Jeff Lockwood

Jeff Lockwood

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Bicycle Industry Insider Profile: Grant Petersen

Aside from bicycles, of course, the main reason I choose to continue my futile search for fortune in the bicycle industry is because of the people I know and meet. There’s no shortage of extremely smart and passionate people who are insanely interesting, individualistic personalities. Sure it’s cool to be around famous athletes from time to time, but I much more deeply value the less publicly visible people that make the bicycle world go ’round. As such, I’ve decided to revive a special online series where we do a very brief standardized interview with some of these individuals: The Bicycle Industry Insider Profile Series. I want to share the stories of these people with the rest of the world through the Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times web sites. This week we have…

Name:
Grant Petersen

Hometown:
Lafayette, CA

Current location:
Walnut Creek, CA

What do you do for/with/to bicycles?
I started Rivendell Bicycle Works, and still work here.

What’s the best thing about your job?
I like the people I work with and our customers. And it’s nice to be able to recognize a need or want, then work on it and see it appear and have people like it. It’s a pretty good job—good and gratifying work. I like working with other small vendors. In five or six cases we’re a big part of their business, their biggest or near-biggest customer, and they like us, and that’s fun.

We’re still small…12 people, but we have just enough sway, or influence, or potential, to get neat stuff made that we couldn’t get made if we had to buy 100 and could sell only 20 a year.  So, we’re big enough to matter, to make a difference to small business who’ve lost customers over the years to cheaper competition. So yes, one of the best things about work is mattering to…and helping…other small fries and medium fries.

What’s the toughest part of your job?
Stress related to slow deliveries from those small vendors we love so much, and having a payroll we can barely afford, and so not being able to raise wages. And being stereotyped as a “retro” company, or “ha ha, Rivendell hates carbon…what a charming, quirky bunch!”

What was the path that led you to work with bicycles?
The Path of Luck & Least Resistance. I rode a bike, worked at REI, wrote two regional where-to-ride books, and knew some people who helped me get a job at Bridgestone despite my unqualifications. I was a 30-year old bike nut with no fantastic future, and Bridgestone treated me like a Buddha, educated me about bike stuff, and gave me tons of responsibility that opened up worlds for me. I never had an immediate boss there, or a department head to scold me, make me sad, and hold me down.

What was your first bicycle?
An all-steel all blue solid-rubber tired fixed-gear two-wheeler that could never be sold these days. Fixed-gear, no brake kid’s bike. Then a Murray sting-ray, a Sears 3sp, a Schwinn Varsity, a Peugeot UO-8, a Raleigh Competition, six Tom Ritcheys, and then a few Bridgestones. Now…our bikes.

What bike do you currently ride the most?
I fell off my A. Homer Hilsen and broke my thumb and can’t ride for another month. I get around on a Kickbike scooter. It’s a blast, but it limits my range.

Where is your favorite place to ride?
Mount Diablo, Shell Ridge, and Briones Regional Park. All close by. Not Moab..not Whistler—all local. It’s the best bicycle riding in the world.

What music goes through your head while you ride? (literally or figuratively)
Ninety-percent is Bob Dylan. Five percent English Romantic poetry…I have almost two hours of it memorized and I recite it to myself constantly. Five percent other poems. I don’t ride with an iPod or anything. That’s cheating, and it interferes with thinking.

What are your interests aside from bicycles?
Evolution, astronomy, Bob Dylan, fishing, poetry, film photography, behavior, hiking, pull-ups and dips, and most of all, my fantastic family and dog. Not so much, my cat.

If you weren’t working around bicycles, what do you think you’d be doing?
You know, even thinking about that scares me. I have 5 years of college, but no degree. I can’t wear suits and haven’t combed my hair for 42 years. I do keep it clean, and it’s not dreadlocked or matted or anything. But I don’t comb it, so I always look a bit unkempt. I don’t do well around authority figures, and I’m not that great at math unless it’s bike math (I’m a whiz at that). Ever since I was little I worried about how I’d support a family. This is the only way I can imagine.  I am truly a one-trick pony, with few skills marketable outside this bubble.

Please share one of your favorite stories you’ve seen or been a part of while involved with the bicycle industry:
Can’t think of any. Stuff happens, but it’s not like…hilarious or fascinating enough to retell.

Who would you choose for the next subject for the Bicycle Industry Insider Profile Series?
John and Tom Black, of Velocity Rims.

