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Cycling Videos

So… I’m showing a few clips to some students to get them motivated to ride more and join the transnational/translocal political project of utility cycling. The thing that strikes me about the hundreds and thousands of blogs, theme rides, and other manifestaions of the bicycling community is the fun that’s a part of it. So, here are some shorts that I’m drawing from. Suggestions welcome in the comments section.

The follow-up:

Why Do You Ride?
If you like utility bikes, this is a fun video to watch.

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And some classics:

And, of course, who could forget:


Rivendell Hunquapillar Prototypes

About a week ago, I had the chance to take the Rivendell Hunquapillar prototype out for about 2 and a half hours for a ride around Shell Ridge on Mt. Diablo. This is the parallel-top tube prototype. The next prototype will have a diagonal second top tube for added strength.

There’s nothing more enjoyable than a mixed terrain ride. From road, to dirt, and back again several times over, my time on the Hunquapillar proved to be completely enjoyable.

The Briones-Mt. Diablo trail consisted mostly of hardpack, but the Shell Ridge Loop was quite bumpy and horse & cattle rutted in some places. The bike wore 50mm Big Apples, which felt surprisingly zippy on the road and more than competent on the trails. I never spun out the rear tire on the dry dirt. It was sunny and warm, and there were a lot of castrated bulls roaming about. Whenever I try to scoot the cattle off the trail with whistles and cowboy noises, they just stare menacingly at me before wandering off after they’ve seen enough of me. Maybe they’re wondering, “why does he have a road bike out there?”

With big Nitto Noodles, a high stem, double-tape wrap job, and the thick SRAM levers, I felt like I was holding onto an animal – perhaps a mammoth, while bumping around on the trails. It is a firm grip on a firm bike. Everything conveyed the solid feel as promised by Mr. Petersen. Climbing, the bike shined, and descending, it felt solid and straight.

I am an overly cautious dirt rider, but the Hunqua inspired faster descending and tighter cornering. I love riding my Romulus on these same trails, but the Hunqua is a different beast and glides through things that I might have taken a bit slower on the road bike.

Twice, I got off the bike and explained it to curious mountain-bikers. One even took it for about a hundred yards and really liked it. I can understand why. Any bike is fun on trails like these. I think the diagonal second top tube will only add to its allure – something unique and interesting on a very interesting bike.

San Diego Custom Bicycle Show (SDCBS) 2010

This last weekend, bicycle culture descended on bicycle-friendly San Diego for the second annual San Diego Custom Bicycle Show in Mission Valley. There were new exhibitors, plenty of community rides that sprouted up around the show, and a bounty of epic burritos available around town.

One of the best things about these kind of shows is that you can shop for a custom builder and order a hand-crafted bike. Yes, the bikes cost more than those at chain stores. Yes, customs are worth every penny, and hopefully some builders got some orders from this show! Considering how many road racers spend thousands every other year on mass-manufactured racing bikes, this is not a far-fetched idea. The exhibitors demonstrate the value of craft that can be a part of all kinds of cycling.But even for those stretching to make rent every month, the show can provide great inspiration for how to modify that old lugged road bike that serves as transportation.

Last year I took photos from nearly every exhibitor. This year, I was more selective, having only a couple of hours on Sunday to enjoy the bicycles and talk with builders. So, here are some select photos from my camera, along with any tidbits of information I gleaned from conversations with the players. The full photoset can be found here, and documentation of our Southern California Rivendell Appreciation Society ride on Sunday morning can be seen here (two XO-2s on the ride, plenty of other nice bikes and good people).


I spoke with Brian Baylis for a bit. He is one of the organizers from the show, and had some of his stunning frames and restorations in the booth. This Rene Herse track bike was serious eye candy. Bryan had the paint specially matched to the original, which had some serious patina before restoration:

I asked Brian about next year. He reported that the show organizers are considering featuring cyclocross bicycles, history, and perhaps an event. I also asked about his openness to including technical trials, as Jan Heine wrote about in the Winter 2010 edition of Bicycle Quarterly. He said they are open to the idea, suggestions, and help. So if anyone wants to help make this happen, let me know.

