Interbike and The OutDoor Demo! In which our hero is Riding down hill with Salsa, gives bike reviews [Salsa, SantaCruz y BMC], and a wheel almost eats gusanito… ‘Ole!

Interbike is the raddest thing ever if you like bikes, my free and unlimited Sierra Nevada beer is calling…. Aloha for now, that served as your live coverage, everything hence shall be dragged from the dregs of my mind somewhere inbetween here and Ensenada, Baja California=]

Where to start, thats the lamest way to begin I reckon, by asking where to start, thats my job isn’t it…  but at seven am, the day after our return, from Vegas, and everyone knows you need a vacation after that vacation, sitting in the living room adjacent the old stone fire place with Dianas father who is engaged in what I can only assume to be some Doctorate students papers on chaos string theories, it is the opening my mind is looking for.  As I re-read this opener at a coffee shop, some 12 hours later, after teaching part one of a cranio sacral therapy workshop, I find myself wondering if it makes sense because it is written decently, or merely because I lived it….
las vegas strip at nightVegas was as I remember it, very hot.  Well, no, not so much hot, riding my bike through the Baja Peninsula was hot, Vegas isnt so bad, but it is sooooooooo dry.  My lips are still cracked and scabbie despite my copious application of Dianas herbal ninja lip balm.  Even now they are tingly and rough and a constant source of minor misery…
For starters, since we are still on this whole beginning thing, I want to profer forth a most tremendous and immense thanks to a Mr. Maurice Tierney of Rotating Mass Media the creators of Dirt Rag Mag (in its 25th year) for inviting us to be a part of one of the coolest things I have ever been part of in Vegas.  I lived there for 2 years, was a nightclub promoter, made a million in real estate [literally, lost it later in a divorce], and even got a cheesy bit in a TV show, which is to say, I had a rad time… this was radder=]  If not for traveling the globe via two wheels powered by yours truly, I would swear to return.

I now consider myself a Singletrack, Downhill Ninja and I have the poorly set up [dude, your camera is up side down] Contour video to prove it!  Of course the entire video is upseide down, but its there, and once I figure out the video edit settings, all will be well again in my world.
Lets start here, huge gigantic thanks to Lacy of Contour Video and to the CEO who started the concept and has made such a rad little device!  Lacy we hear you on Peruvian 53 km downhill runs and we are stoked!

salsa guysYou may be wondering what I was downhilling on, Im glad you asked.  Our first bike as we were getting into the novel swing of handing over our press badges for the opportunity to take out the latest and greatest of mans art married to the genius of machines was the Salsa Fargo.  If you do not know the Fargo, it looks rad as the picture may or may not evoke happy feelings of delight in you.  A few different models, one of which is titanium fargo by salsaTitanium come with a hard tail and either front suspension or no, we went for the no, traditional tube forks.
It is one of the first times I feel I have “fallen in love” with a bicycle.  The bike I currently ride, a Frankenstein’d out 08 Specialized Tricross, came to grow on me, like a good friend you find yourself looking at more and more and wondering why you are staring in the first place.

