I enjoyed it. Different approach to all other blog posts about bicycles. Fresh, if not quite your type of writing. Got it. The only thing new is you, finding out about it. Drink PBR…support corporate scum. Pick a side man and be it. Plastic nonsense folks. Pure crud. I like that Rick took time to step out of the pit and school me in a comment on the Bikerumor.
This… is what punk rock is all about. Rick, I respectfully disagree with you about picking sides. Being flexible, open-minded, flaky and hypocritical is part of being a real person. I think Watts is a class guy because he is nothing if not sincere in his seriousness or his silliness. I just want to know if the carbon Cobble Gobbler or CGR in polite company can withstand the aluminum clamp on their saddle bag, not to mention the packed weight.
Seems like most of the weight would be on the clamp and therefore on the post. Seems sketchy. Watts is the reason I started reading BR. I miss you, man. Thanks for doing a little drive by for us grumpys with a sense of humor. Great article, funny and entertaining. More, please. Enjoyed more the noses out of joint in the comments. Holy moly. Keep it up Watts! I was able to read the story, because he writes like he thinks I think , I do the same.
Preaching to the choir, James. Specialized is so full of it. Look at us! And they try so hard throwing that money at whatever popular, look-at-how-cool-I-am tattooed boy aka John Watson, Ty Hathaway and some hippie to gain support from the same tired group of self appointed anti-heroes.
Even the same old middle finger picture. How so counter culture. But when everyone is counter culture, no one is. Everyone steps in line.
But why not? The tattoo, drink beer, listen to metal shtick is getting old. Nothing new here. I have never seen a BR article with so many comments from the author, his self confidence is so very apparent. Slacker… Ha. Benedict, Fassbinder, now Watts. Beer, tattoos, photography! Some bikes that are for something we totally invented, you know, having fun outside! Crappy Chinese bags that look like something from Walmart, will last a few trips, and cost almost as much as the real deal! Oh boy, hipsters unite!
And kind thanks for all the comments…even the ones that made me want to set myself on fire. Obviously this was a different piece than what is typically published here. Occasionally Tyler gives me an assignment and then carte blanche to write about it however I see fit. For whatever reasons and for better or worse. And typically, when I do, it is late at night after drinking too much… and always with my tongue planted firmly in cheek. Does everyone get it? Does that matter? Does it get people riled up? Which is kind of the point. Le sigh…. Regarding more detailed specs on the bikes and bags, I believe that something will be published here soon enough.
So stay tuned. Seriously, what is wrong with you? This was the best article in many years for Bikerumor. Watts — well written report. This is how I feel about bikes. I recently found myself riding an aluminum road bike from the days of skinny tires and stiff frames. I thought I would hate it, but I was just so damn pumped to be out riding that I found myself grinning like an idiot. Thanks for this article.
Watts Dixon, best post on Bike Rumour ever. Seriously we need more of this type of writing. I thought this was a fantastic article. I applaud you Watts. I hope the Sawtooth Mtn. This kept me here much longer than my typical page scroll…. Ash, the many words of Watts. I do and do not want to do all of these things. Except the head punching. I like me. I am not specialized but am very special.
My momma says so. Keep up the good work, cheers! Watts, love your article, love the pics. Reading your words takes me to my happy place, which is riding bikes, thinking about bikes and consuming beverages of various flavors. This was terribly funny, tongue in cheek, and also the only place I could find geometry and specs on this bike right now. I currently own an Awol and a Ruze, work for a Spesh shop, and love their lineup. Yup — drank the Kool-Aid big time and will try to sell one of these to anyone I can.
May buy one for me, not sure yet. Spesh is doing a pretty good job of trying some new stuff and I am an old retro grouch who loves steel. Keep it up and thanks, Watts, for a terrifically funny piece. Go, Pirates!!!!! Carbon fork? No thanks! Shaving weight? Try getting some nice wheels and tires or ride your bike and loose some of your own weight.
Been trying to get my hands on an Expert frameset for some time to no avail.
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Nobody has a clue as to where to get one as the Company is out of XL. Same fork as on,the Diverge, which can take some serious abuse and feels great. Well, FTR I enjoyed the article. Well done Watts. Interesting article written with an open mind. You have outdone yourself with the all the entertainment provided in the comment section. So much anger about a big bike brand trying to tap into another segment. People just need to relax, go ride, and clear your head.
This makes me want to read about bikes.
- I Went Undercover With a Border Militia. Here’s What I Saw.!
- The Environment.
