Coffee sipping pilot of a red FBM frame and a Nikon camera.
Posts from Steve:
Photos from the 3rd Rumble in Richmond by Kyle Sidor
Check out RADshare to learn more…read more
I hadn’t made a plan, only a trajectory, It was the first of the year, and I had packed my van with most of what I thought I would need to live in and live out of it for the next month, as I did my best to escape some of my least favorite parts of winter, cold weather and cold feelings. It was rainy, with a winter storm warning I was hoping to miss. I filled the tank, installed a new headlight bulb and set out to head west, looking through the rainy windshield, being cleared in incremental tempo, as 21 inch arcs gave me literal moments of clarity as the wiper blades did their best to help the van guide me towards something, to which I wasn’t at all sure it would be.
The first part of the drive led me west into the mountains, to a small college town called Radford, where I drove up a dirt road, and had a cup of coffee across from an Army munitions factory, and traded some art for a tank of gas, to keep going until I hit Knoxville in time for a winter thunderstorm. It started snowing, roughly 450 miles from home and it was still the first day of the year…
Waking up to snow on the ground, I continued west towards Memphis. The mountains of Tennessee and the roads passing through them were covered in snow. Weather became more mild as the elevation dropped into the valley of the Mississippi river, enough for a bike ride, Pedaling around different cities you can usually tell what bottling company is nearby or what beer is cheap, empty Modelo cans seemed to be littered all over Memphis. Maybe it was on sale recently. Either way, dinner and a visit to a friends art studio were next. That and another tank of gas.
Onward across the Mississippi River, The water is warmer than the air, fog was rising up like steam off a big ol dirty cup of coffee. Cold weather and dirty wet lowlands took me across Arkansas. Sunny white light through a dirty winter windshield guided me to the Texas border.
Passing through Texarkansas, Dallas and the like, my route turned south, with an expansive Texas sunset to my right showing me silhouetted trees, factories, powerlines, farms, water towers and billboards. Visiting Texas small towns like Manor, Taylor, Round Rock, and the capitol- Austin. Each one showing me a little bit of Americana while I did things like drink coffee, check out local eateries, and go on bike rides.
Bad weather gave me an off day to do some errands, change the oil in the van and wash some clothes. The coin laundry by Stew’s was mostly just street folks trying to get in out of the rain. Outside, it was just cold and grey and the areas surrounding both very upscale developments by investment groups or totally skid row style, not much in between, and the laundromat smelled like piss as it started to flood. This was my cue to pack the van and once again head west.
A pre dawn drive had me rolling through Texas hill country, a brief rearview sunrise quickly muted by overcast skies, as I passed postcard towns like Johnson City and Fredericksburg before meeting up with Interstate 10, for a long drive through central and west Texas winter, where every thing seemed to be grayscale, the road, the horizon, the dwellings and roadside landscapes, all gray, eventually becoming black as i drove into the night, landing in Silver City New Mexico, just east of the continental divide. All along, I could almost see Mexico outside the driver side window.
I got a $75 room at a place called the Drifter Motel, before waking up early to ride a park in freezing temperatures at an elevation of about 5900 feet. Wandering the old mining town, where Geronimo and Billy the Kid had once drifted through, I too kept it moving up over the mountains before coasting back towards the interstate, another postcard view, a two lane road, purple mountains on the horizon, and an econoline van like a white horse in the distance.
Tucson was the first taste of warmer weather since narrowly escaping an east coast winter storm and driving through a cold front that blanketed most of the country. A wandering bike ride around parts of the city, enjoying some much needed sunshine before another day on the road. Another cup of coffee and eventually I’d be turning left at I-8, passing Yuma Arizona near the border, then onto Calexico where the road starts playing that trick again where you can’t tell if you are crossing the flats, on a slight descent or climbing a slow mellow uphill desert wall, it can be mind numbing. The gray of west Texas traded itself in for a slightly more saturated view of various shades of tan, eventually arriving on an area filled with sand dunes before crossing the Tecate Divide. Weaving through an exaggerated boulder filled mountain range was the last ascent before rolling into La Mesa, eventually San Diego, an then the Pacific Ocean.
