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2521 Sheridan Blvd.
Edgewater, CO 80214

(303) 232-3165

We love riding in the dirt and on pavement, and we respect and service all bikes. We are overjoyed to see you on a bicycle and will do everything we can to keep you rolling. We also sell Surly, Salsa, and Fairdale bikes (because they are rad).

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TROGDOR THE BLOGINGATOR

Riding with a Cycling Computer for One Year

Yawp Cyclery

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Until recently, I'd never owned a cycling computer. I figured I should give it a go, and decided to experiment with one for a year. I bought one in January and stopped using it in July.

While I'm neither a technophobe nor a progressophobe, I am the kind of person who, for a time, mounted a small abacus to my handlebars. The joke was worth the rattling.

I don't care about tracking my stats and I enjoy navigating with paper maps--they don't run out of battery or break in a fall, many people can look at a paper map at once, and there's a lot of valuable information on a map that doesn't show up on the display of a cycling computer or smartphone. Yet, I decided to try a computer anyway. Data can be interesting, invaluable, and counterintuitive. I talk to a lot of people who know how much they ride in a year, and I can't contextualize their experience without quantifying my own. I was also curious to learn how many miles I put on my mountain bike versus my commuter, how often I actually used my swamp touring unicycle, and things like that.

No surprise: the computer and I weren't compatible. Only a small part of my frustration has to do with the make and model of the computer itself, so I don't want to pick on Sigma's Rox 11 computer. Most of my complaints would hold true for any computer on the market.

To be clear, many people enjoy competing on their bikes, and in order to compete, data is essential. This is not a critique of that. Some people simply enjoy sifting through data and using spreadsheets. This is not a critique of that, either. If you use a computer and like it, that's great. This is my critique about how data transformed me in ways I didn't like, and how quickly it happened.

The problem with the Rox 11 was a firmware update that prevented my handlebar computer from communicating with my desktop computer for a time, which was where my stats for the year were stored. I lost data, and I didn't see the point of continuing to gather data if the totals were going to be inaccurate. How many miles do I ride in a year? I'll never know. To be fair, this was merely the last straw, and I was happy to have an excuse to call the experiment quits.

My problems with computers in general can more or less be broken down into two categories.

1) The data is too immediate.

There's no point in having a computer if it's difficult to see, and mounting it on your stem or handlebars ensures you'll never not see it. That means I couldn't think about anything but how fast I was going and how far I'd ridden. For me, this invoked exactly the kind of internal monologue that I ride bikes to escape. How fast am I going now? How fast am I going now? I'm going slow! Is my tire pressure too low? Is my saddle too high? Are my gloves aero? Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that third donut. How fast am I going now? Any faster? Am I dehydrated? 

Sometimes I ride longer distances, and I'd almost always rather not know how far along I am because I always feel very tired about 10% of the way in, and this invokes a very similar kind of internal monologue. How far have I gone now? 10.1 miles! Why am I so tired? Do I have a tapeworm? Are the planets misaligned? Perhaps four donuts was too many. How far have I gone now? 10.15 miles! Am I dehydrated?

I could stow the computer in a pocket or a pack in order to not look, but then obviously I couldn't reap the navigational benefits of the GPS computer that I spent the extra money to have. (I did appreciate those navigational benefits, by the way. I will continue to use the GPS function on long gravel rides or unfamiliar terrain.)

2) The data becomes a substitute for the experience.

In a way, using a computer was quite like playing a video game. In many video games, you begin with a weak and unskilled character, and as your character battles they become stronger and learn sweet new moves. Once you've played the game for several (or countless) hours, your character becomes impressively powerful.

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This is satisfying because this kind of thing almost never happens in real life. Struggles often don't lead to rewards but instead to new struggles. We learn lessons that are inapplicable down the road. In a video game, the narrative is clear, the goal is known, struggles reap rewards, and the sense of accomplishment one feels at beating a video game is pretty clearly a substitute for the lack of accomplishment we feel on a daily basis. Riding bikes with a computer provides a narrative in the form of a little blue line that it wants you to follow, and that's a comfortable feeling.

