikes. So when we met the guys from Container Collective that make bamboo bikes, I decided to jump into one of their workshops. Building your own frame from a couple tubes of bamboo, some carbon fiber strands, and – let’s be honest – a metric ton of epoxy is a really cool experience.

The bike’s not built yet, the frame’s not even clear-coated, but I’m real excited to cruise through town on such a unique ride. If you’re in the area and interested in building one of your own, give Russ a shout. He seems to have infinite patience, and at the very least there’s a super cute puppy in the shop.

Any recommendations on a build kit? I’m thinking two-speed kickback coaster with a flat bar and full fenders.

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