Archive | Salsa

Instruments Of Adventure – Coming June 12th

Salsa Cycles is pleased to present the teaser for “Instruments of Adventure” – a new MJÖLNIR FILM by Salsa sponsored rider Bjorn Olson, featuring new music from Salsa sponsored rider Ben Weaver. Watch for the film’s release on June 12th.

Salsa Cycles is pleased to present the teaser for “Instruments of Adventure” – a new MJÖLNIR FILM by Salsa sponsored rider Bjorn Olson, featuring new music from Salsa sponsored rider Ben Weaver.

Watch for the film's release on June 12th.

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A Song For Joel

In 2015 I wrote a less complete version of this song, Flint Hills, for Salsa Cycles. I rode the DK 200 in 2015 and 2016, and saw firsthand what a tremendously positive impact this race has had on the community. I went back to the song and wrote a couple more verses. With the help of my partners at Salsa Cycles and Dirty Kanza Promotions we want to use this song to help support DK co-founder Joel Dyke’s wife Michelle and family.

In 2015 I wrote a less complete version of this song, Flint Hills, for Salsa Cycles who was making a short film about the Dirty Kanza 200. This film, as many will remember is called I Ride For Her.   

In 2015 and 2016 I rode the DK 200. I saw first hand what a tremendously positive impact this race has had on the community. I went back to the song and wrote a couple more verses. I wanted to capture more of what I had experienced and I also wanted to pay tribute to Joel Dyke and the role he played in creating this incredible event. 

With the help of my partners at Salsa Cycles and Jim Cummins at Dirty Kanza Promotions we want to use this song to help support Joel's wife Michelle and family. The download price is set at $1.99 but there is an option to pay more if you would like to. Simply follow the prompts when you buy. All the proceeds from the first penny go to Joel’s family. 

Thank you for riding hard and grinnin’ big!

Simply click the image below to download

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The Dirty Reiver: A Delight In England

The Dirty Reiver is England’s premier gravel challenge. The master mind, err… instigator behind the event is Paul Errington. Paul has been a close friend of Salsa Cycles for five or more years now.

The Dirty Reiver is England’s premier gravel challenge. The master mind, err… instigator behind the event is Paul Errington. Paul has been a close friend of Salsa Cycles for five or more years now. Having traveled to the United States for the likes of Dirty Kanza and this year’s Land Run, he was inspired and compelled to bring a proper gravel event to the U.K. and give it that English touch. That touch comes in the form of starting from a small castle in the Kielder National Forest between England and Scotland and naming the event after Border Reivers; the plunderers in the area during the Middle Ages. 

The Dirty Reiver is a bucket list gravel challenge. There is no winner of the event. Rightly so, there are bragging rights for first back, but claiming the ‘win’ at Dirty Reiver is missing the point. Being proud of being the fastest man or woman around the course is expected and encouraged. It is a challenge against the course, the weather, and yourself.  It is an opportunity to ride a course that Paul and his volunteers have masterfully selected to highlight the region.  

The Dirty Reiver starts and finishes at Kielder Castle, a 200-plus-year-old ‘hunting lodge’ built in the late 1700’s that is now a national forest, mountain bike trail center with 60-plus miles of singletrack trails, and entrance to hundreds of miles of forest service two-track gravel roads...

I was invited to The Dirty Reiver by Salsa U.K. brand manager, Bryan Harris. Bryan, with his brother George, is a welcome sight, picking me up in Manchester on my first visit to England. Three across the front seat of a small van, we wended our way to Kielder, Northumberland via M6 and a tangle of carriage ways and cart paths through delightfully beautiful river valleys that made me ponder changing trades to that of a sheep farmer. The rural landscape, kindness, and language of the English people grabbed ahold of me quickly.  

Bryan Harris (center) and his brother George (left) on their Warbird and Mariachi respectively during The Dirty Reiver...

Friday afternoon and evening, I had the opportunity to meet Kenny Wilson and Tom McKeown from Salsa’s U.K. distributor, who had also come up for the weekend to support The Dirty Reiver, Salsa, and Bryan. Kenny supported the event, shooting nearly all the photos I’ve included, running from checkpoint to checkpoint volunteering for the event, and taking care of us at the finish line upon our return. Tom is a young lad and impressed me with a legendary move. I’ll get to that later.

From left to right; George Harris, Kenny Wilson, Bryan Harris,Tom McKeown, and Stefan Amato from Pannier.cc (an online retail shop and site dedicated to adventure cycling with some nice landscapes of the Kielder area in the Journal section)...

Salsa is the exclusive bike sponsor of the Dirty Reiver. It was entertaining to see a Salsa tent next to a 200-plus-year-old castle wall.  

