Salsa Fargo Update

Don’t worry everyone, I won’t go as long between Fargo posts in the future. (I hear the photo geeks moaning, grinding teeth and searching for the unsubscribe.)

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I’ve finally gotten out for a few short rides. Still fighting Lyme, so I’m not breaking any records, nor will I be for the foreseeable future, but I’m doing what I can. I managed to find some dirt here in good old Newport Beach, an unfinished side of the Santa Ana River Trail. The busy side is paved, but the not-so-busy side is still dirt. Not even really sure how far it runs, but I will attempt to find out. To the left of my bike is the “river.” Just play along people, it’s a concrete river, filled with things like lost luggage, shopping carts, coyotes and even a fish or two believe it or not. Nature is a stubborn thing regardless of advancing in paving technology.

And behind me you ask?

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Yep, if you are going to pave everything in sight you need some concrete dammit. Why not put the plant at the epicenter? This is actually a nice ride for these parts. You ALWAYS have wind at your back on the way inland and in your face all the way back to the water. You have an assortment of other riders, walkers and homeless encampments to keep you company. When you dip under the overpasses you get a nice whiff of pee, and you get to practice dodging the glass from broken bottles. And there’s no charge!

The bike. Well, it’s great. So easy to ride. Geared for the uphill world, no surprise, but enough there for nice, sustained relatively high speed pavement action. Climbs really well both in and out of the saddle and feels stable on fast descents. I’m toying with the idea of adding brakes to the top bars because I will be on some serious downhill, singletrack over the next few months and long descents on the drops tend to waste my arms, but again I’ve got Lyme, so picking up the TV remote requires an extra hour of sleep.

This bike calls to me at night. I can hear it because I keep it inside, in my library actually, which drives my wife crazy.(Reason enough to do it right there.) “But honey, it’s lonely in the garage.” This bike calls to me because it doesn’t want to be in Newport. This bike leaves maps on my living room floor. Maps of the Southwest, or New Mexico. This bike tells me to add a rear rack and aim for Miami via the US/Mexico border. This bike left an advertisement for a waterproof backpack that would easily hold two Nikon F6’s and two lenses and a huge stock of TRI-X. This bike is evil.

Near and Fargo…….Ti

While I have yet to discover a cure for Lyme Disease I have found a wonderful distraction. This distraction happens to come with 29r tires, a titanium frame and disc brakes. The new beast has arrived. The 2014 Salsa Fargo Titanium, drop-bar, adventure touring bike. I know what you are thinking. “Milnor, you live in Newport, get real man, there is no adventure in Newport outside of bombing the stairs at South Coast Plaza or Fashion Island.” You are nearly correct, but just as this bike is a distraction from the battle with Lyme it is also a permission slip to dream about the future.

Daniel_Milnor_Salsa_Fargo_Ti

The idea is a long tour. Originally, my idea was just across the United States, Washington to Maine on the Northern Tier Route, and I might do this, but I’ve also got ideas for a longer, more exacting route that I don’t want to divulge here, at least at the moment. It’s a secret and it involves doing my photography thing as I go. I got on my bike today and my wife asked,“You ready to go?” I said “Mentally, I’m already gone.” The reality is a tour like this is not in the cards for me at the moment simply because I love my job and I do not have the time required to even begin to think about something like this. But think I do. Almost every single day.

So, to satisfy my curiosity, when time and location allows, I will be taking short trips, three to five days if I can time vacation or holidays with being in the right location. So far I have made four short excursions on this new bike. All four were what I would describe as Newport excursions. Now for those of you who routinely ride across the Yukon or places like Mongolia, don’t go thinking Newport is a breeze. No. Sorry. Newport is as dangerous as any location on Earth.

Newport excursions include things like dodging financial dudes in 4×4 Rovers with front axle breathers who have never seen the dirt but have no issue driving like they are in the Paris Dakar. We also have soccer moms in black Escalades with 22-inch, black spinners who have the innate ability to navigate a car full of kids doing 60mph in a 30mph while simultaneously TEXTING and drinking a $13 cafe latte half cafe decaf with acai. And not to be outdone by other generic urban centers, EVERYONE on EVERY TRAIL, at ANY time of the day is on their phone, walking serpentine like a drunken felon on weekend furlough. I once saw a puddle of blood, one shoe and a broken cell phone on the trail. Like Ron Burgundy says, “You gotta keep your head on a swivel when you find yourself in the middle of a cockfight.” I couldn’t agree more. Newport might not the Divide Trail, but I’ll take a grizzly over a high school girl on Instagram ANY day of the week.

