Monthly Archives: October 2015

Who Doesn’t Love Pancakes?!

I mean… seriously!! The Fujifilm X-E2 is already small enough as it is… to add the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens to it is crazy talk; but I did it anyways.

Riding with this combo feels like riding with nothing around your neck at all; except you have the mind blowing power of a SUPER fast AF and amazing image quality. Although I normally ride x shoot carrying the Olympus Stylus Epic and all the awesome it brings to the road, I can see myself riding equally with this combo. I’ll have to make a deal with myself to go 50/50 on digital to film photography this fall/winter; capturing all the amazing desolate leafless trees and creepy misty mountain tops. I can’t wait!!

NEW // Donhou Bicycles for Rapha x Liberty

donhou-bicycles-liberty-colab-01-2xxdonhou-bicycles-liberty-colab-08WHOA!! Eye popping goodness from Donhou for Rapha and Liberty of London.

To help launch a new collaboration between Liberty of London, the city’s oldest department store, and premium cycling brand Rapha, Donhou was asked to create two very special frames. The result of this collaboration is a collection of technical cycling clothing, featuring pieces for both road and more casual city use. We wanted to build a pair of bikes that reflected that split.” – DonhouRapha-Liberty-Bike-1cropRapha-Liberty-Bike-3Belt Drive

Interview // #CrushTheCoast with Jake Szymanski

Jake RULEZ!! One of most genuine dudes out there. When I saw that he was embarking on the Leave It On The Road #CrushTheCoast adventure I knew his next 8 days were gonna be filled with great views, image capturing, and stories to follow. I was correct and immediately wanted to dive deep; reading Jake’s story during his segment of the ride. I say segment because the Leave It On The Road crew is still out there crushing it to LA!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do:

Folly (F): Dude! It was so much fun following along on your 800 mile journey via Instagram. It looked like there were several rad folks involved with this. Tell me a little bit about how this came about.

Back in early spring I was out on a ride with Michael Tabtabai who started Leave It On The Road. We got talking about what he wanted to do for his next trip to raise funds for City of Hope and he mentioned being interested in taking some friends along. In 2014, he did a solo ride and the year before he rode across the country with just one friend. He asked if I’d like to join him this year, which was a big honor. We started making plans and the rest of the group he ended up inviting was really rad too. Patrick, Randall and I are all friends in Portland. Mike also invited three friends he met on last year’s Fireflies West ride: Tracy, Andre and Jen who brought the total team up to seven riders. We’re all pretty stoked on style and photography, so the group worked well together.

imageF: Although I’ve never knocked out an 800 mile trek; I know it’s hard to process everything after an extended ride across beautiful country. One of the many reasons photography is much needed on ventures like this. With that said, what part of the 8 day ride stuck out in your mind the most?

It would be really easy to call out some of the views or roads with serious rhythm or an epic climb… but I’ll talk about a mechanical instead. On day three, a brake issue and an hour and a half repair time at a bike shop lead us to break up into two groups. That way, at least a few of us could make a go at getting to the hotel in Gold Beach, OR before sundown. Mike, Patrick and I stayed to wait for the bike repair. When it was finally finished, we left an hour behind the group ahead of us. Attempting to minimize our time riding at night, we began hammering hard, rotating a slick paceline as the sky opened up to rain on us and our +20mph average for the next two hours. We were met with a great deal of surprise when we arrived at our support van meet-up spot far earlier than expected. Our pace had really been hot. We had made up 40 minutes on the lead group. So, looking up the coast into the mountains of clouds filled with clouds and darkness, we threw on rain gear, snapped on lights and put our heads down to catch the unsuspecting lead group. After about an hour of enduring the rain and really nailing the pedals, we passed our support van taking pictures. Darkness had fallen. They yelled to us. We were just 4 minutes back from the front group. We should see them around any corner now. They had no idea we were coming. Doubling down, we really put the work in and next thing we knew, their blinking red tail lights were just around the corner. After one last surge of effort, we caught them in a total sneak attack. Completely surprised and relieved to see us, we’d made up over an hour on the road to catch them. With just 15 miles to go and the roads completely dark, we cruised into town on some pretty special beach back-roads under a bright moon. That night was so special.

