Posts filed under ‘News from the Road’
Everything came together rather quickly. I suddenly found myself with a free weekend. The girls were out of town. Just me and Ridgely, my black lab.
Time for a quick camping getaway.
My sights were set on a long hike I’ve been saving up for such an occasion. Since we’d be camping alone and hiking, bringing a bicycle would typically be out of the question.
I wouldn’t want to leave it locked up unattended at the campsite. I certainly wouldn’t want to leave it unattended on a roof rack atop my truck at a remote trailhead.
This is what Bike Fridays were made for. Taking up as much room as a suitcase in the back of my truck, I brought my Pocket Llama along just in case I found some extra time to pedal around a bit in the Cascades.
Leaving late Friday, the chances of finding an open campsite had me a bit worried. When we arrived at the first option, the notice read: NO CAMPFIRES.
The idea of being way out in the middle of the mountains without a campfire didn’t exactly appeal to me. I do my best thinking in front of a campfire. And even though it has been sizzling hot during the day, nights still have a chill in the air. Plus, it’s just me and my pooch. Call me a wimp if you will.
So we drove on, and made alternative plans to hit the trail from another route. We got off the highway, and hit the gravel of a forest road.
When the dust settled, we found a great campground. Plenty of room. We were the only ones there!
My best guess at the reason for the open occupancy was the fact that the road, for motorized vehicles, ended at the campground.
The area was still recovering from a massive fire a few years back, and the road closure was set to help the rehabilitation of the area.
That also meant we couldn’t drive the three miles to the trailhead I hoped to hike. Rats.
However, I could ride my Llama.
When the sun rose the next morning, casting a soft glow on South Sisters peak, I hopped on my Llama before breakfast.
With no traffic on the road, Ridgely could come along for the ride.
We headed in about a mile, then dropped the bike and climbed up a ridge to get the perfect morning shot of South Sister.
We rolled back down the hill and back to the campsite for breakfast. Before the girls left town, they went out and picked peaches. My mouth was watering the whole ride back, savoring the thought.
August in Oregon is awesome because of peaches and blackberries. After some delicious peach pancakes, we loaded up again, and headed out.
As the road climbed toward our trailhead, I began to ponder my options. The cool morning offered a perfect opportunity for a nice bike ride, with Ridgely able to safely come along.
It has been a while since we rode together. She’s quite an athlete, this dog of ours. Did a 14-mile hike this summer at Lake Tahoe. She’s done a 6-hour mountain bike ride with me before, too.
Ridgely set a blistering pace up the climb, even stopping on more than one occasion to allow me to catch up.
Just after one of her short breaks, we ventured around a corner and surprised a herd of about 20 elk standing in the middle of the road.
One look at Ridgely and they busted a move for the valley, which was good, since they were some huge creatures.
The sound of 20 elk thundering down a hillside sounds like a bulldozer blazing through the forest.
When we got up to their exit point on the road, I glanced down. It was nearly a straight drop — going down an angle steeper than 60 degrees.
About 10 minutes later, a doe and her two fawns bounded across the road, up the other side, and disappeared into the woods.
Of course we missed the turn to the trailhead. Vandals had destroyed the sign, save for a little nibble that we saw hidden in the bushes on our way back. It’s hard for me to tell what three miles is when I’m climbing. We probably did 6 before turning around.
We made it to the trailhead, and hiked in a pinch. Not much. Just enough to find a cold creek for Ridgely to refresh and rehydrate herself [for the first three hours, she was the only one drinking from the Camelbak].
As she soaked herself and drank up, I realized cycling had won the day. The grand hike would wait for another day.
We got back onto the road, and headed down to the campsite. Cooked up some salmon for dinner. Finally some other guests arrived at our outpost.
By the time they got there, the Llama had returned to the back of my truck. No one knew I had it there. Except me. And I’m glad I had it. You just never know.
Add comment August 8, 2013
She’s at it again.
Bike Friday owner Carol Collins went to the National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio, in July, and walked away with three more gold medals.
Collins, who lives in Houston, won her age group in the 5K and 10K time trials, and the 20K road race. That age group? The 90-94 category.
