Steve Crandall

Coffee sipping pilot of a red FBM frame and a Nikon camera.

Posts from Steve:


Bound for Nowhere…

I look down at my hands. They look different now than the first time I set off for the west coast. Each, no longer a teenage grip for an anything goes pursuit of who knows what. They’ve now seen some miles. Fingernails dirty with grease and dried up acrylic paint, faded scrappy tattoos and a couple handfuls of permanently scarred and broken knuckles. These hands that started clearing the path that led me here today, are now just as prone to simply hold on for the ride, one I had set myself out on as a wild teenage version of myself years before.

Not much had really changed, but rather than hustling across state lines in a beat up old car, I’m hurrying to make a connection so I can pick up a rental car, a Chrysler Town and Country, power windows, unlimited mileage and all the modern perks for family travel. Still strapped for cash, gearing up for more Lo-Fi adventures into the unknown, where my friends and I will rely heavily on the currency we’ve built up over the years for shared rides, floor space and hopefully a meal or two. Just as it’s always been, times are lean in the land of plenty…

I felt like I was joining up with my old gang for another caper. Nothing criminal, just stealing some fun from the overlords of institutional boredom and monotony. The same beat scene, our kids bikes helped us escape from years ago. The same reason that led me to the land of milk and honey as a kid. Day Dreams of being free.
This trip wasn’t unlike a hundred others except the headlines were going haywire. We arrived the same day the news broke of a mass shooting and two deadly wildfires, and immediately beelined it for Yuba City, over the Golden Gate, past Sausalito, through Vallejo and Vacaville, past Sacramento and right to a Travelodge in a town whose statistics boasted that 1 in 250 people were likely to be a victim of violent crime.
Right off the bat, the continental breakfast behind the cardboard cut out of a bear, named ‘˜Sleepy’, was hopping. Standing room only, when I noticed the one character that was even more out of place than the people I was with. He was a short, almost stocky man, pants rolled up towards his knees, mismatched shoes, hat pulled over his eyes, and a giant crescent wrench sticking out of his back pocket. Normally I wouldn’t have paid much mind, but after just learning the crime stats, I was on heightened alert. I watched him as he hovered between the packaged danishes, and the fire exit that lead to the rear parking lot, weaving with his wide stance, half nervous like he was pacing in one spot, eyeballing the griddle, the coffee carafe just past it, and doing a terrible job keeping an eye out for ‘˜Sleepy’s’ co-workers.

Looking like either an old pool skater or a low level prison gang member, he appeared ready for anything, except getting caught by the hostess, distracted by the impatient stare at the griddle timer, he’d left his defenses down.
‘Morning guys…can you snag that waffle for me when it’s done?’ as he’s being escorted away. The ballyhoo of of Yuba City’s seedy reputation was proving not to disappoint.
From there, we would go to meet some new friends at a long standing local retail spot down the street, cozied up next door to a fresh donut shop and Sun’s cafe ‘“ a small handful of independent holdouts against box store and franchise bulldozers that have bled small cities like this one dry across the landscape. We traded coins for coffee in styrofoam cups, and got to know our new friends.
‘You see those storm clouds over there!?’ Glen said, pointing due north over the horizon, ‘that AINT a storm, it’s the smoke from Chico heading this way…’

It was a smoggy, dark, giant marshmallow that you could taste when you breathed in. For the entire week, we’d be in an air quality advisory. It was my first glimpse at what would keep our lungs burning and the sunlight dim and bronzed until we got indoors and coughed like coal miners in line at the company store.

