Friday, April 30, 2010

Bruce Gordon: Still Rockin' in 2010

In my previous post, I featured Bruce Gordon's 1993 Rock 'N Road bike, as described by Roy Wallack. At the recent San Diego Custom Bicycle Show, I chatted with the ever-friendly Bruce Gordon and took some photos of his current line-up, which includes both American- and Taiwan-made versions of the Rock 'N Road. Enjoy! (Remember, you can click any photo to see it bigger.)

Above: BG with the current American-made Road 'N Road
Above: The Taiwanese version of the Road 'N Road. When asked about the Chinese language down-tube decal (which is how it is sold here in the USA), Bruce explained he was just being up front about the bicycle's origins, unlike many other "American" brands which try to hide where their bikes are coming from. You can buy a completely built-up edition of this bike for just $1499, or a kit which includes the frame, fork, stem, and headset with California-made front and rear racks for just $975! Info here.

Above: If the Rock 'N Road is designed as "the one bike to rule them all," then Bruce's latest creation - with titanium lugs and carbon tubing - is designed as "the one bike to make them all drool." It's quite a departure from his usual materials, but extremely beautiful, to say the least. This bike had the biggest crowd at the show, from what I observed. More info here.

Bruce Gordon website: click here.
Bruce Gordon blog:
click here.
Bruce Gordon section at Classic Rendezvous: click here.

For professional photographs of all the bicycles featured at the San Diego show, check out Anthony's gallery on the Velo Cult blog. Incredible!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bruce Gordon Rock 'N Road 1993

She was Everything To Me

My Bruce Gordon Rock 'N Road Tour and I had a perfect relationship. Until I cheated on her.

By Roy M. Wallack, Editor, Bicycle Guide Magazine.
Originally published in Bicycle Guide, August 1993.

(To read what Bruce is up to in 2010, read my other blog report here.)

I'd been through so many relationships recently—and it really wasn't me. From way back, I was a one-bike man, dyed-in-the-lycra, committed to my beloved touring bike, "Black Beauty," as I affectionately called her. She loved it when I held her aerobars tight. We practically rode around the world together. Thousands upon thousands of miles. I thought I'd never gaze into another set of eyelets but hers, and that we'd ride into the sunset forever.

But then I got this job, and things changed. Younger bikes, faster bikes, yes, sexier bikes—they'd throw themselves at me. And you know what? I'm ashamed to say it, but I couldn't stop myself--and I didn't care. I'd go back and forth from road to mountain at will. Sometimes I'd ride both in one day.

Yes, it was exhilarating for a time--and then the novelty wore off and the recriminations began. Deep down, I was still a one-bike man. How often I'd wished for just one bike I could remain true to, that I could always keep my water bottles on. But Black Beauty wouldn't do now; we'd grown apart. I needed a bike to be with me through it all—dirt as well as road and touring.

My friends tried to fix me up with hybrids, but their personalities were so dull. They didn't seem real good at anything—dirt or pavement. I at least wanted a bike with spunk.

Then I was introduced to the Rock 'N Road Tour. The moment I first saw her, I knew that this was going to be no quickie First Ride. This was going to be a relationship.

She wasn't like the other hybrids. I first noticed her extra-strong, curvaceous $100 Bruce Gordon rear rack. On the front fork were a pair of beautiful eyelets. The 17 1/8-inch chainstays were long enought to accomodate bags. She tours! I wanted to drape my panniers over her right there on the spot.

And I couldn't take my eyes off her slightly oversized (11/4-inch downtube, 11/8 toptube) frame. High bottom bracket, sloping top tube, welded chrome-moly dropouts and low standover height—with unicrown fork and cowhorn handlebars! She mountain bikes, too! She even had suspension—an Alsop stem—which told me that she was a level-headed gal who could handle life's little bumps and bruises.

And just when I'd forgotten about the road, I noticed her bodacious 700C wheels. Yes—she'll fly, too! Finally, a multi-faceted personality, like mine. It was a perfect match. Could Rock 'N Road Tour be the bike I could ride out my life with, happily ever after?

For two months, me and Rocquel (the pet name I gave her) couldn't get enough of each other. Up the mountains to the Mulholland fireroad, 10 miles and 2000 feet of elevation gain away, again and again and again. Half by road, half by dirt, her 700C wheels almost kept us up with the roadies, yet literally flung us past those tiny 26-inch wheeled mountain bikers like they were toys. I'd barely even notice the brands of the other bikes, although the other riders sure noticed us. Rocquel and I chuckled over the way they'd quizzically look at us together, unable to figure out what she was—an overgrown mountain bike, or what? And that would make me love her even more--such an individual, such a unique personality.