Using a computer encouraged me to tack on miles simply for the experience points, not because I wanted to. To my horror, it only took a matter of weeks before mileage totals became inexplicably important to me, and I became a servant to an arbitrary number of miles that I thought I needed to ride. Miles became points in a game that I could easily lose but never win.

That's ridiculous.

Movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Terminator have imagined the clash between human and machine, and with artificial intelligence advancing as quickly as it is, this clash may someday move off the screen and into your woodshed (or wherever you keep your android). There is presently a danger, though, in how easy it is for a human to slide into robotic, unthinking behavior. People text and check Facebook when they drive, and they may not even be aware that they're doing it. While there is a non-zero probability that a robot from the future may appear and kill me while I'm commuting to work by bicycle, it's much more likely that a texting humanoid robot will run me over as they sift through emojis to put the perfect finishing touch on a text about a fungal infection. As someone who owns a smartphone and routinely pulls it out of his pocket without knowing why, I am not making accusations. I only mean to point out that I am already overrun with screens that beg for interaction; why would I subject myself to yet another? Especially while I am trying to enjoy a meditative, recreational activity?

For about two weeks after I stopped using the computer, I felt anxious every time I rode. It was withdrawal, but from what, exactly? For those two weeks, when I got on my bike and realized I didn't have my computer with me, I thought, "No one is going to know I took this ride." Initially, that struck me as odd. I don't share my rides on any social platform. However, the act of tracking my rides and storing the data was a way of tracking my identity. One could argue that social media is how we sell our own lives to ourselves. That's what I was doing with this computer. 

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When I ride now, I look around. There is no little blue line to follow, and I am free to meander through the wide open world.  The experience belongs to itself, and once the ride is over it's gone forever. No one--myself included--will remember that I rode twenty-two miles today. I relinquish this fact to the past. 

 

The Yawp! Company Returns to Breckenridge

Yawp Cyclery

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The Yawp! Company recently went to Breckenridge. We've ridden there before, but the trails are so numerous that we were compelled to return. I'm happy to say it was not a mistake. 9 of 10 hammock dogs agree. So does Hammock Ian.

Do you ever feel like you're an insane person whose performance as a sane person is only barely convincing? I sure do, and that's how I was feeling when we arrived in Breckenridge. Fortunately, a bike ride (almost) never fails to return me to whatever semblance of sanity I do sometimes enjoy.

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Rebecca and I had a short ride on Friday evening, up the increasingly rocky Colorado Trail toward Georgia Pass. I profoundly enjoy climbing nonsense like that. I could do it all day if it didn't make me so tired. 

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On Saturday we rode a number of trails, the names of which I mostly can't remember. Flume, Mike's, Slalom, and Western Sky are names I vaguely recall. However, remember that you are reading the ramblings of an insane person who's pretending to be sane, so those may be trail names from some other region, or perhaps names of hot sauces I've never had.

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We found a swing.

  Photo credit: I don't know. Steve?

Photo credit: I don't know. Steve?

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Breckenridge's trails are numerous and circuitous, and it's easy for a group of tourists to get lost. We didn't, actually, get too lost, but I did see this Blair Witch type object in the woods.

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We spent some time riding around in circles, waving.

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We saw a hole in the ground that smelled of sulfur. I've heard that witches--some of them--are followed by an odor that might be described as sulfurous. 

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Despite all of that foreboding, the ride was great. We finished with a descent for the ages, an endless flow trail with a couple of wicked tabletops in between trees that were as far apart as a handlebar is wide. It was a very nearly perfect day. 9 of 10 stump dogs agree.

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On Sunday, we rode about 10 miles on Tenderfoot Mountain. The climb was wooded, dark, lush, and loamy, and we made the mistake of not turning around and descending back the way we'd come. Instead, we descended fire roads and kitty litter. That's what I get for following the little line on my computer instead of thinking, and that's what the rest of you get for following an insane person. 