Why?
I like them because although they have a rim company, they’re accessible and have a “we can do it, sure” attitude. They don’t always ask the V-word (Volume). They lead the way for 650B rims, doing them when nobody else would. They’re interested in rims and bikes, not just numbers. If there’s a problem, they own it right now and deal with it. They’re honest—you can trust their noise to the letter. That is so rare.


Bicycle Times and Dirt Rag are Hiring!

So you’re interested in working for two of the world’s most awesome magazines, huh? Ok, then…We’ll just cut to the chase and list the job descriptions and contact info here. The rest is up to you…and then us, of course.

General Help Wanted
Dirt Rag LTD, publishers of Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times magazines, is looking for qualified candidates to fill a potential entry-level position. Duties may include (but are not limited to) filling Merch orders, answering the phone, handling subscription inquiries, and managing the inventory of products for sale.

Requirements: Good interpersonal and customer service skills, good communications skills, love of all things bicycle. Bicycle industry experience a plus.

To apply, send a cover letter, resume, references and writing samples to Maurice at [email protected].

Editorial Help Wanted
Dirt Rag LTD, publishers of Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times magazines, has an editorial position open. This position could range from an Editorial Assistant to an Editor of Bicycle Times depending on the candidate’s qualifications. Will work closely with current Publisher, Editor, Art Director and Graphic Designer to shape the content of one or both magazines.

Requirements: high degree of proficiency in the mechanics of the English language, excellent writing skills, good knowledge of the bicycle industry, love of all things bicycle. To apply, send a cover letter, resume, references and writing samples to Maurice at [email protected]rtragmag.com.


Bicycle Industry Insider Profile: Justin Kline

Aside from bicycles, of course, the main reason I choose to continue my futile search for fortune in the bicycle industry is because of the people I know and meet. There’s no shortage of extremely smart and passionate people who are insanely interesting, individualistic personalities. Sure it’s cool to be around famous athletes from time to time, but I much more deeply value the less publicly visible people that make the bicycle world go ’round. As such, I’ve decided to revive a special online series where we do a very brief standardized interview with some of these individuals: The Bicycle Industry Insider Profile Series. I want to share the stories of these people with the rest of the world through the Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times web sites. This week we have…

Name:
Justin Kline

Hometown:
Warminster, PA

Current Location:
Sugar Hill, NH

What do you do for/with/to bicycles?:
What do I to bicycles…Is that some kind of sick question? I ride them of course, daily whenever possible but that is not what pays the bills. That is where Princeton Tec comes in. They provide me with the opportunity to work in the bicycle/outdoor industry, a small segment that I never hope to leave.

What’s the best thing about your job?
It is hard to nail down just one thing, but I really enjoy working with like minded people. The bicycle industry is built on a foundation of talented, interesting, and passionate people who share their love of bikes. This means no matter if it is a co-worker, sales rep, dealer, or distributor: you all share a common bond. At the end of the day most of us are doing what we really enjoy and that usually makes for happy people and a pleasant working environment. And yes, being able to have a quiver of otherwise unaffordable bikes doesn’t hurt either…

What’s the toughest part of your job?
When your occupation is based upon your passion it is inevitable that work and play will no longer remain two separate entities. It can be tough but ultimately you have to accept there will always be a large gray area.

What was the path that led you to work with bicycles?
In the latter years of high school and throughout college I progressively got more and more into the outdoors. Hiking, backpacking, skiing, mountain biking, whatever it was I just liked being out in the woods. On a bike I could cover more ground, see more places, and get the speed rush. I quickly found my way into collegiate cycling where I became totally hooked, decided to get into the skinny tire side of things as well, and the passion for cycling has never stopped growing since.

What was your first bicycle?
My first nice bike was a rigid cro-moly Schwinn my mom got me for my birthday when I was in sixth grade. Everyone else had BMX bikes at the time which just seemed silly to me. I was psyched about the LX components and I remember saving up for these ridiculous bright orange Tomac bar ends. The brakes were what really impressed me at the time though. I recall throwing myself over the bars grabbing too much front brake on multiple occasions.

What bike do you currently ride the most?
My commuter bike, a Redline Conquest Disc certainly sees the most miles, but I really love the dirt. More times than not I am rolling on my Haro Mary 29er single speed. For the longer hauls with a lot of steep climbing I have really been enjoying my Fuji Outland RC 29er. I still have love for the little wheels too though. It is hard to beat the lightweight, quick handling, and plush ride of my carbon Giant Anthem Advanced. Yeah…it is hard to ride just one, especially when I am too lazy to fix broken parts.