Of course, she got a little slippery on those descents with those 700x45 tires, rounder, narrower and less knobbier than an actual mountain bike's. But who's perfect? I considered it a skill-builder—and an endearing idiosyncrasy.

As our relationship strengthened, I found another thing to like about Rocquel: her adaptability. She didn't complain a bit when I asked her to wear Profile Air-Stryk aerobars and Club Roost CrossTerra tires for the 50-mile Rosarito-Ensenada ride in Mexico. You can bet her suspension stem smoothed out that potholed Baja highway. The roadies we passed were gawking at us (is that an overgrown mountain bike, and how many bagels are strapped to its rack?) as we cruised in at 2 hours, 40--just ten minutes slower than my best time down there before on Black Beauty.

Two days later, it was even more fun seeing the mountain bikers gawk at Rocquel's aerobars up on the dirt of Mulholland. For sure, I was in love. I thought I'd never need to look at another bike again. My quest was over.

Then a minor little problem arose. The Death Valley Double. Fifty road miles is one thing on Rocquel and her CrossTerras, but 200? So I told her I had to go out of town on business. And I took Black Beauty and her skinny tires for one last fling.

The next week, the Mountain Dogs asked me to climb up to Mt. Wilson with them—elevation 6000 feet. A lot of technical single-track each way. Oh...darn. I couldn't help but think of that front-suspended Specialized Team M2 Team in the office that had been flirting with me for months. So I told Rocquel I had to go on some all-day interviews.

When I got to the office Monday, I'd come to a decision. I dialed Rocquel's dad, Bruce Gordon, at his Petaluma, California factory. He'd been pressing me for a decision on Rock N Road Tour's future. "Either make her yours, send me a $2350 check (which includes a set of unique 3-minute QuickSwitch drop bars), or send her home," he demanded.

I had no choice. Rocquel might have been perfect for 90 percent of my riding, but I value that other 10 percent too much. There'd be more double centuries, which Gordon's optional second set of wheels ($295) would address, but what about single-track? The temptation was too great. I realized then that I no longer can be a one-bike man anymore. But I'm not ready to be a three-bike man, either.

Rocquel's chain-lube tears stained my carpet when I told her.

"Don't worry," I consoled her as I taped up her bike box and affixed the UPS label, "you're a great bike for most bike riders--and the bike industry should know that. Your dad has done a wonderful job raising you. You're a real bike, strong and multi-talented on dirt and pavement--not a wimpy compromise like all those other hybrids that never turned the consumers on. You're special.

"But I'm too far gone, baby. I'd never be able to share my greatest moments with you. It's for the best."

I think about Rock N Road Tour ever so often, especially when I imagine putting panniers on Black Beauty for that big tour of Canada I want to do. And I do wonder: Maybe, deep-down, I am a three-bike man, after all?

(To read what Bruce is up to in 2010, read my other blog report here.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rough Riders Rally on the Adventure Cycling Blog

Greetings, fellow Rough Riders!

Be sure to check out "Fat Terrain on Skinny Tires on the Adventure Cycling Blog! Here's a sneak peak:

In case you’re not a member of Adventure Cycling Association -- which means you’re not privy to the information and amazing bicycling tales distributed nine times a year in Adventure Cyclist magazine -- I wanted to give you a heads-up about a phenomenon we reported on in the February edition of the magazine.

Under the sub-head ‘Ride Softly and Carry a Big Repair Kit,’ we told readers about the “Return of the Rough Riders” -- which in this case is not a group of volunteer cavalrymen led by Teddy Roosevelt, but a growing bunch of hardy cyclists whose mantra is “Any Bike, Anywhere.” Their leader/organizer is Chris Kostman, the man behind the California-based AdventureCORPS and such events as the Badwater Ultramarathon run and the Furnace Creek 508 bike race, both staged in and around Death Valley.

