Archive for May, 2011

Photos from the road …

Phil Liggett (left) and Paul Sherwen pose with the Carbon Drive tikit at the 2011 Tour of California.

You see photographs like this and just wonder.  How does one get the likes of the hallow voices of cycling, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, to pose with your bike?

Oh, we suppose the short answer would be that Liggett has been a long-time Bike Friday owner.

Special Projects Manager John Rezell, aka, Raz, reports that in his stint covering cycling, it was difficult to go to any race that Liggett attended without hearing about his Bike Friday.

But there’s more to this story. There always is.

The Carbon Drive tikit showed up at the Tour of California courtesy of Jeff Linder, one of our Angel investors who has helped make Bike Friday what it is today.

Jeff is more than just Bike Friday owner and investor. Co-Founder Alan Scholz likes to call him our Factory Pro.

No, lest you think the life of a Factory Pro is all fun and games, well, take a gander how Jeff spent his spring.

In Belgium. Racing on cobblestones. On a Bike Friday.

Jeff Linder, racing an Air Friday, at the Tour of Flanders in the Belgium peloton, 2011

 

Jeff Linder, climbing on cobblestones in the Tour of Flanders on an Air Friday, in Belgium, 2011

 

Jeff Linder on cobblestones to the end of the Tour of Flanders in Belgium, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We could call it a wrap right there. But again, we say, there is more to the story. We’ll let Jeff fill you in on his fun last week at the Tour of California:

 

Wow, what a party!

Hundreds and hundreds of excited cyclists lining the roadway up the fabled Sierra Road climb as Chris Horner moves into the lead of the Tour of California ahead of perennial winner, Levi Leipheimer.

But several hours before all of this roadside madness, there was a lone cyclist spinning his way up the 15-percent grades of Sierra Road, on a strange looking 16-inch wheel bicycle that he will fold up and gain entree to the “No bikes allowed” VIP section with his svelte little package that will look as innocuous as a folded wheelchair.

Now remember this little package allowed our fearless traveler access where motorized vehicles have been cordoned off and the terrain was challenging enough to create a television-worthy mountaintop finish.

Wait, wait wait! I’m  not done yet.

Maybe one of the coolest things that happened because I was on my little tikit was that I caught the eye of the “Voice of Cycling”, Phil Liggett.

This really isn’t much of a surprise though because Phil (yes he has his MBE) has been a long term aficionado of Bike Friday as he’s been riding his sweet Campy equipped PRP since 2000.   Phil and Paul Sherwen had a chance to spin the wheels for a few moments between sound bites as the galloping peloton proceeded onward.

Ah, another day in the life of a Bike Friday boulevardier.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Boulevardier?! Yeah, that sounds better than Factory Pro.

1 comment May 26, 2011

Lightning in a conference room

The beauty of life as a journalist is the ability to insert yourself into experiences the average person dreams about on those long, quiet rides.

Like, for instance, sitting in the downstairs conference room as Co-Founder Alan Scholz and Head Designer Rob English brainstorm the next Bike Friday project.

Hey, listen, I can’t tell you folks everything we do as we do it. I’m certainly not about to tip our hand, so this isn’t a major announcement. This is more about the background.

So, I can say this about the pow-wow. The topic is commuting and, well, Bike Friday knows only one way to attack any project.

I’m still learning my way around the place, the business and the people.

Alan’s brain appears to have one speed. It’s like trying to keep up with that dude or dudette with the fixed gear. You just watch and listen and wonder, “How does he do that?”

Rob’s on the same wavelength as Alan, and adds a burst of youthful energy as they collectively ascend to the stratosphere of brainstorming. It’s like watching Contador and Schleck on the Tourmalet, realizing these two boldly go where the rest of us dream — without looking back.

I sit in awe, realizing that anyone who has ever rolled off on a Bike Friday has, at one time or another, envisioned this kind of meeting. Understanding that the Bike Friday experience began, essentially, as an idea. You can envision Hanz and Alan Scholz firing ideas back and forth. To see it unfold in person exceeds any expectation.

Alan likes to remind us that Bike Fridays are bicycles made by bicycle people, and that’s what sets them apart. This innate knowledge of what will work for a real cyclist out there on the road, and what won’t, is gold.

What strikes me as funny is that a lot of our first-time customers, especially those interested in making commuting a lifestyle, aren’t necessarily cyclists. Not in the stereotypical sense.

But when they hop on one of these Bike Fridays, they’ll know what it feels like to be a real cyclist.

1 comment May 24, 2011

A day to remember

The sweet scent of lilacs.

That’s what grabbed me as much as anything.

Spring popped out in full glory here in the Willamette Valley on Wednesday.