Where is your favorite place to ride?
There is a lot of amazing riding right out the door here in the white mountains. Kingdom Trails is top notch of course. I love Wissahickon and Middle Run/Whaite Clay in the Midatlantic, Moab & Fruita are absolutely awesome, and the Adventure Cycling Great Divide route is an amazing place to pedal dirt through beautiful scenery for days on end.

What music goes through your head (literally)?
Wow, this one is all over the place. Could be the Cult, Bronski Beat, Metallica, or anything in between. There always seems to be a lot of 80s new wave mixed in there though…I know. I know.

What are your interests aside from bicycles?
I love the outdoors. Bikes are a great way to explore, but I also enjoy backpacking, kayaking, climbing, and mountaineering and ice climbing in the winter months. I Love traveling to new places, eating good food, and good beer of course.

If you weren’t working around bicycles, what do you think you’d be doing?
My elementary school profile said I would be an architect so I am going with that. In more recent years though I interviewed for everything from a medical sales rep position to being a caretaker at an ice climbing shelter in New England. I am happy where I landed though and can’t imagine a career outside the industry at this point.

Please share one of your favorite stories you’ve seen or been a part of while working in the bicycle industry:
Too many goodies here. I am saving them for my next book. Or for next time you come over for beers.

Who would you choose for us to profile next?
Grant Peterson

Why?
I have the opportunity to work with Grant since his company, Rivendale Bicycle Works, is dedicated to selling some of our lights. I enjoy the time I get to speak with him about bikes, travel, and life in general. He is a solid guy with some interesting things to say, and I think you will enjoy hearing from him too.

Watch the Bicycle Times web site next week when we post the Bicycle Industry Insider Profile for Grant Peterson.


Colorado Peace Ride

The Colorado Peace Ride, a 4-day, 238-mile fund-raising ride along Colorado’s San Juan Skyway, is set for July 29th through August 1st. The route, billed as “cycling heaven” will wind its way along four passes topping 10,000 feet, promises larger-than-life views and will reward riders with some amazingly sweet descents.

Colorado Peace Ride Route

  • Thursday July 29 – Durango to Ouray – 74 Miles
  • Friday July 30 – Ouray to Telluride – 48 Miles
  • Saturday July 31 – Telluride to Dolores – 60 Miles
  • Sunday August 1 – Dolores to Durango – 56 Miles

Since this is a benefit ride, participants are encouraged to raise funds on top of their entry fees. Profits from the Colorado Peace Ride will benefit the Sophia Peace Center, which “helps non-profits in all sectors who contribute to peace and positive change in the world.” These non-profit groups focus on helping:

  • Children & Families
  • Inner city growth & empowerment
  • Literacy & Learning
  • Healthcare and healing
  • Developing Nations
  • War and disaster relief
  • Poverty and hunger

All logistics for this ride can be covered for you, depending on what you prefer. Your basic entry fee will get you all sorts of stuff like medical supplies, camping, hot showers, shuttles, parking and transportation of your bag from point to point. Additional fees can cover all your meals, a tent, bike-shipping and more.

The Colorado Peace Ride will be well equipped with SAG vehicles. We will provide cyclists with up to 40lbs. of luggage transportation between overnight stops. While riders are strongly advised to train adequately prior to the tour, SAG vehicles will be available as needed in the event of inclement weather, bike mechanical issues or cyclist breakdown. Aid stations will be available every 12-15 miles along the route. Rest stops will include high energy and great tasting snacks, hydration, first aid, basic bike repair supplies, restroom facilities, trash and recycling receptacles.

The organizers of the event changed the original dates of the event when Phish announced two shows in Telluride, Colorado a few months ago. While Phish is a great band and all, Telluride essentially sits right on the Colorado Peace Ride Route. Ride organizers didn’t want automobile traffic from nearly 18,000 fans to interfere with the 500 cyclists on the ride. If you already registered, or planned on registering, based on the original dates, you’re going to want to make sure the new dates are good for you.

Click here for more info, and to register.


2010 Brompton World Championship Registration Now Open

Fold up that bike and get ready for a trip to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England for The Brompton World Championship V on Sunday 3rd October 2010!

That’s right…the folding bicycle madness of the Brompton World Championship event is back for its fifth year. While folding bikes are all about making your bike smaller, the Championship event is getting bigger this year. The organizers are allowing for up to 750 participants to enter, and they expect to draw people from the more regional folding bicycle championships held around the world this year.

The Championship is part of the Breast Cancer Care Bike Blenheim Palace event, which aims to give, “participants a chance to raise money for an amazing cause as well as getting fit and having fun.” The course is the same as last year: two laps of a 6.5 kilometer loop. As always, the rules for the event ensure that everyone has a lot of dignified fun.

