Handemade Steel Mountain Bikes

May 2010

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While Todd toils away building frames…the european Bronto contingency decided to take advantage of the hottest spring weather in the history of Northern Europe.  No better way to do this than with a road trip and some trail riding.  So off to Wales we went, with the Tachelet brothers (who have themselves visited Todd’s shop, ridden in Oakridge, and been bitten by Todd’s dog).

Wales is, as it turns out, a mountain bike mecca in the UK.  Just 3 hours west of London, it has multiple (government-funded, thank you big government!!!) riding centers with marked courses.  Many of the centers have bike shops, cafes, and sometimes even showers.  It’s as if they were trying to promote awesome trail riding as a legitimate activity!  So you just show up, pick your level of difficulty, and off you go.  We picked black level trails, because we think we’re hard men.

Yes, hard enough that we even ate English breakfasts for 3 days.  Not easy, I can assure you.  Anyway.  The riding was brilliant.  Peter and Stijn are racer-types so they dragged my soft behind up the hills with their foam grips and straight bars.  But it was me with the last laugh on the descent!

First day was at Afan, probably the most famous riding center in Wales, and home to the legendary Skyline trail.  We opted for W2, a 44km loop with heaps of climbing and seemingly endless singeletrack.  Looooong singletrack descents.  So tasty.

The next day we were off to Brechfa, a smaller and lesser-known trail center just an hour away.  It was brilliant, felt very similar to west coast riding in the US.  We pedaled up I don’t know how many climbs, tore down the singletrack descents, taking advantage of the man-made and maintained berms and booters.  I was constantly reminded how very few things there are in this world that can bring as much pleasure as riding a mountain bike.

And so it was, onto the last day at Cwmcarn.  We had to make it early and short due to a ferry reservation, so we woke up at the crack of 6, forced down our fried egg, and were clipping in just after 7.  It was a gorgeous morning, birds were chirping, and we were the only ones on the trail.  And what a brilliant trail it was.  Very technical singletrack climb up, and brilliant descent back down.  I can’t think of many better usages of 1.5 hours of my life than riding that trail.

So Wales, highly recommended.  Go to www.mbwales.com for more.  For me it was maybe the best riding I’ve done to date over here in Euro-land.  For those looking for some tasty euro trails, look no further than the UK.

Bronto now has headbadges!!



Good thing too. Head tubes need headbadges like Suicide Girls need tattoos! No joke.
We are getting our “look” together slowly but surely, all the while trying to remain calm. However, we are inexplicably hungry to get things dialed. The fantastic color palette is soon to arrive but in the mean time feast your eyes on the custom anodized slider dropouts! Color is good no?  Gold = Tough  like Mr. T = Bad. Ass. Period.

Gold just like the Man likes it.

Get the Ladies With Gold!

Mr. T Loves Bronto!!

Mr. T Loves Bronto!!

The idea is to stand out so that hunters don’t shoot you and/or if by random happenstance one of the before mentioned ladies is out in the woods, to give you a fighting chance at a close encounter in the great outdoors. Stranger things have happened. Trust me, I’m the Torch.

Man, I remember when I was just a young lad and guys like Johnny T battled it out with the euro mullets in Houffalize.  We all thought it looked awesome and had no idea how to pronounce the name.  20 years later, Houffalize is the queen of the World Cup circuit.  Things are different now, riders have pits, the big trade teams are gone, but every April 20,000+ Belgians crowd into this tiny little town to drink some Lachouffe and watch the world’s best.

Bronto Loves Lachouffe Beer!

We got there about halfway through the women’s race.  Lo and behold, an American in the lead, battling for the win.  She looked barely 5’0″ and yet was riding a 29er.  But she lost to a, yes…a Colnago mountain bike.  Could she have won with 26″ inch wheels on this technical, demanding course?  We will never know…

And then it was the men.  A German rider with a, shall we say,”spotty” past jumped from the gun and had a pretty big lead after just a few minutes.  He held that until the last lap, when some other guy passed him and won.

Ah yes.  XC racing.  Brings back memories.  My first years of mountain biking were spent racing the Pacific NW series.  It was sponsored by Uncle Seth’s cookies, these huge and wonderful sugar cookies with thick, pink frosting that was vaguely mint-flavored.  I’m sure I gained more calories than I lost in those races.  But the races were so much fun, huge loops that went out ino some of the best riding in the state.  Epic rides.