Words and photos by Dave Schlabowske
Last November, the night before I headed off for my Northwoods deer camp in Peeksville, Wisconsin, I decided to build a new rack for my blaze orange Schlick Northpaw hunting rig. Because I was putting it together at the very last minute, I started with a really basic rack, but left it bare steel so I could continue to modify.
My Schlick is built up with a Shimano Alfine 11 IGH and Gates Carbon Centertrack belt drive, plus a Super Nova E3 powered by an Alfine dynamo hub. Adding the rack, a pair of 45Nrth studded Dillingers and some full coverage fenders from Big O Manufacturing in Minneapolis and I had ultimate winter commuter and an incredible hunting rig. After four months of tweaks over the long winter, I think the rack is finally done.
I typically use a backpack and sling my rifle over my shoulder when I ride to my deer stand, but this rifle season, I decided to hunt a couple of miles deeper in the woods, and I wanted to bring some camera gear with me. In order to save my back, I decided to build a rear rack to haul the gear.Tweet
How much could you save by going by bike?Tweet
By Henri J Boulanger
The act of creating, disassembling, or modifying something is what tells the child inside of me that there isn’t a monster under the bed. When everything in life is handed to me pre-made, guaranteed, and safe as can be, I begin to feel something akin to claustrophobia; it’s like watching somebody play Monopoly for me. I feel robbed of the opportunity to expand, simplify, or simply tinker. This poking, prodding, construction, deconstruction, and overall exploration of the resources at hand and the structures of my mind is how I breathe, how I exercise, and how I live. It’s the Manual Life.Tweet
By Marie Autrey
When I stepped through the exhibit hall doorway, I knew the world had changed.
I have a recurring dream in which I’m driving the interstate or walking to the mailbox, when a meteorite rips the sky in half like a broken zipper. I feel the shock wave and watch the smoke rising from the crater where a city used to stand, and say to myself that things won’t ever be the same.
Sometimes it happens in real life. When, after a hard crash, I tried to stand and discovered that one leg didn’t reach the ground. When Mom’s doctor said that he’d done all he could. There’s no blast or ash cloud like the dream, but I know just as certainly that the past has passed and things will be different from now on.
The 2014 show was my fifth North American Handmade Bicycle Show. That’s Indy, Richmond, Austin, Sacramento, and Charlotte. (No Denver; see above, about crashing and legs.) I always get an early start, hitting the show as soon as the doors open, buttonholing the exhibitors while they set up, chatting before potential customers clog the aisles. There’s always a sense of excitement in the air. It’s like at a concert when the band is taking the stage. What’s coming may be pure rock and roll energy, or it might be a mish-mash of muffed lyrics and tangled chords. What fills the air is risk—Wallenda placing his foot onto the high wire.
If you know cycling, you know the story of NAHBS: how track bike specialist Don Walker assembled a couple of dozen of his lug-brazin’ buddies to show off their work in Houston in 2005. Apparently the idea struck a chord with cycling’s psyche, because as it roved from town to town in succeeding years, the exhibitor list doubled and doubled again, and the lines of visitors circled the block.
Well, that’s how it used to be. Attendance peaked in Sacramento in 2012, when a bright sunny weekend in a city two hours from San Francisco swelled the convention center to bursting. The momentum broke the next year in Denver, when a snowstorm sent visitors running for home. Emerging shows in Seattle, Philly, and San Francisco siphoned off exhibitors. This year’s NAHBS felt more like a trade show, with manufacturers and vendors—companies with the budget to buy a double booth and commission frames to show off their gear—outnumbering custom frame shops.Tweet
By Andy Carlson
Few winters have challenged the meddle of a year-round bicycle commuter quite like this one. While the Polar Vortex has likely forced many riders to reconsider, some hearty souls embrace the discomfort and tackle the Icy Bike Winter Commuting Challenge.
Created by Colorado cyclist Scot Stucky as a way to stay motivated and keep riding throughout the winter, in its second year participation has exploded with more than 400 members from all over the world taking the challenge to ride to work 52 times between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. Riders tally their rides online, so far rolling up more than 43,000 miles this winter.
Riding in the cold and dark, through snow and ice, isn’t easy and staying committed to bike commuting in these conditions can prove challenging, so how do the Icy Bikers maintain their motivation during the winter?Tweet
Well, if you’ve tried one, you know that already. How popular is it? Singletracks.com compiled the data.Tweet
Guest column by Adrian Montgomery
There was a common theme during this year’s Global Fat Bike Summit in Ogden, Utah: fat biking is not a fad. Many statements in Summit presentations were preceded with, “I used to think differently about fat bikes, until I tried one.” The Summit provided the opportunity to throw a leg over the industry’s finest products for the uninitiated to the disciple.