We headed south, driving towards the East Bay on roads so congested that they might as well have been handwritten liner notes on every punk album I’d ever heard, with the driver almost as erratic as any bass line that echoed the walls of 924 Gilman. Matt trying to describe the limit of his ability, to the static pulse of the music trying to bring us to our escape, resisting despair in this world is what it is to be free. Finally, while on the lookout for our exit, we break free of the traffic. It was totally hectic.
Eventually, we end up in a small coastal town just south of the city on the 1, across the street from a fast food taco joint on the beach. I am sure Matt was on his way or had plans to get another burrito, when a skateboarder called the police on us for loitering in the park. The cop showed up, kicked us all out and left to respond to an overdose. We hit the road again…
The next few days were spent in Santa Cruz, where we had the best bus station dinner of my life. A Ramen spot called ‘Betty’s Noodle House’ ‘“ where you can get Phở or green onion pancakes and watch people come and go. We spent afternoons among the redwoods, or roaming industrial areas mixed in with crowded residential districts, before wandering seaside on the northern side of Monterey Bay. Watching the water crash onto the jacks shaped pylons, (they call them tetrapods) from the Santa Cruz Harbor, we could see the beach boardwalk amusement park, which had been here since the turn of the previous century. It was late autumn and mostly closed down, yet almost crowded with gothic beach bums, and tweaked out street folks who would only be rivaled by the giant seagulls in their assertive demands. Aside from the rough crowds, the casual seaside atmosphere of the whole place made our group feel welcomed, and most of the locals only reinforced that with smiles and courtesy.

Now at a seaside cafe directly across the street from the Santa Cruz municipal wharf, for a cup of coffee, looking left you can see the off season tourist postcard, a row of tall palm trees, nearly blocking the view of the Giant Dipper, Fireball, The Cyclone and The Sea Serpent. A quiet, vacant, giant carnival playground. The lighting was a hazy mix of the wildfire smog, and light ocean breeze fog, or some kind of low isolated overcast tint, making everything look like a movie screen memory. If you looked right, there was an old train trestle being used as some kind of makeshift amphitheater, repurposed by the dregs of this quaint beachfront community. The day ended watching the rehearsals for drug deals and life decisions gone awry. In this exact moment, amidst the sounds of the beach and the seagulls, one of the troupers under the bridge screeched, holding the right side of his face, walking half aimlessly down the train tracks, in what I can gather was the aftermath of nearly losing any eye. We stared at the commotion for a few moments, and then pedaled off in the opposite direction.

Before wandering towards Watsonville, we met up once again with Ron Wilkerson for fruit and granola mixed with peanut butter, and story time with the local legend, where we joined him and his family at the Brazilian/Argentinian style health food restaurant they ran. In his earlier days, Ron was THE magazine cover boy for the California dream. A professional bike rider, who in many ways defined a good part of an entire culture. Now in his 50’s, he showed us videos on his smartphone of him trying to reach his goal of getting a 50 foot air, as a 50 year old rider. By his count, a twenty something foot air on a twenty something foot tall mega ramp would put him roughly fifty feet in the air. His goal, starting at age 50, now two or so years later, was being pushed further by the few months of recovery for each piece of math he had figured out along the way. This time a dislocated thumb, almost healed as he talked about how he would land his next attempt. It was ridiculous hearing him explain it, and at the same time made perfect sense. Anything was possible.

After a nice breakfast we headed out to get a good view of an empty swimming pool in the hills, once a country club type place that burned down decades earlier ‘“ a swim club that would give way to a piece of wayward transitional history. We spent the afternoon enjoying the fruit of the vine, re-enacting our own daydreams, listening to music, resting in between runs in the shade of the one nearby tree, taking cover from the sun which was both muted and amplified by the thick wildfire tinted haze.

