Road Tripping in California

01 Jan 2015


2Early November Agi (the shop’s manager) took some time off road tripping in California, visiting shops, manufacturers and the cycling community of the Golden State. California is blessed with an incredible geography from its vast, wild mountains to the beautifully sculptured coast, to the inland deserts, you can find pretty much anything there. Liberal (for US standards) politics, hardcore urban messlife culture, small filthy rich towns, surfing meccas, hiking/climbing spots, crazy fashion and trendy food and anything else in between. So here is a recap of a great adventure trip. 3






8We landed in San Francisco after 15 hours on planes, airports and passport controls. SF is build on an incredible geography, with its famous hills located on the northern part of the peninsula, and full walking access to the ocean all around. It has a “european” feel more than any other place in California, with lots of public transport (tram, bus, metro, train) connecting the neighboring Bay Area cities to downtown. The bike culture here is really strong and evident anywhere you look. Quite a lot courier companies, lots of bike lanes and commuters, to a handful of quality shops catering for any needs from high-end carbon racers to fixed gear and vintage bikes. 9

10Our first stop was obviously MASH Transit, Mike Martin’s fixed gear project going strong after so many years. It is located in the Mission district carefully in distance from the craze of Valencia street hipness, a small place showcasing Mike’s product collaborations with Cinelli, Giro, DeFeet, Castelli etc as well as a great stock of other parts and brands like Nitto, ILE, Cadence, Thomson, Phil Wood etc. The new spot includes also a design studio at the back where Mike can work while being in the shop with customers. Mash in the post-fixed gear scene supports strongly the evergrowing cyclocross madness that is skyrocketing now in California, with a good stock of products and a dedicated team of riders racing all categories from Elite A’s to single speed Open and their ages ranging from 14 to 30+. As the evening was coming to dinner time we chated about Europe’s strong criterium scene, Italy and Milano, staying a bomber at heart, having family, riding bikes and why small is beautiful. 11



14Few steps down the hill, right on Valencia Av, Mission Workshop was preparing the new retail space that was getting ready for the opening party on 6th of December. Valencia Av. is a crazy place with tons of bikes locked up on the streets next to the cafes and eateries and cool shops and bars next to hobos and alcys. MW is going strong with new products coming out and we browsed the space and talked with Darius about the need for high-end made locally products, being able to offer lifetime warranty, American design and the contemporary adventure hype. Also about how to get the shit over on the other side of the ocean! 15





20Right on the other side of Golden Gate Bridge there is Marin County, a tremendously hilly sparsely populated and beautiful countryside. All you need is to ride the bike lane on the bridge and in a really short distance you can get lost with your bike climbing hills and bombing valleys. This is the battleground for all the roadies of SF and as it was expected the Rapha Cycle Club in San Francisco is located in the Marina District right before the bridge. It is an arty well-designed retail space with a top-notch caffe build in and a great accessories and book collection. There is an early morning ride going out of the shop/cafe every day popping out to Marin for 2-3 hour rides and then coming back for steamed capuccinos and freshly baked donuts. The guys at the cafe were super cool and polite and very curious about Greece, our cycling scene and riding opportunities and we talked about all sorts of European stuff like how cool is London, riding in Alps and how gorgeous are Italian girls. 21





26At the industrial/commercial part of the city is where the Chrome headquarters are. Most of Chrome stuff are made in Asia now but bags are still made in store and there is a showroom selection of everything that have made so far. There is also a cafe and great people hanging around there. Chrome now seems like is taking over the world and starts to resemble a huge streetware brand rather than a messenger related company but the products are dialed and there is always that SF feel to their space. 27




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42Hitting the road south to fantastic Santa Cruz (true and real Surf City USA) we passed through Big Sur hiking and camping, trying to avoid lousy motels etc. We met with lots of people touring on Surly’s best seller model Long Haul Trucker. The Pacific Coast Highway 1, as the road crossing Big Sur is known, is a favorite for tourers and it was there we bumped into Simple Ben, a surfer from Australia pedaling his way from Canada to Baja California. An adventurer at heart Ben was really proud of his suspension trailer self-modified to fit his surfboard, tent and all of his belongings. Follow Simple Ben’s trip on Instagram here. 43

















60Reaching Los Angeles is nothing like we had ever seen before. You got to take a big breath and get all these images of countryside registered to your brain because LA is a giant piece of metropolis and the endless hours on traffic jams, urban void spaces, skid rows, busy high streets, shopping malls and insanely crowded beachetowns is not going to ease off at any point. 61




65Hitting it off pretty dialed we squeezed into Echo Park/Los Feliz and Silverlake area, thats like NW Hollywood where all the cycling/punk/fashion stuff happens. While visiting Kyle at Golden Saddle Cyclery we got tipped off for an UCI SoCal cyclocross race that was running during the weekend at the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park (an Ymittos type of hill/park popular with roadies and CX). Some of our friends were racing there Rainer and Derek from MASH and Josh from Cadence. At last some proper cycling action! 1







8Right above Griffith Park there is a suburb called Gardenia – next to Pasadena – it is widely know as the terrace of LA due to its magnificent views over the valley. This is where one of the oldest, greatest and most celebrated distribution and manufacturing companies for track cycling has its headquarters: EuroAsia Imports. EAI is a world distributor for all things NJS and Japanese, having ongoing collaborations with Nitto, Izumi, Sugino etc as well as designing their famous EAI track cogs. We were greeted there by Dave Lundegard, manager of EAI. Dave had the courtesy to give us a huuuge tour of all of EAIs warehouse and offices and we talked about all things track, making the perfect cog, NJS certification, fixed gear kids, financial crisis, Europe, LA and the evergrowing touring market. The stuff that you can find at EAI’s warehouse is the best i have seen in my life, stacks of Makino, Samson, Bridgestone and Ohtaki frames that rise up to the ceiling, Nitto matching combos – bars, stem, post – in all different lengths, colour variations all made exclusively for EAI, full stack of boxes of Campagnolo drop-outs all meticulously packaged and stored, Sugino Zen rigns in all possible BCDs and teeth, even in their exclusive for EAI titanium oxidized variations. I was gobsmacked, my eyes were sore and my jaw hanging open, I had to be excused outside for a breath of fresh air! 9


11On the South West part of Los Angeles sharing space wiht 686 snowboards and a few other companies is Cadence commercial headquarters and the workspace of Josh, Sandy, Simon et al. Dustin Klein, the founder and designer of Cadence is still living in San Francisco maintaining a design studio in Berkley. Cadence is still a small operation putting out garments of cycling apparel and accessories that some of them are passionately made locally in the LA area. We met with Josh, a father and CX racer in the Master category and talked about well… bikes, business, fatherhood, Cadence collaboration with Ritchey, dissing carbon for steel and racing at the age of 35+. 12



15LA was tottally overwhealming and after few days we headed south towards Oceanside and San Diego, lazying around in Newport Beach at Daniels’ (click) surfsack, grabbing lots of Californian sun and feasting on fish tacos. California is a place of extremes, you see multimillionaires and hobbos at the same time, huge skyscrapers and urban farms. What you make of it is up to you, you can follow the Mullholand Drive to Malibu, get lost in the mountains with the tallest trees in the world and then follow the road till the end in Mexico through the cactuses, palm trees and eucalyptus and clear your head at the waves and the beautiful cliffs. We met lots of nice people, racers, tourers and roadies and got the taste of a real vibrant cycling community and culture that is in a constant creative phase and in some way always finds a way to evolve and progress through its people and their passion. I think we made the most if it. So long then. 1











12 All photos by Agi Kolyvas and N.P.. Additional MW photos by John Watson. last

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