“Ugh… Looks like it’s time to burn the blue flame.”

These words were first uttered into my ears by this man;

His birth name is David Ostrand, but to the rest of anyone who’s ever known him, he’s simply referred to as Daveo. He was a long time fixture in the bike scene, first (upon our initial meeting), as a partner with Paul Turner and his then fledgeling Rock Shox imprint, and later with the same man and Maverick Bikes. Long known as an innovator in fashion, “Daveo is the only person I’ve ever known to execute all of the fashion dos and don’ts at the same time“), as well as someone who could nonchalantly tear the legs off of all comers without so much as a glance. His reference to the blue flame was describing a ride during the throes of a hangover in which one attempts to burn off the abundance of bad gasses. His words echoed throughout the chamber of my skull during my second day of riding during my recent trip to Bellingham, Washington and Kona Bicycles brand bikecycles’ launch of their 2013 line.

Of course the process of filling one’s body with bad gasses to begin with is half the story, so allow me to momentarily backtrack.

At the conclusion of band camp’s first day, I retreated to my hotel room to get cleaned up and prepare for a fully sponsored dinner of paella. Of course, being on the time table that I was, I emerged from the confines of the hotel only to realize I’d missed the bus.

Contacting my brother in arms, Opie, we hatched a plan to meet for a cocktail and walk to the location where the party was being held. As is the mode of operation with any self respecting alcohol enthusiast, one turned into two, which turned into three, and before I knew it, we were joined by Hellingham Chris, and Amber. This is approximately where the evening’s wheels started to come off. Eventually we opted to adjourn to the previously mentioned serial killer bar and saddled up with a number of refreshments;

It was around this time, but just after I enjoyed a plate of their nearly world famous fish and chips, when we crossed paths with a woman named Heather. Despite the fact that Heather was on day ten of a cayenne and honey cleanse, she joined us for a couple of rounds and regaled us with stories of her distant past as a Hollywood stripper who was both courted by Rodney Dangerfield, and beat up by Axl Rose.

Then she treated us to a surprise performance. Things get good at the end, so sit tight;

Eventually it seemed like a reasonable plan to go back to Heather’s house where we would continue the party, but as we all walked up the street together, she got sullen and the stories of the serial killer bar all started to chime in my head all at once, so we ditched her and ducked into another bar where a bunch of awkward looking humans were preforming karaoke.

I am of the opinion that like fighting, you are only as good as your last time in battle and seeing as my last several karaoke performances were dismal at best, I squelched the urge to get on stage and show the bar’s patrons what I was made of. Instead we held down some stools where once again, we were all smiles;

With a number of cans of the state’s finest under my belt, I opted to make one last dash to the head, and then take my leave as I had another complete day ahead of me that by my calculations was to start in four hours.

Closing in on the men’s room, I was cut off by an exceedingly shifty looking fellow who darted in ahead of me, closed the door, opened it a crack and looked at me, before once again cutting off my entrance. Not knowing the size of the bathroom’s interior, I opted to wait while he snorted his crank, or conclude whatever other illicit activities in which he was sure to be engaging. Moments later, he sprung from the restroom not with a rig in hand, or a crack pipe dangling from his lips, but rather, a whimsical looking balloon sculpture. We caught each other’s gaze and without a word, he darted right and made his escape out the back door.

Puzzled, I relieved myself and returned to my clan to tell them my story. Moments later, Chris returned with definitive proof that I indeed saw what I thought I had;

Arybody got ‘they own kind of methamphetamine.

Simply due to the fact that the night couldn’t get any better, and my ears were being bled dry by the middle aged, chino wearing songstress, I closed my tab and beat feet home.

Upon waking up to ‘George of The Jungle’ blaring on my hotel room’s television set, I first exclaimed a few expletives and then shuffled away to get some food, read up on Lance’s disgrace, and get my head straight for another day of riding. After my previous day’s romance with the Rove and Satori, I shucked and jived my way through the collection to find the one that was waiting for me. It was across a crowded field when the Honzo and I crossed glances, and I knew ours would be an afternoon filled with affection;

Opie, who had earlier sent me a text that read something along the lines of “I can barely put some pants on, let alone ride a bike” manned up and made an appearance anyway. I then rounded up Jason and Sterling from Minneapolis West’s Bike Gallery, (whose van now is emblazoned with a fetching decal);

and together we made a possee.