After nearly a week of spending most of each day outdoors, the air pollution from the natural disasters up north started to take their toll on the group I was traveling with. Everyone was kind of shy to admit they felt a little off, asthma like symptoms, itchy eyes, flu like congestion, fatigue, everything the advisories warned us against. We did our best to ward off the effects of ash, smoke and thick air with bad jokes, laughter, and more bad jokes.
As dusk crept in, after a day spent hanging out in the deep end with a raffish band of ne’er do-well dreamers, we rejoiced on getting to share this empty swimming pool’s legacy with each other, and the countless errant counterparts before us. We were just west of Eden, as we made our way through the trees, down the manmade gulch to where we parked the Town and Country. We loaded up our gear, and cracked more bad jokes before heading over another hill, and not without some kind of road trip irony, to get dinner by a campfire at Rancho Hernandez.
This was the pinnacle moment of the trip for me, shared food around a fire, tacos and talk of all the tall tales that were all true, recounting every absurd interaction, and half planned mishap, while staring into the combustible abyss of wood scraps, making dancing light and throwing tiny glowing embers into the atmosphere. Looking across the fire at the glowing faces of my travel companions and gracious hosts, I decided the lit up smiles weren’t just from the fire, but also from the times we were sharing. This was it.

The last night of the trip, we bunked at the Beach Motel on the end of Judah Street, outer sunset San Francisco, where the fog calls home, right near the beach. As we settled in, the proprietor loosely choked his dog collar at Shane (Leeper) while faux sicking his hound on him, and asking what room he was in. Evening was like a ghost town, idled trolley cars, an opened door to a mostly empty bar where a woman danced by herself as we walked by looking for an after hours eatery.
The trolley lines end here, a half a block from where the morning surfers and end of the line vagrants coalesce with coffee shop locals and our band of traveling Wilburys.
A refill on the coffee I just had would cost the same as a new one. I had two cash dollars left. As I tried to bargain with the woman, leaving it on the counter as I walked away, she yelled ‘No more refill, this last time… you pay!’
I’d never been here before, and would likely never return. The coffee was almost as burnt and smoky as the air we had been breathing the past week…
Due to a week of poor visibility, endless delays, and the general chaos and aftermath of a natural disaster, our plane left almost an hour late. The connecting flight from San Francisco wasn’t taking off til 8:30. We got there at 8:23. The airline customer service representative kindly let us know we ‘just missed it’ as if we meant to, while she shut the door to the corridor that leads to the plane. This was the last flight home of the evening.
For our troubles we were each awarded a ten dollar food voucher and a biodegradable blanket. We were told we could keep the blankets, but warned not to wash them as they would disintegrate.
Sleeping on the cold floor of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to the sound of cable news, and cleaning equipment under fluorescent lights, was atonement for not grabbing that guy his waffle in Yuba City…

Check out Matt Coplon’s side of the same tale here!

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The Boredom Diaries

The world renowned Matt Coplon and some of his tales- seen here on the Least Most via the Boredom Diaries! (more…)

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Bound For Nowhere…

I looked down at my hands, calloused, dirty and holding a brass loop keychain with a spark plug gapper, a can opener and a few random keys. No idea what the keys were for, maybe my folks place back home, and the house on Fairfield, although I never remember locking the door, I would this time however, no telling when we’d be home…

I had never driven so far in my life, wobbling and weaving with bald tires between the ruts on the highway from over freighted semi’s. I was on Interstate 40 somewhere between Laguna Pueblo and the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico before the sun would start making its face known to the rearview. Barely Awake, speeding across America, listening to the the rhythm of the seamed pavement, as it interrupted the half sleep of my two traveling partners, and the jangled racket of a jam packed beater car.

I had saved up enough money for the trip working second shift at a plastic injection molding plant. I got the job through a temp agency making minimum wage. Late autumn evenings standing around in low top vans on a concrete floor, separating and sorting plastic parts not unlike the pieces of a model car when you remove it from the box. I worked with older women, they were sassy and loud and made light hearted jokes about me being a young white man. Together, 4 or 5 of us would take warm plastic pieces out of a press, snap and sort, working around a table, the women gossiped like they were at hair salon or a sewing circle. They were great, I was merely a bystander.

I must have not worked there very long, because back then everything was cheap, gas was under a dollar a gallon, and split three ways would end up costing us 30 dollars each to get across the country. Three of us, three bikes, our gear, and a couple of cassette tapes all piled into a 1980 Datsun Sentra hatchback with worn out tires, bad shocks, and and what would we would learn, a tired battery and an alternator on its way out.