A few observations.
I had always heard about the ride quality of titanium. Oh, I forgot to mention. Anyone who still thinks this is going to be a photography post can sign off now. Titanium is like…like…well, like your Grandma’s 1982 Le Sabre. It’s smooth. Combine this with a carbon fork and a Thudbuster seat post and you have a ride that equals my full suspension mountain bike, at least over dirt track, fire road, etc. When it comes to single track or insanely rough places the full suspension bike is the king, but for everything else I was amazed at how smooth the Fargo is. Also, the bike is, by far, the most comfortable bike I’ve ever had. I’m riding a large, which I initially thought was too large, but it’s actually perfect. The drop bars combined with the sloping top tube, mountain bike style frame is the perfect merger of siblings who never knew they were related. They are, and they play nicely together. My first time with SRAM shifters which took about 1.75 minutes to adjust to. All frame bags are made by this Canadian character, otherwise known as Porcelain Rocket. I have since added a handlebar bag as well as bottle mounts on the front forks and down tube.

There is an upside of Lyme Disease. Lyme made me rethink a few things. The reality of a medical world mostly unconcerned with the disease. My overall health, and oh ya, EVERY SINGLE THING I DO ALL DAY LONG. Lyme has given me a perspective about life. Funny how disease does that. Makes you realize there is lip service about life and then there is the actual marrow. Whatever it is you feel you MUST do in life, must be done. One way or another.

This bike for me is a reminder. A reminder that when I wake to the sound of birdsong, something I do each and every morning here in California, I need to stop and enjoy those sounds. When I take that first sip of coffee, the real black fluid that powers our culture, I should stop and enjoy it. Appreciate it. Someday this bike will aim in an unknown direction and take me to places I never thought I would every be. Until then this bike serves as my reminder there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are corners in the road I can’t yet see beyond.

Get on your bike and ride.

Bike Commuting Update


Out with the old, in with the new.

I just switched from 700×32 tires on the right, to 700×25 tires on the left! Shake and bake!
I know that millions of you out there are wondering how my bike commuting days are going. Well, I have to admit, it is pretty exciting. Using a bike instead of a car, who would have thunk it. It’s not like the rest of the world does it or anything.
I’ve been enjoying my little commute, even though I’m not commuting. You see I work at home, so I have nowhere to commute to. BUT, I do use the bike for errands. Food, bank, beach, training, lab, clients, etc, I can do all from the bike.


My typical rear rack setup. Exciting right?

Sure, I get to the clients and I’m a total sweaty mess, but who cares, it adds excitement to our lives of routine. A lot of folks ask me about the reception to riding in these parts. Frankly, it’s fine. Most people are TOTALLY indifferent to someone on a bike, and those few who blow by you inches from your handlebar, or get close and blast their horn, they have always sucked and have always been lonely, scared, insignificant creatures anyway, and chances are they will never change.


Another photo here for no particular reason.

Last night a friend was able to debut his documentary film titled, “Riding Bikes with the Dutch,” at the Art Theater in Long Beach. A great, fun film which ultimately contrasts Amsterdam with Long Beach, “The most bike friendly city in America.”
I’m not sure why bikes have been so slow to catch on here, well, I take that back. I know why. But, I’m surprised we still haven’t put our egos and status aside and embraced our future. I think when gas hits $5 per gallon, and it will, I think the bike will suddenly become more appealing.
Forty percent of all trips taken in the United States are less than 2 MILES. Just think about that.

But, it has to begin with city planning. Without city planning we are DOOMED. Drive to Phoenix lately? From LA? NINETY miles from Phoenix someone is building track housing developments. People, people, people, this has to be stopped. Not only are they building out there, but there is NO public transport to the city. How in 2010 is that possible? Plus, these places are cracker jack construction which means repairs in ten years, required heating in winter, air conditioning in summer. People, how on Earth does this make sense? And yet…it continues at a record pace.

This country is fantastic, but we sure do settle for less much of the time. We squander our potential, and instead of being a leader in the world we are a distant, reluctant, often times belligerent follower. We have the means to LEAD the world in this area, and yet we lead in sprawl and energy consumption.

The bike for me, don’t get me wrong, was not a revolutionary tactic. I ride because I like to ride. It made sense to me. The VAST majority of my trips are within 10 miles of my house, so naturally, I can take a bike and be fine. I also think the bike gives me time to think. No cell phone, and I even quit listening to music. One, it is safer, but two my mind is more clear, uncluttered. The bike is the ultimate pace. I could never run ten miles a day, and don’t really need my car. A bike is that pace that forces you to be a part of the world, but also allows you to cover a fair amount of ground.