The bright sun finally making a cameo, shining its spotlight on all things living, turning our green landscape dotted with blossoming buds to a vibrant green backdrop of Mother Nature’s fireworks.

I couldn’t help but steal some time for a ride. I jumped onto the Fern Ridge Bike Path, and headed out to the West Eugene Wetlands.

With the scent of lilacs filling the warm air, I couldn’t help but think about the date. May 18. When I was growing up, my Mom always said that no what the weather was like back in Wisconsin, the lilacs would bloom by May 18.

She was always right.

It’s a pretty big day in my family history, May 18. It goes way, way back, really. But the fact that I’m in Eugene, Oregon on this wonderful day instead of anywhere else goes back to six years ago.

On May 18 we bought our pop-up tent camper, that became our chariot of adventure for the summer of 2006. It brought us here, to this incredible place, and me, here, to this time.

When I first took this position at Bike Friday, and snuck out for a ride or two on the Fern Ridge Trail, I remembered my first ride out in Meadowlark Prairie.

I had just started writing an weekly column for The Register-Guard newspaper. Readers would invite me on their favorite Oregon Outdoor Adventures, and I’d write about it.

I received an invitation one day from Hanley Barker, inviting me to ride bikes with him. He rode every day in Meadowlark Prairie. He was 88 years old.

I first met Hanley Barker on the Fern Ridge Path in 2006. He was 88.

Hanley and I spent a few hours riding back then, enjoying a great day of conversation even though the weather turned on us. Didn’t matter. We were riding.

When I started making regular afternoon rides from Bike Friday, I wondered about Hanley. I did an Internet search, and learned his wife, Evelyn, passed away last fall. Maybe that’s why I never saw him. Sad.

So imagine my surprise when I crested the bridge that crosses the Fern Ridge Creek, and saw his two trademark flags flowing in the breeze off the back of his trike. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

I rolled up along side. Sure enough, it was Hanley.

We struck up a conversation. He remembered who I was. He looked fantastic.

“So, how old are you now?” I asked with a big grin.

“93!” he beamed proudly.

It hit me so deep, so quickly. My bike wobbled.

“Wow,” I said, “My Dad would have turned 93 today. And it would have been my parents 66th wedding anniversary.”

Hanley offered the kind of pause that only comes from 93 years experience.

“I’m sorry to hear about your wife,” I said.

“Thank you,” he said. “We would have been married 60 years, 5 months and 8 days today.”

That’s when I remembered our ride 5 years ago. When I asked him then, he told me to the day how long he had been married.

At age 93, Hanley gets out on his trike every chance he gets.

Sometimes we forget how valuable one day can be.

Or, an hour we steal away in the middle of a busy day.

We rode on, and talked for a while.

I talked about my Dad.

Hanley talked about his wife. And, life.

“You have to keep moving,” Hanley told me, “You have to keep active. I’m out here every day that it’s not raining like crazy …”

Then he paused again, and turned to look me square in the eyes.

“If it was up to me,” Hanley said, “This is where I’d take my last breath. Right here, on my bike.”

Well said, Hanley, well said.

1 comment May 20, 2011

A little introduction

I guess before we get too far along on this adventure, it’s time to get to know me a little bit. I’ll be your cyber guide into the world of Bike Friday.

I’m Raz.

Yes, folks call me Raz.

They have since I bestowed that nickname upon myself back in 8th grade. I know, giving yourself a nickname. How lame is that? About as lame as admitting it, I guess.

What you need to know about me is that I’ve somehow managed to string together a run of some of the greatest jobs in the world, with this gig at Bike Friday the latest in a long line. I’m Special Projects Manager.

I’m sure everyone has their own scale for rating jobs.

For some it might be salary.

For some it might be status.

For some it might be the hours.

Maybe the boss.

Maybe someone else. (wink, wink)

For me? It’s the bikes. And the people.

Somehow, here at Bike Friday, those two elements seem to be inseparable. Joined like a cyclist and a fixed gear.

I came to this stunning revelation as I cruised through Central Park a couple of Sundays ago on a Carbon Drive tikit.

Seriously, who gets to fly from Eugene, Oregon, to New York City on the company’s dime? Then gets to ride around Manhattan on two great bikes? Pinch me.

[I spent the first two days on an Infinity tikit with NuVinci hub.]

That’s when I realized the danger of it all. I’m getting spoiled. Or, addicted. I’m not really sure which.

Alan Scholz, Co-Founder of Bike Friday, keeps telling me I need to ride this Bike Friday and that one. I have to get the real feel. I have to know the products.

So I ride them, and get blown away. Like a kid playing a video game.

The fact that I’m back in the cycling biz after a long stint with the absolute, without question, greatest job in the world — stay at home Dad — is kind of interesting.