The Rough Riders could be described as a fresh twist on Great Britain’s 55-year-old Rough Stuff Fellowship. To better understand what they’re all about, consider this from the Alpine Bicycle Club, home of the Colorado Rough Riders, the second Rough Rider chapter to form: “[We are] dedicated to mixed-terrain touring. Touring through the alpine environment here in the Rocky Mountain West requires efficient travel on any surface, from paved road to singletrack. All on the same route, with the same bike. Club membership is free. All skill levels, from novice to professional racer, are welcome. … We even accept mountain bikers. But we will probably give you a hard time until you change out the big fat knobbies.”

The premiere Rough Riders Rally is slated for July 23–25, 2010, in Marin County, California. “We've finalized the main ride route,” Chris said, “and made plans with our host bike shop, and much more … for what will be a truly exciting, memorable, and fun international gathering of Rough Riders.”

We really appreciate Adventure Cycling staff writer Michael McCoy's enthusiasm for Rough Riding and his support for the inaugural Rough Riders Rally!
It's so exciting to see all this momentum building for our movement and for the Rally!

PS Coming up soon: an announcement about a pre-ride of the Saturday route for the Rough Riders Rally in May (probably Saturday, May 15). All are invited to ride the course with me that day as I fine-tune the route sheet and put the finishing touches on this exciting new event! Details forthcoming!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rough Riders Rally featured at

Wow! We are so excited! There is some fantastic coverage of Rough Riding and our Rough Riders Rally in the 4/1/2010 weekly email newsletter (#436) from

Many thanks to RBR's Ed Pavelka for the exposure. His free weekly newsletter for roadie cyclists is an incredible and entertaining resource. If you ride a bike, you should be a subscriber! (I mean that sincerely.) Meanwhile, check out the Rough Riders Rally coverage in this week's edition (which is featured on the front page of the site), and also be sure to participate in his Rough Riding poll! (I hope some of my fellow Rough Riders will help bring those numbers up in favor of Rough Riding!)

This "movement" is gathering momentum! Here's an excerpt and a preview (this is the lead story!):

Ed's notes: "Rough riding" is not new but it's becoming cool and gaining devotees. RBR's Coach Fred Matheny has been championing what he calls "adventure rides" for years.

It's all about riding a road bike on any surface that 2 wheels can negotiate -- pavement (of course) as well as gravel roads, dirt roads, trails, paths, singletrack and so forth.

In California (where mountain bikes were born, remember) AdventureCORPS is promoting the concept. The company is known for its ultra-endurance events, but it contends that rough riding should be considered more mainstream than extreme.

This week AdventureCORPS announced the inaugural Rough Riders Rally, a multi-surface cycling festival. It will celebrate the "Any Bike, Anywhere" ethos in Marin County on July 23-25.

Company chieftain Chris Kostman explains, "Rough riding is a state of mind, a riding style with limitless freedom and an all-pervasive sense of adventure. The goal is to tackle any and all possible combinations of surfaces, all within one ride on just one bike.

"Rough riders do not choose between road biking and mountain biking and let the bicycle determine the route and terrain. The rough riding goal is to see it all and do it all, to truly have an adventure."

Chris has been riding a road bike off road for some 20 years. Through AdventureCORPS, he's given the practice a capitalized name -- Rough Riding -- and a 3-day event to celebrate it.

"Rough riding is nothing new," he acknowledges. "The oldest known mixed-surface cycling club is the Rough Stuff Fellowship, formed in the United Kingdom in 1955. Before 'mountain' bikes, cyclists routinely rode all manner of bicycles on all manner of riding surfaces."

Will rough riding become more prominent?

My guess is yes.

Randonneur Jimmy Williams, a friend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has been busy designing a 200-km (124-mile) route called a permanent that includes as much unpaved riding as he can piece together.

"I saw your poll a couple weeks ago and how low dirt road riding tallied," says Jimmy. "Maybe that's one reason why the few of us like it. We're out there enjoying nature and soaking up the tranquility."

Jimmy has 2 bikes especially suited to rough riding -- a new Gunnar and an old Trek. He sent the two snapshots shown here.

An important point, though -- emphatically emphasized by Chris -- is that you don't need a special bike to be a rough rider. Your regular road rig is just fine. The game is to develop your riding skills on unpaved terrain rather than rely on technology.

In other words, when you see an enticing departure from your paved route, take it on the bike that brung ya.

Ed Pavelka
Editor, Publisher, Riding Rougher Than Ever

Read the Full Story on Click here | Visual Preview:

Check out's poll, which asked "How much road bike 'rough riding' is in your future? Over 54% said anywhere from "a little" to "a ton"! Click here for the full results!