The turning point was getting up on day 4. I was so sore, I didn’t want to move. I wasn’t even sure if I could finish the eight days. I started so strong, but there I was crawling up the first hill of the day like I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. And then I thought about it. This was the kind of moment I’m meant fight through on a trip like this. It was afterall, a ride to fight cancer. A ride in honor of those we’ve lost and those who are fighting. I lost my Grandfather to brain cancer when I was five years old. What I went through that morning and at dozens of other points throughout the 800 miles was immensely small compared to what my Grandfather and people really fighting must endure, but hopefully the awareness we bring and the funds we raise with through Leave It On The Road can one day put an end to that.

imageimageF: What was it like with the same pack of folks going through everything you go through in 800 miles?

We became family. It was almost like going back to college again. Everyone tests each other out a bit at first. Then you start to bond. You eat gigantic breakfasts together, you learn who is good at what type of riding and how to manage each other’s strengths and weaknesses on the bike. We all got on a pretty lax program of a non-committal 9:45am start time. Some days we’d all stick together as a group, others we’d ride our own pace in smaller groups. We’d always regroup at planned stops with our support family. I say family because Mike’s wife, brother and Randall’s girlfriend who all came along to drive and photograph were so amazing. They were a huge part of the team too and brought a lot of group humor and motivation to our dynamic. The real common point of all our interests was photography. I’m a pretty non-technical shooter and know about mostly strategy while guys like Andre, Tracy and Mike really know what they’re doing with a camera. It was awesome to trade tricks see how each other shot things from a different perspective.

imageF: What was your go to nutrition when you were down for the count?

UnTapped Maple shots really do the trick when you need a boost. You can feel the affect even faster than a usual gel that takes 15 minutes to get into your system. It feels as if these things only take about 5. I manage my nutrition on endurance rides pretty well so there was no bonking for me, especially since Skratch Labs helped us out with heaps of cookies and hydration mix.

imageF: What did you ride?

I was on the new Trek Emonda SLR 8, which I bought with just enough time to dial in the fit before the trip. The thing weighs about 13.5 lbs. in my size 52cm and is fully kitted with Shimano Dura Ace 9000. The thing carves California curves like Bear Grylls cuts grubs for dinner with his Gerber knife. It climbs and accelerates so fast, it’s stunning and really suits my riding style well. I’m not a steady pace kind of guy. My climbing is pretty varied, surging if you will. Or Surge the soda. I ran 28c Bontrager AW3 Hardcase Light tires, which were amazing. They feel like Continental GP4000s, but have the puncture resistance of Gatorskins and are nearly as light weight. If you don’t count me stupidly running over a rock at 25mph the wrong way, I had zero flats the whole trip.

Your gear really does take a beating when you put it through eight straight centuries. Stuff gets the crap worn out of it, so we needed some dialed new gear to get us through the trip. At first, I kind of thought it as primarily for marketing and looking good, but having been through it now, it’s really helpful to have fresh gear that you can rely on before getting after a trip like this.

I wore Tenspeed Hero bibs and jerseys for the whole trip. The cut and chamois of the new Navy Blue Bib Shorts is insanely comfy. Someone on Instagram commented on my kit choice one day, “Love the ride/rave vibe”. I think I’m going to strive to make that my standard from now on. The new Specialized S-Works 6 shoes and S-Works Prevail Helmet in red helped the rave factor. They also helped my fast factor. The shoes make you feel so fast, they’re like Thor’s hammer for your feet. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, Oakley’s new Prizm Trail lenses are great for the road too. I guess there’s also a Prizm Road version, but I’m really a mountain biker, so that’s what I do. I wear Jawbreakers with off-road lenses because that hyperlight Emonda needs some precision piloting when you flick it around on gravel side roads bordering ocean cliffs.

imageF: From the photos I’ve seen on the gram… you’ve knocked some amazing shots out of the park. What did you shoot/edit with?