There are a hundred and one reasons NOT to bike around here, but most are lame and old and tired. Check out my friend’s movie. If the those pesky Dutch can do it then so can we. www.everydaybike.com

Story Behind the Photos: Kman Does Texas BMX


The infamous Kman, not happy at having to stand still for this picture.

I did what I thought I was supposed to do. Yes, after all these years, I still do this.

My nephew, the infamous Kman, races BMX. In fact, he is a total badass with a room full of trophies to show off his 65-pound prowess.

So I go to visit the family and find out I’ve landed on race night.

I have options.

I think to myself, “This is racing action, I’ve got to get that peak moment, I need a motor drive, long lens, etc,” so I grab the digital body and long lens and toss it in the truck.

And then, more out of reflex than anything else, I toss in the Blad.

The track is easy. A small place, and being Texas people are relaxed.

“Hey, my nephew is racing, can I stand in the middle of the track?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

And with a smoking gun the races begin.

I’m hammering away, motor drive humming, mirror clanging up and down. But I’m distracted. Not by something around me, but by something inside me.

“What am I going to do with these images?”
I begin to ask.

“Do I really want to sit down and edit through all these motor sequences.”

“Ugh.”

“Why am I doing this?”

“Do I really want to archive these, label these, tag these, etc,etc?”

“Ugh.”

Don’t laugh, this is how my troubled mind works.

I began scrolling through the images on the camera, something I HATE doing. I know hate is a strong word, but it fits here. I DETEST looking at images right after. I think it completely KILLS the idea of being a photographer, BUT I CAN’T STOP MYSELF.

I’m like a total crack monkey with the preview window. I can’t stop. If I turn it off, I just turn it right back on. Hopeless.

I suddenly realized, with slight sadness, I had no interest in even looking at the images I was making. The images didnt’ feel like they were mine.

There were a dozen parents in the same area, all with similar gear, banging away. They probably had the exact same stuff, only of their mini-warriors. And I think there was even the dude that shoots every kid and uploads every single image online so that the one parent without their camera can buy a print.

“Well, I know my brother will like these, or my mom,” I said to myself, making excuses for the images, while I took a quick peak at the refreshment stand wondering what delicious treats they had hidden behind the counter.

I packed up the gear and headed for the car.

Right before burning dust in the parking lot I saw the Blad.

I loaded the relic and grabbed my dreaded tripod. Yes, my tripod, and headed out into the world I had just retreated from.

At least 10% of my mind was still thinking of the refreshment stand. I have to be honest.

Suddenly there were whispers around me.

“Honey, look at that guy with the old camera.” “What is he doing?” “Is he allowed in there?”

“Hey, dude, what the f%$# is that thing.” “Holy S%@#, haven’t seen one of those in a while.”

And suddenly I was in my own world. I could see again. I grunted and shuffled around the pit area like a deranged ape.

Things were clear. I dissected with my eyes, and then framed the pieces. A story began to build.

The kids in the pits were like ants invading an empire, merging in lines and shadow, with harsh artificial light painting their movements with razor sharp shadow. The sky was glowing.

Insects pierced the night. Colors were bright. The wind picked up. Darkness and light. Passion.

I don’t remember much of what was around me. I was “involved” let’s say. I was involved in a 6×6 space that started in my medulla oblongata and ended at the tip of an 80mm.

Clunk.

Minutes later.

Clunk.

This was MY work. My mind. My vision. My moment. This was the work I need to be doing ALL THE TIME. All supplied by following the Kman.

I thought about history. I thought about family. I thought about the light. I thought about what these pictures would mean. I thought about who would have them in 100 years. I thought about Kman and what must be going through his mind.

I was away in that place that photographers go when they are working.

And then. Clunk. It was over.

My Gran Torino

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trek2

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Okay, I’ll probably never own a real Gran Torino. My grandma had one, loaded with a pavement crumpling massive V8. She didn’t know it was that fast, but when rounding corners would ask, “What is that noise,” as the back tires formed thick clouds of burning smoke.

So here I am in 2009, and my Gran Torino comes with only two wheels, but for me, that is all I’m looking for. The Trek 520 touring model. 57 cm. Metallic root beer. 36 spoke rims. Bar end shifters. Pure steel.

I think the bicycle is in the top five inventions of all time. I love them. I love it.

I’ve only got about 100 miles on this thing, had it a little over a week I think, and so far, so good. I haven’t name it yet, but if you have any suggestions, let me know.