Kali Journal

The Panda

Amanda Nauman, or Amanda Panda as she's colloquially known in the cycling world, was a name I first heard back in 2016 at the Belgian Waffle Ride in San Diego. That year, Amanda took top honors in the egregiously arduous event that follows an anfractuous quest through 140+ miles of San Diego County, usually fairly evenly split between gravel roads, single-track, and pavement. To simply finish the event will have you lauded, but to win is truly a sign of a precocious athlete.  Fast forward 6 years, and I find myself driving toward Laguna Beach, camera in hand, to ride with Ms. Panda herself at the bequest of Kali Protectives, one of Amanda's sponsors, who was releasing a new gravel-focused helmet. The job is innocuously simple: capture Amanda in her element, on her backyard trails. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't somewhat nervous.  As I pull up, Amanda is already there in her modest, but awesome, race Sprinter van she's just driven back from altitude in Mammoth to prepare for the Unbound Gravel XL, a race more than twice the distance of the race that solidified my admiration for her in the first place. I go and introduce myself, finding a wonderfully gregarious individual, a nice contrast to the aged apathy that sometimes plagues professional athletes. We engage in the usual small talk: mutual friends in the industry, races we've technically done "together", her real job as an Engineer (and the subsequent high level of secondary education she needed for that job), promulgating her own gravel race, The Mammoth Tuff, and of course, her upcoming plans for racing.  As we head through a sinuous network of trails around the Laguna Hills, Amanda's comfort and professionalism on a bike is immediately recognizable. "Do you want me to smile, or do you want resting bitch face?", she yells out to me as a perch just ahead of her for a shot. I laugh, and simply tell her to do whatever comes naturally, which she does with exuberant ease and fluidity, somewhere between a genuine smile, and yes, a slight tone of "resting bitch face" that comes with a hyper-focused individual such as Amanda. Kali is proud to have individuals like Amanda as part of the #kalikrew.  Want to keep up with Amanda and her adventures? Follow her Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/amanda_panda.  -Anthony Palicci 
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Getting Dirty in Oregon

We spent the morning chasing Sean Gerhardt, astride his mountain bike, off of Mount Ashland and now are spending the afternoon chasing him on his moto up the dirty, mountainous roads east of town. Gerhardt has mad skills on both sets of two-wheeled whips, but if you met him at the coffee shop instead of on the trails around Ashland, it would be hard to believe that under his untroubled and mellow personae lies a first class hucker. Kali: Things on two wheels? Gerhardt: I’ve always been fascinated by things that propel themselves on two wheels and motors just add to that even more. I really have a fascination with ‘flow state,' adrenaline and just having a good time. Kali: Where are you from? Where did you grow up?  Gerhardt: I grew up in Southern Oregon in a really small town. My graduating class was 97 people. There wasn’t much to do in my small town. Motorcycles were actually a big part of a lot of people's lives where I grew up, not necessarily mine because my family couldn’t afford to get me a motorcycle at a younger age. Once I was old enough to afford one on my own it gave me a deeper appreciation for motorcycles in general just growing up not having one. Kali: What kind of motorcycle do you have?  Gerhardt: I have a BMW F700GS. Kali: What was your first motorcycle? Gerhardt: CBR 600 Honda?  It was between my brother and we lived in Oahu, Hawaii. I commuted to work on it almost everyday on a freeway and that’s just how I was introduced to motorcycles after my brother taught me to ride them when I moved there to live with him when I was 19. The whole year I lived out there my only mode of transportation was a motorcycle. I remember one day I had to ride home from work in a dreadful downpour rainstorm and I just remember being incredibly frustrated the whole time that I was riding in puddles and the cars passing me had no sympathy and they were just going their normal speed and splashing massive puddles over my head. I had never been in a situation like that where the cars are creating tsunamis and soaking me on a motorcycle.  Kali: Are there any motorcycles you want to try out or own in the future? What are they?  Gerhardt: I’d definitely love to own a motorcycle geared more towards enduro riding but is street legal. The WR250R has always reached out to me just because I do love the really rough stuff. I love trails and climbing hills and 475 pounds of motorcycle sometimes is a bit much to be doing that stuff on. So if I got another motorcycle it would be something lighter, something with more torque not as highway centric but a little more catered towards the dirt. Kali: Do you have a favorite trail to take your motorcycle on? Gerhardt: I don’t have a favorite trail but I do have a favorite route that is common in Southern Oregon. It goes up and over Mount Ashland from town and then you come down into the other side through the apple gate. A really cool loop that offers amazing views and it ends at a lake. You can ride up the river and visit wine country. It's a beautiful place to ride. I have a lot of favorites here. Another loop I like to do is 80 miles of four different lakes you pass through up into the mountains on old logging roads and dirt roads. Where I live no matter which direction I go there is a stunning route to take so I’m very fortunate to have that at my fingertips. Kali: If you have a day off to ride, are you riding your moto or your mountain bike? Gerhardt: If it’s a whole day off I’m picking both. One in the morning, one in the evening or ideally I’m connecting them both and riding my motorcycle to my favorite mountain bike trail. Kali: After riding your mountain bike does it feel weird to ride your motorcycle? Gerhardt: I like to see them as two different tools but it's really the same thing, both have two wheels, one is heavier. It's really just about learning the weight, how much you can lean it, throttle it, or how you can use your brakes on downhills. Kali: How often are you riding your MTB bike? How often are you riding your motorcycle? Gerhardt: During the summer months I put in a lot more hours on my motorcycle than my mountain bike. It’s hot and I don’t want to sweat that much. Being on my motorcycle lets the breeze in and I usually ride up to the mountain lakes. It’s a beautiful ride. Kali: Where’s the furthest you’ve taken your motorcycle? Gerhardt: I have taken it to the point where I thought it was gonna run out of gas. I only travelled about 500 miles that day. I went to see some waterfalls, camped out for a night and hit some hot springs.  Kali: Do you plan on doing a road trip? Gerhardt: I have a desire to go see my family in Malibu, California but the hard part about that is I want to be able to strap my surfboard on there. I just haven’t figured out a safe way to do that yet. Kali: What tips would you give someone getting into adventure riding or someone who’s never done it before? Gerhardt: I would say you learn the most from consistency, from going out even if it's just your local gravel or dirt roads, whatever it takes to get you on the motorcycle more. Feel it, understand it and put in the hours it takes to really learn what it is to be on a motorcycle of any kind whether it be an enduro, an adventure, or even a street bike.
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King Kog: A Monster of a Neighborhood Bike Shop

