Kali Journal

Life Upgrade Unlocked, Utah-Style

Sandwiched in between living in Africa as a kid and spending the last four years in the heat of Arizona are the 40 years, I spent in California working in the bike industry working as a sales rep for various brands. With California being one of the many bike hubs, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that mountain bikers often refer to California as the “Gold Coast”. With the amount of riding between San Luis Obispo across to the southern Sierras, Mt. Pinos, and the Santa Monica Mountains, you can always stay busy and trail satisfied. I eventually made the move with my family to Arizona, working remotely, and traveling the country for four years as Kali’s tech trainer, POP installer, and general schmoozer. Arizona was good to us but not great. While there were some good rides, they weren’t nearby, and the desert is quite inhospitable. I broke my shoulder, collar bone and many ribs within my first few months in Arizona which made for a not-so-great introduction to my new home state. Fast forward a few years and suddenly my wife, Nancy, is laid off after 10 years with the same company. Seeing this as an opportunity to change things up, my extremely motivated, highly employable, wife and mother to my children made the mistake of asking me where I want to move to next. Without even thinking about it I said Utah. As a lover of all things mountain bike and snowboard, Utah is the mecca. She got a great offer, made it happen and before we knew it, we were packing our family up and making the big move. I have only been here for two weeks and have already ridden so much goodness at Sundance, Deer Valley, as well as a handful of runs on the Wasatch Crest Trail. Big Rack Shuttle really makes it easy and hard to pass up. For $15, Santa Dan picks me up 10 minutes from my house, loads my bike on the van and takes me to Guardsman Pass at 10,000 feet. This 22-mile descent winds right back to my car. I do the ride and can get back to my desk, ready to work just in time for the Kali Protectives office in Morgan Hill to open. Even the easy weekday ride here in Utah is more epic than most enthusiasts are lucky enough to experience.  Nancy is adjusting well and hitting it off with her new work peeps. My kids, the Tornado Twins or Tsunami Sisters, are loving their camp that offers ice skating and swimming. You also can’t go wrong with neighbors that do a “house crawl” by cracking beers and sampling whiskey on a Sunday afternoon. I think it’s safe to say my neighbors are rad. There is so much to do, see and ride and I have barely scratched the surface. We are 20-25 minutes from four major ski resorts and with the trails so close, I hope to experience a new one on dirt or snow every week of 2022. Keep an eye out for that story next.  
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From Red Zone to Wine Zone

Our Italian friend Paolo Ciaberta could probably be mistaken for a gypsy or a drifter, butin reality we believe he is just a man built for adventure. He photographs and writes for publication around the globe and as far as we know he has never said no to a single assigning editors crazy requests for content. We know the Italian lockdown was playing havoc with his mojo and that of i suoi amici in bicicletta (his bicycle riding friends), so we made sure when they came out of lockdown he was prepared to tell us the tale of being back on the road. We have left his somewhat strained English in place, because we couldn't bring ourselves to change a word of his story. We hope you enjoy it, as much as we did:  As often happens, the idea was born in the evening. Simone called me and said "the time has come," after months of confinement at home, early darkness, too many evenings watching Netflix and days planning future trips, it's time to get back on the bike to travel freely outside our city. For the most part of world population, spaces had been drastically reduced as the possibility of traveling: global society, founded on movement, was confined at home. Only time advances undeterred and spring with him, and was the spring that welcomes our first bike trip after too many months of inaction.   