Posts filed under ‘News from the Road’
With no glimpse of the sun for more than three days, expectations focused on a possible photo or two of the haze and mist as I rolled out of Mt. Shasta City after a breakfast burrito and latte.
Rounding a corner, the view exploded like a bolt of lightning.
A soft haze blanketed the dark green forest in the foreground, for sure.
But beyond that the sunlight blasted on the stunningly white peaks of Mt. Shasta set against a spotless blue sky.
While Bike Friday owners are famous for their epic adventures intricately planned and executed, for some of us, it’s the spur of the moment surprises that rock our world.
Convenience that Bike Friday offers some of us is having your bike with you at all times.
Driving home from a folding bike demonstration at the train station in Sacramento, I spent the night in Mt. Shasta and hoped for some free time to steal away a ride. I typically have my Pocket Llama in the back of my SUV, tucked beneath a blanket, so it’s always there for me.
Having just done a demo for the company, well, I had more than one Bike Friday in the back, but the New World Tourist with the NuVinci hub screamed to be ridden up the Ski Highway. Who am I to say no?
There might be no better situation for NuVinci than climbing a big hill. The weight watchers will argue that pulling a 5-pound internal hub up a hill is no picnic. I’ll argue the pros outweigh the cons, pun intended.
Imagine being able to find that perfect cadence for a climb, and being able to maintain it, the entire climb, with just a flick of your wrist. Sweet.
It didn’t take long before some gravel road, then a trail, called for exploration. No worries, the bike was up for it.
So I took the first turn possible, pedaled my way to the first trail — which at this point of the year was more like a soft creek bed.
In a blink, I found myself even farther removed from any possible brush with humans. The silence overwhelmed me. The fresh mountain air invigorated me.
Finally, I just pulled over and sat. Soaking in the moment.
It’s not just these out of the way adventures that await if you always have your steed ready to ride
I managed to hit Sacramento a few hours early for the demonstration, which allowed me some time to tool around California’s capital city with my camera. As usual, I opt for the NuVinci hub whenever I get the opportunity. This time on the Carbon Infinity tikit.
Again, you never know what surprises lurk around the corner.
I’m used to getting caught off guard by a great view.
Most, however, pertain to things in this century. Or thereabouts.
Of course, you can’t ride around Sacramento and not find yourself at the Capitol.
Bike Friday lobbies for the fold.
Sacramento is such a wonderful mixture of everything California has to offer, from big cities, to palm trees to its Western Frontier heritage.
Then again, you can really appreciate the essence of any place. When you’re traveling by bike.
Add comment January 3, 2013
Roll down Lagoon Avenue on Swan Island in Portland’s Industrial valley, past the Daimler Factory to the end of the road, and the towering cranes reach toward the hazy skies over Vigor Industries behind chain link fences and security gates.
First thought is obvious: This just might be a little bit too far off the beaten path, even for stout Northwest cyclists in search of the unique.
But as you roll down the road past the Vigor parking lot, you see a connection you wouldn’t imagine. Bicycles. Everywhere. Hundreds of them.
Once through the security gate, it becomes obvious. This place is huge. And what better way to have workers in hard hats get around the massive complex than bicycles? They are everywhere. Every way shape and form.
Parked in groups of 20-30, bicycles outside the huge factory work bays with door openings large enough to roll in, well, a ship, catch your eye. The bicycles distract me enough that I realize I’ve rolled past a huge “10″ painted on the side of the building, so I pull a U-turn.
Decked out in his Vigor Industries hard hat, in soiled heavy-duty gray work pants and hearty jacket as if he walked off the set of Flashdance, a worker waves me down.
“You’re looking for BUILDING 10,” he said, pointing farther down the road. “This is Building 4, Bin 10.”
I smile and wave, and head down to building 10. Inside the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show slowly emerges from an empty factory floor. Show director Aaron McBride tells me this show is the fourth in a series of Art Shows in the venue.
It all fits together. The raw and gritty atmosphere of the shipyard reflects the simple beginnings of bike building that eventually gives way to true art.
The Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show is presented by the Oregon Bicycle Construction Association, so while a lot of these guys are homegrown frame builders, what they dress their bikes up with are quality components from some of the world’s best.