800 riders stacked in front of the castle on a sub-freezing morning were ready to ride.  A few minutes of silence for ultra-endurance rider Mike Hall who passed this past month while racing his bicycle around Australia. He is, was and will be forever missed by the cycling community. I never had the opportunity to meet him. I wish I had. I’d be lying if I said that those few minutes didn’t choke me up and bring tears to my eyes.

Checkpoints are well tended to and attended. Here at Checkpoint 1 I discovered a cherry biscuit, split and filled with a sweetened cream cheese. With one in my mouth and the other in my chest pocket I filled my bottle and rode off like a squirrel stealing food at a picnic...

Typical Kielder forest roads were a narrow two track with fist or larger size rocks embedded in them. They were less like Midwest and Central Plains hero gravel and more like Rocky Mountain forest roads. The whole route reminded me of riding in parts of northern Montana, particularly the Swan River Valley section of the Great Divide Route. Seen here is a delightfully smooth road.

There are two distances of The Dirty Reiver, 130-km and 200-km. That the race is measured in kilometers is peculiar considering the British use miles. In the 200-km route there is over 14,500 feet of climbing. The longest climb is six to seven miles. Enough about that though; this brings me to Tom’s legendary feat.

Tom, seen here having tea at checkpoint 1 came to The Dirty Reiver of his own volition and planning to ride the 130-km event with Bryan and George. He has never ridden a gravel event and in his words “planned on seeing how his legs felt.” At the 130-km turnoff for the finish where many 200-km riders were deciding to end their day short, Tom decided that he would go on and finish the 200-km. At this point, he had already been on his bike for seven to eight hours and could have, without guilt or insult, ended his day with a cold beer and a burger while lounging in the castle for the afternoon. What Tom did is rare, if not unprecedented, in endurance events. I am impressed to say the least. Is there a phrase or term for this act of character and determination?  If not, there is now. #tommingit 

Taken after his finish of 12-plus hours. Tom looks tired but overjoyed. When I saw Tom the following Monday he barely fit through the door, deservedly walking just a few inches taller and quite a bit prouder. #tommingit

Bryan and George Harris finished the 130, their first gravel event in their planned time of just over eight hours. The way it was described to me, they pedaled hard on the climbs and crushed the descents taking advantage of their mountain bike skills on the rough and rocky terrain. It didn’t hurt that they both had suspension forks. (NOTE: Tell us how you feel about gravel and suspension (constructively) in the comments section, please!)  

I pedaled to a 9:15 finish, going out harder than I should have on little sleep and jet lag from flying in the day before. At around midway, I had a conversation with myself about why I was there and realigned my expectations of finishing in sub-eight hours. I rode the first 60 in sub-four and the second in over five. They weren’t particularly more difficult, but the travel had gotten to me. Aside from that period of personal reflection, I enjoyed everything about the course. The climbs were challenging, and the descents were fast and technical at times. The course was described to me, the following day, as all the challenging sections of Dirty Kanza, but with more climbing. My Warbird performed flawlessly, and I made the right choice on the 40mm tires. That said, I couldn’t help but wonder what a suspended Cutthroat would feel like.

Jim Cummins, Executive Director of Dirty Kanza, rode his suspended Cutthroat for the race. This is the second year of the event and Jim’s second year at the event. Jim is looking sun-soaked and dignified. Paul Errington is seen here congratulating Jim; you can tell that there is nothing but respect and admiration for one another...

Paul Spencer from London riding for his shop and Salsa dealer SLAM 69 on another suspended Cutthroat. Paul rode loaded, prepping for the Tuscany Trail race that will start in Masa, Italy on June 2nd, 2017. Paul tells me that he loves his Cutthroat and has painstakingly looked after every detail. In addition to invigorating himself, he has pulled a couple of his mates into gravel and endurance riding. 

I’m constantly reminded of why I love these events when I see cycling changing someone’s life in a positive way, giving them purpose, building character, confidence, and community that they feel a part of. Paul’s mates reminded me of that. The front of the pack is inspiring because of their feats of athletic prowess, but the rest of the field are inspiring because of their spirit, grit, and determination. That is not to say that the leaders don’t have those qualities, but the spirit of a first-time finisher has a purity to it. You can see them become a new self as they roll into the finish chute. Yes, I know, I’m romanticizing it a bit. Go ahead and poke fun. Just remember the pride you have when you finish something challenging before you do.

Rich and Shona from Keep Pedaling, a Salsa stockist in Manchester, rode their Rohloff equipped Powderkeg. They are planning for The Highland Trail 550, a brute of a multi-day bikepacking event where they will ride, push, drag and carry their Powderkeg for their second go around. The two of them are in-sync on and off the bike. They live, ride, and work together. I had the chance to visit their shop on this trip. They are a great resource for urban cycling, touring, and bikepacking. We shared dinner and a pint. They are, as the English say, lovely people.