Sleeping in the van in the warmer temps, after loitering across the United States southern corridor was welcomed, even with helicopters circling above, and waking up to people rummaging for recycling in the alleyway mornings, all while realizing I was smack dab in the flight path of San Diego International airports morning take off rituals. Sunrise coffees on the coast with the Fast And Loose crew were highlights, as I did my best to shake off the mileage between Richmond and Point Loma.
I wandered more, North Park, Ocean Beach, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas to catch up with Gilly and Crazy Joe, the history we all shared together was more expansive than the space between home and where I had just motored through to get here. We did our best to re live as many laughs as we could as 40 something year old teenagers. It was probably the first time in 25 years we all sat on the deck of a ramp together, and the first time palm trees stood tall above us. More laughs and loitering and I was on the move again.
My father had been stationed in Coronado, in the sixties before being shipped overseas to fight in an American war. I took some of his ashes to sea beneath Sunset Cliffs, and said another goodbye. Nearly three thousand miles from where we started, another journey to the sea. Bike rides along this coastline the next couple days felt good.
Another mini van wake up call, I ended up at the OB park, where I met Neil Blender, and felt like my trip was done. I turned out of the parking lot and headed east. No less certain than on the first day of the year, I hugged the border of Mexico, now outside the passenger side window, until I got to Las Cruces and slept in a cold parking lot. I’d spent days heading west, but after another bout of restlessness I once again found myself in West Texas. another winter storm chasing me, looking to the rear view mirror with a dirty bronze winter sunset coming through the unwashed back window, the roads slowly went from wet to frozen as the rain turned to ice, and I drove uneasily into the darkness to the sound track of Townes Van Zandt and ice hitting the windshield…read more
Goat Pen DIY- Mooresville North Carolina- learn more here…read more
RIP to the Flying V!
Here are some photos celebrating the life of Evan Venditti- check out the full set here with Jake Cunningham.
To see photos from Evan’s life- click here!read more
An afternoon at Vic’s house with Chris Hallman, Cody Diggs, Sam Townsley, Matt Plassman, Cam Childs, John Cappsie, Marky Mark, Matt Coplon and friends.
Check out Circuit BMX for more…read more read more read more
The DIY World Championship Series was created with the simple idea of building your own fun – and sharing it. Through loosely organized jams, we are putting a spotlight on dedicated riders, their spots and the scenes that celebrate the do it yourself ethos. Bringing riders together to shred unique handmade terrain built by and for fellow creators and helping support these efforts with good times is how we hope to inspire more fun.
We reintroduced this series at the Juice Bowl in Richmond Va. as an invitational by bringing some East Coast heavies to a giant wooden bowl, tucked away from the world, for a low key session with good vibes. Thanks to Channing Miller, Chris Burke and the crew for sharing this masterpiece.
Photos By CAPPSIE!
When the fine folks that own the Juice Bowl aren’t ripping, they are making some amazing avocado toast at the North End Juice Co. They also support the LaRama Project, a grassroots effort to save the trees. Go follow them on Instagram and learn more about how you can help!read more
Check out more goodness at the Larama Project!read more
I drove about a thousand miles down the east coast and ended up at a tourist campground in the Florida keys, at a marina, frazzled, late in the evening, By myself eating pistachios at a picnic table and washing them down with soup out of a can. The soup was the same temperature as the inside of the van.
I had driven this far, so I could get on my bike and pedal the rest of the way. This wasn’t a typical bike ride for me. Meeting my friend Matt to pedal from Key Largo to the end of Rt.1 in Key West to raise money for charity – a nice cruise for a good cause.
Come to find out, my Mother went into labor with me at a bar in Key Largo, so that’s where I would leave from, where it all started. My uncle had owned it, adjacent to another marina, and my father would fix small boats for extra money. Now I just had to find it, many years later.