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Bikes are just things, but they've brought a lot of joy into my life. It makes me uncomfortable that an object can do this. For years I suspected that happiness was more or less a decision, and that it had very little to do with circumstance. I no longer think so, and I'm grateful (and lucky) to have found an object that can relieve stress, introduce me to new friends, and keep me sane. Riding a bike does those things in ways that running never did, though I can't explain the difference.

Linking happiness to belongings isn't a step I'm ready to take, and yet without a mountain bike I would be poor in friendships and completely insane.

Thanks to everyone who came and made this a very pleasant couple of days.

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P.S. It snowed on the way home. In June.

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The Luxury of a Spice Kit: A few thoughts on bike touring gear

Yawp Cyclery

by Alex Hardesty

 Jack drying our laundry at the top of Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. 

Jack drying our laundry at the top of Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. 

 

Last summer my stepbrother and I decided to embark on a 2,300 mile bike tour around the Northwest of the United States as a part of our “post college graduation I don’t know what I’m doing with my life hiatus.” Neither of us had any bike touring experience, but with our early 20’s athleticism and youthful insanity, we decided it was a wise decision. After surviving three flat tires, poison oak, and the worst thunderstorm of our lives (all in the first 24 hours) we were skeptical of our decision but pursued nonetheless. It only took a week for me to fall in love with life on the bike, and I was excited about the freedom that summer had to offer. Beyond the relentless humor, swimming in cold bodies of water, and copious amounts of beer, a few supplies got me through thick and thin, and others I wish I had brought. There are many valuable advice columns and packing lists from experienced bike tourers one can find online, but here are my two cents I gathered from spending two and a half months in the saddle.

 

What I brought and LOVED

By no means does this list encompass my entire gear inventory. I just wanted to highlight a few items that I used often and was grateful I had with me.

Surly Disc Trucker, duh...

Adventure Cycle Maps: I used these to plan my entire tour and lived by them 24/7

Ortlieb Panniers

Kindle

Small candle lantern

Extra charging cell

Tenkara fly rod

Aeropress coffee maker

Elaborate spice kit

Flask (full of your favorite whiskey)

Multitool

Ibuprofen

https://www.warmshowers.org   I’ll leave this here for your exploration. The hospitality is phenomenal.

 Blue skies and blue bikes somewhere in Canada

Blue skies and blue bikes somewhere in Canada

 

What I sent home/didn’t need

Water filter: Surprised? I certainly was. My step-bro dropped ours in a high velocity creek on the second day of our tour, so we didn’t really have a choice here. Serendipitously, we found we had very little need for a filter because there was water almost everywhere. Oh ya and those Adventure Cycling Maps that I LOVE also indicate the nearest water sources and the miles in between. We had iodine tablets but never used those either. We carried large bladders in addition to our water bottles to for extra H2O on the longer stretches.  

Jerseys: The fact of bike touring is that you will be dirty. Showers are few and far between. The sunscreen, sweat, dirt, blood, tears, regrets, and dreams will all become a part of your new, superstar cycling self. I started with 3 jerseys and three shorts and sent home all but one jersey and one pair of biking shorts. As long as you have clean clothes to change into at night, it doesn’t matter what you wear or how bad you smell during the day. Note: Extra underwear is key to this strategy :)

 

Things I wish I brought

Crazy Creek: This was a big one for me. Each night when we got to our campsite, I craved some sort of back supportive sitting device where I could lean back and read a book. I took to laying on the ground as an alternative, but was constantly envious of the fellow cyclists who sacrificed the extra pound of weight for a comfortable, compatible chair with back support. Crazy Creek is a great option, and they can also double as a sleeping pad if you don’t mind your feet hanging off the end of your backcountry mattress.   

Clipless platform combo super duper pedals: During the day, clipless pedals are fantastic to give that extra push and pull up the hills. But when you’re riding from the campsite to take a dip in the lake, brewery hopping in Missoula, or cruising to the nearest ice cream shop to devour your personal pint of the day, platform pedals are a luxury. The solution? Clipless platform combo super duper pedals! And yes, that name was invented on the spot by Levi Teal.