When I crossed the finish line, Paul Errington was there to congratulate me. It was good to be back. He asked if I would do it again and what I thought of the ride. My response, without hesitation was “Yes, and the course is absolutely amazing and beautiful”. Out on course, riding alone, I imagined the time and energy Paul put into what is now his trade. I imagine he poured over maps and GPS data, inked out a course, recon rode it, reviewed it, and refined it. Paul does this like any of us would do when working on something that is our passion. I know Paul would be the first to say that he doesn’t do it alone. He enrolled the land managers, caretakers, and people of the Kielder region, and invited Salsa and many others to be a part of the event. We are honored to be a part of it.

Allow me to reminisce, wax poetic (or do my best) and be a bit proud (bordering on boastful) for a moment. In 2007, I entered my first gravel race, TransIowa. Ten years on and gravel is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing segments of cycling participation. Events like The Dirty Reiver are popping up globally and, in the US, the calendar is nearly full. In 2009, as I rode through the Kit Carson National Forest on The Great Divide Route north of Cuba, New Mexico, I came across the annual gathering of free spirited hippies known as The Rainbow Gathering. Each time I passed an attendee they would greet me with “Welcome Home”. When Paul congratulated me, I was reminded of that phrase. I love many types of riding and I consider myself a mountain biker. As a product of my environment and at a time in what will become cycling history I became a gravel rider. It wasn’t  a trend that I or we at Salsa Cycles followed. We did it because it was what we did, and only realized after we continued on the importance that it had to other riders. 

The first gravel specific racing bike, the Salsa Cycles Warbird, was laughed at; called a marketing ploy and nothing but a different name for a cyclocross bicycle. We’ve never said that you can’t ride any bike for gravel riding. We just felt that the best bicycle for gravel riding was a purpose-built bicycle with room for larger volume tires, mud clearance, a wide range drivetrain, disc brakes, and most importantly fit, handling, and features like Class 5 VRS that make the bike comfortable for long hours (perhaps multiple days) in the saddle. We built what we wanted and now multiple generations and thousands of hours of ride-inspired refinement later we think the Warbird is the best gravel bike around.

It isn’t lost on me that I attend these events to represent Salsa and in the end help sell more bikes. In the end though, we don’t do it just to sell bikes. We do it for many reasons, but most importantly because we get the opportunity to promote experiences that will change a rider’s life, be a part of those experiences, and see it firsthand. 

I look forward to representing Salsa at many more events in the future. With luck, The Dirty Reiver will be one of them. Put it on your list. You will not be disappointed. Should you find your legs feeling good and debating the option to go longer, remember #tommingit.

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Red Dirt And Courage: A Salsa Storysite

Salsa Cycles is proud to present, “Red Dirt and Courage,” our recap of a truly amazing event.

Salsa made the trip down to Stillwater, Oklahoma this past March for the Land Run 100 – a gravel bike race organized by Bobby and Crystal Wintle of District Bicycles. The morning of the race, the weather did a 180 from the previous days of sunshine, and cold rain and mud put riders to the test. But despite the challenges of navigating the infamous red dirt backroads in those conditions, the warmth and generosity of the cycling community in that town became the stars of the weekend, and we returned home inspired. Salsa Cycles is proud to present, “Red Dirt and Courage,” our recap of a truly amazing event.

Click here to visit our Red Dirt and Courage Storysite.

Click here to read Red Dirt and Courage on ISSUU.

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The Return Of Titanium

Today, we’re pleased to announce the return of the Fargo Ti as a Frameset, and for the first time offer our Timberjack Ti as a Frame Only.

A couple years back we introduced our 2016 line and many of you noticed a significant change; there were no Titanium models in the mix. Those that were paying close attention will remember our reply: Who said we were done with titanium?

Today, we’re pleased to announce the return of the Fargo Ti as a Frameset, and for the first time offer our Timberjack Ti as a Frame Only.

Salsa Fargo Ti Dreambuild with Industry Nine, Maxxis, and SRAM...watch for your chance to win this bike through an upcoming Adventure Cycling Association fundraiser!

Salsa Timberjack Ti Dreambuild with Industry Nine, Maxxis, and SRAM...watch for your chance to win this bike through an upcoming IMBA membership drive!

Both models share the same geometry and features as their model year 2017 non-titanium counterparts.

These frames are built for us by the premier Ti frame manufacturer in the world; ORA. They feature 3/2.5 seamless triple-butted titanium tubesets, beautiful TIG welds, and an extremely impressive ride quality.

Salsa Fargo Ti Dreambuild...

We’ve chosen to keep the embellishments to a minimum this time around, just a simple black Salsa script logo, model name, and black headtube badge on unpainted, brushed Titanium.

Dress up your Fargo Ti or Timberjack Ti as understated or jaw droppingly stunning as you wish. We’ve provided you the almost blank, dead sexy Titanium canvas.