And some of the best begin right in Oregon, with Portland’s Chris King.
Suffice to say, there was plenty of bike stuff everywhere to catch your eye, and make for a fun weekend all about bikes.
Add comment October 26, 2012
Bike Friday is proud of be a part of the Eugene Bicycle Safety Education Program.
According to Shane MacRhodes, who runs the program, it is growing thanks to the Jane Higdon Foundation and support from many local partners. We got to see the fleet of Bike Friday OSATAs out on the road recently with a group of students from Kelly Middle School.
For over a decade some local students have received a 10-hour bike safety education class at their school through the Portland based Bicycle Transportation Alliance “Safe Routes for Kids” program. Over the past two years a coalition of partners has worked to expand and build upon that program to reach even more students.
With the support of a grant from the Jane Higdon Foundation the Eugene Bicycle Safety Education program curriculum is being expanded by the local School Districts and the City of Eugene Recreation Division’s River House Outdoor Program.
This fall and spring, city recreation staff will use three fleets of bikes owned by the school districts to teach at eight middle schools in the region, reaching more than 700 kids .
The 100 bikes and three trailers (used to store and move the fleets) were purchased locally through various grants and sponsorships. One fleet was even specially built for the program by local bike manufacturer Bike Friday and adjusts to fit kids and adults.
Add comment October 15, 2012
Bike Friday has been honored to create a partnership with Webcor’s Ted Huang and two-time U.S. Olympian Christine Thorburn, who happen to be two seriously active cycling advocates getting out there and making a difference.
This past weekend they rode in the Veterans Victory Velo. The first annual charity ride benefits the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation, which supports severely wounded veterans.
“Ryan is a severely wounded Vet and we did the 30-mile ride route with him,” Ted says. ” A bit over three hours, but it really made his day.”
Ted is still getting accustomed to his Pocket Rocket Pro, and Christine cruises on a Super Pro.
“I also started the 100-mile route, which included a run up 3,800-foot Mt. Diablo,” Ted says. “I caught up to a guy on a 12-pound bike with Lightweight wheels right at the top, and he just out sprinted me at the top. I have to say, it is fun to see people’s double take when they see someone 20-inch wheels.”
Next up for this dynamic duo, the Canary Challenge Anti-Cancer Ride on September 29, sponsored by the Canary Foundation.
Add comment September 25, 2012
Our thanks to Ray Schaefer at the Inn at the 5th in downtown Eugene, for catching the University of Oregon Duck checking out their OSATA.
One Question, does that make it an OSATAD [One Size Adjusts to All Types of DUCKS?]
Bike Friday has partnered with Inn at the 5th to offer discounts for guests who come to visit Bike Friday and stay at Eugene’s only luxurious boutique hotel.
Add comment September 20, 2012
Add comment September 17, 2012
Bike Friday owner Damian Day recently had an article in The Northland Age about his upcoming adventures.
Add comment September 16, 2012
During the Portland Sunday Parkways in August, long-time Bike Friday rider and writer Peter Marsh turned up with a friend he wanted to introduce to the Bike Friday community.
His friend is Victor Vincente of America, one of the best-known American racers in the early 1960s who was a member of the US Olympic team in 1960 and ’64, as well as World Championship and the Pan American Games teams.
In 1979, Vincente pioneered the use of 20-inch BMX wheels in mountain bikes — because they were the most durable wheels available.
This development earned Vincente and his Topanga bike [see photo below] a place in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. But almost 20 years had passed since he actually rode any small-wheel bike.
“This is a really handy bike, it’s much more maneuverable than the Topanga!” Vincente said after taking a New World Tourist with the Select Group for quick spin around Laurelhurst Park in Portland. He was very impressed with all the high quality components on the Bike Friday.
Vincente has another connection with Bike Friday owners.
In 1975, he turned to ultra-endurance riding, and set a double trans-continental record of 36 days and 8 hours, riding from Santa Monica to Atlantic City and back. (He later changed his name to reflect these achievements.)
Vincente’s record was broken in 1981 by Lon Haldeman, who then won the first coast-to-coast race in 1982, set many other records, directed the Race Across America , and hosts the Bike Friday Desert Camp in Arizona each March.