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- Candle in a Bottle (Conversation Pieces Book 13).
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It makes me want to ride my bike. Watts has an assume column in Dirt Rag magazine every month. He did this to take the piss out of everyone I suspect. Well done on this review. Good to see some creativity breaking up the same predictable jargon-laced crap out of standard bike reviews. Enjoyable to read and not just an information download. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. You might not get invited back to any product launches though.
You mean YOU might not get invited back. Totally not my kid.
Immaculate congestion Yes, I realize this is upside down on your mobile device. I have no idea how to fix that. Old vs New. Guess which is which. Erik explains the color palate; muted tones meant less to stand out and more to blend in with their environment. Kevin explains which bag is for food and which bag is for your speedo.
Tons of room for two beers, a sandwich, tool, pump, food, shirt, hat, sex toys, etc…. Descended gnarlier. Hot boyz…and girlz. But come on… this is the bike industry. What a stupid fucking swordfight. Hurl and I never once ran out of Surf Punk songs to sing to each other. Shoulder hopper. Moi was kind of the best… The key to coaxing the pinot out is to gently squeeze the sack. See below for more on the bikes and bags.
All photo creds go to Beth Welliver and Specialized unless otherwise noted. Gawd this is tedious. Oh look, the children have discovered swearing. Expect much better from you folks. Any actual specs on thsoe tires -tpi, weight, actual width on whatever width rim they were on? How did the low gear work out? Pass the Pinot! Did you also vote on who had the worse tattoo? I kinda liked it. Probably the dad joke got me line got me. I bet I can catch a ton of Pokemon out riding on this rig. Gave up on the article before he even talked about the bikes so basically 19 paragraphs in.
Er, can it be? Watts, serious question. How many tattoos will I need to be considered an elite photographer? The Utter Rubbish was enjoyed. A decent break from my too serious day. Thank you, Watts. Overall, fun stuff. So why not just call out Salsa? Why beat around it? You might not have made it that far, GB.. Totally understandable. MH: What constitutes a chain store? There is still hope for Spec, at least until they end up available through bikedirect. What is going on here? So a sequioa is an upgrade of the AWOL? I almost bought an AWOL once but it was so bloody heavy.
What does this thing weigh? Great write up, a departure from the regular BR stuff. Hope to see more. Sole is the brevity of wit. I think I may have gotten that backwards. And I may have misspelled soul. Go ahead and drop the mic after that one. I feel sick. Le sigh… Regarding more detailed specs on the bikes and bags, I believe that something will be published here soon enough. Also, coors is great. Turn your noses down, yuppies. Two words…. Great write up and the comments sections was just as entertaining!
Where did Hurl hide his e-assist battery? In his fanny pack? I am traveling light. I fit in just fine. We are in a Walmart parking lot in Nogales.
Captain Pain and a couple of others go into the store to get supplies. He has camo paint on his face and a yeti beard. He gets in the cab to check Facebook on his phone while Destroyer, Jaeger, Spartan, and I stand with our backs to the truck, rifles in hand, keeping watch for anything suspicious. The Mexican border is three miles away.
Bumping Mexican music. It cruised us twice. Slowly, too. Destroyer nods toward the parking lot entrance. A cop car is pulling into the lot. Their rifles dangle over their chests. I bend down slowly and put my rifle on the ground. Two cop cars pull up and three uniformed officers from the Nogales Police Department get out.
No worries. The cops get in their cars and leave. Destroyer looks at me. Captain Pain takes us back to the FOB—forward operating base—a one-hour drive down a rugged dirt road that winds over the Patagonia Mountains. Jaeger is surprised how friendly Officer Hernandez was, given her name. One to screw it in and 19 to whine about how men should do it. Some guys call him a Nazi, neither approvingly nor disapprovingly, but in a boys-will-be-boys sort of way. I can tell them about my background in the militia movement: Before joining the Three Percent United Patriots 3UP for this border operation, I trained with the California State Militia and the 31st Defense Legion across northern and central California.
I learned marksmanship, land navigation, patrolling skills, rappelling, radio communication, code language, how to set up an FOB in a hostile situation, and how to hold defensive positions. Like the other guys, I adopt a call sign to protect my identity. In California, some knew me as Rattlesnake. Here, they call me Cali. Becoming a militia member began with opening a new Facebook account. I used my real name, but the only personal information I divulged on my profile was that I was married and that I had held jobs as a welder and a prison guard for the Corrections Corporation of America.