We are in the heart of Piedmont, a few kilometers from Turin in a territory with a deep-rooted local identity that has its roots in the remote Middle Ages and this, ladies and gentlemen, is the Roero. The Tanaro is a river that cuts a territory in two parts, creating two separate worlds that look at each other with some suspicion, challenge each other, each perch around their bell towers according to the best Italian traditions: Langhe on the right bank of the Tanaro and Roero on the left bank. Identity: "It's not Langa, it's not Monferrato; the Roero is a place unto itself ». Roero slow, because here the hills are gentle and invite you to enjoy the expanses without haste, without the obsession of the clock and the hassle of returning to the city. Roero of hills planted with wineyards, but not only. Certainly, however, that without the wineyard the Roero would not exist, and it's a matter of culture and passion, on these same hills today the symbolic wine of Roero is born, the white Arneis, a cheap wine born of a poor agriculture of pure subsistence, now has become the emblem of an oenology that challenges the noble competition of the Langhe? But Roero is all here? Only rows, cellars, wine bars, distilleries, villages, bell towers? Wrong, because if it's true that the hills are gentle, this land that has always been a transit and crossroads of different roads suddenly turns out to be harsh, bizarre and wrinkled when you approach the so-called "fortresses", fissures formed in the ground at the time of the glaciations, morphological oddities due to the synergistic action of the earth that split and the water that washed away, an extraordinary paradise of contrasts in which you pass in a few hundred meters from the sand to the swamp through the vineyard and the wooded expanses. Here once was the sea, and the fossils that emerge from the ground are the silent but eloquent testimony. We have chosen this area for the landscapes, for the wines and for the excellent gastronomy but above all because the conformation of the territory is perfect for cycling. An infinity of hills that chase each other in a continuous ups and downs ( in Italy we call it “eat and drink”), between roads that seem designed specifically for a nice ride, steep climbs but just as short, surrounded by vineyards and their fruits, in spring still little ones. After such a long time, finding ourselves among friends chasing the wind could only fill us with energy and joy, when you are used to freedom you do not even realize how important it is except when you are deprived of it and this applies to everything, for a lunch at a restaurant, to feel the wind in your face, for the scent of the flowers and then also for the healthy tiredness of the legs, which after months spent on a sofa them thanked us. We need a few things to live well and the freedom of cycling with friends is certainly one of them. I don't think this pandemic will change mankind but certainly some habits have changed, I personally have noticed the "backyard"; it is not necessary to go far or look for the exotic to experience adventures, to immerse yourself in beauty, to discover new places, beauty is close to us and is often underestimated. Travel is not only measured in distance but also in depth.   Italiano Come spesso accade, l’idea è nata di sera. Mi aveva appena chiamato Simone, il compagno di scampagnate e ci siamo detti “ è arrivato il momento ”, dopo mesi di reclusione casalinga, di buio presto, di serate davanti a Netflix e giornate a programmare i futuri viaggi è arrivato il momento di tornare in bici per viaggiare liberamente fuori dal nostro comune. Per la maggior parte della popolazione mondiale gli spazi si erano drasticamente ridotti, così com’era svanita la possibilità di viaggiare: la società globale, fondata sullo spostamento, era confinata in casa. Solo il tempo avanza imperterrito e la primavera insieme a lui, ed è proprio la primavera ad accogliere il nostro primo viaggio in bici dopo troppi mesi di immobilismo.  Siamo nel cuore del Piemonte, poche decine di chilometri da Torino in un territorio dalla radicata identità locale che affonda le radici nel remoto Medioevo e questo, signori, è il Roero. Il Tanaro è un fiume che taglia in due un territorio creando due mondi separati che si guardano con qualche sospetto, si sfidano, si arroccano ognuno attorno ai propri campanili secondo le migliori tradizioni italiane: Langhe da una parte, riva destra del Tanaro e Roero dall’altra, sponda sinistra.  Già, l’identità: «Non è Langa, non è Monferrato; il Roero è un luogo a sé». Roero slow, perché qui le colline sono dolci e invitano a gustarne le distese senza fretta, senza l’ossessione dell’orologio e l’assillo del rientro in città. Roero di colline coltivate a vigna, ma non solo. Certo però che senza la vigna il Roero non esisterebbe, ed è una questione di cultura e passione, su queste medesime colline oggi nasce il vino simbolo del Roero, il bianco Arneis, vino da quattro soldi figlio di una agricoltura povera di pura sussistenza, ora diventato emblema di una enologia che sfida la concorrenza blasonata delle Langhe.  