Lon clearly remembers the halfway point in his two-way attempt when he reached Santa Monica in 12 1/2 days.
“It was almost sundown and I was pretty tired, but I still remember Victor greeting me wearing a green pinstripe jumpsuit. I thought it was a great display of sportsmanship for him to come out and wish me luck,” Haldeman said.
Haldeman went on to complete the Double Transcontinental in 24 days, 2 hours, and credits Vincente with the inspiration to show that it was possible.
Vincente is 71 years old and is still a very active cyclist. He lives in northern California and happened to be in Portland for a couple of weeks visiting his sweetheart Karol Johnson, and training for the National Masters Road Race in Bend.
Add comment September 12, 2012
Our Bike Friday dealer in Germany, Andreas Seilinger and his wife Gitti, sent us these photos of their Bike Friday tikits, ready for vacation.
Colorful, wouldn’t you say?
Add comment August 29, 2012
I have toured in Latin America on a Bike Friday every winter since 1997, when I turned, 50. But this year, with my 65th birthday approaching, I decided it was finally time to change gears and visit my home country of England, where I lived (and cycled) until I was 24.
I grew up in Greenwich in SE London, and had not returned for more than 20 years. Fortunately, I still had one old friend I could rely on for a welcome and a place to stay — in a city that had become one of most expensive in the world.
Luckily, Andrew could take time off to meet me at the airport, on the outer west side of the city, so I didn’t have to lug the Bike Friday and my backpack through three train rides to Greenwich on the south-east. As he drove across the city, I was stunned — or “gobsmacked” to use the local vernacular — by the speed of the traffic on the narrow winding streets and the number of tall contemporary-styled buildings, many close to the historic monuments I still remembered.
Although it was January and close to freezing outside (and not too warm in the spare room of Andrew’s narrow 200-year old family house) I soon had the bike assembled and was out and about in old Greenwich, cautiously re-tracing routes I hadn’t taken in 40 years.
In less than five minutes, I was on the bank of the River Thames by the famous clipper ship Cutty Sark, which was undergoing a huge $80 million re-build after the fire that nearly consumed it. (There is never a lack of funds for historic preservation in the UK.)
The old ship was being lifted 10 feet into the air, and surrounded by a glass roof to simulate sea level, and was closed until the grand re-opening by the Queen in April. But right next to it is the grand campus built for the Royal Navy in the late 1600s as a palatial seamen’s hospital and retirement home with two impressive domes. Since 1875, this architectural wonder had been an officer training center and was closed to the public. So, throughout my youth it could only be glimpsed through the iron stakes of a tall fence that completely surrounded it.
But in my absence, it had finally returned to public use as the home of the Trinity College of Music, As I rolled past the imposing historic walls, I could hear strains of music drifting down from practice rooms.
Remarkably, that very street is so well preserved it is easily converted to an authentic film set for street scenes in the time of Charles Dickens, and the great painted hall can pass for a stately backdrop at any time in the last 400 years. So movies from “The Pirates of the Caribbean” to “The Iron Lady” had scenes filmed there.
My first short loop-ride continued across the high street and into Greenwich Royal Park, which had barely changed in the 40 years since I had seen it last. It is still the site of the old astronomical Observatory (the baseline for the prime meridian of longitude) and the magnificent 1635 Queen’s House — England’s first palace in the Palladian style. But I was no longer alone in my exploration, as I was as a boy: all of this history was enough to make the area a UNESCO World Heritage site and a real tourist magnet.
Even when it was snowing, visitors thronged the viewpoint outside the Observatory and marveled at the site of the Canary Wharf office towers across the Thames — the tallest in Europe.
But there were already signs of another incredible make-over about to happen in the spring: the flat space in front of the Queen’s House would be turned into into the equestrian arena for the 2012 Olympics, with seating for 20,000 and stables to house nearly 200 horses and grooms!
With all this and a dozen more historic buildings to explore in the area, I might have been content with short daily rides.
But my web search for a local club soon found the “Greenwich Cyclists” web page — the local arm of the London Cycling Campaign that welcomes anyone and everyone. I jumped at the chance to join them on a 60 km (37 miles) ride all the way around the capital on a cold Sunday. (It was only later that I learned this route had actually been planned as a legacy project to connect all the Olympic venues, and encourage urban biking.)