Salsa Timberjack Ti Dreambuild...

Salsa Engineer Sean Mailen is a big fan of titanium and welcomed the opportunity to work with it again. “Titanium has an incredible ride and hits the sweet spot between lightweight, strong, and durable," he said. "Once you fall in love with titanium nothing else can replace it. It’s a frame material I’m happy we are still working with. Titanium has its own unique feel that you just can’t get from any other material.” 

FRAME SPEC

For complete Frame Spec details, click the links below.

Fargo Ti Frameset Spec

Timberjack Ti Frame Spec

MSRP’s

Fargo Ti Frameset with Firestarter Carbon fork – U.S. MSRP $2499

Timberjack Ti Frame – U.S. MSRP $1999

Salsa Fargo Ti Dreambuild for upcoming Adventure Cycling Association Fundraiser! Stay tuned for your chance to win!

Salsa Timberjack Ti Dreambuild for upcoming IMBA membership drive...stay tuned for your chance to win!

DREAM BUILDS

Look for future promotional campaigns from the Adventure Cycling Association and IMBA for a chance to win the dreambuilds featured here.

Our thanks to our industry friends Industry Nine, Maxxis, and SRAM for helping create these beautiful show stoppers.

AVAILABILITY

Our initial order of both Fargo Ti Frameset and Timberjack Ti Frame Only have all been sold to our dealers and are in their shops now. The following lists show which dealers ordered each model. Please contact them if you are interested in seeing, and possibly purchasing, the frame.

We have placed a resupply order for these frames. If interested, we strongly suggest you contact your Salsa authorized dealer to inform them of your interest.

FARGO TI FRAMESET

Revolution Bike Shop              Carlsbad, CA

Spokesman Bicycles               Santa Cruz, CA

Bike Shop                                Temecula, CA

Alpha Bicycle Company          Centennial, CO

Pedal                                       Littleton, CO

Rasmussen’s Bike Shop         West Des Moines, IA

World of Bikes                         Iowa City, IA

Elephant’s Perch                     Ketchum, ID

Fitzgerald’s Bicycles                Victor, ID

Jackson Hole Cyclery              Jackson Hole, WY

Kinetic Systems                       Clarkston, MI

Angry Catfish                           Minneapolis, MN

Outdoor Motion                        Hutchinson, MN

Cycle City                                 Parkville, MO

Red Bar Bicycles                     Hamilton, MT

District Bicycles                       Stillwater, OK

Lifecycle Bike Shop                 Eugene, OR

Universal Cycles                      Portland, OR

City Cycle Supply                     Johnstown, PA

Sweetwater Bicycles                Ambridge, PA

Cranky’s Bike Shop                  Salt Lake City, UT

Blackwater Bikes                      Davis, West Virginia

TIMBERJACK TI FRAME ONLY

Southwest Sounds & Cycles    Prescott, AZ

Endless Cycles                         Castro Valley, CA

Revolution Bike Shop               Carlsbad, CA

Spokesman Bicycles                Santa Cruz, CA

Alpha Bicycle Company           Centennial, CO

Bent Gate Mountaineering       Golden, CO

Pedal                                        Littleton, CO

Subculture Cyclery                   Salida, CO

Velorution Cycles                      Durango, CO

Ace Metric                                 Orlando, FL

Meridian Cycles                        Meridian, ID

Bloomington Cycle & Fitness    Bloomington, IL

Pedal And Spoke                      North Aurora, IL

Spark Bike Run Sports             East Taunton, MA

Angry Catfish                            Minneapolis, MN

Outdoor Motion                         Hutchinson, MN

Ballwin Schwinn                        Ellisville, MO

Liberty Bicycles                         Asheville, NC

Spin Bike Shop                         Medina, OH

West Chester Cyclery               Cincinnati, OH

Lifecycle Bike Shop                   Eugene, OR

Universal Cycles                        Portland, OR

City Cycle Supply                      Johnstown, PA

Sweetwater Bicycles                 Ambridge, PA

New River Bike & Touring         Fayetteville, WV

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Feeling The Heat At The Cape Epic

The Cape Epic is a South African stage race I’ve heard mountain bikers talk about for over a decade.

The Cape Epic is a South African stage race I’ve heard mountain bikers talk about for over a decade. Held in March, racers can look forward to 49,000 feet of climbing over eight days and 434 miles. Participants are required to race in two-person teams. This rule adds a fun and challenging dynamic to an exciting event.

Mark Seaburg had secured a spot in the race, but his initial race partner informed him six months before the race start that he would no longer be able to make it. Fortunately, that gave Mark enough time to find another teammate.

