Archive for June, 2011
It’s that time of the year, when Bike Fridays criss-cross the United States — sometimes right past each other!
This from David Omick: My partner Pearl and I live near Corvallis and came down to the factory last summer where you helped us with her order for a NWT. She got the bike for a cross country tour we planned for this summer and just thought you'd be interested to know that we're now almost halfway across the US. The bikes (I have a Llama) are doing great and our blog has over 16,000 hits, which should be good exposure for Bike Friday. Read our blog And, check out their photos on the Bike Friday site.
Add comment June 29, 2011
That has been the primary lure of journalism for me over the years. The story.
It’s also one of reasons it’s fun to come to Bike Friday each morning.
This is an eclectic bunch.
Not too long after I arrived, Co-Founder Alan Scholz made a point to have me search out Merle Rothweiler, who works in production.
“He could be a really great resource,” Alan said. “He has some incredible artwork.”
That’s the kind of teaser that sends my creative juices whirling like a blender at Jamba Juice.
Think about it. A guy who works in the line with a flair for art. It’s already a great story.
I didn’t know how I’d find a way to use Merle’s artistic talents. I just knew I had to find a way.
Fast forward a couple of months, and we had a brainstorming meeting about a new project: The Bike Friday Poster.
We wanted to create something that would be cool, that Bike Shops around the world would love to have hanging on their wall. Something that would capture the essence of Bike Friday — not to mention grabbing the attention of anyone passing by.
Time to talk to Merle.
Now, one might wonder how some creative meetings unfold. The answer is, it depends.
Back in my days at VeloNews, we’d have regular brainstorm meetings for headlines. That was really code for blow off steam meetings in the late afternoon. Ideas would fly. We’d be roaring. Some good stuff came out of that.
Sometimes creative meetings don’t need anything more than to light the fuse.
I met with Merle. Said we’re thinking maybe a map. Bike Friday. Oregon. Adventure.
Merle looked up with his eyes sparkling with ideas — a sure sign there was no need to go any further.
He went out and started drawing, and nailed it. Just what we were looking for.
The Bike Friday Poster, available on the webstore …
Merle Rothweiler putting the finishing touches on a Carbon Drive tikit. He has been a member of the Bike Friday production team since 2004.
1 comment June 22, 2011
When the world’s largest recreational bicycle ride, Vätternrundan in Sweden, finished at midnight June 18th with its highest number of participants, Great Britain’s Patrick Stevens aboard his Pocket Llama was among the 18,272 cyclists who completed the full 300 km course.
Vätternrundan, held for the 46th consecutive year, starts and finishes in Motala at the north-eastern end of Lake Vättern in south-central Sweden, halfway between Stockholm and Gothenburg. The main event circles the scenic Lake Vättern, while the shorter rides are held on its eastern side.
The 300 km ride this year saw the largest ever number of overseas registered riders, 4,548 (20% of total), representing 37 nations –- so many that the organizers had been forced to erect more flagpoles along the finish, to accommodate all nationalities participating.
Here’s part of Patrick’s report to Bike Friday:
“I have just come back from cycling Vätternrundan (pronounced vet-turn-rund-an) which is a 300 km (about 190ish Miles) and is meant to be the largest recreational bicycle ride in the world. People from all over the world were there. It is one of the Swedish Classics.
“There were super expensive racing machines all over the place and I got a lot of laughs (and scoffs) for riding on a folding bike touring bike with phat tires. OK, I wasn’t exactly Lance and I did have to work a lot harder than my friends who were on their road racers, but I did put quite a few others to shame by whizzing past them on the Lama.
The comment most people seemed to make was that I would be so much slower on a folder. OK, I was slower than those who were on racing bikes and cycling in groups, but I put that down to being on a Lama touring machine and and not a Rocket racer. Still 13 hours including breaks etc., was not bad and I am very chuffed with my 28 kph average speed.”
Anyone interested in 2012, entries for the 2012 Vätternrundan are accepted beginning September 1st. Entries are accepted on a first come, first served basis. Last year, all spaces for the 300 km ride were filled in six weeks. Cyclists wishing to participate in any of the 2012 events should contact the organisers at: email@example.com.
Add comment June 20, 2011
[NOTE: The ongoing saga of Raz and the fixed gear tikit continue.]
Back at the office, my goal is clear.