I posted memes about American flags and police lives mattering. Then I sent dozens of friend requests to people who belonged to militia-related Facebook groups. Many, however, accepted my friend requests automatically. Within a couple of days, I had more than friends, and virtually any militia member who looked at my page would likely find that we had at least one friend in common. I requested access, and when it was granted I saw a post asking who was coming to the operation in April. No one asked me anything about myself.
All I had to do was show up. The list of required equipment was extensive, including weapons, medical supplies, and body cameras. The idea was that video footage would disprove anyone making false accusations against the militiamen. I used my body cam to capture what I saw and heard. No one raised an eyebrow. Members of 3UP view their border operations as an opportunity to serve the nation while putting their training to the test and honing their skills for the battle to come.
Like most militiamen, they believe societal collapse is imminent. It could be civil unrest provoked by Black Lives Matter. It could be a natural disaster. It could be a government attempt to disarm gun owners and impose martial law. This is protocol for anyone coming or going. Help fund investigations like this with a tax-deductible donation to MoJo. Almost all are white, but there are one or two Latinos.
They are roofers, electricians, heavy-equipment operators, welders, a prison nurse, and a bounty hunter. Most of the men are militia infantry like me, but others have more specialized roles. Blackfin controls shortwave radio communications from a camper with a tall antenna sticking out of its roof and a generator humming at its side. A man from Oregon cooks breakfast and dinner under a large kitchen tent. The camp medic, Rogue, sits under the medical tent, staring into his cellphone. A modified American flag hangs motionless from a gnarled mesquite tree, its canton of 50 stars replaced with a Roman numeral III surrounded by 13 stars.
An Amazon search turns up more than 4, results, ranging from baby clothes to iPhone cases with the three percenter logo. A Marine veteran and IT manager from Colorado named Mike Morris, known here as Fifty Cal, felt that if threepers were going to restore the Constitution, they needed to be organized and well trained. In , he founded 3UP and became its commanding officer.
I attempted to contact all the militia members mentioned in this article. A few agreed to talk on the record. It has donated food and clothes to veterans. A green and white Border Patrol SUV rolls into camp and a portly, smiling white man in a green uniform steps out.
Fifty Cal is not smiling, and I am nervous. Fifty Cal runs his hand down his long, red goatee. He drags on his cigarette, revealing his tattoo-sleeved arms. Fifty Cal grins. You know how it is. Guys stand around and chat with him like old buddies. Mike tells us stories about drunk teenagers who have been overturning vehicles, and about Border Patrol motion sensors capturing pictures of an old man who hikes naked.
Mike has worked in this area for 10 years, and the guys try to glean tips from him on how to spot Mexicans sneaking through the desert. Mike says he likes his job. Fifty Cal and his executive officer, Ghost, walk with Mike over to his vehicle, where they talk for a while. After Mike leaves, Ghost marches through the camp. He walks like a drill sergeant and looks like a construction worker, his build sinewy and his skin deeply tanned. People shake their heads. Someone says Sandstone had a camera out. Ghost goes to find him.
Ghost comes off as an enforcer, but really he is a man of the people. While Fifty Cal sequesters himself in his trailer, Ghost sits around the fire with his men. Ghost, however, supports Donald Trump. Until Trump is president, Ghost says, we are the wall. I never seen so many fucking towelheads stateside.
Like Fifty Cal, Ghost laments how much the country is changing. People like him with an honest trade used to be comfortable. Get the fuck back! No one ever speaks up at this kind of language, though. To show offense would be to give in to political correctness, which is a step toward Big Brother mind control. To Ghost and other patriots, Ruby Ridge remains a sign that the government is willing to go to war against its citizens. A year after Ruby Ridge came the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, where cultists had been stockpiling weapons and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition.
The FBI eventually assaulted the compound, resulting in a blaze that killed more than 70 men, women, and children. The rumor that the feds intentionally set the fire persists among far-right groups and conspiracy peddlers like Alex Jones. The Oklahoma City bombing sparked a backlash against the anti-government extremism that had spawned Timothy McVeigh.
The militia movement effectively went dormant following the election of George W. Bush in Then came the first black president. In the three years after Obama took office, the number of active militias in the United States increased eightfold , according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. By , there were more than groups in at least 41 states. Some might believe the New World Order is making what is happening follow the Bible.
Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck cares? When shit hit the fan, it would have a secret, fortified bugout location where we could bring our families. A new community might someday need to be built there. Massengale said that under his command, life in the bugout would be modeled after ancient Rome. Active, patched members of the California State Militia would be considered citizens, while lapsed members and outsiders would not. I looked to the one black man in the group, a recruit who had family near the mass shooting in San Bernardino a week earlier.