Tutto qui il Roero? Solo filari, cantine, enoteche, distillerie, villaggi, campanili, torri? Errore, perché se è vero che le colline sono dolci, questa terra da sempre di transito e crocevia di strade diverse si svela improvvisamente aspra, bizzarra e corrugata quando ti avvicini alle cosiddette "rocche", fenditure formatesi nel terreno all’epoca della glaciazioni, stranezze morfologiche dovute all’azione sinergica della terra che si spaccava e dell’acqua che dilavava, straordinario paradiso di contrasti in cui si passa in poche centinaia di metri dalla sabbia alla palude attraverso la vigna e le distese boschive. Qui un tempo c’era il mare, e i fossili che affiorano dal suolo ne sono la muta ma eloquente testimonianza. Abbiamo scelto questa zona per il paesaggio, per i vini e per la gastronomia d'eccellenza ma sopratutto perchè la conformazione del territorio è perfetta per andare in bici. Un'infinità di colline che si inseguono in un continuo sali e scendi che in Italia chiamiamo mangia e bevi, tra strade che sembrano disegnate apposta per una bella pedalata, salite ripidissime ma altrettanto brevi, circondato dalle vigne e dai suoi frutti, in primavera ancora piccoli. Dopo così tanto tempo ritrovarsi tra amici ad inseguire il vento non poteva che riempirci di energia e gioia, quando sei abituato alla libertà non ti accorgi neanche di quanto sia importante se non quando ne vieni privato e questo vale per tutto, per un pranzo al ristorante, per sentire il vento in faccia, per il profumo dei fiori e poi si anche per la sana stanchezza delle gambe, che dopo mesi passati su un divano ci hanno ringraziato.  Abbiamo bisogno di poche cose per vivere bene e la libertà di una pedalata con gli amici è sicuramente una di queste. Non penso che questa pandemia cambierà il genere umano ma sicuramente alcune abitudini sono cambiate, io personalmente mi sono accorto del “giardino di casa”; non è necessario andare lontano o cercare per forza l'esotico per vivere delle avventure, per immergersi nel bello, per scoprire posti nuovi, la bellezza è vicina a noi e spesso la si sottovaluta. I viaggi non si misurano solo in distanza ma anche in profondità.   
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Rolling Large in the Land of Lincoln

Greg Molnar and I decide to meet up at the trailhead early to beat the heat and humidity. There was a deliciously classic thunderstorm over Chicagoland the night before, so the bike ride will be more of a photoshoot.  Molnar makes it clear he won't be difficult to spot at the Raceway Woods Forest Preserve parking lot. "I am easy to identify at 6'7"," quips Molnar, as he pulls his pimped out Turner titanium mountain bike off his One-Up rack.  We hunted down Molnar becuase he was one of the first people to purchase one of our new Kali Grit helmet and we wanted to actually see a Grit out in the wild.  Molnar has a very easy-going, Midwestern vibe going and he immediately launches into tales of rides, riders and the difficulty a man of his stature has in finding proper bicycle attire, in particular finding shoes for his above average size feet. It is not difficult to understand how he is a valued member of the Chicagoland cycling community and if we lived a little closer we would certainly be spending some time turning pedals and telling tales with this big-hearted, large-hooved cyclist.  Kali: Greg, tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, what you do for work, family, etc... Molnar: I grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago and still reside there today.  I work selling Cloud Technology for Google Cloud.  I been married to my wife Jamie for 29 years and have 3 daughters and one dog a 14 year old hound dog Copper.   Kali: Can you remember your first bike? Molnar: Ha, my first bike was a red Schwinn Stingray that eventually was converted to a BMX bike.  Kali: Did you fall in love immediately or has it been an up and down relationship? Molnar: I've had a life long love of riding but really became much more serious again when I turned 40 to get into shape.  My primary passion is Mountain Biking and have been dipping my toes into Bike Packing. I also ride quite a bit of Road and Gravel.  Kali: Can you share one epic bicycle story with us? Molnar: Some friends and I did a ride lasting 12 hours last year covering 75 miles on the North Country Trail from Traverse City, MI South to where we were going to camp.  The conditions were harder than anticipated and it rained for at least the last quarter of the ride.  We bailed on camping and stayed in a hotel to dry out.  Kali: We are meeting up on one of your favorite local trails, can you tell us about it and why you love it. Molnar: Illinois is considered flat, so no great mountain bike riding.  Raceway is an example of the local community building a fun trail with enough up and down to be interesting. Plus it is close enough to home for a spur of the moment ride.  There is a great Brewery, Scorched Earth, nearby for post-ride refreshment. 