King Kog Bicycle Shop in Downtown Oakland, CA, has been managed by Shawn Yackle since they opened their doors on 17th Street almost 8 years ago and before that he did a stint working at the King Kog in Brooklyn. We caught up with Shawn to talk all thing King Kog.  Kali: Tell us a little bit about yourself and King Kog.  Shawn: I’ve spent most of my adult life either here in the Bay or in New York City. Before King Kog, I was a bike messenger in both New York City and San Francisco for about 10 years. We are a neighborhood bike shop that started as the probably the only fixed gear specific bike shop anywhere in the world back in 2005. It was like a small one room boutique type of situation and then we moved out of there and have branched out to all kinds of bikes and services.  Kali: What percentage is still fixie? Shawn: It’s quite a bit. About 80% maybe and we sell mostly commuter-oriented bikes otherwise. But we are also an Ibis dealer and we carry All City and Bianchi bikes. But we still sell a large percentage of fixed gear, for sure.  Kali: The neighborhood has changed quite a bit in the last 8 years. How do you stay in business? Shawn: It’s a mixed bag, there is definitely gentrification. There are condos on almost every corner and Amazon trucks on every block. It’s hard for mom and pop businesses to stay competitive and valid. Everybody is ordering everything online.  Kali: What allows you to stay in business while others struggle? Shawn: We all ride all the types of bikes and love it and are very passionate about. We also maintain a large stock of collectibles and vintage things you can’t just get anywhere or get online and grab. We try to have unique products. We support our friends who make things locally and in California. Hand built bikes. It’s all for the love. 
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Santa Dan Drives the Mountain Biker's Sled

We roll up to the Big Rock Shuttle and we are surprised to be greeted by Santa Claus, Santa Claus Dan, to be exact. Even though it is summer in Utah, Santa Dan is dressed in red and is as jolly as ever. Leading up to this, we even made sure we had been more nice than naughty knowing he would be the one shuttling us to the single-track. Kali: Santa Claus Dan, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where you're from, how you got to Utah and how did you end up running shuttles?Santa Dan: Why, I am Saint Nicholas aka Santa Claus from the North Pole. I make wooden toys for children that I give out at Christmas. I fly into SLC every other day to hone in on my sleigh driving skills with Big Rack Shuttle Service. (Really I'm from Iowa, raised on a farm in the 60's and 70's, I moved here with my wife in 1992 to raise our 5 boys.) Kali: Do you have any crazy stories about clients on the shuttles? Santa Dan: Crazy stories about clients, hummm! Well, nothing really comes to mind outside mountain bikers in general seem to be pretty crazy to ride some of these trails. I had a lady all excited about going one morning to find her and her friend on the side of the road wanting a lift back down the canyon. When I stopped to give them a ride she said she had sprained her shoulder possibly on a close turn through the trees and hit her handlebars. Not that her injury was funny but that when riding up in shuttle she said that she disliked this part of the trail. Karma? Kali: What is your favorite thing about running shuttles? Santa Dan: I love to drive, see the beautiful scenery and enjoy meeting different people from all walks of life and being a part of another person's adventure with mountain biking. I'm 61 with bad knees and an ailing back so this type of biking is out for me but listening to those who can endure this activity is heartwarming. I used to ride quite a bit when I was younger. Now I have a nice 7 speed beach cruiser. Still enjoy biking only horizontally. Kali: What's your least favorite part about running shuttles? Santa Dan: Least fun part of running shuttles is hitting my shins on the metal rack on top of the van. Ouch. I have the scars to prove it. Kali: If you weren't running shuttles, what would you be doing and where would you be doing it? Santa Dan: Well, well! I will be making and wrapping presents for all the children ages one to 92 to deliver on Christmas Eve. Silly question if you ask me. HO, HO, HO! Merry Christmas in July! I personally make wooden toys in my woodworking shop and have for years. I always enjoy the smiles and giggles of those who receive my wares.
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Sun Valley is a Pedaler's Paradise