The captain responded that in his experience, black people were always the best at learning and executing orders. For the afternoon op, Ghost pairs me with Doc, a deep-voiced year-old welder from North Carolina. About 50 rounds, I tell him. He has Sandstone is taking a picture of us. Doc tells him to send it to him on Facebook.
We drive in a three-truck convoy for about 45 minutes, down long dirt roads flanked by expanses of tall, dry grass and scattered mesquite trees. When we pass through a near-empty border town, Doc points out a ranch. You can kinda tell by just how trashy it is. The family is Latino. Fifty Cal said that every time they come to Arizona, they sit on top of a nearby hill and watch the people coming and going from it. Ghost drops Doc and me off on the road and tells us to patrol the ravine and look out from the ridge above for the next several hours.
You can only find the sheepdogs that are out there. He says everything changed for him after Obama was elected. He wants to subject the US to international law and submissiveness. UN control. World government control. Just to make the US another satellite nation. Do away with sovereignty. We sit in the shade of a tree. Doc leans against his backpack and rests the muzzle of his AR on his knee, pointing straight ahead. He says he bought his first semi-automatic rifle once he realized what Obama was doing.
Or they could have been cartel. Instead of getting 5 or 6, I might get 10 or Or Who knows? I remember the probing looks of militia recruiters in California when they asked why I wanted to join them. Can you keep it under control? After the San Bernardino shootings , the California State Militia expelled a man because he was posting the prayer times of a mosque. Jerry Brown. I later asked Massengale if he worried that one of his men could snap. For some, like Doc, the militia seems to rein them in by giving them a sense of purpose. For others, the militia provides a justification for violent fantasies of insurrection.
In , a man in Idaho trained members of his militia to build bombs to fight off a communist invasion. The following year, the head of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia conspired to kill a judge and police officers. Also in , members of a militia in Georgia planned to attack government buildings and random people with the deadly poison ricin, all to save the Constitution.
In , another group of Georgia militiamen planned to bomb federal facilities because they believed it would spark martial law and provoke a militia uprising. He disappeared into the woods and remains at large. This October, three men belonging to a Kansas militia called the Crusaders were charged with domestic terrorism for allegedly plotting to bomb Somali immigrants on the day after the election. In , its leader, Isaac Aguigui, asphyxiated his pregnant wife to get her life insurance money. When a teenage friend of Aguigui who was not a FEAR member heard about some of its plans, two militia members shot him and his girlfriend.
Aguigui is now serving life in prison. Doc walks down into the ravine and I walk along the ridge above it so that one of us can maintain radio contact with Ghost. He suggests we trudge up the hill to get a good view. On the way, he points out a white desert flower, the distant mountains. The bottoms of the scattered clouds become a deep, fiery purple. We sit on opposite sides, taking turns scanning the horizon and the ravine with binoculars. It becomes cold and dark. Doc offers me a piece of an apple-cinnamon-flavored survival bar as a treat.
He bites into his chunk. A group of coyotes yips in the distance. We sit there silently, staring up at the sky. Two hours later, Ghost picks us up.
On the way back, our convoy stops suddenly. We pile out of the trucks. Rogue tells us this is how the cartels mark their drop-off points. Late one night in August , heavily armed 3UP members came upon three men on a ridge near this spot. The militiamen shouted to them in Spanish, ordering them to sit and wait. The men hid behind rocks and announced they were American citizens. They made their way back to their campsite and the militiamen followed. The Border Patrol showed up and found that the men were scientists who had been counting bats in a nearby cave. Back at the base, Captain Yota, a former Marine sniper with a long, sculpted beard, is amped up, and so is Rogue.
They say the cartel rolled up on them while we were out. You boys got rifles? Can I take a picture? The situation reminds Yota of getting pulled over by a Mexican American cop earlier today because his license plate was obscured with mud. In the morning, I pour some coffee into a tin cup and wander over to the fire pit. Rogue and Iceman are having a lively discussion. He points to the hollow at the bottom of his throat. Everyone sitting around the fire but me is from Colorado. They hold their own meetings and their own ops.
They want to do that bullshit?
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Arizona and Colorado are by far the most represented states on the base. The Arizona guys, who run border ops year-round, feel that this is their turf. The 3UP leadership, however, is from Colorado. There might be a coup brewing.