At age 92, Collins is a numerous gold medal winner.
According to reports from her daughter, Cathy Brechtelsbauer, Carol won the 5K in 15:26, the 10K in 38:08 and the 20K road race in 1:03:52.
“I thought you would be interested in these reports I sent to family and friends from the National Senior Games,” Cathy said. “You would be proud to know she wore her Bike Friday jersey, so it got in a lot of photos. And of course, the bike received a lot of attention. The other bikes seemed to be of the highly competitive sort.”
Carol proved to be quite the media magnet.
“Many people wanted her picture,” Cathy said. “Also, she was interviewed by NPR reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty.”
Extremes, it seems, define Carol.
“She was quite a celebrity for being the oldest woman in the race and for having the tiniest wheels,” Cathy said. “Soooo many people wanted their picture taken with her, even the National Senior Games officials. See photo below with granddaughter Chris Arnette Daugherty too. In the 2nd photo, the medals seem different colors, but they are all gold.”
Cathy said the road race course was up and over an overpass — twice! That meant four long uphills!
“When I saw her off the bike pushing it up part of the first uphill, I knew it was going to take awhile,” Cathy said. “But she must have made up for it on the downside. Then I thought I saw her take a wrong turn and miss the start of her second lap. But someone must have got her around in the right direction.
“Her time was 1:03:52 — faster than I expected. And get this: there were two or three cyclists who came in after her, even though they started at the same time! The announcer got all excited at mom’s finish and called her over to ask some questions. She answered that “It was all right, except for the hills.”
“Pretty funny, since the course was nothing but the up and down. He got her to agree to come to the Games in Minneapolis in 2015.”
Add comment July 31, 2013
More than a hour before Alan Scholz’s scheduled talk at the Portland Art Museum on July 27, Bike Friday owners began rolling up to the courtyard.
First a couple of Pocket Rockets zoomed up. In a matter of minutes, they were test riding a Silk. Then some New World Tourists arrived. A Silk. A Tandem. And more.
One-by-one, the group grew. They exchanged glances and compliments of each other’s bikes, talked about their adventures, and waited anxiously for the talk to begin.
By the time they sauntered into the auditorium for Alan’s talk on bicycle design, the group swelled to nearly 30 people. For the next hour they were entertained by Bike Friday’s Co-Founder, as he discussed elements of bike design and its history.
The Portland Art Museum opened up early for our special group, and the plan was to allow us private access to the exhibit about 9:30.
Instead, Alan engaged the audience and had them wanting more. The Question and Answer segment rambled on past the actual opening of the Museum at 10.
Lou Liserani and his wife Sue live in Vancouver, Washington, and are regular visitors to the Bike Friday booth whenever we are in Portland. They enjoyed the day.
“We had a great time on Saturday,” Lou said. “We had not previously met Alan or heard him speak about the product and the company. We love our Fridays, so it was very interesting to hear the thought that goes into the design of these products.”
Everyone eventually headed to the main hall, where they were treated to Alan’s insight to the 40 bikes owned by collector Michael Embacher, that are on display until September 8.
As they wandered about the 40 bicycles, neatly hung from the ceiling, Alan offered insight into what makes each one special, from a design element.
“We had seen the exhibit before, but it was nice to observe the bikes once more but without the crush of humanity we encountered the first time,” Lou said. “Very impressive that the display contains a New World Tourist, apparently just one of several Fridays in Michael Embacher’s enormous bicycle collection.”
Eventually the group spilled back outside.
With beautiful summer weather on display, a small group hopped onto their Bike Fridays for a ride around Portland, led by former Bike Friday service mechanic Chris Nelson, and Alan.
Alastair Calderwood is an IT professional from London who has been working on a project in Salem, Oregon, and he joined in. He hopped on a Pocket Rocket Pro for a test ride, and joined the bunch.
“The Pocket Rocket was a very smooth and fast ride, and the scenic route along the River Willamette only added to the enjoyment,” Calderwood said.