Thanks to a recommendation from my husband JayP, that turned out to be me. Mark and I have known each other for several years through ultra-bike racing circles. We’ve attended many of the same events and have ridden together here and there. We were confident we would be able to ride and work well together. However, we both come from the land of ice and snow, so we knew the South African heat would be one of our biggest challenges.

Traveling to Cape Town is a two-day epic journey in itself.  We arrived with all our luggage late Thursday evening and were greeted by our mechanic for the week who transported us to our hotel. Our Salsa Spearfishes were ready to join the group ride early Friday morning, up to the scenic Table Mountain for views of Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean. After some fun downhill singletrack, we headed back to the hotel for some rest. That evening, the race staff held the Around the World dinner party where all the participating countries were announced. It was fun to see racers from all corners of the globe.

Saturday morning, after a 15-minute walk to downtown Cape Town, we had our race briefing, registration, and packet pick up at the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. We met our local driver for the week, Daniella, and then did our final shakedown ride back up to Table Mountain before checking in our bikes in to be transported to Sunday’s prologue race.

It was finally go time! The 8:50 a.m. prologue was 16 miles with 2,460 feet of climbing in time trial fashion. It was a short bus ride to the Meerendal Wine Estates, one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa and the center of mountain biking in the Western Cape. We waited in line for our turn on the stage, 3,2,1 GO!

We were off, and it felt great! We rolled out on some grass and got right into the climbing, which was loose, steep and technical. It was HOT. Mark and I rode well together through the rolling vineyard and super fun singletrack. About five miles from the finish, my stomach went south. The heat and my nerves were probably the cause. I had to get off my bike and walk a bit. Once over the finish line, I sat down in the shade and chugged the Hulk green juice which became a favorite drink for the remaining days of the race. Mark was fine.

It was a two-hour drive to the seaside town Hermanus the start of Stage 1. We stopped along the way at a store for some delicious locally made snacks. The food in South Africa is all very fresh, locally grown, and made with pride. Known for whale watching opportunities, Hermanus is beautiful, and our hotel was right on the spectacular waterfront.

In the background, you can see a racer being carried to the top of the mountain for a helicopter evacuation. The heat was that debilitating...

Monday morning’s Stage One was 63 miles with 7,545 feet of climbing and a difficulty rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. The riding was a super fun mix of double and singletrack. We were having fun and feeling good until we reached the two-mile, 2,000-foot climb over Haarkapper’s Roete. The temperature rose to 118 F according to my Garmin. That’s when the carnage began. We saw other teams vomiting and lying on the ground. One man was being carried by another to the top of the pass where he would get evacuated by a helicopter. Once we started heading down, Mark began to feel the heat and started to slow down. We were pouring water over each other to try and cool down, and took rest in the shade under the very sparse trees on course. Things got worse as the sun just beat down on us on a wide open sandy doubletrack.

When we arrived at the last aid station, we were showered with cold water by volunteers. Time was running out. The cutoff was 9.5 hours, and it wasn’t looking good for us. The last six miles of the course was rolling technical singletrack with a few steep climbs. Mark was having a hard time riding and needed to walk up several sections. His stomach had failed; he could no longer eat or drink and began to suffer from heatstroke. We made it to the finish line in 10.5 hours missing the cut off by an hour. The rule is that if a team misses the cut off one day, they are assigned Blue Board numbers and can no longer be classified as official race finishers, but can continue to race. This is pretty harsh considering the race entry fee, travel time, and expense to get here.

Back at the hotel, Mark felt so bad that he was unable to eat or drink to recover properly. We spoke about our options for the following day. The rule is if a team misses the cut off a second day, they are out of the race and no longer allowed on course. But if one team member finishes within the cut off time, that person can continue, though they will not receive an official finishing time.

Stage Two on Tuesday was shortened from 64 miles to 40 due to the number of competitors who suffered from heatstroke on Monday. Mark and I decided that if we got to a point during the race where it was obvious we would not make the six-hour cut off, I would go ahead. It took us three hours to get to the first aid station and halfway point of 20 miles. The temperature had reached 108 F. Mark was not feeling well, and there was a fair amount of climbing ahead. He suggested that I continue without him. I didn’t want to, but our race would be over if we didn’t make the cutoff. He assured me he would be fine and finish, just at a slower pace, so I went on ahead.

I told him I would wait until five minutes before the cutoff to see if he made it, which I did. Unfortunately, Mark did not make it, so I finished myself and waited for him to cross the line. Mark arrived a half hour later. He had stopped to rest and vomit due to heatstroke again, and his Cape Epic was over. It was hard for both of us. We had come so far and wanted to finish this together as Team Salsa! Mark got some rest that evening and was able to make a quick recovery. For the remainder of the trip, he helped crew our group while I continued to race.

