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2509 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 and Linus bikes (because they are rad).

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TROGDOR THE BLOGINGATOR

Spinning in Circles by Nathan Elder

Yawp Cyclery

At the beginning of the year, we challenged you to set a cycling goal even though cycling goals are trivial. We know that many of you who set goals have pursued them seriously. Even if you haven't been able to meet the goal you set, we are really impressed with your efforts.

Nathan Elder met his goal and was kind enough to write about it. All of the photos, words, and adventures below are his. Enjoy!

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I emailed my goal to Yawp rather quickly last December and promptly neglected my goal. Mostly because emails are not real. Have you ever touched one? Didn’t think so. 

Late January was marked the joining of Strava and purchase of a new bike, both seeming essential to the goal.  With new bike excitement, the miles seemed racked up and felt easy.  Riding was further aided by global warming and the second warmest February on record.

But soon the new bike smell would fade and despite the warmest March on record for Colorado, the application of energy toward my goal decreased.  An apartment move provided another excuse cease toiling, and increase pizza/beer intake. 

Work picks up in April and May with the annual thawing of snowpack and flowing of rivers. Weekends fill up with work and excuses piled up. I began to think of my goal as an unreal email. I think it was actually an online form, which is even less real. 

Then June hit. Shit. I verbally articulated the goal to several people in the hopes it would motivate me. I rode a little bit, and conned others into riding Belcher Hill with me. Telling them it would be fun all the while using the hardest climb nearby as “training.” Still not feeling prepared as the month turned to July.

A few weeks before I embarked on my goal, I went on the Yawp/SloHi bikepacking trip. I found myself struggling near the back of the pack and hearing the inner voices telling me to give up on my goal.

And then I found myself in a dark place, literally. For the first time publicly, I admit that I took spin classes. Not just any spin classes, the kind where they turn the lights out, light candles and blare EDM music.  I sweated a lot. Wool was a bad choice for indoors. I contemplated what situation I could possibly find myself in where I need to spin mountain bike cranks at 110 RPM. I cannot feel the beat and cycle to the rhythm. But I had decided that I was going to accomplish my goal via any odd detour necessary.   

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The day I as dropped off the side of highway 50, as soon as the sticky rubber gripped the pins of my pedals, all that was left to do was pedal and push. The two things I should have been doing all along. 

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During the trip I had one weak moment. After eating real food and seeing semi-civilization for the first time in a few days and sitting out another rainstorm, I knew I was just a $17 hostel stay and $75 train ride from being dry and comfortable. The rain cleared, the sun came out and I pedaled on, finishing a few days ahead of schedule.

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Push. Pedal. And achieve your goal. And prizes. Don’t forget the prizes. Levi promised them.*

 

*Editor's note: Yes, we did promise all of you prizes for completing your goals, but many of you attempted to meet such incredible goals that our prizes are going to seem chintzy and anticlimactic. Sure, we could've told you earlier, but where's the fun in that?

Yawp! and Surly Bikepack Against the Machine

Yawp Cyclery

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Trevor from Surly Bikes appeared in our bike shop on an otherwise ordinary Thursday afternoon. What was Trevor doing here in our little stembag of the world? He was here to Bikepack Against the Machine, of course. Did we? We did.

What is Bikepacking Against the Machine? This is the third year of its existence, and traditionally we've loaded our bikes and more or less belayed each other up the face of a mountain for an entire day, and then moaned and lurched around a campsite in delirium and exhaustion for a subsequent day. This year we wanted to ride something a little more enjoyable and get a little deeper into the wilderness. Did we? We did.

Before the bikepacking began, fortune was good and timing was right and a few of us had the chance to ride the Monarch Crest trail on Friday. We started around noon on a weekday and more or less had the trail to ourselves. 

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As you may or may not know, the Monarch Crest trail offers some of the most incredibly scenic photo-ops that a person could possibly spoil by shoving their dumb ol' bike into.

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I was lucky to get this shot of my bike spoiling the scenery before all of these jokers moved in to photograph their own bikes.

Incredibly, I'd recently ridden the Crest, and at that time I had suspected how charmed my life must be to get to do such grand things in such good company; to get to do the same thing again so soon made me feel a bit guilty. Um, not so guilty I wouldn't do it again tomorrow if I could, but still a little guilty.

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Nothing spoils an album cover like a bike helmet. 

Nothing spoils an album cover like a bike helmet. 