“About half way I swapped with another rider for a New World Tourist — a slightly heavier bike, slower to accelerate, but with more momentum at cruising speed. After 10 miles on both Bike Fridays, I hardly felt as if I had been cycling at all — despite the hills!”
He rode on Lou’s New World Tourist, and Lou got a ride on the Pocket Rocket Pro.
“The 10-mile ride through downtown, and along both sides of the Willamette River, with Alan and a number of Bike Friday owners was really fun,” Lou said. “It highlighted with great weather and Chris Nelson’s ‘off-road’ adventure along the East side Willamette bike path and the resulting flats. ”
Add comment July 29, 2013
Every now and then I need a reminder that there is more to riding your bicycle than pedaling.
On vacation at Lake Tahoe, I rolled out of the campground at Fallen Leaf Lake for a ride. As I began pedaling up a gentle climb toward a waterfall, I noticed a couple walking along the side of the road. She paused to take a photo of some flowers alongside a rustic, wooden fence. He was picking up garbage and putting it into a bag.
“Thanks for picking up the trash!” I said, offering encouragement. So often we never see the individuals responsible for keeping our wonderful views, well, uncluttered.
As I pedaled on, I heard him yell.
“BIKE FRIDAY!” he shouted, “we have Bike Fridays!”
I spun my Pocket Llama around and went back. They were Bike Friday owners from the Bay Area, up and vacationing in Tahoe. I actually met them last October at the Biketoberfest Celebration in Fairfax, California.
We struck up a conversation and talked of all things Bike Friday for more than 20 minutes. Eventually I rode on.
I’ve been thinking about that chance encounter a lot during my morning commute. I see all sorts of riders roll past.
I’m always struck by the ones who have their heads down, and are cranking full speed.
Now, I have nothing against someone who wants to ride fast. Those individuals of that ilk paid my salary for years as a journalist covering cycling. Yes, you can make a living cycling fast.
Then I also remember one of the first major events I went to, and how a novice reporter asked Frankie Andreu about riding in the Tour de France. It must be wonderful, the reporter said, riding through the beautiful fields and backroads of France.
Frankie, never one to mince words, said [I'll paraphrase for family audience purposes], “Well, actually, in the Tour you spend 99 percent of the time looking at the [rear end] of the guy in front of you.”
Imagine that view for three weeks. 2700 miles. Fun?
I opt for a slower speed. One that allows you to stop, and savor.
The past few mornings I’ve counted cyclists. It comes out to an average of one a minute that see while riding to work in Eugene.
When I stopped this morning to take the photo above, three sunflowers popping up in a wetlands with some ducks swimming behind, I wondered how many would stop to take a photo? How many even pause to look around to catch something like this?
It’s funny. Some of my most memorable moments on a bike are not ones that make my heart beat faster. It’s those that slow it down a bit. Just enough to savor life.
2 comments July 24, 2013
McKENZIE PASS, Oregon — It doesn’t take long for everything to fall into place. A perfect rhythm pulsates from my head to my toes. A comfortable cadence, steady breathing. This is the ultimate vibe for climbing a mountain.
Yet something in the laundry list of sensations seems different. I swing around a switchback. The grade steepens. I gently flick my wrist. My cadence remains perfect.
Then, it hits me.
The only sound comes from my steady breathing. A huff. Then a puff. Huff. Puff. Huff. Puff.
Suddenly, another sound catches my attention. A few stones tumbling down the side of the mountain, just to my right. I glance to see these marble-size pebbles slow to a halt. Then silence, aside from my Big Bad Wolf impersonation. Huff. Puff.
The Bike Friday Silk, thanks to its Gates CenterTrack Carbon Belt Drive technology, takes quiet to another level. Without question, I’m sure this isn’t the first time a tiny avalanche has coincided with a ride. But it’s the first time I’ve heard it.
The smoothness of each pedal stroke enhances the ride quality to the point that I ascend above the typical riding experience. It’s something that I can’t explain; I can only experience. With a smile on my face.The sleek ride of the Silk, however, is not what brought me out to climb the McKenzie Pass on one of the last days it is open only to cyclists and pedestrians, before motorized traffic takes over.