Sun Valley is a strange place. It is the perfect intersection of cowboy hats and lycra tights. The land where the lifted 4x4 lives harmoniously next to the Audi RS Q8. It is a place held in time by traditions, like the rodeo, but being pushed forward by the influx of minds and money. The landscape is now scattered with amazing modern architecture blending somewhat seamlessly with the traditional. The writer's conference, music festival and "Billionaire Summer Camp" bring crowds from all over the world.  And the biking is out of this world.  The gravel riding is extensive, varied and goes on in all directions for miles and miles. The mountain biking is flowy, ample and grin-worthy, whether you love your dirt flowy or deep  and steep. If you prefer a little lift, Sun Valley offers gondola rides to the top of Bald Mountain for a more gravity fueled day on the bike.  "So what did we learn today," said my riding partner after our attempt to ride up Bald Mountain. "We learned just because a ski slope is super easy coming down does not mean it is super easy riding up." Now, if you’re a roadie, you might want to pick a different destination, as the paved bike paths are fairly extensive, but in our estimation the road riding takes a back seat to all things gravel and dirt. We were fortunate enough to be invited to visit Sun Valley and the amazing new house of some close friends. If they didn’t profess they had more company on the way, we’re pretty sure we would have never left.  Our first ride found us on the gravel bikes, rolling past the Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Skating Rink and heading West out of town along Warm Springs Creek. There was a fair amount of 4-wheel-drive traffic traveling up and down this road, some friendly and some not so much, but as we climbed up past Bald Mountain it was clear that a fair number of them were in search of one of the many natural hot springs found along the route. It is one of the trips great regrets we didn’t stop and soak in one of these exquisite river respites.  The elevation of Sun Valley, at just shy of 6,000 feet, did play some havoc on our breathing and sleeping, but our friends were kind enough to remind us to stay hydrated, but they weren’t sweet enough to let us believe we were fit enough to actually ride with them. Advantage goes to actually training and living at elevation.  An additional fun fact about the region is there are 7 peaks in the Sawtooth Range of Idaho all with an elevation over 10,000 feet, making this a skiers, hikers and, yes, bikers paradise.  We can highly recommend the Clubhouse Louis at the Sun Valley Club, the whole trout or the half chicken at The Covey and just about any cocktail served up at the Pioneer Saloon, a good old fashioned watering hole where you will wash your hands with the fishes.  The shopping in downtown Sun Valley has a little bit of everything for everybody, from cowboy attire, secondhand stores, art galleries and various knick-knackeries.  If you’re the type of person who likes to plan things out, we highly recommend you put Sun Valley on your list for next years' July 4th weekend. The rodeo down the street in Haley, Idaho is perfect way to spend the holiday and the fireworks show is a great way to top off a week or weekend of riding the miles and miles of all Sun Valley has to offer.  Do it.  
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Dave Sheek: The Other Half of Team Tuff