At the large Velo Cult booth, Sky and Co. had a range of vintage bicycles on display, and something interesting. The demountable Nobilette randonneuse is the one featured in a previous post:

Anthony’s Rene Herse:

One of the more interesting bikes at the VC booth was a new project they’ve been working on for a long time. More on this later. Just a last-minute rattlecan paint job for the show — look out for something special to come out of this project down the line. But here is the prototype: a custom randonneuse, with clearance for 42mm Hetres, 60mm Honjos, and made by a master craftsperson:

Check out the Velo Cult Blog for serious photos of every show bike.

Electra had its Ticino line, which appropriates many elements from the hand-built scene. In a stroke of mainline marketing, they set their Ticino’s up outside on the bike valet rack, connoting the message that “You Could have Ridden a Ticino to the Show!™”

Petaluma-based Soulcraft had some darn-fun looking mountain bikes on display, including this 650B model:

Yipsan had a couple of nice 650B bicycles at the show.

He clearly knows what he’s doing, especially considering all the extras on this bike, which caused my friend Aaron to remark, “The everything but the kitchen sink approach: 650B, disk brake, shift lever on the seat tube, S&S couplers, fenders with racing stripes, orange crank arms, two-tone paint job, burnt Sienna front rack, lighting system, and rando bars. Did he forget anything? I like the straight blade fork; looks mean and ready to rumble.”

Last year, Gallus drove all the way from Texas for their first show. This year, they flew. They brought this pink porteur:

When I saw this rack, I immediately thought about the mounts on a Kogswell fork. Jeremy said that he’d be very interested in making racks for Kogswells and for the new Longleaf. If you’re interested, give him a buzz.

Over at the Rebolledo booth, I saw something I really liked. Here is an all-rounder with a nice custom rear rack that fits Jack Browns with plenty of room (perhaps for 35s) under the fenders. This bike was perhaps my favorite of the show. I’d love to see something from Mauricio with lower trail and front racks. Just a lovely bicycle:

As one might expect, De Salvo had some fine bicycles in the booth, including this cyclocross:

A few builders had bare frames, which really show the handwork that goes into a custom bicycle. This fork crown and head lug is from Greg Townsend:

Eric and Winter Bicycles and Mitch from MAP were down from Or-eee-gone with some beautiful machines. The Winter is built as a no-nonesense commuter:

From MAP, we saw a great display of the utility and grace of 650B. He had a porteur, flat-bar bike, and lastly, an example of the semi-custom run he did earlier this year. Mitch is going to do the semi-custom run again for sure. For next time, he’s thinking of doing a city bike, and streamlining the process. May be smart to jump in line now if you like his stuff. The first 5 Rando bikes went fast.

Stephen Bilenky was at the center of the show, showing off their exceptional wares and taking orders for S&S retrofits.

Lastly, the good people at Swrve had their excellent designs for sale. Have I mentioned how much I like Swrve jeans? Made in the USA, like most of the stuff at the show.

See you next year!

The Rivendell Riding Style

There’s a lot to say about the evolution and continuity of Grant’s design philosophy. Sometimes, a little video is enough:

So… get out there and enjoy!

SDCBS 2010 Preview

This weekend, the second annual San Diego Custom Bicycle Show will take place in Mission Valley. The San Diego show brings together framebuilders who have decades of experience and those just starting, along with industry booths and local charities and bicycle shops. It was a great show last year, and this year it promises to be full of lovely machines, nice people, great weather, and lots of community events.

Some highlights:

Swrve clothing will drive down from their small factory in Los Angeles with many of their wares. I was lucky to stop by their operation in LA last month, and I was surprised at what a small operation it is, full of gusto, high quality cycling products, and made right here in the US. I was first skeptical about the jeans I bought, but they have turned out to be perfect for riding and just about everything else. Great people.