Time to corner Walter. He’s the fixie dude. He’ll fill me in.
What, I ask, is the essence of the fixie?
Walter drops the basics on me. Stuff I’ve heard before. Low or no maintenance. Simplicity. Some people think it’s cool. Blah, blah, blah.
None of it registers with me. No, there’s something more at work here. I know. I felt it. I lived it.
Then he ventures into that realm.
For some, Walter says, it’s the connection. The pure connection. You and the bike. Nothing else.
Maybe more like, I-ching.
I sit back down and dabble with some work. But my mind is elsewhere. That’s it. Or something like it. There’s something else going on here. Something beyond gears and pedals.
I take it home for my commute. Suddenly I’m taking a different route, without even thinking about it. I’m slipping in and out of some sort of zone.
I know, it sounds crazy. It feels just as crazy.
It’s the same feeling that has me at the base of the real Bailey Hill the next day at lunch.
Whoa. Now that’s a hill. No wonder Chris raised two eyebrows when I told him the other day I rode up Bailey Hill. I didn’t want to disappoint him, and clarify which hill or which part I rode.
Here we go. Can we do this?
Wait. We? No, bike riding is about me. Can I do it, right?
Not today. It’s a collective effort. At top it’s collective exhaustion and admiration. Don’t ask how I know. I just know.
And, I know whether or not I give this bike back, something has changed.
Way, way, down inside.
Something feels so right.
Not that it felt wrong before.
But now, it’s right.
It’s, I don’t know, maybe it’s fixed.
Add comment June 17, 2011
In the darkness of a cold Oregon night.
Through the city.
Onto the bike path.
Over the river.
Sorry Grandma, no woods.
Onward on my fixie. Usually by the time I get home, after a day at work, I’m not all that interested in rolling on. This time, I didn’t want to get off my bike. But I had to.
My legs proclaimed that if we keep this up, they’ll be buff beyond recognition in SF. They’ll be calling out the hills. They’ll be calling out anyone. Bring it on.
I slept on it.
Then I rode the fixie back to work in the morning, understanding the nuances of addiction much, much more intimately than 24 hours ago.
It’s the kind of bike that you expect to see after someone interrupts you in a back alley with, “Pssssst. Come here. I’ve got something to show you.”
That becomes one of those moments you rerun over and over in your head.
Why did I look?
That’s the way I’m starting to feel. I knew better. Really I did.
Part of me wanted to run away screaming at the mere thought of a fixie. I’m just not a fixie type. Just like I’m not a suit-and-tie guy. Or a BMer dude.
But I didn’t listen to those instincts.
Next thing you know, I’m spending lunch on my fixie. The early rise of Bailey Hill Road was a test, but a real test would be something like Skinner Butte in town. Sure, it’s not climbing Mount Evans. Or Washington. Or Hood. But it’ll get your heart rate up, and it’s urban. Let’s not forget the tikit is primarily a commuter bike.
Next thing you know, I’m huffing up Skinner Butte, on a wonderful sunny day in Oregon. At the top I can see the snow-covered peaks of the Sisters in the distance. It feels like something cosmic is happening. I attribute it to lack of oxygen, and head back toward work.
On my way down, though, I find myself playing a game. How long can I go without touching that brake? Going pure fixie, you know?
Seriously, the answer is not very long. This has to be a an acquired taste, or talent.
When I get back to city cruising, I find my hands ignoring the brakes with an air of bravado. I know these challenges begin in the head, but at this point, my head is enjoying a front-row seat in this game of chicken between my hands and my legs.
Sick. I know. Totally sick.
The rest of the way back, my speed is up, down and all around. It’s like I’m clicking through my gears, seeing what’s right for me. Only there are no gears. It’s just me and the fixie. And we have a lot to learn about each other.
What’s this mean for my future? I’m not certain. I just know it will involve shaking legs.
2 comments June 15, 2011
I spent most of one summer of my youth riding a fixed gear, of sorts. It was a unicycle.
Fixed gear on two wheels?
Not so much.
I’m not a fixie type.
Oh, I took one of the U.S. Cycling Federation Project ’96 Super Bikes for a spin once, back when I spent my time chasing around the likes of Marty Nothstein, Mike McCarthy and the Carney brothers before the Atlanta Olympics.