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We'd planned to shuttle ourselves, but ran into a small snag that led to hitching a ride with a stranger. If Nate looks like he laughing at his own little private joke, it's because he's hopped in the bed of a pickup with a disembodied dinosaur leg. It turned out that the stranger wasn't going our way after all, and after a brief moment in which I though we were going to be murdered, we were returned to our party unscathed and decided to drink beer until plan B found us. 

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It must've been the right thing to do, because we wound up here:

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On Saturday morning, eighteen of us gathered in Salida with food for twenty-five, water for ten, whiskey for forty, and not a braze-on to spare. You can't fit much gear on a bike, but it sure does take a long time to pack your kit. We arrived in town at 10am with plans to meet at 11. By noon, some of us were ready. Does it matter that we got a late start? A wristwatch is a machine.

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Finally, in the heat of the day we rolled out. Our bikes were heavy. It was hot. Then it was hot and heavy and hard and steep all at once. I'm not really what I'd describe as a face-sweater, but sweat from my face I did--all over my Petite Pourteurhouse bag. Face-sweat tests prove the bag is waterproof, just like Surly says.

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After an hour of suffering, the grade mellowed out, the cloud cover provided relief, and people began conquering their hangovers. It could even be said that "fun" was a word that got thrown around.

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Only one of us dared drink of these mine tailings, and when he grew a second head we had to stop and debate whether our party had technically increased in number to nineteen and if it had, whether we were going to have enough whisky. 

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The road gradually became steep yet again, and loose, too, and intersections not marked on our maps began to appear at regular intervals. This did not in the least deter us. It was quiet and pretty; this are things machines don't care about.

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We took a long rest here to regroup and to drink a few beers that had mysteriously opened. It was a pleasant rest, well-earned and essential, but we made the fatal error of believing we had neared the end of the climb. Beyond this quiet little meadow the road became increasingly steep, rocky, loose, mean, and unfairly vertical. Each time I exhaled a fine mist of face-sweat was vaporized and blown forth as though my mouth were the blowhole of a sea mammal. Such were the horrors of that road.

But then we found ourselves in a place so scenic that I needed to photograph my bike.

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A rowdy descent caused several mechanical failures and we were forced to camp in this terrible place:

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Campfires are good for letting the mind unspool. We enjoyed a bazillion stars and a vivid Milky Way until the moon rose and cast its glow upon us like the screen of a giant iPhone. There was fire breathing. There was an extensive cooking production with campfire rocks, plastic baggies, a tiny pot, and freeze-dried phó. Whisky bottles circulated.

It's difficult to make an argument about why this is a better thing to do than watching television or scrolling through social media feeds; there isn't much utility in any of these activities. I do know that, around a campfire, when my hand robotically reaches for the phone in my pocket, I am happy to remember that I am in the middle of nowhere and the device is useless. I am free to focus my attention on whatever I like. The more surrounded one is by the machine, the more difficult it becomes to resist.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons: It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.  --Walt Whitman

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons: It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.  --Walt Whitman

If waking up here doesn't set you right, you might be a machine. 

If waking up here doesn't set you right, you might be a machine. 

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Since we'd gained 3800 feet in 18 miles on day one, we left ourselves with 35 miles on day two. We set out on what promised to be an easier, more pleasant day.

It was.

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From the window of an airplane, cities resemble circuitboards. As our phone calls have become emails have become text messages have become emojis, our communication with one another more and more resembles a string of 1's and 0's. It's refreshing to step away from those habits, step away from cat videos, and watch a fire burn. There's something essential about doing an activity with other people, looking them in the eye, and passing around a beer. 

Which is exactly what Gary was trying to do when he dropped this PBR, which he'd lugged for 45 miles and 5500 feet of climbing.

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Thanks to all of you who came and made a couple of rotations on a hunk of rock into an incredible weekend. I can't think of another thing I'd have rather done. Thank you also to Surly Bikes for 1. making objects that we aren't conflicted about selling to friends who've become customers and customers who've become friends, and for 2. taking the time to come visit your pals in Denver.

As long as there is a machine to bikepack against, consider your invitation open.

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Surly's Redesigned Karate Monkey; Bruce Lee Meets Curious George

Yawp Cyclery

I first rode a new Karate Monkey at Saddledrive last year (which you can about read here), and I've been riding one exclusively for the last couple of months. As I get to know this bike, it continues to surprise me. 