There was no longer any reason to crush myself, so I enjoyed the next five days of racing. They were filled with cooler temps and the most beautiful epic rides on varied terrain of doubletrack, singletrack, and pavement through vineyards and apple orchards. There was a lot of climbing! The downhills were wicked fast and technical which is right up my alley and is where I passed many racers.

The starting corrals were labeled A through I and went off in 20-minute intervals. Due to missing the cutoff on the first day, we were Blue Boarded (which is exchanging our original number plate with black numbers for one with blue numbers) I had to start in the last coral labeled “I” every day. This added the challenge of riding my way up and around other racers, but also added fun by challenging myself to catch those who started 20 minutes ahead of me.

The aid stations were in located in villages filled with locals and kids who loved to give high-fives. They were stocked with the kindest and most helpful volunteers, water, Energade and picnic type food like sandwiches, fruit, cake, potatoes, and candy. There were mechanics to oil chains and help make bike repairs if needed. The Oakley company was there to clean the sweat and dirt from our sunglasses. I felt like a rock star which I believe had a lot to do with my recovery. As soon as I finished each day, I would eat a meal, drink tons of water, and take in 12-15 GU electrolyte pills along with another meal. As part of our package, we were offered a 45-minute massage every day which also aided recovery.

Many of the same spectators were on the course every day. All the racers had their names on their backs so many people would yell my name as I rode by and cheered, “Well done!” “Looking great!”, and I would tell them they were looking great too, which made them laugh. My energy was high, and I enjoyed every minute with a big smile knowing how fortunate I was to be in South Africa participating in the Cape Epic Mountain Bike Race. It was a pleasure chatting and riding with different teams from all over the world who would always ask, “What happened to your partner?”.

I knew the last day would be emotional so I savored it, stopping to look around and take pictures. We rode past the huge Nelson Mandela statue located at the Drankenstein Correctional Center where he spent the last part of his imprisonment for campaigning against Apartheid. As I neared the finish at the renowned Val de Vie Polo fields, the tears started to flow. I didn’t want the race to be over! I was greeted by staff who whisked my bike away to be cleaned and led me to a huge lunch box filled with treats.

Most of the course was ridable if you had the skills and confidence. Mark and I were both very impressed with how the Spearfishes climbed liked Billy Goats and ripped the downhills like tornados. For us, the Spearfish was the perfect tool for this race. Mark got his crash out of the way before the race while trying to climb some stairs in the city. I was fortunate to have only one minor crash as I was passing some riders on a downhill. Neither of us had any flats or mechanicals.

The Cape Epic is a super fun, stunning, and demanding course with tight cutoffs. I would highly recommend it. But be sure to focus on a training plan and come prepared for anything, especially seriously hot weather. I was proud of my accomplishment and ability to make it through each day. Thank you, Salsa Cycles, Mark Seaburg, JayP and everyone that followed along and shared this adventure with us. 

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25 Faces From The Land Run 100

It was a great pleasure to snap a few portraits at the Land Run 100 this past March. To all that toed the line on that miserably wet and cold morning, I say “Bravo.”

 

It was a great pleasure to snap a few portraits at the Land Run 100 this past March. To all that toed the line on that miserably wet and cold morning, I say “Bravo.” To those that let me take their photo, I say "Thank you."

Aside from a caption under one image, this time around I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. 

Also, keep your eyes open for our Salsa storysite dedicated to the Land Run, debuting May 8th.

On The Start Line...

Race Under Way...

The 2017 Land Run 100 featured its largest field yet, with roughly 800 riders still starting the race despite the truly miserable conditions. Just after the bikes have turned the first corner onto Main Street, his emotions catch up to event promoter Bobby Wintle.

Back At The Finish...

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Watch for our Salsa storysite dedicated to the Land Run, debuting May 8th.

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A Musical Tour By Bike Through The Netherlands

When I first attempted to make a living as a musician I was driving around the country playing in little coffee shops and sleeping at rest stops in the back of an 1985 Ford F150. Those days were fed by an ambitious romanticism for a ragged, hand to mouth life on the road.

Ben Weaver: What Might Find You

When I first attempted to make a living as a musician I was driving around the country playing in little coffee shops and sleeping at rest stops in the back of an 1985 Ford F150. Those days were fed by an ambitious romanticism for a ragged, hand to mouth life on the road.

It wasn't long before the romantic edge wore off and I began growing tired of playing to tiny audiences in sad bars. Luckily after releasing my third record, Hollerin’ at a Woodpecker, I got a break. The famed British rock and roll magazine MOJO gave Woodpecker a 4 out of 5 star review naming it Americana Album of the month. Suddenly I had all kinds of invites to go across the pond and perform. This was long before I had started riding to my shows by bicycle while carrying my instruments.

Back in March of 2016 I received an invite to come perform at a festival in Katowice, Poland that coming November. I forwarded the offer to my European booking agent who recommended we add additional shows to the festival making the trip into a mini tour. I was excited by this prospect. I had not toured Europe sine 2011 and had been eager to do a musical tour by bike there ever since.