outdoor demoThe Outdoor Demo section of the Interbike week is fantastically rad, located in Boulder City in the Trails to North of said city, it is an epic setting to shred, hang out and get slippery in the brain thanks to all the free beer.  We would come to understand the true import of free beer as the week progressed.Sierra Nevada eco powered beer!
You have a small Bedouin city encampment situation with retailers setting up tents and booths plying thier wares and bikes.  All of it is for show and very little is for sale, this is primarily PR to the rest of the world who cares about such things.  From small independent bike producers to the leaders in the industry, this is such a sweet spot to test ride a bike. And a the great thing is, you can test mountain OR road.  The impromptu city is set up at the edge of epic mountain single trails in addition to wide fire roads.   There is aslo, of course, nice smooth asphalt for those of you who prefer microscopically wide tires, surgically separating the blacktop by way of speed and bikes so ephemerally lightweight that you have to look down to ensure your still on it!
Mike We were talking Fargo by Salsa, well, bless Mr. Mike “Kid” Reimers heart, the man at the helm of Salsa.  They were bought, or brought into, the Quality Bike Products company at the grumbles of a few people we chatted with, but you would never know that they are now part of a mega sales organization, as they have retained thier edge and individuality with a grace usually lent to Ninjas.  It was not only in knowledge, but even in look, as all the employees varied and there were no photocopies of indivduals as you sometimes see in corporate situations.  Not that there is anything wrong with the corporate look and feel, I just prefer a bit of flavor for my eyes and enjoy a good bit of difference that sets us humans apart.  Every last member of the team gave us time and spoke to us like we were anything BUT the newbie simpletons we actually are.  We were made to feel like we DID have a clue and it was all good as long as the wheels keep turnin’.  All of that to say, I believe many of the people who grumbled never took the time to actually see what they were grumbling about, but then, who does these days.  All I have to say is that I have a picture of a rad Gentleman throwin’ out a shaka sign.  That sums up my thoughts on whatever… whatever on whatever! ALOHA Mike and Super Rad Salsa Crew!  When you buy something, you want to know that there is love behind the design as well as intellect and heart.  GO SALSA!  My hat goes off to whomever it needs to, please keep up the good work, for the bikes are only as good as the people who stand behind them and you are a group I would be stoked to have standing with us at the gates of the Zombie Apocalypse… with bikes of course=]
Disc brakes, drop handlebars, steel construction, rigid front forks and a pair of flat pedals so my Vibrams dont feel left out and it was game on!  We were Salsaing all around, Fargoing here and Fargoing there, Fargoing EVERYWHERE!
Suffice to say we have a dream now firmly planted in our minds of what this tour could be.  Imagine rolling into the next locale, KNOWING, that once you shed your bags and do a quick tire change, you’ll be off and crackin on the trails….  Ahhhhhh, to be young and full of dreams, the grist that makes turning on the wheel of life worthwhile.  GO SALSA FARGO!  You all get that Im stoked on this bike right….  Ok, time to move on… to more SALSA!
full suspension forgot the name salsa ninja rad bikeNext we went full suspension, and here is where the horses ass got a hold of me as I neglected to register the name of the next bike I rode from Salsa and after riding three other bikes, it was for me, the best one when it comes to full suspension.
It was blue as is apparent in the pic, perhaps one of you kind souls will be able to further identify?
For me of the full suspension bikes I tried, Salsa, BMC and SantaCruz, it was the one that felt the most stable and real under me.  That it was stable enough for me to feel the positive connection of brass to my bits and therefore found myself compelled to do my first downhill run says a lot.  I do not know if you have ever done any down hill riding, I have not prior to this moment of this day, let me assure you, it is intense to say the least.
Basically, you are trading in your skis or snowboard for a downhill run on, in this case, loose sharp stone and sharp boulders.  My kinda morning!
I saw from afar in my meanderings on the back trails, guys sliding giant red foam squares along a wire.  At first I thought they were with the power company and a squadron of planes was due in the airspace at any minute and they wanted to ensure that no planes would meet with thier wires, then in my slowly understanding mind and by tracing the lines of the wires up the hill, I was treated to the visage of a middle age couple flying towards us in a most 007esque way, badaboom, ziplines.  The large red cushions were there to slow the decent of our weekend tourists turned super spy.
One of these tourists was very interested in our story as she overheard me singing my tale to the very cool and obliging zipline workers at which point she suggested I ride down that little hill so she can get some shots to send to me.
Little I assure you to be relative.  For when I walked the bike to the precipice, little is not an adjective that would fit.
But then, go big or go home was the motto in highschool, why not let it surface again, see if I still have the flaming heart of life beating in my chest.
I do and it beats very strong.
It felt a bit like ice skating, snowboarding and, duh, riding a bike, all in one.  That I would get occasional glimpses of razor sharp edges whizzing moments away from me kept things in that visionary light that is so hard to re-create for photographers and remains a gift from god to us and our eyesight alone, a way of ensuring that the moment is to be burned forever in the skull… indelibly sketched on the mind with a combination of adrenaline, utter joy, amazement that things are working out and a feeling of levity or lightness that all seem to twist and morph the fucntion of the eye so you begin to see as angels or thier fallen brethren the Vampires must view the world, with the edges infused with light, the head giddy and the heart left somewhere far behind to beat its rhythm, lest the body as you are flying so far above it.
Lets not forget, when one stretches the laws of nature, it is due to a few factors, she/he is mad, completely trust the gear, completely trusts in a higher power or a combination thereof.  For me, well, probably a combination thereof.  Simply know that I am not mad enough to want to sit and chat with death just yet, so there is a trust in what I am on.  I can feel the bike and know that its working for me, working… with me…  I made it, my first ever downhill on a Salsa!