Rules for the event are still pretty straightforward: helmets are a must, as are a blazer or suit jacket, collared shirt and tie. Sports attire is not permitted, unless it is hidden by the approved kit. There are prizes for the best-dressed, so competitors are encouraged to make an effort.

Your position on the starting grid depends on when you register. I think the common phrase for this is, “first come, first served.” Registration deadline is September 19th, but it’s wise you register earlier if you want the best chance at winning.

More information can be found on the Brompton web site.

Do you ride a folding bike? If so, let us hear about it in the comments area below!


Floyd Landis’ Day at the Opera

The Tour de France is less than a couple of months away, and we’re currently in the middle of watching the best cyclists in the world race both the Giro d’Italia and the Amgen Tour of California. It’s a great time to enjoy cycling, and read about all the on-course jockeying and drama. But likely the biggest piece of cycling news all year just dropped: Floyd Landis has not only admitted to using performance enhancing drugs in the past, but he’s also implicated THE biggest names in all of professional cycling.

ESPN.com presents the basic story of Landis admitting to “extensive, consistent” use of performance enhancing drugs:

In a lengthy telephone interview from California, Landis detailed extensive, consistent use of the red blood cell booster erythropoietin (commonly known as EPO), testosterone, human growth hormone and frequent blood transfusions, along with female hormones and a one-time experiment with insulin, during the years that he rode for the U.S. Postal Service and Switzerland-based Phonak teams.

The Wall Street Journal goes into more detail, and names names of some of his co-conspirators:

In the same email, Mr. Landis wrote that after breaking his hip in 2003, he flew to Girona, Spain—a training hub for American riders—and had two half-liter units of blood extracted from his body in three-week intervals to be used later during the Tour de France. The extraction, Mr. Landis claimed, took place in Mr. Armstrong’s apartment, where blood bags belonging to Mr. Armstrong and his then-teammate George Hincapie were kept in a refrigerator in Mr. Armstrong’s closet. Mr. Landis said he was asked to check the temperature of the blood daily. According to Mr. Landis, Mr. Armstrong left for a few weeks and asked Mr. Landis to make sure the electricity didn’t go off and ruin the blood. George Hincapie, through a spokesman, denied the allegations.

Landis’ story has been a soap opera-like drama filled with all kinds of twists since 2006, and this most recent story will inevitably have huge implications and will certainly fuel heated debate among cyclists, fans and bloggers. But it’s important to note, as mentioned in the ESPN.com article, “He [Landis] added that he has no documentation for many of the claims he is making about other riders or officials, and that it will be his word against theirs.”

Floyd Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but was stripped of his title and banned from professional racing for two years after he was accused, and subsquently proven guilty, of having testosterone levels higher than allowed by the UCI.

You know Floyd Landis was a very successful professional mountain bike racer before he won the Tour de France, right? If not, read the Dirt Rag interview with Floyd Landis from issue #110…that’s where the photo for this post was borrowed from.

Ok…let the debate commence in the comments section down below!


Another Story About Beer Helping Cyclists

Let’s face it. Beer is a big part of cycling for a lot of people. There’s nothing quite like a good, cold beer after an epic bike ride. Smaller, more regional brewers have known this for many years, and have made themselves an integral part of cycling on several levels.

Many breweries throw their weight behind bicycle events, support local clubs and sponsor individual racers and teams. Sure, many of them just hand out free beers for the publicity of it all (and we’re not complaining about that), but some brewers really “get it” and contribute cold, hard cash to the cycling community.

New Belgium Brewing Company out of Ft. Collins, Colorado is one such brewery. Not only do they support, and advocate for, cycling, they’re also making positive contributions to their local and national communities. But let’s concentrate on their cycling philanthropy for the purpose of this post.

We’re sure you’re already aware of New Belgium’s title sponsorship of the Urban Assault Ride (which Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times is also sponsoring as part of our World Tour). That’ll be a lot of fun while also promoting alternative and sustainable modes of transportation…like bicycles. But we recently got word that New Belgium has committed $40,000 over the next two years to the Alliance for Biking & Walking.

New Belgium’s pledge of $40,000 over the next two years will allow the Alliance to offer strategic planning facilitation and guidance to at least six organizations in addition to providing direct organization support and coaching in key states.