Before we get into how this bike rides, let's address the obvious: both of Surly's stock builds are rigid, steel bikes. What's next, Surly, a horse and buggy? This is the age of carbon fiber and pivot bearings. 

See but here's the thing, though. If you wanted to mug someone on the train, you might see Bruce Lee sitting there looking kind of scrawny. If you mugged him, you'd have ample time in your hospital bed to dwell on the cliché about the deceptive nature of appearances.

That shade of Karate Monkey yellow looks so familiar...

That shade of Karate Monkey yellow looks so familiar...

This yellow, rigid, steel bike may appear anachronistic, slow, and abusive. To some, it appears to be the wrong tool for the job. Why? It's just as much fun to ride as its full-suspension counterparts (perhaps more fun). Rarely is it slower. Sometimes it's faster!

If you're interested in self-defense, you might choose to learn Karate. You could also buy a machine gun. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Each demands different things from you. Each is effective in its own way. Let's leave that metaphor there, because I'm not interested starting a firearm debate, but the violent nature of the metaphor is appropriate. If you think you can teach the Karate Monkey a lesson or two, you will find yourself face-down on the sparring mat before you can say, "Zero inches of travel." Yes, descending on a rigid bike can leave you savaged. It can feel like this. If, however, you recognize the Karate Monkey as your master and learn its ways, you'll be earning your belt in no time. Rigid bikes will make you smooth when the trail is not.

(Also, sometimes the wrong tool for the job isn't the wrong tool at all).

Rigid bikes aren't for everyone. You can certainly use a suspension fork (120-140mm travel). Don't feel bad about using one; Bruce Lee didn't always fight with his bare hands.

This leads me to my next point; the new KM is superior to its predecessor in two major ways.

1. Versatility. The rear dropouts will accommodate boost hubs, non-boost thru-axle hubs, and quick-release hubs. A shorter seat tube allows for a longer dropper post (with internal routing). Long dropper posts are crucial for getting rowdy on a rigid bike. Run 29er wheels or 27.5+ wheels. 

2. Stability. With a longer toptube and a slacker headtube, you can feel confident charging into just about anything. My old Karate Monkey was one of the most intuitive bikes I'd ridden. It would go wherever I told it to go. The new Karate Monkey already knows where to go--straight into the fun, gnarly lines. 

The great wheel size controversy rages on, and it divides people almost as quickly as a debate about firearms. I'm going to mostly tip-toe around that controversy here. Sufficit to say that cushy plus tires on a rigid bike are a benefit, and additional traction is never bad on a singlespeed, whether you're crawling up rocks or trying to carry speed through corners. Wheels are great! So are their sizes.

How does it ride? I am surprised at how quickly it cuts corners that involve multiple, loose, rocky step-downs. I am surprised at how easily it gets off the ground, and equally surprised by how well it handles when it returns to the ground, amidst the chunk and chunder. Stable, agile, aggressive.

I tried carrying a second water bottle underneath the downtube, but it shot out at every opportunity. I asked Bruce Lee where he carries his second bottle, and he replied, "Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water put into a cup becomes the cup. Water can flow or drip or creep or crash." Thanks, Bruce.

I moved the cage onto the fork leg, and it's worked like a charm. (Let's ignore that one cage is black and the other white--sometimes what you find under the seat in your car isn't anodized to your preference).

All of that is to say that, like Bruce Lee, the Karate Monkey can fight its way through anything. 

That shade of Karate Monkey yellow looks so familiar...

That shade of Karate Monkey yellow looks so familiar...

That about sums up the Karate; what about the Monkey?

Karl Ove Knausgård makes an observation about what it means to be an adult in Volume 1 of My Struggle. 

"Understanding the world requires you to take a certain distance from it....We bring it within the scope of our senses and stabilize it with fixer....Then one day we reach the point where all the necessary distances have been set....That is when time begins to pick up speed."

A bike helps to unfix all of those carefully maintained distances. Bikes are tools for exploration. Elation. Being outdoors keeps us young, active, and it helps us be surprised by the world. Those things are vital--Curious George appears to be happier than many adults.

The Karate Monkey is an incredible machine for exploration. It's comfortable enough to sit on all day long, and it has mounts for just about any rack/bag/cage combo you could imagine. Plus tires are a great choice for bikepacking and other kinds of loaded roaming.  Yeah, you can push it as hard as you want to on singletrack, but you don't have to. You can load it up and head into the woods and get Curious.