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Why should Arizona report to Colorado? Should there even be a national leadership? Then there is the bigger question: how to unify the militia movement more broadly. In these ever-tenuous militia alliances, leadership inevitably becomes a point of contention. A ranking officer of the California State Militia told me that breakaway factions could become foes. Forty-one states have laws that prohibit or limit paramilitary training and unofficial military forces. A man in West Virginia posts videos on Facebook of strafing exercises he does with his militia using an actual combat helicopter.
I emailed a militia in Texas that told me it practices ambush tactics, shooting blanks at each other. Pitcavage says anti-paramilitary laws are difficult to enforce because typically prosecutors need to prove that the training is intended to cause civil unrest. By calling themselves militias, paramilitary groups claim to be protected by the Constitution.
If something happens over at your farm, we ring the bell in town. Everybody comes. And we protect each other. Militias and the Law Forty-one states have laws that limit or prohibit private military groups or paramilitary training. However, there is no record of these laws being invoked against patriot militias. Read more on how law enforcement turns a blind eye to militia activity.
Militias were originally a creation of the colonial leadership, and participation was mandatory. They were tasked with defending the colonies from hostile French and Spanish forces and their Native American allies. In the South, militias also patrolled for runaway slaves. Forced militia enrollment became so unpopular that by the middle of the 19th century, states found a way to get around it.
Yet the stipulation that every able-bodied man between 17 and 45 is an automatic member of the militia is still on the books. Modern militias cite these arcane provisions as their legal justification. But Pitcavage points out that these laws make no allowance for privately organized militias. Patriot militias overlook that detail, just as they overlook the historic age limit on militia service. I am assigned to Bravo team for an afternoon op. There are three of us. We pile into The Moose. Iceman is a lanky year-old with a thick black beard and a short mohawk hidden under his boonie hat.
A transparent, coiled wire in his ear is attached to a Chinese Baofeng radio. An AR hangs in front of him and a long combat knife is strapped to his waist. He has eight round magazines attached to his chest rig as well as some clips for the sidearm strapped to his leg. He wears head-to-toe MultiCam, hard-knuckled combat gloves, kneepads, and a patch specifying his blood type.
Sandstone is similarly dressed, except instead of carrying a rifle, a long sword is strapped to his back, the handle wrapped in Army-green paracord. A sheathed machete is attached to his chest. Slender, with a shaved head, a pink face, and a wispy red goatee, he often grimaces dramatically, as if in pain. Unlike Iceman, who jokes on occasion, Sandstone is always serious, even when he spritzes himself with the MistyMate strapped to his back.
Help us do it by making a tax-deductible donation to MoJo today. During the long, bumpy drive over the mountain, Sandstone barely speaks, but Iceman tells me about himself. Seven years ago, shortly after high school, he wound up homeless, living out of his car. He joined the Marine Corps and was sent to Afghanistan. There, he searched cars entering his base for bombs and drugs. Life still seemed stacked against him.
He was working at a Subway and had a baby with heart problems. Sometimes he found himself hungry and penniless. Iceman lay awake at night and wondered about the way of things. Why is the country so divided? He had a sinking suspicion that the government was behind it all. Was the government trying to start a race war to make it easier to enact martial law so that Obama could secure a third term, bring in UN troops, and launch the New World Order like George Soros and the big bankers want?
There were clear signs of government overreach—the National Security Agency, everyone knew, was spying on us. He revered people like Edward Snowden who took action against the government. Iceman started to believe it might be necessary to take up arms someday, not as a soldier, but as a citizen. After joining 3UP, he felt like the hole inside him began to fill. This is his third or fourth border operation. The first time, he was jumpy. It reminds him of Afghanistan. We got a war zone in our own backyard. Iceman and Sandstone discuss intimacies and betrayals back home. They are clearly good friends, but their friendship exists within a hierarchy and Iceman has higher rank.
As we drive, our convoy stops on occasion to drop two-man squads along the road, each executing a different mission. Ghost gets out of the truck, points to a saddle on a distant mountain, and tells us to walk toward it until we hit Duquesne Road several miles away. My squad, Bravo, and the other squad, Alpha, are to spread apart, sweeping the area. You got from now until dark to make it back to Duquesne Road, okay? You got plenty of time. Heads up: These guys will probably see you before you see them.
So take your time. He drives away and we all check our weapons to make sure they are locked and loaded. If we see someone who looks like an immigrant, my understanding is that we are to radio the base and it will alert Border Patrol. But no commanding officer has ever made the protocol clear to me.
How do we detain the person? At gunpoint? What happens if we see someone jump from behind a bush and run?