Sun protective arm “warmers:” The sun is intense. Especially when you spend 10 hours riding through Eastern Washington with no tree coverage. I took to layering on 20% zinc oxide sunscreen every two hours. I saw a lot of people using these protective arm sleeves and wish I had brought some for my sun sensitive skin. They probably would save you money on sunscreen in the long run too.

 

What I saw other people bring and thought, meh...

Solar Charger: This one is a contentious subject for those doing long bike tours on pavement. In my own biased opinion, I think they are unnecessary because we had no issue finding outlets, even in more remote areas. However, I also used the “outdated” paper maps for all but a few miles of my tour, so if you’re a super duper techie, don’t take my advice on this one.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, your gear will be a personal reflection of what you value most while spending time off the grid. For me, that includes luxuries such as fishing, reading, and cooking with all the spices I use at home. Another list may include the most comfortable sleeping pad or dare I say a solar charger. Everyone values something different after 100 miles on a bike, and that is one of the great joys of touring. It gives you the opportunity to appreciate something small that goes unnoticed in our everyday lives. Ride on.

 The perfect fit 

The perfect fit 

The 2018 Randonee-Nae

Yawp Cyclery

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When Halley's Comet passed between the Earth and the sun in 1910, it was the first time humans had the spectroscopic technology to determine the chemical composition of a comet's tail. To the horror of some, we found the tail contained poisonous gasses, and we knew that as the comet followed its path around the sun, its tail would sweep over the Earth. Hence, there were End-of-the-World parties the night the comet passed, but--you guessed it--the world did not end. That's fortunate, because it would've been a real shame had Prince never had the chance to record 1999 so we could all play it repeatedly at our Y2K parties, when--if you'll recall--the world once again did not end.

In fact, there's a list on Wikipedia titled 'List of dates predicted for apocalyptical events,' all of which turned out to be incorrect. This list doesn't account for eclipses and other natural disasters that fooled our forbearers into thinking the end had come.

I mention this because it more and more often seems as though most cyclists (and human beings in general) that one encounters are odious twonks. They won't yield the trail when it's their prerogative. They liter. They ignore your friendly greeting. They'll pass on narrow singletrack without warning.

If you haven't noticed that everyone is an odious twonk, it could be that you haven't driven across town in traffic recently. Right-hand turns from the left-hand lane. Constant texting. Sudden and pointless lane changes. Drivers pushing to get to the head of an endless line that has no head. If you do a fair bit of driving and still don't think that everyone is an odious twonk, try reading a few comment threads on the internet. 

On the front range alone last year, one cyclist was assaulted and another shot. It's easy to imagine that all of our building anger, frustration, and impatience is going to coincide with the destruction of our environment and culminate in a fiery, nuclear period at the end of humanity's run-on sentence. However, the list of misguided apocalyptical predictions suggests that people have always felt this way. Thanks to Socrates, we know that people have always thought the youngest generation would be the ruination of our species: "The children now love luxury, have bad manners, contempt for authority, are odious twonks..." and so on.

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I say all of that to say that we held our second annual Randonee-Nae on April 28th. A randonee is a ride, not a race, that's at least 200 kilometers long. Fifty people showed up for this ride; statistically speaking, roughly fifty of those people should've been odious twonks. None of them were. None of them. How is that possible?

I have not been trained to deal with that kind of overwhelming positivity. 

  I enjoy riding past cemeteries, for reasons you can read about  here   .

I enjoy riding past cemeteries, for reasons you can read about here.

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I should note that the term "Randonee-Nae" was coined by an overwhelmingly positive friend of mine called Reeves. Coincidentally, Reeves maintains that the two oldest sentences in human speech are, "The end is near," and, "These kids today." If these are the sentences that have preceded and defined us, we should take this time to form some better sentences to supersede them. 

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It may sound as though this one terrific day took me from one extreme of the ill will/good will spectrum to the other, but that's not what I mean to convey. What I mean to convey is that in order to survive, as George Costanza put it, "in a society," one has to surround oneself with a fairly thick buffer lest one feel annoyed, shortchanged, and insulted several times a day. Yet that buffer leaves one closed to the very best parts of living in a society--other people. Of course, other people are also the worst part about living in a society. It's really confusing.