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Kali 100: Palicci Ponders his Personal Prodigious Pavement

"Hey, I need to know your favorite 100 yards in Marin" the email from Jim reads.  It piqued my interest, despite landing in my inbox before my first Americano had been consumed. Typically when a prodigious long-time cycling journalist like Jim Merithew asks you such a question, it's gonna be a good time, or at least interesting, especially when you consider the difficult year we've all had and trying to have it coincide with my favorite 100 yards of riding. As it turns out, Jimmy was onto something, taking a purely optimistic standpoint while staring the inimical face of COVID down. The whole point of this exercise was to highlight the things that make us happy, even as the persistent lockdowns increasingly made our surroundings monotonous. In this case, Jimmy wanted to highlight that 100 yards in a normal, local route that made you forget about the stresses and anxiety most of us have felt during the pandemic and to remind us that the simple pleasures in life should be, and still are, the most important part of our daily existence.  I should have prefaced this by saying the riding around my house is absolutely spectacular. Even when threats of only being able to travel within a 5-mile radius were threatened, I was still pretty happy with the terrain left open.  Yes, you have to be willing to poach the good stuff on a mountain mike,  risking a hit to your bank account, or something worse. But finding a good 100 yards on a MTB, road bike, cruiser, dirt jumper, or whatever your two-wheeled proclivity is, isn't hard to do with Marin, California as your backyard.  That said, I still have my favorites. When Jimmy contacted me I'd been riding a fair amount of gravel, in the midst of training so I could get kicked-in-the-teeth, both literally and figuratively, during the looming 200 miles of Unbound Gravel in Kansas.  I'll admit every day I get to ride I recognize how incredibly lucky I am, but, damn it, I'd be lying if sometimes the thought of a four-plus-hour ride didn't seem exactly palatable. The struggle to push away from the computer, schlep into my spandex, get on the bike, and attempt to ignore the residual pain in my legs from the day before has a tendency to make me a petulant child.  This is where I appreciated Jimmy's approach; don't focus on the monotony, residual lactic acid, or the myriad of things you think are excuses to not ride today, but rather, focus on the heavenly sliver of pavé that transports you somewhere else, eschews the initial pessimistic thoughts, and allows you to enjoy your bike for the simple act of rolling along with the wind in your face.  This section, for me, is often ridden on both gravel and road rides. Though the lead-up to this strip of road changes depending on my choice of tires, it usually comes about 45 minutes to an hour into my ride, once the legs and body have warmed up, my blood is circulating, and I can stop pandiculating as my age would suggest I should. At the start of a small rise hugging the side of Mt. Tamalpais, the left flank is wide-open coastline, with a gorgeous deep blue ocean dropping off waves from hundreds of miles away along the rugged rocks below. As I hit the precipice of the rise, the entire coastline opens up to a colosseum of Northern California beauty and envelops one's thoughts, and you simply find yourself in the moment, content and happy, as your eyes drift up the coastline at the sinuous, idyllic road that awaits.  In this 100-or-so yards, I find my solace.  