Four of these organizations have already been identified:

  • Bicycle Alliance of Washington
  • Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition
  • East Bay Bicycle Coalition
  • San Diego Bicycle Coalition

“New Belgium has been a long-time supporter of the Alliance and champion of bicycling and the environment,” says Jeff Miller, President/CEO of the Alliance for Biking & Walking. “With New Belgium’s assistance, we will help some key grassroots advocacy organizations become more focused, effective, and strategic.”

That’s some good stuff. So next time you raise a Fat Tire Ale or Sunshine Wheat, you can sip well knowing you’re supporting a good company that supports good causes.

Now if only New Belgium Brewing would set up distribution in Pennsylvania…sigh.


It Was a Classic Spring

It’s no secret that I’ve been living in Belgium since January of 2009. I’ve documented a good bit of my perspective of Belgian cycling culture in my Wash Your Fiets column in each issue of the magazine. It’s a small country, but cycling is huge. It’s that simple.

The Tour de France is basically a household name when it comes to bicycle racing. But the Spring Classic bike races, most of which are Belgian (or very close to Belgium) events, are just as legendary—often more brutal on the racers and romanticized from every corner of the cycling world. They’re all one-day events, but they draw masses of spectators to come cheer, drink beer and watch the racers come by, if only for a few seconds.

I was lucky enough to hit just about all the Spring Classics this year: Gent-Wevelgem; Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders); Paris-Roubaix; La Fleche Wallonne; Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but skipped the Amstel Gold up in the Netherlands.

If you’re into these races, you’ve watched them on television (hopefully), seen the racer’s eyes cross as they do the climbs and know all the results and winners. I’ll skip all that stuff, and will give you a handful of…alternative…photos documenting my experiences in April.


Gent-Wevelgem: My sister, brother-in-law and I decided to watch this race from the Kemmelberg. It’s one of the few steep hills in this race, and the racers come past this point twice. It was dry today, so the racers didn’t have to deal with slippery cobble stones, but at least one or two riders had to dismount near us and walk the rest of the way up the climb. They also weren’t into my offers of Leffe. (Thanks to my sister Samantha for this pic.)

Ronde van Vlaanderen: The Tour of Flanders is my personal favorite Spring Classic. It’s the closest to where we live, and I’ve ridden a lot of the course…including the official Ronde van Vlaanderen Sportiv. Held the day before the race, 25,000 ‘recreational’ cyclists get to ride the exact same route as the race. I did 160 kilometers of it this year, in typical Belgian weather: cold, rain, suffer and wind. Yes, I’m convinced “suffer” is considered Belgian weather. While I can’t exactly say it was incredibly fun, it was an awesome experience, and I’ll be there next year. This is a photo of me after the finish…and I still had five miles to ride back to the car.

Ronde van Vlaanderen: I live in the Flanders region of Belgium. You’ll see thousands of yellow and black “Lion of Flanders” flags flying at this race, and most other big bike races in Europe. A lot of those flags are a slightly different than the official Flanders flag, and are actually the flags of a not-so-friendly political movement in the region. Regardless, I thought it’d be fun to get my own Flanders flag to wave at these races. And I wanted mine to be bigger. Thus, I commissioned a 5′ by 8′ Ned Flanders to take around to these races. Here we are on the Koppenberg at the Tour of Flanders. Despite my fears, the flag was popular everywhere, and wasn’t forcibly shoved into my body by some surly drunken local.

Paris-Roubaix: The Hell of the North. I’ve heard all the stories of how rough the cobbles are here. I’ve seen the photos, and watched the television as the racers basically lost their marbles riding over this stuff. How bad could it be, right? Well…bad. You really don’t know how insanely rough it is to ride over the cobbles here until you actually do it. I had no idea. And, no…the photo doesn’t do it justice. And then watching these guys ride this stuff about three times as fast as I hit them? Impressive.

La Fleche Wallonne: I didn’t get a lot of photos at this race, but I did get a snapshot of the podium. This race is a summit finish, which means these guys pop their eyes out of their heads as they fight a brutal climb to the finish. It was also fun to watch Alberto Contador take the lead and then blow it right at the end, all within about three minutes.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege: There are Pittsburgh Steelers fans everywhere. Even near the butt of Chris Horner as he climbs through Houffalize. He probably thought I was cheering for him, but I was screaming for The Terrible Towel. For the record: I don’t know the guy with The Towel. He didn’t even speak English.


Denver Launches Citywide Bicycle Sharing Program

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day was a little bit extra special in Denver last week, as the city officially launched the first large-scale bike-sharing program in the United States. As of April 22nd, residents and visitors in Denver now have the ability to commute on one of 400 red Trek B-cycles available at 40 “B-stations” around the city. Within two months, the city plans to expand the program to include at least 500 bikes and 50 stations.