We landed in Eugene, Oregon six years ago this coming August. That was after spending the summer of 2005 touring the Western U.S. in a pop-up tent camper looking for a place to call home and raise our daughters. We traveled 8,000 miles and lived in the camper for 85 days.

Determined to pick a place instead of chasing jobs around the country as we had done most of our adult lives, we quit our jobs, sold our house, got rid of what we could in an endless Moving Sale, put the rest in storage and ventured forward. We found Eugene to be Nirvana.

Before I opted to trade places with my wife and stay at home, I had been a sportswriter. Talk about a sweet gig.

At The Orange County Register in Southern California, I got paid for watching sports. I watched Tiger Woods play golf as a teen, Julie Foudy kick around the soccer ball in junior high and countless others. One day I asked if they would like a story about riding my bike in the Rosarito-Ensenada event in Mexico. To my utter surprise, they said yes.

That combination of cycling and writing led to a weekly column about cycling. I started chasing the likes of a young Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer around the U.S. Then I became editor of VeloNews magazine. Rough life, huh?

I left that world behind for the joy of  chauffeuring my daughters to school, gymnastics and birthday parties when we weren’t doing homework, working on crafts or dancing around the living room with the music cranked.

In Eugene, I wrote for the local newspaper, part-time, so I could be with my girls before and after school.

The economy turned sour just as I hit the stage where I planned to get a full-time gig again because my daughters were old enough to get by without me around all the time.

I got laid off. I spent two years looking for work. Then, miraculously, the only real bike job I’d want in Eugene (we refused to chase jobs again, determined to keep our girls here) popped up on Craigslist. Here, at Bike Friday.

I’ve spent most of my seven months here overseeing the construction of this new website. This blog will be a key element of it. We want you to continue to share your inspiring adventures with the Bike Friday Community. We want to give you a close look at who makes Bike Friday tick. Along the way you’ll get a chance to meet the amazing people who make coming to work each morning a joy.

Speaking of which. time to get moving. I like to write at breakfast. Gotta get to work. They’ll be wondering where the showroom Pocket Llama is. You know, the one with the disc brakes and Thudbuster seatpost. My ride home last night.

 

3 comments May 18, 2011

New York City perfect canvas for NuVinci

Much to the dismay of my daughters, I have my own version of the Johnny Cash classic “I’ve been everywhere” that I like to sing around the house when I’m plucking my guitar.

Until a few weeks ago, though, New York City isn’t one of those places I could croon about.

So imagine what it was like for me, a good ol’ Wisconsin boy who lives in Oregon, pedaling around the streets of Queens on my Infinity tikit with a NuVinci hub, folding it and rolling onto the subway, and emerging from the tunnel of darkness at Grand Central Station into the heart of Manhattan.

I’d be lying if I told you I hopped right on my chariot and roared down the street. Hardly.

I preferred to stand curbside with a couple of stereotypical New York Cab Drivers and discuss the tikit. You know how that goes.

Fold it. Unfold it. Ask for directions.

Fold it. Unfold. Ask how many bike riders they’ve hit this week.

Fold it. Unfold it. Get the odds on me surviving New York City on two wheels.

“You will survive,” one cabbie says, chuckling, “but the bike? Maybe not.”

Gulp.

They gave me directions to head to our dealer in Manhattan, Bfold Bicycles.  I wasn’t in much of a hurry. Until I saw that opening in the traffic that looked as wide as the Grand Canyon (one of the countless places I have been, for those keeping score).

To this moment I don’t know what, or who, possessed me. In a skip and a hop I found myself aboard the tikit, charging down 42nd Street in search of Broadway. The beauty of the NuVinci hub, with its continuously variable transmission, is that you don’t hear the clicking of gears, nor feel the jump as you rotate through hub’s range.

I simply cranked it and soared. My solo breakaway only lasted for an instant. Suddenly bright yellow swarmed me, as if a posse of Lance Armstrongs were chasing me down on a stage of the Tour de France.

That’s when it happened.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not the most aggressive cyclists around. Far from it. I might be the least aggressive cyclist around. I ride for fun. To enjoy. I savor, not suffer. I’ve been known to simply roll to a stop and let potential threats roll past.

But not today. I knew what was probably coming. And I embraced it.

A hand thrusts toward the skyscrapers a quarter block ahead, the dark blue suit steeping from the curb. A yellow blur zooms past, and darts toward the him. I slam on the brakes, track stand for a moment (which, I must admit, is how long I can hold a track stand), the Cab slips in front, I zip my shifter, watch my little orange NuVinci dude transfer from riding on a flat to a massive hill, let go of my brakes, dart to the left, and charge away, around the cab, back into the fray.

Then it happens again. And again.