Over at the Velo Cult booth, there will be all kinds of vintage bikes for sale and for gawking. Two items will be especially interesting. One is a new collaboration with a framebuilder that I’ll write more about later… maybe after the show. Its a randonneuse and fits Hetres with 60mm Honjo fenders. The other bike that will likely induce drool is Sky’s Nobilette demountable randonneuse. Get a look up close at this bike… the demounting machine work is really quite interesting:

More photos of this bike will pour onto the Internets, I’m sure.

Moth Attack, who will share a booth with Swrve, will be raffling off a frame, with all donations supporting the Encino Velodrome.

*The organizers are considering doing technical trails for next year. If you see any of them, encourage it!

THEN… Sunday morning, I’m helping to organize a little Rivendell/Bob-ish mixed terrain ride. There are two short sections of dirt in the middle of the city. We’ll stop at Velo Cult and Blind Lady, then go down to the show!

For those who want to see the ocean and enjoy a bit more of a ride, we’ll meet at 9am at the Mission Bay Visitors Center and do this loop (San Diego River, Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Pt. Loma, Downtown) then we’ll pick people up at the train station:

And for those who want to sleep in, and/or just want a token ride to through two token dirt sections in the middle of one of the largest cities in the U.S., meet us at 10ish at the Santa Fe Depot downtown, and we’ll cross downtown up to Balboa Park, through the Haunted Trail along the 163, down the dirt section of Florida Canyon (a bit bumpy, but not bad), up to Velo Cult in South Park, then down 30th St. (“The Brewlevard”) to Blind Lady Ale House for a beer and lunch. Then down to the show:

So, if you want to do 30 miles, meet at 9am at the Mission Bay Visitors Center. For those who want a shorter 15 mile ride, we’ll pick you up at Santa Fe Depot at 10ish.

The ride will be short, prioritize the view, some dirt, a stop at Velo Cult, and a craft beer and pizza, and the show!

That’s all I’ve got for now. Readers can gather their own thoughts and anticipations from the list of exhibitors:

Brian Baylis
Sadilah Handmade Framesets
Ybarrola Bicycles
Joe Bell Bicycle Refinishing
Bohemian Bicycles
Courage Cycles
Townsend Cycles
Bruce Gordon Cycles
Kish Fabrication
Charter Oak Cycling (Bill Rider)
Gallus Cycles
Bill Holland Cycles
Blaze Bicycles
MAP Bicycles
Courage Bicycles
Rebolledo Cycles
YiPsan Bicycles
Winter Bicycles
Vendetta Cycles
Wolfhound Cycles
Lyonsport Custom Frames
Victoria Cycles
Rock Lobster Custom Bicycles
Dan Cunningham Cycles
Keith Anderson
Mark DiNucci
Taylor Bicycles
Ruegamer Sports
Bilenky Cycle Works
Caletti Cycles
Moth Attack
DeSalvo Custom Cycles
Milano Sport
Velo Cult Bicycle Shop
Pacific Coast Cycles
Henry James Bicycles Inc.
Sound Cycles
Adams Avenue Bicycles
San Diego Bicycle Club
Sock Guy
Moment Cycle Sport
SelleLogica Saddles
Far West Milano CC -Vintage Bicycles
AIDS Life Cycle -Ride to end AIDS
Mel Pinto Imports
Nova Cycles Supply
Fit Kit
The Arthritis Foundation
Andy Schwartz
Electra Bicycle Co.
Swrve Cycling
Homebrewed Components

See you there!

From The Plastic Society: Mustang Pyrotechnics Light Show

I posted this over at my other blog, The Plastic Soceity, but thought it might be appropriate for the movers and shakers who ride bicycles along with flow of traffic:

“Perhaps not as annoying as Mary Hart’s voice, but the new Ford Mustang “sequential” turn signals are distracting. I was running errands in the car today, and a Mustang came up on my right, and I was confused by this flashing of lights. I couldn’t quite figure it out in my peripheral vision. I looked in the drivers’ side mirror, and he was staring right at me, with a creepy Mustang-driver-pointy-mustache. Then I figured he must be indicating a lane change.

I wonder what kind of studies Ford did that would indicate that this kind of flashing indicator would be effective, safe, and useful in the flow of traffic. It doesn’t help that the three light panels are separated by white reverse lights, which interrupt the “sequential” flow. It looks like a disco dance floor. And how might one discern the difference between a fully charged turn indicator and the tap of the brakes?