Bruce Lee can handle anything. Curious George wants to discover everything. That about sums it up.

The Longest Day: Dirty Kanza

Yawp Cyclery

Emporia, Kansas is eight hours away, as the crow drives. Let's say you wanted to go there in order to see whether you could, in one sitting, drink twenty-four beers. When your friends and family found out what you were going to do, here are a few things they might say:

1. That's a good way to make yourself hate beer.

2. Can't you do that at home? Colorado beer is far better than Kansas beer anyway.

3. Wouldn't you rather drink one fantastic beer than twenty beers you won't even taste?

4. It's important to do things that are difficult. It's difficult to do things that are important. Does it follow that drinking twenty-four beers in a day in Kansas is actually important?

5. That sounds like the worst thing ever.

6. The hangover won't be worth the achievement.

You may know that the Dirty Kanza is a 200-mile gravel race that happens annually in the flint hills of Kansas. You may also know that you don't pronounce Kanza with a "short a," as in "Kansas." If you do so, people will step forward to correct you. Even if you are alone on an Emporia street corner in the middle of the night and you whisper, "Kân-za," someone in lycra and an aero helmet will materialize beside you to wag a finger and say, "Ah, ah, ah, it's Kahhhhn-za." Therefore, you might want to pronounce Kanza with a schwa--like Captain Kirk:

Or, if you enjoy irritating people, call it the Dirty Iowaza.

When you tell folks you've signed up for Kanza, they'd say many of the same seven things. I myself have said many of them in the past. Now that I'm older and wiser and deeply, exquisitely tired, my opinions have changed.

That's a good way to make yourself hate beer.

No it isn't.

Can't you do that at home? Colorado beer is far better than Kansas beer anyway. 

Sure, I could ride 200 miles at home, but I won't. I'd get tired and stop at a Mexican restaurant after fifty miles and then call somebody to pick me up. Months of pageantry, anxiety, and logistical hurdles and then an eight-hour drive gives one an incentive to finish.

Kanza is an individual event, but it's steeped in community. Riding 200 miles with 1000 people is not an experience you can choose to have at any given time. It's an experience worth having, and if you want to have it you have to participate. You can't do that from home. It's good to travel beyond what you know and see things you haven't before. Like this:

Also, while Colorado singletrack is indeed superb, there is much to be said for sampling the delicacies of other locales. I'm not going to move east any time soon, but I do secretly enjoy riding gravel roads. Don't tell anybody.

Wouldn't you rather drink one fantastic beer than twenty beers you won't even taste?

But see, though, I've savored fantastic beer. I've not had a case of fantastic beer all at once. What's that like? I don't know. Do I want to know? I don't know that, either. Only one way to find out.

It's important to do things that are difficult. It's difficult to do things that are important. Does it follow that drinking twenty-four beers in a day in Kansas is actually important?

No. Yes.

Yes and no.

It's complicated.

We're not feeding the hungry here, nor are we negotiating a peace treaty. We're spending a self-indulgent weekend riding bikes. So in that way it's not important at all.

On the other hand, it is important. Every now and then, it's important for me to ask a lot of myself. Sometimes, things in life are difficult, and there's a voice in my head that urges me to quit difficult things--even mildly difficult things, like cleaning the garage. I need to shut that voice down now and then, or it will immobilize me and I will succumb to the void.

It's important to let the dirt in. It's important to be outside all day. To distance myself from screens, from distractions, from paperwork, and from the mundane. Riding a bike all day makes for aches and pains, but it never stops being pleasant. Well, unless you forget to check your bottle before you stick it in you mouth--that's unpleasant.

A long, beautiful day turned into a beautiful evening. Right after this sunset, I saw fireflies for the first time in my life. As I age, the world surprises me less and less often. It's a real joy when it does. To know that it still can.

The hangover won't be worth it.

Yup, I felt bad for a day or two. I dropped a few things on the ground and I did not pick them up. It was totally worth it.

Thanks to everyone who helped me make it to either the start line or the finish line or both. Bobby and his team from District Bicycles provided amazing support--I couldn't have finished without them. Tobie and I trained together by eating cheese and drinking alcoholic beverages. Adam from Slo-Hi Bike and Coffee, along with his friend Scott and dad Andy tolerated me all the way to KS and all the way home. Chad told me what to expect (and he was right--especially about my improper gear ratio). Phillip helped keep the bike shop afloat with my ever-tolerant staff, Scott and Brian. As always, thanks to Rebecca for putting up with shenanigans.