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Thank you to everyone who showed up for this ride. You were good to each other, and you made this one of the best days on a bike that I can recall. Thank you also for agreeing to pay the entry fee. I don't like paying to ride my bike, but together we raised $760 for the Denver Food Rescue. That's pretty good for a bunch of people whom our elders used to contemptuously refer to as, "These kids today."

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I'm afraid to hold this ride again next year because I can't imagine how it could be this good again. However, if you're willing, I think we should give it a go. Before the world ends.

Please enjoy some pictures, and then go outside and ride your bike.

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This tunnel of stoke sequence was captured by Kevin McDonough:

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The Value of Difficult Things; The Land Run 100

Yawp Cyclery

After last year's Land Run 100, I vowed never to return to Oklahoma. It was the most difficult ten hours I'd ever had on a bike, and while I didn't know it at the time, I inflicted some permanent damage on my left hand. Ten hours is a relatively short period of time, but it was a sodden and freezing cold period during which time itself became an un-deliniated substance, thick as taffy in a puller, folding endlessly back upon itself. I've tried to describe what that day in 2017 was like (here), but the images in Salsa's short video are a good visual representation.

Not long after registration opened for this year's race I signed up. Why? 

The drive alone--ten hours each way--is its own kind of monotonous, boring hell. Even the brightest, cleanest gas stations and truck stops can be depressing, like the one in Kansas where I witnessed a man very publicly threaten to strangle his eight year-old son in a way that I could not interpret as metaphorical while the rest of his family stood frozen in a tableau around the soda machine, afraid the t-rex would see them if they moved. Cruelty, obviously, is depressing, as is a truck stop full of uncomfortable bystanders who are impotent in the face of cruelty because they aren't sure whether it's their business to intervene. This particular scene sent me spiraling downward because we human beings are often a lot more similar than we might wish, and it's easy to imagine that this angry father is conflicted about his behavior in the same way that I am conflicted about some of my own behavior. Most of us, I think, wish we were better than we are. That thought breaks my heart.

Speaking of hell, the Land Run itself can be like the fifth circle of Dante's Inferno, with participants wading through the river Styx's muddy swamp with bikes over their shoulders. So why did I sign up to do this race again? I don't know. That not knowing confuses me, and it highlights a question that's nagged me persistently these past few months: why do people do things on their bikes that are incredibly difficult? For some people, that might mean the seven-mile climb up Lookout Mountain, and for others the Tour Divide or the Iditarod--the difficulty is relative to one's own ability. Many of us seem compelled to explore our limits while being unable to explain why. 

The weather for this year's Land Run was mercifully mild, and the gravel was not a 7-layer peanut butter cake. Because I have no muddy carnage to present, all I have is this question to try and answer. Pull up a couch and let's hash(tag) it out.

  Salsa's #chasethechaise lounge.

Salsa's #chasethechaise lounge.

A majority of my bike rides are quite pleasant. I ride to work. Rebecca and I ride across town to drink beer, or we ride mountain bikes for a couple of hours with our friends. These are the kinds of rides that get me through the week, and in which I hope to partake for the rest of my life--to which bicycles add a healthy mix of exercise, nature, good people, beer, and Mexican food. The Land Run and other long events are something else. Sometimes we call them sufferfests, but in other parts of my life I am careful to avoid suffering, so there must be something else going on.

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That's not to say there's no suffering involved. At the end of this year's race, as I drank my recovery beer and watched others come across the finish line, I witnessed a few things that sum it up pretty well. A big, bearded fella finished, came to a stop and, statuesque, received his hug from Bobby without much reaction. He kept standing there as other racers filed past him. A minute or two later he bent over his handlebars and quietly wept. Even when the roads are dry the Land Run is hard

A struggle of that intensity flays you, and you find yourself at mile sixty or seventy without any energy, opinions, memory, ideas, courage, or thoughts. There is only despair. But if you allow yourself to taste that despair, you'll break down and never finish. All you can do is ignore the despair and push on, which reminds me of yet another quote from yet another Becket novel. "You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on."