My test ride concerns the internal hub. This is our showroom Silk Infinity, dressed up with the NuVinci N360 Continuous Variable Transmission.
This five-pound hub is the source of countless debates for customers. Few deny that ability to shift anywhere within your gear range as smooth as melted butter offers a great attraction. But, they say, the weight …
I’m often asked at shows if I would want to cart a five-pound hub a mountain. I couldn’t answer. I want to. So, it’s time to find out.
I’m heading up from Alder Springs Campground at 3,600 feet elevation to McKenzie Pass at 5,335. The climb is 11 miles, with most of the serious ascending in the first couple of miles.
The first obvious question concerns the weight. This configuration is a few pounds heavier than my Pocket Llama, but that fact never feels like an issue.
From the outset, the bike feels as though it was built just for this. Attacking a mountain.
It climbs like a mountain goat, smooth and in control. Smaller wheels allow you to accelerate quicker on a hill, and the ability of the NuVinci to allow you to quickly find exactly the right gear seem to make sudden changes in the grade irrelevant.
By the time the most difficult climbing section is behind me and the grade eases significantly, I spend most of the time reviewing what has just transpired.
I’m not really sure if this is something of a placebo effect. That just might be the reason it is so difficult to describe what’s special about a belt drive, and in this particular case, it’s perfect combination with a NuVinci hub.
One thing I know for sure is that my confidence in the belt drive showed each time I stood on my pedals.
In my previous ascent of McKenzie Pass, years ago on my mountain bike, I couldn’t help but worry about dropping a chain and taking a face plant.
Or, just hoping that a change of gears wouldn’t result in a skip or two at an in opportune moment.
None of those worries with the Silk Infinity set up.
If anything, my entire connection to this bicycle seems so integrated — so synergetic — that all the worries and distractions disappear.
Instead, the experience of the ride itself takes complete center stage. When my breathing quiets on the flat section, I can hear twigs snap in the woods.
I can’t see what might be responsible, but the mere fact that I know it happened struck me as, well, unique for a bike ride.
This is more quiet than walking.
My goal of reaching the summit at sunset becomes a reality, but the images feel somewhat disappointing.
Instead, I find myself just staring at the Silk, in amazement.
Would I carry a 5-pound hub up a mountain? Without hesitation.
2 comments July 10, 2013
PORTLAND — Outside, the stunning spring sun splashed down on a massive showcase of Nutcase bike helmets donning the wall of the Portland Art Museum.
Near perfect cycling weather in one of the great cycling cities called like a temptress.
Yet, it became increasingly difficult to leave the comfort of the experience inside.
Because inside the museum, the wheels of your imagination spin effortlessly and endlessly at the exhibit Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Design, which opened June 8 and runs through September 8.
While any cyclist will wax on about the wonderful feeling of wind in your hair, it might be just as difficult not to go on and on and on and on when trying to describe the sensation of stepping into a hall with 40 bicycles suspended in midair.
It takes a moment or two to grapple with the perspective.
And then …
Then it sweeps you away, as if you are along with the boys racing into the woods beneath a full moon with ET nestled in your front basket.
Each bicycle appears to be in flight, free as ever, awaiting the next adventure.
Michael Embacher, an architect, designer and bicycle collector from Austria, says his fascination with bicycle design sparked his collection of 210 bicycles.
It began when he inadvertently bought a used bike that was somewhat rare.
Since then, he’s bought bicycles of all types.
His collection is unique, he says, because he buys what’s available — never searching out a particular bike.
He’s come to appreciate bicycles because they are “a manifestation of human creativity and clever ideas.”
Among the bicycles in the collection is a Bike Friday New World Tourist that Embacher purchased from an individual in England.
Like nearly all the bikes in his collection, it’s a real bike that was actually ridden.
When thanked for including Bike Friday in this exhibit, Embacher’s sincerity poured out.
“No, thank you for designing such a wonderful bicycle,” he said.
An enthusiastic and engaging personality, Embacher says he owns three Bike Fridays, including an original diamond frame and a Pocket Rocket to go with his show bike. The diamond frame is his favorite ride of the three.