It’s quite an awesome concept. For a very small registration fee, which can be paid in advance online, users can check out a bike from one B-cycle station, ride it for free for the first 30 minutes, and then return it to any other B-cycle stations around the city. After 30 minutes, there is an additional small fee.

Larger cities in Europe and Asia have been enjoying similar initiatives for years, and several other US cities are seriously exploring the idea, or already have small pilot programs in place. But Denver is the first to go all-out and launch something this big in the United States. “Bike sharing is a viable transportation option to help improve the overall health of Americans and reduce our carbon footprint.  Let’s start a two-wheel revolution.  Let’s make every day Bike-to-Somewhere Day,” said Mayor John Hickenlooper, at the launch ceremony.

It’s very interesting to note that no city tax dollars are being used to fund this program. Denver Bike Sharing receives its funds through grants, sponsorships, memberships and transaction fees. Kaiser Permanente Colorado, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, stepped up big-time by being the main source of funding for the project. Denver Bike Sharing, owner and operator of Denver B-cycle, was also awarded a $210,000 federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. Additionally, several other private, public and community organizations and donors helped make the program a reality.

The B-cycle movement, of which Denver B-cycle is a cog, is a partnership between Humana Inc., Trek Bicycle Corporation and Crispin Porter + Bogusky rooted in the, “belief that bicycles should be a vehicle for positive health and environmental change and an important part of a community’s transportation ecosystem.”

Check out Denver B-cycle for more information, and to register.

Have you used a bike that was part of a bike-sharing program? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below to tell us where it was, and what you thought.


How Do You Define Bike Culture?

It’s rather obvious that all sorts of cycling disciplines are becoming very popular in the United States right now. Look on the street outside your window, and you’re likely to see more cyclists out there than you have in recent memory. More people are commuting to work, more people are discovering the pure joy of a recreational bike ride, more people are finding it’s easier to run errands on a bike and more people are viewing the bicycle as something more than a toy.

It might seem like a fad to some people, but there is definitely no denying many of us are riding within a bona fide bicycle culture. A bike culture is a powerful movement, and…as you know, “…with great power, comes great responsibility.”

As such, certain ethics need to be defined, political leaders need to be lobbied to provide more safety measures for cyclists and we all need to assume a higher level of responsibility for our actions as cyclists.

Transportation Altrernatives, as we’ve mentioned before, is a great organization out of New York City that advocates for cyclists, pedestrians and people who ride mass transit. On May 6th, they will be hosting the Bike Culture Summit to discuss some of the aforementioned points, as well as other critical issues within the Bicycle Culture:

  • To what extent should safety trump convenience and style?
  • Will protected bike lanes segregate cyclists?
  • Is Critical Mass a boon or a liability for the bike movement?
  • What can be done about sexism in the cycling community?

These topics and more will be discussed by a rather informed, educated, motivated and opinionated panel:

  • David Herlihy, author of Bicycle and Lost Cyclist (forthcoming, May 2010), is the foremost U.S. historian of bicycling.
  • “Bike Snob,” the popular and elusive blogger, will make a rare public appearance at this event, following publication of his long-awaited book on bike culture in late April.
  • Caroline Samponaro, Director of Bicycle Advocacy for Transportation Alternatives, is a longtime New York City cyclist and cycling activist, and is a co-founder of the Freewheels Bicycle Defense Fund.

In addition to the engaging and important conversation, you can enter a raffle to win a Kona bike, a $100 gift certificate from Brooklyn Bike and Board and helmets from Nutcase. Copies of Bike Snob’s Bike Snob: Systematically and Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling and David V. Herlihy’s Bicycle will also be available for purchase.

The Bike Culture Summit will be held in NYU’s Wasserman Center Auditorium, 133 E. 13th Street, 2nd floor at 7:00pm on May 6th. Tickets are $15 (for T.A members) and $20 (non-members) That’s a small price to pay to join the discussion and the movemet. More info can be found on the Transportation Alternatives web site.

So let’s hear it in the comments are below…how do YOU define bicycle culture?


Get a Job With the Revolution!