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Biking Bakersfield and following Mullet Protocol

Kevin Talley is standing outside his bike shop watching his son, Hunter, practice his mountain bike skills while attempting to get air over the ramp he built for Hunter out the Grizzly Cycles' Bikes for Rent sign.  Talley is a mountain of man with what has to be one of the greatest mullets ever grown. It should have its own Wikipedia page. It should be in the Mullet Hall of Fame. It is nothing short of epic but if you spend any amount of time with Talley, you realize the mullet is just there to throw you off. Like Superman's cape or Batman's mask it not the source of his power, it is just an indicator of it. He is big ol' teddy bear of gent with a heart of gold. We've ridden with him. We've shared laughs with him and now we sat down with him to find out a little bit more about what makes him tick.  So, you own and run the Grizzly Bike Shop in Bakersfield. What is Bakersfield like for bike riding?  I’m originally from the South Bay and the mountain biking is what actually keeps me here in Bakersfield. It’s one of the best kept secrets. We’re at the base of the Southern Sierra Mountains. We've got seven to nine thousand feet of elevation in our backyard. Our local trail systems are kind of like the wild west where you get a little bit of everything from mild flow trails to crazy bike park style jumps and wood features. On the other side of that we have a bike path that has dirt trails next to it that runs for about thirty miles across the city. From my shop it takes about forty minutes to an hour to get up to seven thousand feet and there's a trail called Just Outstanding where people are coming from all over the place to ride it. It’s about seven miles of single track and from there you have a couple options, you can take fire roads or you can climb a bit to get to different single track. If you like the outdoors, it's a great place to be. Why do you think many cyclists do not hear about Bakersfield? Nobody thinks of Bakersfield when you think of mountain biking. You think of the flat armpit of California, oil fields and nothingness. When I first moved here I didn’t think that mountain biking would be what would make me open up a bike shop. It’s that good that it drove my passion to open up Grizzly Cycles. When people first moved heard I was moving here their reaction was; “Oh, why are you moving there? There is nothing to do there.”  That’s kind of the beauty of it. There’s nothing to do so you find things to do like mountain biking. I understand your bike shop is steps away from where you live. What are the pros and cons of having a set up like this? Yes, the shop is one hundred and fifty yards from my doorstep. A pro is that it's the shortest commute I’ve had in my life but that’s also a con because I don’t get to ride my bike to work which is something that I miss. I used to have a 15 mile commute to work so that was always my ride time. Now it seems like I get to the shop, do work and it’s been so busy right now I haven’t had the time to get out and enjoy the bike like I used to. Another pro is security. I’m right next door so if something happens, I can hear what’s going on in the parking lot from where I’m at. The pros out weight the cons, for sure. What do you consider the key ingredients needed to run a successful bike shop?  I think community. Be a part of the community. Host group rides, host events at the shop and don't be a jerk. Treating people how you would want to be treated when you walk into a shop is huge. The biggest thing we focus on at the shop is quality over quantity. We don’t care about how many units we move or things like that we just want to make sure that everyone who walks through the door is taken care of the same as the next person. We don’t wanna have people coming in and having a bad experience. Cycling is a fun activity. We want it to be fun from the time you buy your bike to the time you hit your first double or do your first century. Treating people with respect goes a long way and that’s what a lot of shops are missing. Some may think they’re better than others like if you have a Walmart Huffy they may treat you different but we’ll treat the Walmart Huffy the same as the Ibis Mojo. Can you give the people who are just coming into bicycling a couple of tips on how to make the most of their local bike shop relationship?   Come in and just hangout. I know it’s hard during COVID times but come in and build a relationship with your shop. Make sure the shop is giving you a reason to come back but building relationships is what it's all about. I grew up skateboarding so when I started my shop, I wanted it to feel like how I felt when I went into a skate shop. I could just go hangout, watch skate videos and shoot the conversation with the guys there and not feel like I’m being rushed out because I’m not spending a thousand dollars every time I walk through the door.   What is the most frustrating thing a customer can ask you when they come to the shop? I don’t think there’s anything that’s frustrating that they can ask me. I look at it like what’s the most frustrating thing they don’t ask. As someone who’s trying to get you exactly what you need, if you’re not asking questions we might not be able to help you to the fullest extent. There are no dumb questions. We are here to help and share knowledge. What do you love about running your own shop?   