It was a winter drive, crossing state lines on interstate 70, through cities like Terra Haute (the home of Larry Byrd), St. Louis, down I-44 into Oklahoma, eventually on to 40, through Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and eventually Barstow, a dusty town where 40 ends, and I-15 takes you into Southern California.

The drive was a marathon run for the sun, taking shifts, the backseat passenger nestled between bikes with the front tires removed, resting on a stack of backpacks and sleeping bags, head leaned against the window, nodding off and waking up with each bump in the highway, each pothole a myoclonic jerk, suspended animation, a sleep deprived trance of bad suspension, rutted roads, and the 13th consecutive loop of Naked Raygun’s ‘Understand.’ Do you Understand?

Up front, the driver and navigator would trade stories, sort through the road atlas and stepped on magazines, fiddle with the radio, count the mile markers and shoot the shit. The next shifts driver would pretend to catch some ZZZ’s while whoever sat shotgun, keeps an eye out for highway patrol. Passing time watching convoys of trucks driven by maniacs on speed, the same creepy degenerates that write on the walls of truck stop bathroom stalls. The same dudes that litter the highway with half full bottles of piss. You wonder who would do such a thing until it’s 5 am In New Mexico and you just drank 3 Pepsi’s within a hundred miles to stay awake.

The state trooper pulling us over at dawn would soon find the same kind of bottles under the fronts seat, disgusted ‘” he doesn’t acknowledge the fact that we at least had the decency not to litter.
At the next gas stop, we recounted our run-ins with the law, likely eating uncooked canned food, with road trip bread, that had inadvertently smushed into the shape of a spork. I hadn’t realized it, but the can opener on my key chain that my father had given me the year before when I had left the nest, had proven to be quite the life saver when it came to non perishable food items on the go…

I remember my Pops taking his P-38 off his own keychain and gifting it to me. I had no idea the simplicity and practicality of this gesture would come to symbolize such a right of passage. When he was my age he used the same thing as he shipped from the west coast to South East Asia. A simple tool for survival issued by the U.S. Armed Forces designed for opening a C- Ration, Tough and dependable, named either for its length (38 mm) or how it punctures 38 times to open most cans. Either way, the budget meals cooked on a radiator, or in the coals of a campfire, or in this case, cold with the most dense parts at the bottom of the can, broken up by tapping the bottom of it on the curb we sat on.

Like My father, the p-38 and its understated useful nature and functionality would end up playing a key role in my travel life.
Once we made it to the coast, we stocked up on supermarket essentials and explored towns we’d never heard of, La Mirada, Garden Grove, Fullerton, Tustin, eventually making our way to the Pacific Ocean by way of Huntington Beach. A media blitz of seaside imagery seen all of our youth in magazines and movies, now in real life while ordering regionally franchised tacos off the dollar menu.

My first foray into California dreaming was spent half passed out on a bathroom floor closer to the inland empire. A victim of fast food poisoning, blurry vision sickness and regret, a harsh welcome to reality from a fantasy created in my high school reverie. Whether it was just economics, or superstition, eating out was mostly off the menu. Here I was in the land of golden sunshine rolling out the red carpet to what would become a couple weeks of no frills supermarket bargains. Canned food opened one puncture at a time, in 38 motions around its sealed seem circumference.

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A night in the bus…

In the evening sometimes I’ll hear the usual back alley barking dogs, revving engines, and scattered and random gunshots, depending on the season. Often times I’ll hear the buzz of a circling Cessna above the city, an eye in the sky causing noise pollution. It’s an outlying metro neighborhood, there always seems to be some sort of commotion.

I’d been laying in my bed in the bus for a while, after another day of distractions. The nightfall starts showing up early, before 5PM, and it’s almost quiet, although the evening chorus of my summer surroundings play fresh in my memory. The sounds of silence during the winter solstice are something else altogether.