Revolution Cycles, a chain of bike stores in the DC/Virgina/Maryland area, is looking for someone to come on board full-time to manage events and advocacy for the chain. I’ll cut right to the nice list of bullet points about the job:

Primary job duties include but are not limited to:

  • You’ll report directly to the CEO/President and Operations Manager
  • You need to have effective time management and organizational skills. This position will require the ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously, without direct supervision
  • You’ll need to understand and embody the Revolution Cycles culture in your interactions with our customers, our staff, and the media/general public
  • Previous experience in bicycle retail and/or an advocacy position is preferred
  • This is a position that you will help define and create; a love of cycling, and an ability to share that passion, is key
  • You must be energetic and a great communicator. You will also need to be able to attend events on evenings and weekends

Events responsibilities include:

  • Plan, coordinate and lead events, along with store management teams, in each of our stores
  • Plan and lead events in our community, at schools, races and special events
  • Work with our vendors to promote our brands through special events
  • Establish partnerships with other local businesses
  • Work closely with Marketing Manager and Communications Specialist to promote and track ROI of events

Advocacy responsibilities include:

  • Promote safe cycling in the DC Metro area for riders of all levels and introduce more non-riders to this great sport
  • Become an advocacy force. Represent Revolution Cycles at local bicycle advocacy meetings, networking and community events

Sound cool and think you have what it takes? Then head over to the Revolution Cycles for more info, and to apply.


Strong Backs, Weak Minds: The Saga of the Coney Island Velodrome

Starting tonight, cycling and history fans in the New York City area (and beyond) have the chance to get a glimpse into the past—when cycling was huge and going down to the local velodrome was considered normal entertainment.

Strong Backs, Weak Minds: The Saga of the Coney Island Velodrome, is a unique exhibit detailing the history of New York’s last commercial velodrome. The exhibit runs tonight (April 8th) through June 30th at The Old Stone House in Brooklyn.

The Coney Island Velodrome opened on July 19, 1930, as the world slipped toward the Great Depression and war.  Already, the popularity of cycling, having peaked in the early 1920’s, was waning and the construction of a 10,000 seat bicycle racing arena was an act of supreme optimism.  Regardless, the track became the last velodrome in America offering the thrills and chills of motor-paced racing, where riders raced behind motorcycles to attain speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. Many of the people who became instrumental in promoting cycling in New York in subsequent years cut their teeth on this track, and the Coney Island Velodrome was the last time in the city’s history where cycling was a indispensable part of daily life.

This unique exhibit, held in what looks to be a very cool and historic building, promises to showcase bicycles that were actually raced on the track, photos, old programs and tickets, as well as other bits and pieces of memorabilia. The event is put on by The New York Bike Jumble, an organization dedicated to celebrating the influence that NYC has on cycling, as well as promoting cycling as an integral and permanent part of life in New York.

Admission to the event is only $3, so there’s really no reason you shouldn’t check this out. Click here for more info.


Vote for Rails-To-Trails

The Rails-To-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is an excellent organization dedicated to…get this…turning rails into trails. That’s right, they’ve been turning old railroad beds into multi-use trails for cyclists, pedestrians, and others since 1986, and can claim an integral role in the development of more than 1,200 trails around the United States. But you already knew that, and have likely ridden on some of those trails.

You probably also heard the news that RTC recently hooked up with Google Maps to provide valuable data and support for Google’s recent and much-appreciated move to finally include “bike there” directions for their maps.

What you might not have heard, and what I’m here to report, is that RTC has the chance to win $200,000.

But they need your help.

You see, RTC has been chosen to participate in the Members Project, a unique collaboration between American Express and TakePart promoting positive change through activism, volunteering and social networking, etc. ATC is competing with a few other charities for the grand prize of $200,000. The charity that garners the most votes wins the two-hundred grand.

That’s where you come in: you need to vote. It only takes a minute to register, and unlike most political elections (we hope), you can literally vote early and often. Well, at least once per week between now and May 23rd.

So do something good for yourself and the cycling community…go vote here.  After all…Karl’s adventure, chronicled in his recent story Rail Trails Rock, woudln’t have been possible without RTC.

After you’re done voting…feel free to share a description of your favorite and/or local rails-to-trails ride in the comments below!


NYC Century Bike Tour Registration Now Open

The NYC Century Bike Tour, the world’s only all-urban 100-mile bike tour, will take place on September 12th, 2010. As you can imagine, it’s a bike ride through, in and around New York City.

The event is put on by, and benefits, Transportation Alternatives. Their mission is "…to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile, and to advocate for bicycling, walking and public transit as the best transportation alternatives." The NYC Century Bike Tour started in 1990 with 200 participants, and it now draws over 6000 people.

Unlike other large benefit rides you may have done, this event is unique in that not only does it ride through NYC, the purpose of the ride is to take people through different areas of the city as an example of how cyclists can get through the city safely. As a result, there are no street closures, riders go with the flow of traffic and it’s mandatory they obey all traffic laws. Six-thousand people riding through the city without street closures might sound like a tall order, but it works well.