Back into the woods we rode, and onto the rad we got;

As usual, I was unable to capture the top of my subject’s head so I made the fix;

My Honzo was nearly identical to my own personal Hunter in feel and basic response. The primary difference being that the Honzo’s handlebars were somewhere between twelve to twenty-eight feet wide. After riding steel bikes for over twenty years, I still can’t quite put my finger on what it is I like so much about the material, but that feel… That liveliness, the Honzo had in spades. Honest to Dog, there isn’t anything I would change about this bike, aside from the stock seatpost clamp which was wrenched down as tight as my tiny piano hands could force it, yet with time, still allowed the saddle to continually creep Southward.

There are too many details of the bike to go into at any length but a couple I found to be remarkable were the Maxis 2.24/2.5 Ardent combo. Stuffing the bike into corner after corner and repeatedly slingshotting out the other side was all it took to leave me smiling like an idiot, and I can’t say enough good things about the e*thirteen LG1 chain guide;

I’d initially thought it looked bulky, and kind of detracted from the bike’s over all sleekness but with everything I threw at it, it never failed and operated as quietly as if there was nothing there at all. As I told one of my guys on the inside there, I returned from my trip thinking about my time with this bike far more than I expected to.

After a couple and a half hours playing Bigfoot, and drenched in not only our own, but each other’s rancid sweat, we got on down the road in order to return the bikes which were very graciously loaned to three of us outsiders;

Upon our late arrival back to the meeting spot, we all slapped hands, and made hugs goodbye with a reignited appreciation for Kona’s hospitality and the plethora of trails that the company’s home base has to offer.

Like last year, I can’t thank Kona enough for allowing me the pleasure of their company and to experience an array of their wares.

I concluded my time at the product launch with one last shower and an inventory of my horrendous smelling collection of lycra, (seriously, the interior of my room smelled as if someone had barfed on a pile of shit and set the whole thing on fire), debating whether or not to take it home to wash it, or just cut my losses and toss the whole bundle into a landfill to be done with it.

While the blue flame was alive and well within that satchel, it was but a slight flicker across my shoulders where it will remain until one day when Kona and I can hopefully do it all over again.

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17 Responses to ““Ugh… Looks like it’s time to burn the blue flame.””

  1. hellbelly August 29, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    Yesssireee, that Honzo is a whole lotta awesome. I look forward to getting my paws on one, customizing and building it up, celebrations with former (or current, I am an equal opportunity debaser) strippers, booze-fueled efforts…oh, wait it’s cross season so all is well.

  2. Gray August 29, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    That Chic was Badass!

  3. One Eyed z August 29, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    The Kona Launch was something as a Kona dealer I should have made a bigger effort to attend (money time etc all the normal excuses). The Honzo and Rove are two bikes I’ve been eyeing in Kona’s 2013 line up that I wouldn’t mind getting my greasy mitts on. Nice to read form a semi trusted source that if and when I do I won’t be disappointed.

  4. Ben August 29, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    It’s good to know that your ability to to cut off the tops of peoples heads extends beyond just still photography and into the genre of moving pictures.

    • Stevil August 29, 2012 at 6:34 am #

      “People’s heads don’t matter. It’s their hearts that count.” -Me, like, five seconds ago.

  5. Jim August 29, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    DaveO was responsible for a couple of blue flame rides for me in years gone by. Haven’t seen him in a bit. May have to track him down…..

  6. Gene o August 29, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    Ha Ha, I remember a Western Spirit blue flame trip, ruined my knicks.
    Or that time we were at Mt Sainte Anne and Daveo was digging around in the Bianchi Martini Racing team van for some herb…

  7. fomenter August 29, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    I’m impressed you made it out of bed to ride the next day. I dragged my bedraggled ass into work about 1:00 and stared mindlessly at my computer screen for the remainder of the afternoon. Fuck. I’m old.

    • Stevil August 29, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      The key to being good at anything is perseverance and a commitment to the craft.

  8. Pookums August 29, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    Duh, that balloon sculpture was actually a representation of the methamphetamine molecule. It was code…

  9. Loudass, Esq. August 29, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Do they give you those free Dr. Pepper t-shirts at Hollywood Stripper retirement parties?

  10. tippy cup August 29, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Ahhh, Ardents, rollin’ 2.4’s on the Hei Hei in winter by Crystal Mt…Trail Velcro I tell ya !

  11. Nived August 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Beer and Bikes sounds like away of life,,, Ha

  12. trama August 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    the only person I know in B’ham has pinwheels for eyballs

  13. Andy Reimer August 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Rodney Dangerfield, Axl Rose, and now Stevil Kinevil bit.ly/PssgnM. What a life!

  14. irishpunk August 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Haven’t seen Schmidt beer in like a hundred years, it was the beer of choice of the shithouse gang, us kids (at the time) where still drinking Iron City or POC

  15. el Presidente August 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Seriously…Schmidttys! They still have those up there? Would love to get hands on a Sport Pack