As with all the bikes in his collection, he can quickly point out the elements that drew him to purchase each one. And he rides many of them. That’s the point, he says, to ride.
One bicycle, in particular, captured the imagination of many at the opening of the exhibit.
It’s a TAGA, which transforms from a bicycle for carrying a child into a child’s stroller in seconds.
It’s the only bike in the exhibit that is set up in its secondary form, rather than its bike form.
It drew countless questions of how it transforms into a bike. Once Michael explained it, the volunteer Bicycle Guides [that included me], could explain it to others.
Michael’s attention to detail became evident as he savored the fact that the bike drew so much interest.
“That’s why we displayed this bicycle like this,” he said, flashing a clever smile, “Because otherwise it looks like another bike, and you might just walk by and not notice it.”
The Whitsell Auditorium was filled with nearly 500 guests when Michael gave a lecture in the afternoon.
It doesn’t take more than a moment or two to understand the essence of Michael. He gets excited about bikes in an instant. It’s nearly impossible not to feel a connection.
He opened his lecture with one of my favorite quotes about cycling that I haven’t heard much from anyone. It’s from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
“When the spirits are low,
when the day appears dark,
when work becomes monotonous,
when hope hardly seems worth having,
just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road,
without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
As most cyclists know, it’s all about the experience. The ride. Each one of the 40 bicycles is a tribute to some individual or individuals who came up with an idea on how to enhance some aspect of the cycling experience.
Back home in his attic, Michael has the rest of the bikes in his herd of 210. When asked what’s next, Michael smiled. Then he answered the age-old question of how many bikes is enough.
“No more,” he says, “I have enough bicycles. Two-hundred and ten is a good number.”
1 comment June 16, 2013
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Bike Friday owner Mike Anderson sent us this report from the 2013 T.E.A.M. Sports Face of America ride for disabled veterans in April. What better way to celebrate Memorial Day that sharing his experience?]
By Mike Anderson
The 2013 T.E.A.M. Sports Face of America ride featured 100 disabled veterans alongside 400 other riders.
The ride challenges disabled and able-body riders alike over a hilly 110-mile course from the Pentagon to Gettysburg. As such, it is not a race, but an event for building companionship and cooperation over shared obstacles.
There was a broad mix of riding talent, from competitive able-body and disabled riders to many, both able-body and disabled whose only ride this year might have been the FoA.
The ride was very well organized, with plenty of support vehicles, marshals riding along with us, and rest stops every 15-20 miles.
Riders on hand bikes and recumbent bikes often have a difficult time generating torque going up hills; many had poles attached to the backs of the bikes, so other riders could push the bar with one hand to assist on the hills.
Over the two-day ride, I rode alongside about 15-20 of the disabled vets. Very few talked about the cause of their injuries, but most joked about them. Plenty of “give me a hand” type comments. Between those visits, there were also some opportunities to span between groups and do a few fast miles along Maryland and Pennsylvania country roads.
We began in the Pentagon parking lot at 7:30 on Saturday morning, April 27th.
After cracking the frame on my Gunnar Roadie 10 days before the ride, I set out on my Bike Friday.
We did a quick lap of the Marine Corps Memorial, and crossed the Key Bridge into Georgetown before heading north into Maryland.
Our first rest stop was at Avenal, Maryland next to the site of the Congressional Golf Tournament. Plenty of volunteers turned out to provide snacks and encouragement.
The disabled vets were pretty easy to identify by their bikes. During the second leg, I rode with David, a Navy vet from Pensacola. His wife was also along on the ride.
Dave was paralyzed below the waist and rode a very streamlined hand bike (ie, very low torque for his arms) with no assist bars. It was amazing that he was able to climb the hills with such little torque.
After stopping to help another rider fix her flat tire, I rode the final few miles of the leg into the rest stop alongside a vet named Duane, who lost both legs below the knees and was riding an upright road bike. He was a former competitive rider from Phoenix who still rides around 15,000 miles per year. (That’s a ton of miles … an average of over two hours a day for an entire year.)
On the third leg, on the way to lunch, I rode along with Mike from San Antonio. Mike lost a leg in Iraq and was on a hand-bike. I got to work on my one-handed push technique with Mike on a few of the hills on Saturday.