I was smart enough to know my limits. Didn’t dare attempt a whirl around the banked turns of a velodrome. Rolled it safely to a stop, much to the relief of the officials watching as they held their breath. People get nervous when they lend a $10K bike to someone without a USCF license.
Earlier this year, we got a rather famous fixed gear tikit back from one of our highly acclaimed clients. It arrived just in time. I needed to take a tikit down to the Bay Area.
The question was, do I dare venture forth on a fixed gear?
When the orange one-way tikit arrived from service, all tuned up, at my desk, I had no choice but to bolt outside and see what’s up.
Even though I had a meeting in 20 minutes.
Hey, that’s why I work for a bike company, right?
I’ve heard a lot about fixies. The whole bike messenger craze.
It’s the “in” thing in the city.
But I’ve never heard anyone really come out and say, definitively and simplistically: Whoa, this is why I ride a fixie when I’m not chasing Olympic medals around the velodrome.
At least not with any argument that made sense to me.
I’ve just been left with my imagination to figure it out. Without much time on one, it’s been more than a difficult task.
So I hit the Fern Ridge Bike Path out back.
Solid, more than anything, describes the sense I get riding it.
Then again, I’m tooling alongside a creek. What about climbing? There will be climbing in San Francisco.
I headed up Bailey Hill Road. Not the most extreme hill in these parts, but a hill, and close.
[I should note here that I didn't ride up Bailey Hill proper, which is a serious test. With just a few minutes to steal for myself, I just rode up the road called Bailey Hill Road.]
This is where life on a fixie departs from cycling as we know it. It’s when you understand the true derivation of the phrase “track stand.”
It’s when you wonder, since you barely can perform a track stand and look coolio at the stop light, if there’s any chance you can do that whenever gravity forces you to surrender your ascent. Which should happen pretty soon.
On occasion, I’ll try to crank it up a hill in a gear like this. When no one’s watching. When I can cry in peace and solitude.
I remember a key change in Lance Armstrong’s arsenal a few years back early in his Tour de France run, when he focused on staying in the saddle on climbs as long as possible. It’s a great tactic for a time like this. Don’t get ahead of myself.
As the momentum slows and the muscles burn, the question becomes if, not when, to stand on those pedals.
Luckily, the grade eased. I made it up seated, still rolling straight — the only wobble coming from my shaking leg muscles, not the the balance of the bike.
Simple. That was the sensation.
So, I thought, that’s what fixies are like on a hill. Not all that much of a revelation.
Then, I turned around.
At that point you understand that you cannot coast at any time or any cost on a descent.
I don’t know about most people, but for me, the thought of taking my feet off the pedals for the descent conjures up the image of pedals and cranks becoming industrial strength meat grinders. And bone grinders.
That’s when I learn that the shaking leg muscles are only halfway into their full fixie form of expression. My head begins to spin at the same cadence as my legs. Strange. Very strange.
By the time I got back for my meeting the sensation of conquest took total control of my mind. I’m not sure what this is all about. I’m just sure that, in a bizarre way, I like it.
The fixie earned a commute home. Stay tuned.
4 comments June 13, 2011
I gravitated to the Llama because I used to ride my mountain bike all the time.
Yes, I was one of those who rode my dual suspension mountain bike on the road as much as off. That’s because I call it my comfort bike. That’s code for just loving it.
Don’t get me wrong, I do ride trails. You have to if you live in Oregon. We have some of the sweetest mountain bike trails in the U.S. Just another reason for you to put Eugene on your vacation map.
Now, I have to be honest. I had been itching to take the Pocket Llama onto the trails. We bill the Llama as a mountain bike. As the new guy around (I started in October), I still had plenty to learn.
Part of me hesitated. I really didn’t want to find out that the Llama couldn’t hold its own the trails. My background is as a journalist. You don’t spend a couple decades being objective and honest and just toss that out the window because your job now involves marketing.
So, if that happened — if the Llama didn’t live up to its billing — I’m not sure how I’d handle it.
That’s not true, now that I think about it.
I know how I’d handle it. I’d ride my Llama around town, jump curbs on the way to work like I do each morning, and take my mountain bikes on the trail. Just keep it on the down-low.
With some atypical dry and warm weather hitting the area for a few days earlier this year — including a weekend — I finally had my chance for my test ride.
I tossed the Llama in the back of my SUV and headed for the Middle Fork Trail.