Three times in a few blocks, I’m flying, then slamming, then flying. The rhythm of New York City rising from the asphalt into my essence. I’m one with the pulse of the Big Apple. NuVinci has taken obstacles out of my way. I don’t need to think. Just react. I stop at a red light and burst into laughter.

NuVinci. New York City. They were made for each other.

[RAZ'S NOTE: Such a perfect match, the NuVinci and New York, that David Lam, owner of Bfold, kept the bike for customers to test ride. Then he sent me a note that it is now his personal ride. Head on down. David will give you a taste of NuVinci.]

 

4 comments May 15, 2011

There’s no hiding now

So, now you see us.

Completely vulnerable.

Exposed.

The new BikeFriday.com.

The Emperor’s New Clothes.

We tried to sneak our way out here. In the web design business, it’s called a soft launch.

One morning you flip a switch (or, in reality, you have your programmer flip a dozen or two) and you replace your old website with the new. Live. You don’t go announcing it to the world. You just hold your breath.

Your first worry is whether or not the whole website will come crashing down around you. That nothing will work — a big worry with all the bells and whistles we have on this site. Your immediate second worry is that everything will work, but no one will notice.

Or care.

In our defense, we had the utmost confidence in our team that the website would work. And, we never doubted for a moment the power of the Bike Friday Community.

The Community, of course, did not let us down. You never do.

When we looked at the raw numbers, we were blown away. On our first full day live, we topped our best numbers for the past year with the number of visitors. The next day we doubled what we usually get.

No doubt, you’ve found us, and told a friend. Or two.

Now our new website is here for everyone to explore. We hope you do a lot of exploring, and let us know exactly what you think. Let us know what isn’t here yet, and we’ll work to get it here.

The backstory

As with most web projects, this was a long time coming. It began in November with a commitment on behalf of Co-Founder Alan Scholz to invest in our website.

In the next month we spent countless hours discussing and debating website theory, determining exactly how we wanted to set up the website for it to be most beneficial to the Bike Friday Community. From Day 1, Alan’s focus has remained on the Community.

We like to think our What Do You Do? area on the site reflects that commitment. While it might take a while for us to get all the great stories and photos moved over to the new website — and trust me, that’s our goal — everyone has the ability to add new photos and stories.

And, the new area has a great search feature that can help you find just what you are looking for. We know the Bike Friday Community will continue to share adventures with everyone. We know that’s where a lot of us spend cold winter days and rainy nights searching for inspiration. That will never change.

We hope we made it easier for you to learn about our company and our bikes. We tried to make it easy to know more about our bikes. We tried to simplify the process.

We have focused on our Bike Fridays with the Select Group. The Select Group itself is the culmination of a lot of Marketing research that told us these are the bicycles you are most interested in.

We continue to offer full Customized bikes — Bike Fridays built-to-order to fit your body and your needs. Just let us know what you need. Communication is important. We welcome emails and phone calls. We want to talk to you. We want to help.

We know that there are countless aspects of websites and changing websites that will create all sorts of situations. We apologize up front for any frustrations, and vow to work to find solutions.

We know it’s not perfect. Nothing ever is, is it? What we do know is that Bike Friday is where it is today because of the vibrant Bike Friday Community, how you believe in us and how you inspire us.

 

 

 

5 comments May 14, 2011

Come on in and hang

You made it.

Welcome to the new Bike Friday website.

Yes, you’ve arrived to the right spot.

You made it.

But you made it in so many other ways, it’s impossible for us to keep track.

Our new website is a culmination of everything that we’ve heard from you, our loyal customers. It will, eventually, have all your precious stories, photos and experiences that define what Bike Friday is all about.

We’re in transition, so be gentle with us.

We wanted to get what we could online so you could start appreciating our work.

But this is a work in progess. We have so much to transfer from our old site, we thought we could keep working on that while you enjoyed what we have changed.

We’ve simplified our message. Our website is the source to find information on our bikes, our process and our services. But we need to hear from you. What’s good? What’s not? Let us know.

We have a simple goal with this blog: We want you to get to know us a little better. We’ll try to be a little more intimate. Share the essence of what makes Bike Friday tick here at the nerve center.

Nerve center. OK, I’ll be honest. I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.

This is hardly a nerve center. Hardly a world headquarters.

Nope, what is here, at our small facility in Eugene, is a building that beats with the heart of cycling. It’s filled with people who love cycling, and want to share that experience with everyone.

What we have in Eugene is a throw-back. It’s a throw-back to the old days, when you could cruise down to your local bike shop and hang. Talk about bikes. Hear stories. Tell stories.

That’s what we want to create online. A hangout, like the old bike shop, or record store, or comic book stand. A place where you feel at home. Where you can ask us anything, and we’ll try to find an answer.

15 comments May 9, 2011


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