We recently spent some time riding the beachy, pumice terrain of Mammoth Mountain and it got us thinking about the crazy pair of Kali athletes, Amanda "the Panda" Nauman and her somewhat silent-partner Dave Sheek and their crazy gravel event, Mammoth Tuff. With just about a month away from go-time, we met up with Sheek in Mammoth, CA. to find out a little bit more about about the man, his love of cycling and this adventure they have conjured.  Kali: David, do you remember your first bike and are there any interesting stories about that bike or your very early days on the bike? Sheek: The first bike I really remember was a BMX bike my dad got me for a birthday. I was young, it was shiny and awesome. But, the story got better as I learned more about what really happened. He had a successful night at the blackjack tables on a trip before my birthday so I got the new whip. Maybe the gambling part is bad to share but it still makes me laugh. Kali: Can you tell us when you realized you love riding bikes, if in fact you do? Sheek: I loved my bikes from a young age and learned to just go explore on them. I grew up in Mission Viejo, Orange County, CA when there were still farms, cattle ranches, and we still had orange groves. This was where the 1984 Olympics were held and it was an amazing experience to be ten years old and watch the road race descend out of my neighborhood. This was all before the Irvine Company turned it into a complex, on a complex next to a complex, so I learned to love the bike and adventure. I would put on a backpack loaded with gear and go find trails to get me to a lake to fish, or that lead over a hill and through parks to get to the beach. There were days I remember skipping school to ride 20+ miles to the beach, body surf, and then ride home before the end of the school day. (Not recommended kids, stay in school. -DS). Kali: Do you remember your first race and what were the early days of racing like for you? Sheek: The first races were MTB when it was huge in the 90's at Snow Summit Ski Resort in Big Bear, CA. They had an amazing amateur cup series, and the World Cups were in California as well. I learned about mountain biking in the late 80's and got motivated with some friends to start racing. We thought we trained back then doing a loop at the mountain bike park or riding a long distance on the mountain bike. But, again, it was more about the adventure to go ride where the races were and explore somewhere new. Kali: At some point you added coaching to your riding portfolio. How did this come about? Sheek: I was teaching until about 2012 or 2013. Loved sharing knowledge but more breaking things down so people didn't waste their time on the bike or as an athlete to get results. I have always been an athlete and questioned how to improve performance, no matter what I was doing. After too many years getting hurt on snowboards and a lot of PT, I started riding again and eventually training with other coaches and racing. Naturally, I continued to learn more about the sports science side of endurance sports and the nitty gritty of racing bikes, so I then began working with CTS in 2014. Kali: What is the number one piece of advice you give someone who is thinking about signing up with a coach? Sheek: Make sure the coach-athlete relationship is good, choose someone you can trust and listen to. It is okay question things to understand why you are doing it, but if you don't trust the person, you will never allow yourself to get uncomfortable and explore your boundaries to make new adaptations. Kali: Mammoth Tuff seems like it is going to be tough, did you hold back on the route or is this just about as tough as anyone would want it to be? Sheek: Amanda and I are holding back a little, but it is extremely TUFF. The short route is one of my go-to rides when I have four hours in Mammoth to go for a ride. The long course will be one of the TUFFest 100-ish mile events anyone has tackled. It will be an amazing experience with the full range of emotions and extraordinary sights people will experience through the day. Kali: Why Mammoth Tuff, not only why you named it Tuff, but why would you invite people to come do such a tough thing? Sheek: From the Mammoth TUFF site...Tuff (tŭf) is a general term for all consolidated pyroclastic, volcanic rocks. The name, Mammoth TUFF, is a nod to the Long Valley Caldera and the volcanic stone that defines "gravel" in the area. The caldera was formed about 760,000 years ago in a volcanic eruption from which the magma still underlies it, heating underground water and fueling hot springs the event will ride by. The short course is around 45 miles with 2,000 feet of climbing and will circle the famous caldera. The long course is around 100 miles with 8,000 feet of elevation gain and travels through the Volcanic Tableland formed by the Long Valley Caldera. Prepare to be transported back in time on routes used by miners and even further back. We are inviting people to come do such a TUFF event because it’s where Amanda and I fostered our success at gravel events and where we’ve created many great memories. Its beauty is so unique, but the views are hard earned. We loved the beauty and the beast aspect that the area has to offer. Kali: What sponsors do want you want to shout out to who helped you make this a reality? Sheek: There are a lot of sponsors that are helping put this event together and the Town of Mammoth Lakes through Visit Mammoth is first. Without them, this event would never have come to fruition and they believed in our vision from the beginning. Monster Energy - Monster Hydro have been big supporters of what we have done as endurance athletes and ambassadors for so many years with the goal of pushing their enhanced water. They also believed in this event and want to be there to help riders reach their full potential. Kali Protectives, of course, is a brand that has more to offer a rider than most realize because the world of sports is all marketing. Small brands don't have the dollars to compete in this world all the time, but the technology from Kali emphasizes safety and it’s the number one reason we have stayed loyal to the brand for so many years. None of this matters if we can’t keep the noggins safe! Thanks, Brad! See also: Niner Bikes, Rene Herse Tires, Knobbe Martens, Floyds of Leadville, Kelly Painting and more. Head to the site to see the brands you can help us support. Kali: What does the future look like for David Sheek? Sheek: For now, the future is the Mammoth TUFF and building the TUFF brand to introduce some TUFF gravel camps and eventually a TUFF trip or two. More on that in the near future…
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