I was walking around what appeared to be gravel parking lot at an inlet – storm torn parts of the coastline, A woman asked me what I was doing, I said I wanted to see the ocean, and asked if there was a bar nearby, she pointed to a dilapidated building not far off and said -’THIS IS PRIVATE’ , and that I couldn’t look out to the sea here. So there I was, looking around for the bar at Rock Harbor Marina where my Mom went into labor with me, it had been destroyed by one of the recent hurricanes and now it sat quietly amidst the more favorable areas being rebuilt. Seems as though someone bought and fenced off the coastline on both sides since I was last here.
Then I locked my keys in the car in the Florida Keys…
Not soon after we would start pedaling, mile 100 until it ended. Key Largo was busy, but had dedicated bicycle paths most of the time, where you would see Iguanas scurry into the foliage- we would see lots of animals- heron, bald eagles, cuban anoles, egrets, osprey, polydactyl cats, roosters, northern curly tailed lizards and even a guy who called himself – ‘˜Doug the Legend!’ – he then told us – ‘if you wanna be a legend, you gotta do legendary shit…’
Matt was pedaling the full distance, standing up on a BMX bike, my bike would serve as the mule, with a rack and luggage, until both my bags broke, AND the rack. The bumpy asphalt and the lack of preparation proved to be a bad combination. When my bag hit the ground and made a klunk sound, I first worried I would have a broken camera, until I remembered I was carrying my fathers ashes in a coffee mug. Luckily it was just the sound of a multi tool hitting the ground. Repairs and improvisation were on deck, and I would be slowly navigating the not so groomed surfaces from here on out.
Even with being ‘˜out of practice’, ill prepared and generally clueless, every pedal brought smiles out of us, and most people we passed when greeted with a wave and the ring of a bicycle bell. Although mostly mellow, and easy going, riding during the peak heat and humidity of southern Florida was not something I had really paid much attention to until I was in the thick of it. The sunblock i had applied had run into my eyes, and dripped in a greasy sweaty mess onto my eyeglasses, only to be worsened by my routine of trying to wipe them off with my shirt, which was also soaked. Moments like these or flat tires, or panniers breaking, could be kind of frustrating. Thankfully it would be tempered by the beautiful surroundings and the fenced off beaches, where you could hear vacationers jet skiing in the distance.
Pedaling south with sun burnt lips and knee caps, the best parts of the ride were through bike lane corridors in the mangroves, passing kapok trees, gumbo limbo, cabbage palms, royal poinciana, cuban royal palm, banana trees and even a burning yacht. In breaks on the greenery, I would look to either side and see shadows of clouds over clear water, with the Gulf Of Mexico on the right, white capped turquoise- The Atlantic Ocean to my left, with the rippled reflection of the sun, my father’s light.
Before it was said and done, we had crossed over 40 bridges between the start and where the road would end. Some of the bridges were mellow, or had bike lanes and plenty of shoulder. Some of the bridges were long, with sweeping arches over the waterways, with little room between fast moving trucks, and the three foot jersey barrier, the only thing between you and a fifty foot drop into the ocean. Some didn’t allow automobile traffic, just people fishing, those were my favorite bridges to cross.
By the time I got to Key West, at the end of line, I found a decommissioned Coast Guard cutter called the Ingham, the last active warship in the US fleet with a U-Boat kill, it’s now a museum.
My Father, a Navy veteran, retired from the service as a Chief Petty Officer from the USCG, it seemed like the right time and place to spread some of my Dad’s ashes. Journeys end at sunset. Serendipity and catharsis, it was emotional.
Over hundred miles pedaled, go as far as you can, take a look around, turn about face and keep going…read more
I live in a rough part of town, in an old school bus, in-between two shipping containers. I had previously lived across the alley from an abandoned slave cemetery, and recently moved about a mile away. Before this, I had lived in a more traditional dwelling, when I had a successful career, living paycheck to paycheck, that all changed when I started going broke, but I was lucky enough to be able to convert our old tour bus into a tiny home, and find a sound place to park it.