There was a diverse group of attendees at the Summit, an event largely overlooked by the big brands in the Bike Industry. Land managers, enthusiasts and niche product suppliers all huddled up to address access issues, talk best practices for grooming and how to deal with potential user conflicts. Sounds pretty organized for a fad. IMBA was on hand too, and when Mike Van Abel compared the fat bike movement to the early years of mountain biking it was clear that this movement has the wheels to roll-over growth obstacles.Tweet
Photos by David Gabrys/45NRTH
The frozen feats of strength known as the Arrowhead 135 started Monday morning and 45NRTH sponsored rider Jay Petervary took the win in his first attempt, finishing the 135 miles in 20 hours and 11 minutes.
Though it was his first crack at the race, Petervary is no stranger to these types of races. He has won the Iditarod Trail Invitational (350 AND 1,100-mile versions), the Tour Divide and now the Arrowhead.
Armed with nearly a full fleet of 45NRTH gear, he likely stayed pretty toasty warm, even as temperatures hit -30 degrees overnight.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Petervary set a record in the Arrowhead. The record is actually held by Todd McFadden at 14 hours 20 minutes.
Jeff Commissaris is an author, musician and world traveler who has ridden his touring bike all over the world. He sent us this excerpt from his book “Travel on Two Wheels” documenting his adventures through the United States and Europe.
I handed the officer my passport, where he took it back to the police car for computer examination. A few minutes later, the officers came back and they told me that I could not ride on the highway anymore and I had to take a detour. I would have not ridden on the road if it had not been the only choice available and the one that the nice Swedish couple had recommended to me. From head to toe, I was drenched with a thick rain.
“Where are you riding to?,” one of them asked.
“Paris,” I told him.
They pointed me to a trail just off the highway that seemed to just run around in circles. “You can ride there,” they told me. “This might take you to Paris.”
They handed me back my passport after making it clear that I couldn’t ride on this particular road anymore and drove off. An hour later, I realized that the trail was definitely not going to take me to Paris and I was more or less riding around in circles. Also, the weather situation showed no signs of turning for the better, still. The highway seemed like the only way to get there, but it wasn’t an option anymore.
I took shelter in an abandoned barn for a few minutes. There was a huge hole in the top of the roof, and all around me the skies were grey, lighting streaked in the distance.
An hour or so later, the sun finally decided to peak out fromt eh clouds a bit. I started riding through the farmland into the city area. The small villages in northern France were like ghost towns; I rode past empty parks and houses stood still with often times no trace of life whatsoever. It was like time was at a stand still. One could only assume that the people were indoors spending time with their families on this dreary Sunday day.
I stopped at a boulangeries (French pastry shop) and got some bread. I started talking to the store owner and he told me that he was also a lawyer but had opened the store so that he could “create jobs for his family.” After buying a few pieces of bread, he added a few extras and said,” These are for you my friend. I wish you safe travels and welcome to France!”
It wasn’t too long until I ran into a German guy who was bicycle touring for a week through the French country side. He was taking a week vacation off his job to fullfill his dream of cycling France. He was upbeat, and he spoke English well—much better than my lack of German. I made an executive decision and decided to purchase a train ticket to make it to Parist and bypass some of the bad weather.
So the German guy and I rode about five miles into the central area of Donkurque together, passing by parks and businesses that the locals would call “home.” That’s one of the great things about cycle touring—you can meet up with another bicyclist and immediately make a connection based on the simple passion of biking. We both enjoyed our ride together, and after the ride he headed off towards the direction of the campsite he was staying at that night.
I opted for the five-star stay underneath a bridge along the river. I woke up around nine o’ clock, bought some local food and was well on my way to Paris.
By Bina Bilenky
By the time you read this my husband and I will be heading to Africa for the 2014 Tour d’Afrique. We will be staff members for the four-month, 7,500-mile cycling expedition that starts in Khartoum, Sudan, and wraps up in Cape Town, South Africa. There is a lot to do in preparation for the trip including ironing out the details for the fifth annual Philly Bike Expo at the end of 2014!
If you’re not familiar, the Tour d’Afrique is a test of mind, body and bike that winds its way through 10 countries along the Nile River, past ancient temples, across the Equator, past Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Malawi, Victoria Falls and finally to Cape Town.Tweet