So yes, there is suffering involved. Yet I witnessed a lot of other things at the finish line. Relief. Exuberance. Shock and awe at having actually completed the thing. People told all sorts of astonishing things to Bobby; many people became emotional as they whispered into his ear about overcoming all sorts of things, about riding for loved ones who were ill or no longer with us. For many, the ride was an Odyssey.

Herein lies the value of doing hard things.

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If you have done the Land Run, or another long, arduous bike ride, and if you have said to yourself, "I can't go on. I'll go on," then you know that asking yourself to be better is not asking too much. You have stood in the pouring rain without anything left, without any personality or ego or even so much as your own name, and you have somehow put foot upon pedal and gone on and gone on and gone on. You can ask yourself to be compassionate when you don't want to be, to turn off the teevee if you have something important to do, to not threaten violence upon your child in a truck stop (or anywhere).

It's cruel that we're so often unable to be who we want to be, but there is every reason to keep trying. If you can refuse to quit a bike race, you've no excuse to quit on yourself.

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If it's possible for this post, which is already too serious, to get even more too serious, let's talk for a minute about the graveyards we passed along the way. I can't remember how many there were. Two? Three? One of them was called Paradise. A graveyard called Paradise is essentially the same thing as a college bar called The Library--it saves a lot of tricky explanation when your roommate's parent calls and asks, "Where's Johnny?" and you can respond, "He's at the Library."

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Anyway, what I want to say about graveyards is that it's good to think about them. There's an app modeled after a Bhutanese saying that to be truly happy you must contemplate death five times per day. The app is called We Croak and it will send you five notifications per day. It may sound morbid, but here's an example of a notification you might receive:

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If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.  --Emily Dickinson

That's not a bad thing to contemplate.

To put too fine a point on it, thanks to last year's Land Run a part of me is dead already. This is happening to all of us, and all too soon. In the middle of the Land Run, in the midst of struggle, it's good to look over at a graveyard and remember that the struggle is a privilege, and is revocable. 

Okay.

That was a bit of a bummer. If you're for some reason still reading, let's get on to party hats and Irish Whiskey.

There were many things about this year's race that were different from last. I could see the landscape. Spring carpets of vibrant green and purple lined the roads, and gave way to peaceful, rural farmland. It was a lemonade and wind chime kind of day.

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It was also St. Patrick's Day. 

 

  Party hat!

Party hat!

  St. Patrick's day oasis at mile 75. Skratch Labs, water, beer, Irish Whiskey.  Thanks, fellas. That was the best bad decision I made all day.

St. Patrick's day oasis at mile 75. Skratch Labs, water, beer, Irish Whiskey.  Thanks, fellas. That was the best bad decision I made all day.

A lot of people go to bike races because they like competition. I'm not fast enough to compete, so I have to focus on something else. I'm going to borrow an analogy from a book called The Elephant in the Brain about redwood trees. 

Redwoods are the tallest trees on earth, and they got that way because they compete for sunlight. Trees that don't grow as high as the others don't get enough light, can't eat, and don't survive. If trees could work together, they might sit down and decide that this competition wasn't really benefiting them as a species, and they might decide to cap growth at 100 feet and spend all of that extra energy on producing pine cones instead, thereby expanding the forest. 

People are unique in that we can decide how to spend our resources. This is what makes the Land Run special. Whether you come to compete or not, you are encouraged, supported, and respected equally. Everybody gets a hug for finishing, not just the top twenty. The good folks at District Bicycles run an event that's professional and well-organized, but also fantastically warm and hospitable. This is a forest that's growing outward. 

  If you have a pair of pants and a pair of scissors, you have a pair of bike shorts. Commendable style, sir.

If you have a pair of pants and a pair of scissors, you have a pair of bike shorts. Commendable style, sir.

  Party eyes!

Party eyes!

Right here and now I'm making a vow never to return to Oklahoma. At least until next year.

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