Sometimes I’d hear a not so distant rumbling of a train, followed shortly by the horn and passing of its cars, otherwise just the noise of the wood stove and the evening drone of the neighborhood winding down for the night. By the time the last of the stacked logs have fallen into a pile of embers in the stove, the only racket is in my brain, and maybe the wind and weather if there is any.

A low pitch hum in the distance sounds like the hydraulics of a far away and powerful waterfall, and although the James River is less than a mile away, I know it’s not that or another Norflok Southern freight train about to pass, it’s simply the lack of sounds that kind of unsettles me. The feedback of my restless thoughts inside my mind, trying to find some semblance of peaceful evening, maybe even some sleep.

I wake up and notice some smoke from the wood stove rolling past one of the opaque bus windows, before crawling out of my sleeping and stepping onto the cold floor. The ground outside is frozen, the crunching of the leaves is in unison to the creaking of my cold joints, another day starts as steam rises up from the bushes and the ground beneath near the alley way…

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Shitty Garfield’s Revenge

A DIY BMX event in Richmond Va.- photos by Matt Hovermale!

A Community event organized and supported by these Friendly Bicycle Maniacs-

FBM Bike Co.


Profile Racing

Powers Bike Shop



Richmond BMX

Hooligan BMX

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Over 150 photos of the FBM Crew on tour…

Some random photos of the FBM crew on tour, visiting folks, bike shops, riding spots, at events, jams, truck stops, parking lots and loitering in most places in-between here, there and nowhere in particular…

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9000 feet

Tucked in the mountains of Summit County Colorado, dating back to the mining rush in the 1800’s, lies a spot of precious valuable resource unlike anything else dug from the ground. Frisco- and some serious jumps, set to a wild mountain back drop.

These photos are from a Recent trip with the FBM crew, all smiles, a mile high…

Photos by Matt Coplon and Steve Crandall.

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Holding People

50 or so well known BMXers… Being held, around the globe.

Matt Hoffman, Ron Wilkerson, Daniel Dhers, Sean Emery, Chad Degroot, Ryan Nyquist, Rob and Charlie Tibbs, Corey Martinez, Ian Morris, Aaron Ross, Trey Jones, Tyson Jones- Peni, Chad Osburn, John Lee, John Corts, Kaleb Bolton, Dennis McCoy, Darryl Nau, Official Big Boy, Brian Venable, Jeremy Reiss, Big Island, joe Daugirda, Dakota Roche, Ryan Mills, Garrett Reynolds, Pete Augustin, Dennis Enerson, Matthias Dandois, The Fids, Fat Head, Jason Watts, Vic Bettencourt, Stew Johnson, Leif Valin, Clay Brown, Matt Coplon, John Tillman- AKA Chunk, Jackson Allen, Jesse Bower- AKA Fisher, Jeff Zielinski, Garret Guilliams, Eric Holladay, Shane Leeper, Dillon Leeper, Jay Schlie, Declan Murray, and Ruben Alcantara

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Generational Madness- 25 Years of POSH

Photos from the 25 year anniversary of POSH Woods, showcasing the faces of several generations of dedicated bicycle DIY enthusiasts…

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My Own Reality

My Own Reality from Kenny Horton on Vimeo.

Video by Kenny Horton featuring Santana AKA Miguel Esparza

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Abandoned summer…

An abandoned 16 foot deep pool deep in the woods of Carolina serves as a perfect tourist destination for offbeat travelers, repurposing an abandoned dream for a summer afternoon.

Very little information exists about this park, except that it opened somewhere around 1925 and closed before the end of the summer season in August of 1989.

Check it out! (more…)

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Lost Bowl Rumble

DIY Wrestling, or backyard fundraiser extraordinaire? Either way, the Lost Bowl goes off!

Photos courtesy of Tyler Brady and Steve Crandall

Build Your Own Fun!

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