Kali Journal

Sea Otter 2021: That's a Wrap

What has to be the strangest Sea Otter Classic of all time has come and gone.  It may have felt extra strange because it was being held in October or because it had been so long since there was a Kali trade show booth, but it definitely felt weird. It was definitely Monterey weather, because as usual the temperature fluctuated from scorching hot to freezing cold on a moment's notice. We spent most of our time in the booth talking about all things Kali, showing off our new Mission 2.0 knee pads, goggles and gloves, but we did take a little time to look around to see what the greater bike community had to offer and took in a little two-wheeled competition. The dual slalom course was completely clapped out, the one corner looked a little more like a sandbox than a race course, which made for some interesting viewing and a lot of verbal grunting and groaning from the riders. In the end it might not have made for the fastest laps, but it was fun to watch everyone wash out and try to get back up speed. Yeah. Yeah. We also like to watch Friday Fails on PinkBike.  We snuck up to the top of the corkscrew to watch the roadies rip a piece of pavement we’re more used to seeing on the television during the auto races and MotoGP. The riders say coming in blind on that corner looks just as gnarly on a bike as it does in a car. We don’t have any official attendance stats, but while not being the best attended Sea Otter we have ever been to, there seemed to be plenty of folks willing to put on a race number and take a go at the downhill course. There were dozens of young groms taking their first go at competition, some crazy dude on a banana seat hardtail and even a fully-furried rider giving the fans a show. After four days and three nights of sleeping in our cars or on the ground, drinking camp "coffee" and eating about 42 pounds of carnival burritos, we can finally call Sea Otter 2021 a wrap. Now we’re headed for actual hot showers, whole milk lattes and a decent meal.  Smell ya later. Literally.  This is the quietest we saw the Kali booth all weekend. Thanks to everyone who was able to stop by and say hello. If we missed you...see you in April.  Kali riders, Zac West and Marcus Schoepe, take to the Sea Otter Classic Dual Slalom course during practice. The course was just a nudge beach-like, but Marcus put the hammer down to finish on the podium.  Pivot Grim Donut V2 What was wrapped up like the a glorious Christmas gift at the Pivot Booth? Our curiosity got the best of us and we wandered over to give it a look. We asked Pivot's Patrick Ribera-McKay to pull the wrapping off and expose their top secret bike for us. Of course, it was a no go. They finally pulled back the veil and it was an old gravel bike…confused as ever, the crowd kind of slow clapped. Then they rolled out the Grim Donut 2, a bike so low, so long and so ridiculous it almost seems...perfect. Then they gave us actual donuts.  Industry Nine The Industry Nine booth was just two booths over from Kali and we couldn't help sneaking over again and again to drool over their multi-colored splendor and spin the wheels, to hear the sweet, sweet whirl. We had to restrain our ourselves from begging them to send us the wheels we have on order, but the sweetness of the hoops in the Industry Nine booth has us feeling like it will be worth the wait.  Kali rider, Manuel Riestra, flew into San Francisco from Mexico to press the flesh and work the room at Sea Otter. We were lucky enough to have him camp out with us for the weekend and when he said he would be riding for Propain Bicycle in 2022, we couldn't be more thrilled. The Propain are fairly well-known in Europe, and they are bringing a trifecta of their bikes direct-to-consumer in 2022. We're excited to see what Riestra and Propain get up to in the future.  Ian Abraham, of Team Elevate Webiplex Pro, seen ripping through Laguna Seca's grapevine, made it onto the podium of his Circuit Race.  The Rigel Power Light by Moon Sport The Rigel has six LEDs and 3600 lumens making it the brightest, self-contained light we have ever seen. On a full charge you can run this light on full-tilt for one hour and 45 minutes. You can run the Rigel on two, four or six of those LEDs with each having their own high, medium and low modes and a strobe mode. The 350 gram light comes with a mount so you can rock it on your helmet or you can attach it to your bars and switch settings with ease using the USB bar remote control. Available from Moon Sports in November for $275. Specialized Crux Of all the crazy shit on offer at this Sea Otter, the $12,000 Specialized Crux was a topper, both in price and drool factor. Specialized claims the Crux is the world's lightest gravel bike. At 725g for the 56 cm, we found ourselves totally prepared to lighten our wallet for this two-wheeled wonder. Don’t hate.Donate. Kali Protectives Maya Full Face Child This kids' lid converts from an added piece-of-mind full face to a ready-for-the-trails Enduro lid with the press of a button. Okay, to be more accurate two buttons, but you get the idea. And that's a wrap. 
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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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