Next up was the BMC Trailfox2 and since I didnt take its picture, you will instead have to settle for a picture of me trying to dunk a guy in the WTB dunk tank for a good cause and then failing… all 6 tries… sigh…  This bike is light, very light and for me, a beginner, this was a bit of a disadvantage as many times it had the feel of “getting away” from me.  Not that it has to do with being a beginner, just for the type of beginner I am I prefer heavier to lighter.  I was mightily thankful of the people at the BMC tent as they gave me a righteous download of info to the degree that I was comfortable knowing how to use the little seat stem adjustment button.  How cool is that!?! For those of you who know, you know what I speak of, for the rest of us, this is a button that allows you to drop the seat all the way down for when things get tricky and then raise it all the way back up once you are in the clear and ready to ride with big long leg strokes once again.  A funny thing happened because of this.  I got the hang of it as I mentioned and was stoked by it as it saved my newly brassed bits from being knocked about by the saddle too much, BUT, it gave me a lot of leeway when it came to my position over the rear of the bike, perhaps a bit too much…  On one such occasion of rumble bumpery and rock hoppery, going over rocks that surely would have left bikers of yore wondering just what the hell they had been thinking, I found myself floating over the rear wheel.  Literally, I was floating for a moment and what an absolute joy that was….  Then gravity kicked in and for a brief moment any and all dreams of having children, no, thats not quite dire enough, any thought of leaving this ride whole was suddenly caught by a most gnarly tread pattern and being propelled directly into the seat post whilst my old trusty boardshorts were about to be shredded along with the happier parts of my mid section.  All of this happened in that space that time inhabits when it stops and so many things not only happen, but you are privvy to them all.

At the moment where the darkness closed around me, and more specifically around my bits, the age old saying came full circle and the dawn was given up in the form of a rock/speed combination which propelled me away from the jaws of eunicism and back to a spot hovering roughly above the saddle.
Goodness me, enough of that…..

SantaCruz TallboyLastly was the SantaCruz Tallboy, No grandiose stories of limb and life, but one of adventure to be sure. I rode for an age, so long that even the Contour I was borrowing shut down due to lack of space, or battery.  When I finally did, the expo was literally a small blip on the horizon.  I felt like a lost explorer who had been trekking for months and finally caught sight of civilization but did not know if I had it in me to get to it!  Of course I did, and even caught a random photo shoot in the rough with some very cool folks who owned a bike shop somewhere in this great world of ours and were busy making ‘sweet shots’ for the shop.
I gave the bike back after giving it a mini photo shoot, the line was long and they were out of bikes it appeared, so I couldnt daly too long with my Tallboy buddy.  Time for someone else to see how the front wheel worked for them…  That was my only problem with the Tallboy, the front wheel just wouldn’t take the bike where I wanted it too, a bit squirrely, but then, I am a beginner so what do I know….  In talking with a few guys who weren’t beginners, they agreed, so, maybe, yeah, maybe I DO KNOW=]

Pedaling for Peace

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