Now that I'm home and won't be able to sit on a bike for awhile, I have a curious eye on that case of beer over there...

The Yawp! Company Bewitched by Penitente Canyon

Yawp Cyclery

Our first warning came from the park ranger. "We don't really have maps of this place. I used to have some copies of the course from the Twelve Hours of Penitence bike race, but those are all gone." 

Our second warning came from the campground host. "I'm here for another few weeks, but then I relocate to Crested Butte for the summer because there are too many rattlesnakes here." 

That was all we knew about the place on Friday night. Don't get lost, don't get bitten.

Nobody warned us about the witches.

From our campsite we looked across the San Luis Valley at the snowcapped Sangre de Cristos on the valley's far side. The Great Sand Dunes were a strange bronze smudge along the otherwise green mountainside. But we paid little attention to the view and instead stared into the fire pit, where Darin kept making delicious things appear:

On Saturday morning we found what appeared to be a trail, so we rode it. We climbed up fun little rock features, and the trail alternated between rigorously steep and mercifully steep. Occasionally we encountered forks in the trail, but instead of the signage one might expect (the useful kind), divergent trails were marked with Trail Confidence Markers, some of which (but not all) were numbered. What could we do but forge ahead and get lost? We were treated to fun little rock rollers and drops until we found a meadow atop this hill. One of the more prognosticating members of our party dropped bread crumbs behind us, but the same fate befell those crumbs that befell the crumbs of Hansel.

Continuing on, the trail narrowed until it became primitive, and then narrowed some more and all but disappeared into a creek bed. It was great. We felt like explorers of yore. After much loose and sketchy descending we ran out of rock cairns and debated whether we should turn around and push our bikes back up the gnarly hill we'd just descended or continue on into the wilderness and risk near-certain death. We pressed onward. Near-certain death versus hike-a-bike--is it even a choice? We yearned to see a useless Trail Confidence Marker. 

The faint and primitive trail eventually t-boned a well-worn trail and we picked a direction. We began to think we recognized certain hillsides. We began to suspect we knew where we were. But the the trail turned and we were treated to a rippin' little descent, and then we found this:

Had it been lost? Had it been bitten?

Had it been lost? Had it been bitten?

Further into the breech we rode. The sun was directly overhead, and you had to pick up a thing to see its shadow.

Somewhere out there we found a sign with actual, real words. Those words were Witch's Canyon. It wasn't until later that we reasoned it no great place for bikes, nor for credulous mortals.

In places, it was barely a trail at all. Beware the thicket.

There's a rock at the top, though, and upon it we sat.

Unexplainably, the trails were reshuffled so that we found ourselves in familiar territory. We descended the trail we'd first climbed, down rollers and drops and smooth stone berms. There was hucking, shredding, and thrashing. Clothing was rent out of sheer glee. Miraculously, camp rose up out of the plain below as if summoned. It was precisely one beer past sandwich-thirty.

Some of our fellow travelers had also found the Witch's Canyon trail. We asked them how they liked it, and they replied, "Only idiots would try to make it up that trail." Point taken.

By early afternoon it became apparent that spells had been cast, and I succumbed and was bound by an unholy gravity to this rock for nearly an hour.

I woke in full thrall of the spell, and was drawn inexplicably back up the mountain. The others, it seemed, had been similarly affected. Who knows to what purpose the witch's spells allured us back into the woods. We found ourselves climbing a trail that runs along Witch's Canyon but is far more pleasant to climb. It was called Kitten Nugget or Sunbeam Chicken, and it began near Trail Confidence Marker #11. But to what end does a trail have a name if that name is recorded in no log and posted on no sign and remembered by no party in this bewitched company? 

I would say with confidence that the spell dragged us up this mountain's every side, though it also compelled us down routes equal in number that we had not climbed. Can one solve a Rubix Cube with travel? That as much as anything else may be what was attempted.

Our lives were undoubtedly saved when the spell's antidote was discovered. Turns out it was pizza. And beer. We had our fill and returned to camp and once again were free to determine our own actions. I advanced to bed directly.

Having never before been the subject of a spell in my sheltered life, I knew not what a suitable treatment might be for subsequent day-after afflictions. It turns out that riding Cottonwood and Chicken Dinner on S Mountain in Salida is just the cure.