This seems like classic wiz-bang marketing.

If engineers still designed cars, rather than marketers, a single, bright, orange indicator light works best. They should be mandated.”

Like a lot of newfangled devices and features in both motor vehicles and bicycles, this seems to serve as yet another example of complexity that makes the user feel better about themselves, but does little to enhance the functionality of the tool.

Bike Art Fail: Mission Beach

Bicycles have long inspired some beautiful art. Many products sought to associate themselves with the freedom and grace of cycling 100 years ago. With the emergent bicycle culture movement, art is again inspired by the simplicity, effectivity, and sustainability of gliding along on a bicycle. Then came this mural along the boardwalk in Mission Beach:

My friend Gary an I once stared at this and laughed for about a half hour, trying to figure out what went wrong. We figured that the
artist must have painted the bike first, then the head. Hence the strangely haunting long torso, which became necessary to fit the rider to the bike.

I love everything about this mural. I enjoy most thinking about the creative process, and what the artist must have thought when he/she realized just what was going wrong… how to fix it… and that it was acceptable.

The Bicycle Thief at Velo Cult

One of the greatest and most lauded films in cinema history will be screened at Velo Cult on Friday, Feb. 26. A perfect example of Italian Neorealism, The Bicycle Thief retains its allure and its unrelenting request to empathize with the simple struggles of poor people. The bicycle, a simple tool itself, drives the plot forward. In a 2004 special issue of the New York Times Magazine, A.O. Scott writes about foreign-language films at mid-century:

Whether it takes the form of armchair tourism or of a harrowing, life-altering philosophical quest, such discovery has formed part of the appeal of movies from elsewhere — a specialized appeal, to be sure, but also a remarkably protean and durable one — since the beginnings of art-house film culture just after World War II. In the late 1940’s, foreign movies began to arrive on our shores unencumbered by the restrictions of the Production Code, promising a frankness and sophistication, especially in sexual matters, far beyond what the studios were allowed.

Even sober works of Italian Neorealism were sold with a nudge and a wink, their print advertisements featuring suggestive line drawings and breathless exclamation points: Shocking! Daring! Uncensored! There was a degree of bait-and-switch in these come-ons, which were partly a way for the independent theater operators who booked the pictures to fill up empty seats, but there was also some inadvertent truth. Moviegoers who ventured to see “The Bicycle Thief” or “La Terra Trema” would encounter shocking glimpses of urban and rural poverty, the daring use of nonprofessional actors and real-world locations and an uncensored critique of European social conditions.

Not that Italian Neorealism was the only outward-looking, far-seeing lens that curious Americans could peer through. And neither were all the vistas bleak and harsh. In any case, the art involved in capturing those images was at least as fascinating, as seductive and as new as the images themselves. Indeed, it was foreign movies that taught Americans to regard film as an art — and, eventually, to appreciate the art that had been flourishing in American movies all along.

I hope to make it and see some folks at the screening!

My First Brevet

According to Cyclofiend: “The SFR Two Rock 200k, based on “Willie’s JIttery Jaunt” Permanent.
Basically, SF – Petaluma (via Fairfax/Nicasio), West on Bodega Ave to Valley Ford, then South to the coast, Marshall, Pt. Reyes Station, return via Nicasio/Fairfax.”

SF Randonneurs Two Rock/Valley Ford 200K 2010
The Two/Rock Valley Ford was my first official randonneuring event. I’ve been interested in distance riding (>60 miles) for about a year or so. Most of my riding since college has been for utility purposes – shopping, commuting, city riding, errands, and transportation. Last year I signed up with some friends to ride the Death Valley Double. With a new baby, and not much confidence, I rode the century instead – but did an extra 20 miles to make it over the Nevada Border.

Since then, I’ve signed up for the Double in March, and am committed to riding all 200 miles. My plan was not necessarily to “train,” but to try to consistently ride one 100+ mile ride per month, and just enjoy myself. That’s kind of why I got into longer riding in the first place – enjoyment!

