Where I’m From

When people ask “Where are you from” it is always interesting to observe how the responses unfold. If a person has lived in the same place their entire life then the answer is of course quite simple but that seems to be the case less and less these days. Now we live in a transient world. People relocate constantly for any number of reasons. Where we are from is open to interpretation anymore.

As for me, I was born in North Hollywood, California… but I only lived there for a matter of months before my parents moved to my father’s childhood home in Ohio. We stayed there for a few years before, I’m not sure exactly how, my parents took a trip to the Northwest corner of the USA. I’m pretty sure the story goes something like “we saw the Columbia River Gorge and knew we had found our new home”. So, promptly thereafter we relocated in Vancouver, Washington which, if you look at a map is neither in Washington DC or Vancouver BC. It’s right across the river from Portland, Oregon but dare I say it is culturally much further than a few miles from Portland. Vancouver is a bit of a sleepy eddy next to Portland’s raging torrent. Things move slower there, it isn’t as “cool” in almost any measurable way, but I think the people who live there have a certain pride in their identity, of being a small town next to a big city. I spent most of my formative years in Vancover, but our family also detoured to Argentina for a couple of years in the middle of that. Argentina opened my eyes to the fact that the outside world is not the USA. The USA is very different from the rest of the world, a bubble of sorts.

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A rather lovely custom Traildonkey 2.0 build

Fact: Every Traildonkey that we build can be specced exactly to the rider’s preferences. Many people are happy to go with our standard builds which are well thought out, but sometimes someone comes along and wants to put together something extra special.

This build is one such Donkey and we’re excited to send it out to it’s new home!


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Mid Season Cyclocross Musings

Words by Nik Van der W00ts, Photos by Brett Stakelin (@das_guy)

Cyclocross is a niche within a niche, but there is something I love about this high energy, gritty sport. I got started grinding my gears on the grass, sand, mud and barriers on the east coast. Some would cite this as the unofficial heart and home of American cyclocross. The days spent racing and volunteering in Gloucester and Providence were cold, muddy and certainly epic affairs. Those memories have stuck with me and often are the first that come to mind when I think of cyclocross.

After a hiatus from cyclocross (prompted by grad-school and a 2,000 mile relocation to Colorado) I re-tested the waters. I was in for a shock. The climate and terrain were unfamiliar compared with my first dirt-covered memories. Gone were the days of racing in parks with pristine grass that turned to rutted muddy lines. In Colorado if a race is on grass, it is spiky unfriendly blades. All the moisture is evaporated, leaving dusty loose conditions. Many a time I have come home from racing and felt like a miner, hacking up dust for the next few days. Some of the rugged courses tested my nerves on cantilever brakes and left my hands sore from trying to modulate my speed.

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The Road Not Taken

A poem by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 Photos by Stephen Fitzgerald and Galen Stiglebauer / Colorado Cycling Adventures:

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Touring Colorado on a Donkey

Phil: Brian and I have been riding bikes together for the last 10 years. Our escapades have included week long stage races in banana republics with more stray dogs and chickens on the road than actual pavement, big mountain rides in the pacific northwest, and week long training camps among the towering redwood trees and wineries of Santa Rosa, CA. Ever since moving to the front range area, I was excited about the opportunity to show him some of the roads in my new found backyard. Loose plans formulated early this summer for him to come out and suffer through the thin air, which Brian has historically not done very well with, in order to do some touring. With the promise of the unknown and adventure, Nik was also very interested in joining us for what was sure to be a great three-day trip in the high country.

Nik: Little did I know what was in store for me, it was a day full of emotions, the one that occupied most of my attention was how I felt like I bonked when the ride just begun; definitely not the best way to start a three-day tour. 

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Life with a Donkey

Words and photos by Rod Hart. Washington State, USA.

A summer spent riding a Donkey and relearning that where the pavement ends, fun and adventure usually begins!

Donkeys, aka Asses, are very versatile, loyal, stubborn, and long living animals. In Animal Farm, Benjamin, the donkey, refuses to join the rebellion knowing the one type of tyranny will ultimately be replaced by another. My donkey, aptly named Donkey, has been extremely loyal, versatile, and stubborn…qualities I possess, making us great companions.


My adventures on Donkey began at the Dirty Kanza 200. I had yet to see my donkey, but I knew that we would be fast friends and lifelong companions. As soon as Donkey was unboxed and assembled I was in love, and ready to challenge myself at DK200. Unbeknownst to me, Donkey knew quite a bit about me. Donkey knew that I had been injured all spring and unable to train, Donkey knew that I was going to be stubborn, and Donkey knew that I was ill prepared for the challenge ahead…Donkey was also willing to push the limits to help me try and achieve glory. Sadly, through a series of misfortunes, Donkey and I were unable to finish DK200. We did give the good fight, and managed to ride nearly 60 miles without a rear derailleur.


Over the course of my DK60, Donkey carried me across the Flint Hills of Kansas. The hills consisted of mud, hard pack, dirt, gravel, dry riverbed crossings, and actual river crossings. Donkey was able to swiftly carry me up the steep gravel grades, and with stability and agility down ludicrously fast gravel descents. Hitting a 1-2 foot deep, dried gravel creek bed, at 35 mph could normally be a recipe for disaster, but not for Donkey…Trail Donkeys are designed for tough conditions, conditions that others would wither and crack in, conditions that make others want to curl up into a ball and cry. Donkey not only passed the test multiple times, Donkey kept jumping at the challenges and passing each one. Sadly finishing all 200 miles was not meant to be, but I learned quickly that Donkey was up for any challenge.



Once back in Washington, Donkey and I have continued to forge our relationship. We travel deep into the mountains on steep paved roads. We travel through small towns looking for adventure. We travel deep into the windswept Columbia River Gorge exploring gravel roads with steep ascents and descents. All of these are prime riding locations for Donkey, and Donkey has successfully conquered each of the conditions. I have yet to find something Donkey does not excel at:


Descending roads at 50+ mph, check.



Climbing switchback after switchback looking for the next corner of scenery, check.



Climbing and descending horrible washboard that makes your insides want to come out, check.


Being a pack mule so I can travel the gorge without fear of where I will find a water stop, check.


It has only been one summer, which isn’t even over yet, and I already know that I am in love. I am always excited when I see Donkey ready to go each morning, ready for some adventure that I am ill prepared for, and knowing that whatever conditions lie ahead I will surely come home safe with a good story and a picture (or 1000).

Point A to Point B

Bikes roll over things. This is due to the roundness of their wheels.

Early in the mountain biking days the bikes were simple and versatile. Suspension had not yet been invented. Technical skills were required for negotiating trails strewn with rocks or roots. As time went on mountain bikes became more specialized. They got better at going fast, they got more comfortable, they handled better. Along the way though both on and off road bikes seem to have gotten more discipline specific. If you want to go road biking you take your aero road bike, if you want to shuttle fast dirt descents you take your long travel full suspension bike. This is all great. But I think there is a style of riding that has become lost due to specialization: The Point A to Point B ride. Road, dirt, trails, paths, singletrack, doubletrack, bushwacking. The point A to point B ride is fundamentally about compromise. There is no perfect tire for covering all manner of terrain. There is no perfect geometry for both road and trail riding. Point A to Point B rides require a certain degree of adaptation and even discomfort from those who undertake them. On the other side of that coin though there is a reward: On these sorts of rides your route is limitless, your terrain variable, and your challenges constantly shifting.

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