Rather than give a blow by blow recap of my ride and route, which aside from the festival, was contained to the Netherlands I’m gonna share a story from the first day of riding that speaks to what it was like out there, and also casts a bright light on the serendipitous experiences which keep me riding to shows. 

A concern I had preparing for this trip was navigation. Loaded, I needed to allow eight hours to travel the 100 or so miles between shows. Most days soundcheck was at 4 pm, followed by dinner, and then the show. I also had to fit interviews in as well. People were intrigued by my traveling to shows by bike and even in a country with so much bicycle infrastructure what I was doing was not considered normal. 

When all said and done I was typically not back in my hotel room until midnight making each day a jigsaw puzzle of hours. How I put them together made all the difference in my surviving the following day.

Ultimately the day will come, but until it does I’d like to maintain my record of never missing or being late to a show. Having spent plenty of time lost in a car over on the European continent during previous tours I knew the threat getting lost presented and it would be fatal to my timeline if I wasn't careful. To ensure not getting lost, I brought a GPS and Garmin was kind enough to donate a Euro map chip to my cause.

A very good friend of mine and incredible guitar player Mark Ziljma, lives in Amsterdam on the third floor of a very old building. For those that have not climbed up or down Dutch stair cases, particularly the old ones, they are nothing like the giant rectangular stairwells we have in the US. The Dutch built their stairs steep, narrow and winding. In order to get my Marrakesh down Mark’s stairs, I had to hold it from the rear rack dangling it almost vertically while Mark took the front wheel and together we guided it down the stairs and out the front door.

On the first day of my tour I left Amsterdam planning to ride 103 miles to a town called Middleburg in the south of Holland. Immediately after loading my instruments on the bike and heading into the wind and rain I began having problems with the GPS. Each time I deviated from the course it froze. I ended up using my phone to get out of Amsterdam.

Near mile 45 I took the Maasluis ferry across the Nieuwe Waterweg, just west of Rotterdam. The GPS was still acting up and while taking shelter from the rain beneath a breezeway on the ferry I decided to stop following the preplanned course and try typing in the address for the venue in Middelburg. My hope was that the issues I was having were in the preloaded course and that maybe in bypassing it the GPS would stop freezing up. Quickly the unit built a new route, and I had some temporary relief.

I trust my intuition and sense of direction more than any computer or GPS and after about five minutes following the new course I had a feeling something wasn't right. I stopped and checked the heading against my phone and sure enough I was veering considerably more southeast than made sense. My original course had followed the coastline down to Middelburg. Now I was being led inland.

Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but the area of Holland I was entering into is known as the Zuiderzee (one of the seven wonders of the modern world). This area is a former bay of the North Sea and now holds what is known as the Delta Works, a series of giant dams and dikes that have been constructed to control the flow of water, both in and out, from the sea to the country’s canal system ensuring the entire place doesn’t just get washed away.

In short, it is all water. I was confused as to why the GPS was leading me inland and not down the coast (which was the shortest route). In addition, I was skeptical it had found the necessary bridges and or ferry’s to get me across all the water between my current location and Middelburg.

I tried to zoom out of the course to make sure it was actually leading me to Middelburg, and the map, albeit very hard to read, showed that it was. So, despite my feelings of uncertainty I decided to trust the computer.

The Netherlands are the epitome of a developed and engineered landscape. The Zuiderzee and Delta Works being the most extreme example. Throughout all my riding there was never a time where I felt anywhere even remotely close to wilderness. That isn't to say it wasn’t beautiful much of the time, but even when riding through national parks and wildlife areas everything felt highly managed, weighted and purposefully constructed toward the benefit of civilization.

As the new course led me further inland the population density decreased. I spun further and further into the strangest kind of nowhere. The landscape so full of human sign and manipulation yet humans themselves nowhere around. Just field after field, bordered by canal after canal.

The way through this landscape on a bike was across narrow concrete paths about eight inches wide that ran along the spines of the dikes. At a certain point into this strange nowhere I ceased being mad at myself for trusting the GPS instead of my intuition. I was content to be right where I was, in the grey wind and rain.

It was at this moment that the dike I had been riding along dead-ended at the base of a steep hill. A narrow road T’d off to either side and on top of the hill three sheep stood looking down at me through the rain. Still in my moment of contentment I looked up at them and smiled.

The GPS told me to turn right and quickly I found myself atop the hill where less than a football field away was a huge river, five or so times as wide as the Mississippi is close to my home.

The sense that something was wrong, returned. To my right as far as I could see there was endless fields and dikes. To my left, barely darker than the fog, way off in the distance loomed what appeared to be an extremely long bridge.