It’s just outside Oakridge, and one of the really popular rides in the area.
The trail hugs the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.
I’ve ridden it a number of times on a number of different bikes.
The first time I hit it on my GT i-Drive.
I’ve hit it on my Marin mountain bike.
And on my brother’s Gary Fisher Cake.
So, the Llama had some serious standards to live up to.
The Middle Fork Trail isn’t the most technical around. Many of our trails in Oregon are pretty smooth. Sure, there are rocks and roots. But no outta control challenges here.
It’s a rolling trail.
Lots of ups and downs.
It’s a fast trail.
A fun trail.
But not fun if you can’t keep your bike under control.
So here’s my disclaimer. I’d have to rate my mountain bike skills as intermediate at best. I never raced BMX. I have no advantage with small wheels.
And it’s Bike Friday’s small wheels that grab most people’s attention.
I could easily see myself pole vaulting a lot on a trail. Fear that small wheel would dig in.
I hit the trail with apprehension. Careful at first. But in a matter of seconds, I realized a couple of quick adjustments I had to make.
I dropped the handlebars a little lower than I’ve been riding them. Suddenly, WHOOSH!
I was off and rolling.
Oh, sure, I crashed once. Got my rear wheel in trouble on a dip and rise through a creek.
I usually crash at least once, though. One of those slo-mo events.
For the most part, though, I was amazed at the control I had with the Pocket Llama.
I got comfortable with the little wheels a lot quicker than I thought I would. Once I knew how to squeeze them through rocks and roots, it was a breeze.
The little wheels let you gun up a hill with an added zing. A big zing. In the spots I did have to dismount, I found myself back on the bike a lot sooner because of the ease of getting on and off a Bike Friday.
Without the top tube there threatened my manhood all the time, I started taking some more chances than I’d normally take. I call dual suspension training wheels for mountain bikes. Once I had dual suspension, I started going over things I’d shy away from on a hardtail.
Since there is no front suspension on the Pocket Llama, I expected to be thrown around a lot. But the Thudbuster suspension seat post delivered. It kept me in the saddle, centered, balanced. Wow.
If I didn’t say that it felt like my most fun trip on the Middle Fork, I’d be lying. It was as much fun as I’ve had. It felt quicker. Faster. Sweet.
2 comments June 9, 2011
John Greenfield, an acquaintance of Lynette Chiang from Chicago, saw the new website and thought visitors might be interested in viewing his “Bike Friday” song (an homage to the Internet hit “friday” by Rebecca Black).
Add comment June 7, 2011
When Jeff Looker and Al Cappello decided to start selling Bike Fridays at their PortaPedal Bike Shop in Tempe, AZ, they weren’t exactly sure what they were in for.
Then Jeff went on the 14th Annual Ride for the Children in April. He rode his Bike Friday, and donned a Bike Friday jersey just for good measure.
Most of you know what kind of interest that will garner. And it worked.
They quickly learned about the Ahwatukee Bike Club, which happens to have a few Bike Friday owners among its members.
They all got to talking. Jeff and Al invited them over to the shop.
On Wednesday, the gang showed up.
We’ll let Al tell you the rest:
“Had a great visit from the ‘Tukee Fridays’ this morning. The guy on the far right [photo below] is 80 years old and still logging mileage!
We served coffee and homemade trail cookies. They were all happy that we are now in the area.
Hooked up the travel trailor to the Llama, which sparked a lot of interest.”
Add comment June 5, 2011
I’m reminded of this as June sneaks onto the calendar even though the weather acts as though spring has just begun.
We’ve had better weather for Thanksgiving than this past Memorial Day . When folks strike up a conversation of late, it’s usually something along the lines that “it sure doesn’t feel like May.”
And now, it’s June.
Yet, nature marches on. Nothing appears to spotlight that better than morning sunlight.
As I ride my tikit along the edges of the Willamette River, the sun makes an unusual appearance. The softness casts an angelic tone on everything. The vast green of spring emerged beneath a cover of clouds this year, and the light ushers the true feel of summer in a comforting manner, least it not jolt our senses.
Then I roll past a gaggle of geese — Mother and Father with their new family.
What strikes me is that the new family isn’t so new. Those tiny goslings aren’t so tiny. Hardly. They have been around for a while. Where?
Who knows? Probably the same place as the sun.
Add comment June 4, 2011