I ate lunch with Lon Dolber, one of the organizers and major supporters for T.E.A.M. Sports. In addition to the annual bike rides and a Sea-to-Sea ride from California to Norfolk, T.E.A.M. Sports has sponsored activities around the world: climbing Mt. Victoria in Africa, bike rides in Vietnam, and others. Their events are not just targeted to veterans or the disabled community.
I think that is one of the great things about this ride that I hadn’t really considered. Instead of an event focused on some group or other group, this ride and the T.E.A.M. Sports challenges are about cooperation and common effort, breaking down the physical barriers that divide us into groups every day.
As we were about to depart after lunch, I had to make a last-minute repair to my bike. The organizers were about to throw me into the Sag wagon, but I got my bike working and set off.
My reward was no pace car and speed limit; I got to ride along as fast as I could until I caught back up to the group.
Once I caught up, I rode with a blind vet and his guide on their tandem bike. The guide was familiar with Bike Friday, and they were both strong riders, so we rode along at a 20+ mph pace for a few miles as we chatted. There was at least one other blind rider as well but I never did catch up with him/her.
After resting overnight in Frederick, Maryland, we re-assembled early on Sunday morning.
I made it to the meet up point an hour early, at 6:00 a.m. seeking an emergency repair on my bike. My rear shifter cable seized, leaving me with three only gears on Saturday.
Larry Black, a rock-star mechanic and owner of Mt. Airy Bikes [Bike Friday's Dealer in the DC area], was one of the volunteer mechanics supporting the FoA ride.
Working in a makeshift loading dock workshop, Larry fashioned a dental pick from a sharpened spoke and was able to free the snagged cable inside my shifter. He rehung the cable and tuned up the rear cassette, all while servicing countless other riders with various maladies (including the entire drivetrain on one) and got me to the start with enough time to enjoy a bearclaw and a banana.
Every rest stop was the same. Larry Black saving our butts. If you find yourself in the D.C./Landover area in need of any help with a bike, look up Larry.
After a social first leg, the second leg on Sunday is where the hills kick in.
Another rider (Scott) and I assigned ourselves to Lamar for the entire leg. We traded off assisting Lamar over the hills.
Along the way, Lamar explained a game he used to play growing up in the country: Hey cow. If you see a group of cows, and yell out “Hey cow”, you get a point for every one that turns to look. I tried it out. The cow complied.
The third leg was our final leg before staging for our final mile into Gettysburg. This leg turned into the battlefield.
I joined Pickle and Sully (the other two riders from HQ AF/A9) to shepherd Mike (same guy as Saturday) through this leg.
I hadn’t even realized we were in the battlefield park until we came around a turn and were surrounded by the grave markers from Pickett’s charge. I remember reading about the importance of terrain and hills when I studied the battle of Gettysburg.
Riding the battlefield afforded a great appreciation of the small rolling hills. I can’t imagine a more beautiful way to appreciate the battlefield than by bike.
We held up a mile outside of town so all the riders could finish together. We rode through hundreds of supporters to the finish line.
A few speeches, pictures, and awards later, we enjoyed lunch and beer.
I really enjoyed the entire ride and appreciate all of the support friends and family provided. In addition to my registration fees, I raised $600 for T.E.A.M. Sports. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride again next year and, with further support, can raise more.
Add comment May 26, 2013
When the Tour of California bicycle races finishes Sunday in Santa Rosa, race fans will be greeted by a number of Bike Fridays in the windows of various businesses.
BikePartners.net, our Bike Friday Dealer in Santa Rosa, has been busy strategically placing bikes.
If you’re out there for Stage 8, check ‘em out!
Add comment May 15, 2013
Getting dressed up in vintage clothes and enjoying a great day of cycling is hardly something Americans have cornered the market on.
In Beijing, China, the Vintage Ride Beijing was recently held. Bike Friday’s dealer in Beijing, AITA CYCLE, not only had a stylish representative in manager Wang Yining, It was also a sponsor of the event.
1 comment April 25, 2013