The alleyways throughout the neighborhood are like tiny veins, in a lively area, connecting the streets to the avenues, people to their vices, and leave footprints and finger prints of all the above. The part of town where you can scan the ground to see the DNA of depravity and despair, or maybe just litter. Old car tires, kitchen sinks, hair weaves…
The drains are filled with rain debris which clog and flood the intersections, and the side streets are too, gravel wash from the alley ways connecting the dots between busted curbs and pot hole rubble. The walkways around and between the neighborhood haunts are littered with empty beer cans, empty cigarette packs, discarded butts and scratch off lottery tickets. Hope…
My neighbors are hookers and roofers, junkies, would be gangsters, ex-cons, a prison queen, drug dealers, a generous enterprising couple, and Charles, who lives across the alley, who randomly fires off guns into the air, wears a pistol on his waist and refuses to hurry when crossing the street to the Jack Rabbit to get a beer.
People sleep on bus stop benches or use them as home base in-between sex transactions. The Johns pick up tricks who are on their way back from the mini mart, or on their way to get their medicine, sometimes they park right behind my car, or sometimes they drive off to a darker alleyway. People shuffle past, walking down the middle of the street, either real slow or way too hurried. Rarely in-between.
Summer was hot. From Juneteenth until independence day during months of social unrest, fireworks went off every single night like some kind of psychological operation experiment. The locals seem largely unaware that riots and protests occupy the city on the other side of the river, dumpsters and police cars on fires, as the cops spray civilians with tear gas and rubber bullets, a stark contrast to late model american sedans idling quietly in the shadows, as high rollers monitor local commerce.
In the morning I look at the corrugated sunlight on the con-ex box I live next to, angled shadows from the fence and the silhouette of the barbed wire dancing in the morning breeze. There is always someone revving an engine on some kind of motor vehicle that doesn’t run properly, sitting next to another on blocks, doing some kind of hood mechanic wishful thinking to get it to idle properly or simply just to keep it running! Hot rods and motorbikes, and bootleg metal recycling trucks, slowly creeping through the alley, to the tune of crushing gravel, and bad exhaust.
Winter was cold and dark. Pandemic solitude in the bus, like a run- on sentence describing a really long year during strange times. The floor is always cold, and my typical snowbird travels have been thwarted by a public health crisis and hard times, the exclamation point. Icy rain and short days, and if I am being honest, none of it made me feel really good.
In the evening, when it gets dark, the plastic wrappers littered, stuck in the wind, flickers like the start of a tiny fire as it reflects the orange glow of the street light above. Drunken hollars and drug addled screams, drifting somewhere between jubilation and blood curdling violence, its often hard to tell which is which. The last two nights I heard 4 gunshots, rapid-fire in close proximity, followed by people running through alley ways, it seems more like teenagers that happened upon a handgun than acts of violence or self defense. No sirens follow.
Once it thawed out, the neighborhood came back to life, and sounded like an after hours bar, all hours of the day, with sounds of revving engines of various sorts, and some occasional gunfire peppered in. On Sunday someone was shot and killed a few doors down, no one would really say what happened.
It’s spring time now, I left the doors open in the bus, eventually it got quiet, birds chirping at dusk, It was the best night sleep I’d had in a while…
Additional Dwellings…read more
Following Interstate 95 south, for an East Coast cold weather reprieve, Florida proved to be fruitful in it’s riding spots, hospitable hosts, and sunshine to loiter in and drink coffee…
From ramps in backyards and dead end roads in Tampa and Longwood to snake run circa 1977 in a skatepark in Jacksonville, the search for warm weather and laughs to stoke the fire, at places like Kona and Candlyand and in an old boat hull, made dropping in to a new year that much better, get stoked – stay stoked!
Here are a few snaps from a quick jaunt south of the boredom, featuring Matt Coplon, Trey Jones, Ryan Clements, Big Boy, Stew Johnson, Steve Crandall, Zach Rogers, Melvin and friends…read more