We met on a cold clear morning beside the Cutty Sark — a group of about 20 of all ages riding everything from fixies to commuters … to a Bike Friday! For the first hour, we followed the Jubilee bike path upstream (west) along the Thames past and through) ancient warehouses and the ultra-modern tower blocks built where the old Surrey Docks once stood — now re-developed around the old waterways to fill the insatiable demand from people working in the city’s huge financial sector.
Eventually, we reached the iconic sight of Tower Bridge and the fabulous South Bank area, opposite the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and the old inner city. The broad promenade was packed with locals and international visitors, but our leader assured us it was legal ride at a cautious speed.
I knew I would have to return another day to stop and visit this amazing cityscape with sites like Shakespeare’s re-created Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern Gallery in a huge converted power station, and the giant Ferris wheel 135 meters (443 ft) tall called the London Eye.
(I did return a few weeks later on my own to ponder the strange twist of fate that my first job in 1964 was as a junior clerk in an office a few yards from the giant wheel. That office is now an Asian buffet, and from the doorway, I had the same view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.)
Our ride grouped back together here, and we hit the streets again, winding our way past Lambeth Palace, the Tudor residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. To this point, I was vaguely familiar with the route, but when we crossed over the Thames and rolled merrily north, past the government ministries in Whitehall, I was completely lost … until we arrived at Buckingham Palace. Everyone seemed to take the palace as was just another roadside attraction — except me. I wanted to stop and stare for a minute, but the peloton wasn’t waiting for me! Oh well, they all live here, I reminded myself.
I didn’t know it at the time, but on this stretch we would pass near many Olympic venues. The cycling road race and marathon finished down the Mall, and the Horse Guards Parade would be transformed into the sandy courts for beach volleyball; into Hyde Park we rode beside the Serpentine where the Olympic 10km open-water swim and triathlon took place. No time to stop at famed Speakers Corner either, but we finally paused at a tearoom beside the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playgrounds.
Now I had a chance to talk to the leader, who explained that we were on the Jubilee Greenway Path, a project to mark the queen’s 60th year on the throne that opened a bike route that circled the entire central city.
“Stay close,” he warned before we set off again. Now we zipped around more backstreets, this time in the toniest part of London. We meandered past the Georgian mansions and many embassies in the Bayswater district, before turning abruptly off the street and through a small gap in the hedge. (I picture it now as a magical doorway into a forgotten world.) Down a narrow ramp we rushed and onto the towpath of the Regent’s Canal.
Now the pace was relaxed, but the conditions demanded full attention, as there were many people, children and dogs on the narrow path. We passed beneath the aviaries of Regent’s Park Zoo, through Little Venice, and on to the exciting atmosphere of the famed Camden Lock Market, where the Sunday crowds were so tightly packed it was a miracle we could thread our way through to the locks.
Back on the towpath below street level, there were no notable sights on this leg and time seemed to stand still until we emerged from the waterway an hour later at the east end of London. We were at Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets–an area that was totally foreign to me. I vaguely remember we crossed over some major roads and the River Lea, where we rode south alongside the Olympic Park and saw the big stadium, cvelodrome (where the home team dominated), swim pool, etc and the tall jagged metal sculpture called the Orbit that stands 377 feet high, making it the largest piece of public art in Britain.
Then we climbed onto an elevated gravel road that ran for miles on top of the main sewage system north of the river, our leader explained with a grin. Eventually, we came to the London City Airport, set on a long strip of dock land between two long pools that was once the main cargo terminals. Somewhat the worse for wear, we reached the next landmark — the Woolwich Ferry across the Thames.
The group had dwindled by now, and when we rolled off the ferry with the old walls of the Woolwich Arsenal downstream, only four of us were returning to the start.
As night fell, we wove our way through familiar territory dotted with amazing modern structures like the Thames Flood Barrier, Charlton Athletic FC stadium (my home team), and the huge imposing but ugly Millennium Dome now called the 02 Arena and the Olympic gymnastics and basketball venue.
When we finally returned to the Cutty Sark, I felt like a had ridden a century. It had been a very long, very hard day, which had only whet my appetite to see more of the ever-changing face of London on my own.
3 comments August 19, 2012