I continued on the GPS course which was now leading me straight towards the giant river. Quickly the road turned to gravel and ended at a locked gate. Here the GPS said, “Go to dock A and get your ferry.”

Not only was the gate locked but from what I could see all that awaited beyond the locked gate was a handful of sail boats, a couple parked cars and a small house. I didn’t see anything resembling a ferry. I shook the gate and called out. No one answered. I called again, still no answer.

I knew from having studied the map in Mark’s apartment the evening before and from my knowledge of the Delta Works that if I couldn’t get across here my day was quickly going to go from 103 miles to 103-plus-many-more miles. This was not an issue for my legs but my concert schedule did not have time to accommodate a delay of that kind.

I shook the gate once more and hollered. This time louder.

A lady emerged from one of the parked cars in the lot and said, “Yes.”

I hollered back, “I am looking for the ferry.”

She said, “There is no ferry here, you need to go 1000 meters that way.” 

I thanked her and headed off, my stress about time temporarily at ease.

A few minutes later I spotted a ferry pulling away from the shore. I raced down onto the landing and waved at the captain. In seeing me, he backed up lowering the gate. As I pushed my bike onto the metal ramp he stuck his head out of the pilot house and said, “Are you going to the island to go camping?”

I said, “No, I am going Middleburg.” 

It is never a good sign in these circumstances when the response someone gives you begins with a laugh. Chuckling, the captain told me this ferry only went to an island in the middle of the river. It did not go all the way across. He then pointed off into the rainy, windy, foggy distance at the long bridge I had noticed earlier. There my fate awaited. I thanked him as I turned my bike around and began pedaling towards the bridge. I thought of Salsa athlete Jay Petervary and his moto of always pedaling forward. I was thankful for that mantra.

A few moments later a car pulled up alongside me and stopped. The driver door opened and a woman got out. It was the same woman from the marina. A funny thing to note here is that she didn’t just roll down the window, but stopped, shut off her car, and got out to talk to me. This was a dead giveaway that I was deep in the Dutch countryside. 

She asked if I was okay or needed anything. I confirmed with her that this bridge off in the distance was indeed my best and only way to Middleburg. She confirmed and also noted that the ferry my GPS had sent me to only ran in the summer.

She wanted to give me a ride but I refused. I asked to use her phone to call my friend Tonnie in Middleburg and let him know I would be late for the show. However after dialing his number the call didn’t go through. There was no reception. I thanked her for stopping and headed towards the bridge.

For a long time this bridge, known as the Zeeland Bridge was the longest bridge in Europe and today is still the longest in Holland. Two days before my crossing it there had been 40-plus mile per hour winds from the south. A group had staged a championship bicycle race against the wind across the bridge.

It turns out for my crossing of the wind had dropped to 26 mph but ended up aligning with the sunset. One of the more spectacular I saw on this trip, have to say. Watching it go down into the water I felt some redemption for following the GPS over my intuition. The sky like a bonfire above the river.

In the end, I made it to Middelburg half an hour before dinner. My GPS-induced detour added around 36 extra miles to my day. Despite those miles and the headwind I managed to maintain my record of never missing or being late to a show.

I arrived at my hotel in time to shower before heading to the venue for soundcheck and dinner.

Before my set I was standing in the back of the room watching the opening band play their set. I noticed a woman walk in and at first glance I thought she looked a lot like the lady from the day who I had taken to at the marina and on the roadside, but that seemed impossible.

My show that night was one of the best of the tour. I played a bunch of new and old songs and the audience felt like a room full of old friends. After the show I was standing at the merchandise  table selling CDs when I heard a voice say, “So you already forgot me from the side of the road?”

I’ll admit I was a little freaked out until she told me that because I had called my friend Tonnie from her phone, his number was still on the screen when she got home. She felt responsible and decided to call him and let him know she had run into me, that I was okay, but would be late.

Tonnie hadn't mentioned this when I saw him in Middleburg but it turns out they had a fairly long conversation. Her father had just passed away and in their talk Tonnie had shared with her who I was and what I was doing out there on my bike. She was curious about my music and looked up my tour schedule online to see if I was performing anywhere close by. It turns out she was curious enough to drive an hour to see me play that night in Haarlem.

I thanked her for coming, still somewhat stunned, flattered and eternally thankful for the mysterious connective energy that follows you around when embracing your sense of adventure by bike.

Before leaving the club that evening she said this to me, “You know, it’s all the little things you do. The tiny chances you take, the detours. You never know what you might learn, what you might see, what might find you.”

And there you have it. The reason we ride.

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MORE ON BEN WEAVER 

Ben Weaver is a songwriter and poet. He has released eight studio albums of music and four books of poetry.

Read more about his adventures by bike here.

Listen and purchase his music here. 

Follow Ben on social media:

Instagram @despoblado 

Facebook @benweavermusic

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