What you’ve seen on Instagram so far is primarily from my iPhone. I tried to make that stuff as live as possible, which meant waiting for a spot of cell service when we’d stop and then diving into VSCO Cam to edit while simultaneously downing three King’s Hawaiian jelly and cream cheese sandwiches before rolling off some more miles. I really shoot from the hip. Composition is considered, but quickly. The best shots tend to come when you’re hanging off the front of your bike at 40 mph in a tuck with your camera hand out in front. It’s dangerous, but good shots happen. A LifeProof, waterproof case keeps things going in the rain. I can keep shooting while everyone else puts their fancy cameras away and their iPhones in ziplock bags. That’s my pro-am tip.

My Ricoh GR also spent a lot of time in my pocket. I put that thing in aperture priority, fiddle with the auto-focus settings a little and then let ‘er rip. A lot of pictures end up blurry with that camera, but when you hit the focus right, it rules. There’s this super nice separation between subject and space that’s way crazier than the usual depth of field that I love. I stay away from zoom lenses or anything more complicated than a couple of settings. I’m just not cool enough for that stuff. It’s way over my head. For editing, I also use Adobe Bridge and Lightroom with some modified VSCO Film presets that I mess with a bit. Those dudes know how to tweak the settings. I’ll leave that to them! No Photoshop.

imageThere you go folks… I totally lived #CrushTheCoast vicariously through Jake’s story/images. I love everything about this and what it means to bringing an end to cancer. I hope you feel the same about it and follow along via @LeaveItOnTheRoad ‘s Instagram. Ride x Create vibes through and through.

Photographer. Who? Me!?

imageAs I continue to pursue this thing called photography I’m constantly looking at different tools to capture the vibe. I’ve been working with @fujifilm_northamerica products for a little less than a year now and am always elated with the results. You can transition from high res/very manicured images too the beautiful film’esk tones I crave. Although some purists will only shoot film photography (and I highly respect that/subscribe to that mentality), Fujifilm shooters are a GREAT alternative if the digital game is the route you’d prefer to go.

Pictured is the X-E2 that has the brains of the X-T1 but in a $500 less body. This was a huge deciding factor for me when scoping out a Fujifilm body. The X-E2 is also lighter and more compact/easier to carry during rides if you want to compare those factors. What you will give up with the X-E2 is the weather resistant seals the X-T1 offers and a couple other manual functions. I very rarely get caught in a situation requiring those ammenities so it’s a non issue for me. Also… Fuji is just now making weather resistant lenses to match the T1. Once they’re more available I could see where I’d want to switch over.

With all that being said… a question I keep asking myself is, when do I call myself a photographer? I like shooting photos. I’ve been paid and featured on dozens of web publications as a photographer. I have not sold any tangible photographs. I have not been formally trained as a photographer. Does this title come with any credentials?

The reason I’m asking these questions is, I see bazillions of folks giving themselves the title of photographer and they present what I consider sub par or way over edited products. I want to obtain the title “photographer” but I don’t know If I deserve it quite yet.

I’m not sharing all of these coffee time thoughts with you to obtain a pat on the back and a “but you are” affirmation comments, it’s just my two cents on an over used word. There are a lot of people making a lot more money than me taking photos, but from my perspective, the images are lifeless and lack the feeling a photo should have. How does that work?

Anyways, I need a caffeinated refill. Thanks for reading my coffee talk. Cheers!


Windy Weekend Recap

This weekend was filled with miles. Today has been full on ride hangover status. The coffee wasn’t strong enough all day. On the other hand I did eat a lot of really great food and didn’t feel the slightest bit bad about it.

So, it wasn’t that the miles were way up there (90 total if I leave off random bike errands) so much as the wind was blasting to the max. Day one of two I stuck primarily to the hills hoping they would block the wind. They did for the most part and gave me some solid morning rays to wake up too. Day two was FULL SPEED AHEAD with wind gusts, hard efforts, and slow rolling the entire time. Days like that test every ounce of my patience. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean its not fun. With that said, when I battle headwinds for hours on end relentlessly, I tend to start giving the wind a middle finger. It happens. But… at the end of the ride I always have a smile on my face.

Here’s a few shots from my excursions. I hope you had an equally eventful weekend.

imageimageRIDE x CREATE