Posts Tagged 'track'

Cog and Embrocation

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I’ve long harboured a desire to start up a small scale touring magazine, concentrating on soulful stories backed with sumptuous pictures. Interviews with individuals who’ve undertaken epic journeys. Reportages on businesses, like framebuilders, involved in the touring world (who often do things for love rather than money). Real world product testing, whether it be in the Scottish Highlands, the Mongolian plains or the Atacama Desert. Yes, I know it’s very niche and not economically viable, but it doesn’t stop me wishing…

Anyway, while I was in Portland at the North American Handbuilt Bike Show, I came across a couple of small scale publications bucking the trend of commercial convention. I was drawn to these magazines both by their photography and the passion behind their words. Although their heart beats to a different biking rhythm than the one I know, they’re inspiring enough to make me want to experience it through their pages, and share in their biking obsession. Track and Fixed, in the case of Cog, and Cyclocross, in the case of Embrocation.

Neither are currently available in the UK – more’s the pity – but if you drop them an email, I’m sure you can get a copy sent. Or maybe you know some shops who would like to stock them? I like to get my hands on all the bike magazines I can, but putting my money towards these small, soulful publications gives me the most pleasure.

From the pages of Embrocation…

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Lovely cyclocross -inspired pictures.

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A piece on framebuilder Chris Igleheart, who I was fortunate enough to meet.

And from the pages of Cog…

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An interview with framebuilder John Kendziera.

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A photo essay on Japanese Keirin racing.

A night up on stilts… (Part 1)

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In pursuit of adventure, Christof, Cara and I turned off the main road near Na Maw, to follow an unpaved route into the northern ethnic minority hill tribe areas. Initially it rolled its way via a string of villages towards the Lao/Chinese border – one closed to non-nationals – but then veered off into the jungle and thinned out into a red dirt track, heading vaguely in the direction of Phongsali, our eventual destination. It was exactly what we’d been looking for. The track was all but empty, hemmed in tightly by jungly tendrils and at times too narrow for any vehicles save adventurous/lost mopeds and Mad Max tractor-trailers.

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Occasionally, it forded rivers, or climbed steeply in rutted steps, or shrunk down to the width of a singletrack. We weren’t keen to wander too far off the beaten track though, thanks to the unexploded ordnance that still litters the country. Laos had the unfortunate position of being a buffer state in the Vietnam War. Despite being declared neutral by both sides, between ’64 and ’73 the US flew an average of 177 ‘armed reconaissance’ sorties a day, in a clandestine war that was so covert that not only did the pilot fly without identification, but the very country itself was classified. The sorties were relentless enough to earn Laos the status of being the most bombed country per capita in history – a story that is told in Christopher Robbins’ The Ravens: Pilots of the Secret War of Laos. The irony was that just two years after the Paris Accords was signed between the US, North Vietnam and South Vietnam, Laos was ‘liberated’ by the communists, the king abdicated and the PDR was formed.

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Christof feeling the heat.

Keeping to the track was hard going enough though, and we were glad to find the settlement of Phu Kham to spend the night, where we negotiated a night stay in a local house. Far away from the tourist grid, our reception was somewhat reserved, though an influx of kids gathered round at the arrival of the ‘falangs’ and their strange bicycling machines. Continue reading ‘A night up on stilts… (Part 1)’


Please check out our main website for details on our bike trips to the Indian Himalayas.

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