Everything. I get to wake up everyday and go play with bikes. I get to do something that I love and it's not something that I wake up every morning and do to work toward the weekend. I hate when I hear people say, "Oh, it’s almost Friday. I get to go have fun this weekend.” If you’re working towards the weekend you’re not doing something you love. Everyday you wake up you should be excited about what you do and I get that excitement. I like the fact that our shop is on its way to becoming successful. We’re still a very new shop so I won’t say we’ve made it yet but it’s cool to have a solid staff and be able to support a solid group of people at the shop spreading the stoke, making sure everyone is hyped and keeping the wheels turning. How often do you ride with your shop? Normally we were doing a group ride every Thursday but because of everything that’s going on with COVID and all that we stopped doing our group rides. We’re starting to ease back into them now with the vaccinations and what not. Regardless of how you feel about them the options are there so now I feel like we can do group rides again with anyone who feels comfortable with that. We plan on doing them once every two weeks again to get back into it.  Your son, Hunter, has begun to take on bike riding. Does this make you happy, concerned or what feelings and thoughts do you have about this? What advice do you give him? He's been playing a game on the Xbox called Descenders and now he’s starting to get confident in jumping because of what he’s seeing he can do in the video game. He asked me if we could build a ramp for him and we took apart an old a-frame sign I made and used it as a ramp and we keep building it up little by little and making landings for it. He’s taken a couple spills on it. Thankfully he’s got his Kali Invader so his face has been protected and he’s out there every couple of days riding that ramp. He’s a pretty shy kid, so I try not to juice him up too much. I just tell him to go for it and if he feels comfortable doing it then do it and if not then we’ll work on it another day. I let him go at his own pace and that’s helped him progress faster. I don’t want him to lose interest so I let him do what he wants to do. So when we ride actual mountain bike trails, I get every feeling you can think of from, "Holy crap!" to "Oh my god. He did it!". When we go out and ride single track, I usually ride behind him so I’m watching everything he’s doing. He’s got the confidence and the skills to get through most things but as a parent it's terrifying watching your seven year old go down a decent that some grown adults are still walking down.
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Heatwaves and Hot Laps

“We say what we do and we do what we say,” Brad “the boss” Waldron reminds me yet again. And he’s not joking. We have been in the car for four-plus hours and since leaving the Bay Area proper. The external thermostat on the car has not dropped below 96 degrees and for the last few miles and it hasn’t seen anything below the eye-popping 100 degree mark.  Things could be worse, just ask the half dozen people standing next to their overheating cars on the final I-5 climb out of California and into Oregon. The massive West Coast heatwave is not treating them with much kindness. But don’t be overly concerned about us, we have left the relative comfort of the Bay Area and headed out onto the surface-of-the-sun because we have shuttles scheduled at Ashland Mountain Adventures and Waldron, who is friends with AMA owners Sue and Bill, wants to be a man of his word and show up. So here we sit in the back of the shuttle van headed for the top of Mt. Ashland, air conditioning straining to keep up with the days demand and oddly happy about our decision.  Sue and Bill “Wild” Roussel are both on our shuttle, as well as couple who have left their grown kids at home to go for their very first “real” mountain bike ride.  “Are you nervous?”  “Yes, we are all the nerves.” Luckily, for all involved the temperatures at the top of the mountain are surprisingly pleasant and it is making us wonder what all our whining was all about. We take the small climb to get the trailhead of Timewarp, which has to be the crown jewel of Mt. Ashland and flew by leaving us wanting more. We’re also big fans of the giant left-handed, steeply bermed corners of Jabberwocky.  “There was a point where I was feeling pretty great and having an amazing time and thought to myself, 'I could totally do another run,'” said Waldron. “But as we neared the bottom and had to ride across town in the open, my legs started to get a little weak and the heat really started to cook me.”  It may have been hot enough to cook an egg on our Invader helmet, but in the end it turned out to be a great day on the bike.  There were a few additional things which made a visit to Southern Oregon during a historic heatwave shockingly more enjoyable than one would expect: the pool at the Ashland Hills Hotel and Suites, the coffee and pastries at Remix Coffee Shop and the COVID IPA at Caldera Brewery and Restaurant.   As usual, we can’t recommend the riding in Ashland highly enough and it is made all the better by the superb hospitality, local knowledge and mountain bike expertise at Ashland Mountain Adventures.
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