I was in the Bay Area to order an Ebisu from Iimura-san at Jitensha Studio and to ride with the San Francisco Randonneurs, whose ranks include some friends I’ve made up there. Two great excuses to drive 1K miles round-trip! Lee, Franklyn, JimG and myself exchanged a lot of emails in anticipation of the ride. The week before, I rode 90 miles on old Highway 80 in San Diego County and up a lot of Kitchen Creek Road, but it just killed me. I broke down. I was completely spent. When I got home, my wife said I looked white as a ghost. I wasn’t confident about the 200K.

The SFR club does several 200Ks a year, which I think is a great idea. These events provide new randonneurs opportunities to ride and build confidence for doing a 300K. For me, at this point in my life, anything more than that requires more time and energy than I can afford.

The forecast for Saturday called for rain and possible thunderstorms. As I arrived to the riders’ meeting, it began to rain. We let the pack go forward, and started off up to the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin. The rain was light, but a couple of times, it was coming down moderately heavy. By the time we made it to Nicasio, the precipitation began to tail off, and as we headed to Petaluma and toward Valley Ford, the sky opened and we had absolutely lovely riding weather the rest of the way – cool, cloudy, but with some wind to deal with.

As we descended into Petaluma, I noticed my handling felt very twichy. I watched JimG carve through the turns in front of me and wondered why I was feeling such instability on a usually highly stable bike. I realized I had a slow leak on my rear tire (Grand Bois Hetres). We were about 6 miles from Petaluma at the time, and I stopped a couple of times to see if I could inflate the tire enough to get me to the first control in Petaluma. That wouldn’t work, so I changed the tire near a cow on the way to Petaluma. The culprit was a bent nail. By the time I showed up to the control, my compatriots were warm, fed, and caffeinated. I bought an oatmeal bar, a scone, and some coffee. We headed off. We caught a strong headwind through Two Rock Valley, but I felt great. When I noticed I was alone, I began singing and thinking of my kids. At the second control at Valley Ford, I ate a grilled cheese, half a turkey sandwich, a red bull and a bottle of Gatorade. I think the food helped me along. Chocolate doughnuts tasted best on the road, and a couple went to JimG to ward off bonking as we later rode in the dark toward Mill Valley.

We then climbed out of the valley on Highway 1 and took it along Walker Creek (?) to Tomales Bay, which we skirted for some time before arriving at the last control at Point Reyes Station. My wife and I spent our first wedding anniversary at the end of a pier in a cottage in Inverness, and I thought about her most of this section.

Upon arriving in Point Reyes Station, I bought some veggie pizza and corn soup from Bovine Bakery, and enjoyed it with a diet coke.

Photo by JimG

We pushed on, Franklyn, JimG and myself, along Nicasio Reservoir, to Farifax and other towns, up and over the hill to Mill Valley and then the usually path back over the bridge. The climbs over Whites’ Hill and into Mill Valley felt great to me. I was running on good vibes. We made it in at about 12 hours, enjoying the rest at controls and relishing a whole day spent on the bike.

The company made the ride for me – Frankly, JimG, Lee, Nathan, and Tom constituted a great group. I can see how randonneuring can get addictive. There’s the Russian River 200K in April… This was probably the best day I’ve ever had in the saddle.

The Protovelo felt great. When I bought the frame, I had intended to ride with Albatross bars. With drops and a 9cm stem, the bike has me stretched out so that sometimes I get pain in my sides. Its big at 62cm, in a “Riv fit” kind of way. I moved the seat forward about 1cm and that helped a lot. The Hetres felt wonderful, and I had no issues with the close clearance on the Berthouds.

The grey matter on the brake pads got all over the place, including the cracks in my fingers as I type. But they stopped the bike fine! The Kogswells worked to perfection, the Ebisu looked and rode wonderfully, I”m sure, and Natan’s Romulus did the job great, save for an un-broken-in saddle that was causing him some discomfort. Tom’s Atlantis could go anywhere. It was a wonderful day. I can’t wait to do it again.