If riding 100 miles through the Five Boroughs might not be your cup of tea, you can get your ride on with 75, 55, 35 and 15 mile options. You also have an option of starting and finishing in Central Park or in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Though people who choose the 15-mile option must start and end in Central Park.

Rest stops along the way will provide limited support in the form of food, drinks, first aid and mechanics.

Registration is now open here. And remember: "Every registration helps fuel the fight for better bike lanes, car-free streets, faster transit and a safer more sustainable city."

Have you participated in the NYC Century Bike Tour in the past, or do you plan to attend this year? Tell us about it in the comments below.


New Belgium Brewing Urban Assault Ride 2010

Beer. Bikes. Big Wheels.

Three awesome things, aren’t they? Especially when they come together, as they will for this year’s installment of New Belgium Brewing’s Urban Assault Ride.

As in years past, the Urban Assault Ride series will roll through thirteen cities around the United States between April and September this year. If you don’t know, the Urban Assault Ride is part party, part competition, part effort to “promote sustainable bike-loving lifestyle” and all fun!

Participants will pair up to form teams setting out across the city on bicycles in a scavenger hunt-like competition…sort of like an alley cat, but more fun, with more cool prizes and with less attitude. There will be various checkpoints throughout the city, at which you’ll be required to complete some zany obstacle courses. The team that completes all of the checkpoints in the shortest amount of time wins.

But we’re all winners because as you finish the race, you’ll dismount your bike and stroll right into a “massive celebration of bikes and beer” with music, plenty of tasty suds from New Belgium Brewing and all of your friends having a good time.

If you attend the Austin, TX Urban Assault Ride, you’ll also get to trade stories and share drinks with some Dirt Rag & Bicycle Times staffers. That’s right. We’re the media sponsors this year, and the Austin event is one of our World Tour stops…you’ll be hearing more about that (and a cool contest) in the weeks to come.

For your planning purposes, here are all the dates for the New Belgium Brewing Urban Assault Ride Series (along with our humble plea to bring the series…and the beer…to the northeast sometime soon):

4.18.2010 – Tuscon, AZ
5.2.2010 – Berkeley, CA
5.16.2010 – Seattle, WA
5.23.2010 – Portland, OR
6.20.2010 – Charlotte, NC
6.27.2010 – Austin, TX
7.18.2010 – Ft Collins, CO
7.25.2010 – Denver, CO
8.8.2010 – Minneapolis, MN
8.15.2010 – St Louis, MO
8.23.2010 – Des Moines, IA
9.12.2010 – Chicago, IL
9.26.2010 – Madison, WI

(Thanks to Urban Assault Ride for the photo!)

Have you, or do you plan to, attend any of Urban Assault Ride events? If so, leave a comment below and tell us about it!


Google Maps Adds “Bike There” Option

We have some fantastic news coming out of the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC this morning. The League of American Bicyclists is reporting that Google Maps has finally added a “bike there” option to the choices of directions between two locations.

According to the press release from the League of American Bicyclists:

“This new feature includes: step-by-step bicycling directions; bike trails outlined directly on the map; and a new “Bicycling” layer that indicates bike trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly roads. The directions feature provides step-by-step, bike-specific routing suggestions – similar to the directions provided by our driving, walking, or public transit modes. Simply enter a start point and destination and select “Bicycling” from the drop-down menu. You will receive a route that is optimized for cycling, taking advantage of bike trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly streets and avoiding hilly terrain whenever possible.”

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re as excited about this as we are. Not only is this a great tool for planning rides and commutes, but it also gives yet another example of the visibility, impact and importance of cycling. Like Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists says, “It is a game-changer…”

You can see all of this in action, along with a cool little video and some instructions here.

Are you excited about this? How will this impact your riding and/or commuting? Let us know your thoughts by adding a comment below.

 


Belgian Life in the Pits

In addition to drinking Belgian beer and trying to understand what my Belgian soccer teammates are yelling at me on the pitch, I’ve been taking in as much cyclocross racing as possible over here. I recently had the opportunity to get really close to the action by providing technical support for a young American racing here. The following narrative is a web-only supplement to my article in the most recent issue of Bicycle Times, and it summarizes the rest of my ‘cross adventures in and around Belgium.

GVA GP Sven Nys
Baal, Belgium
01.01.2010

My GPS got us most of the way there. I knew the race was in Baal, but didn’t know where in Baal it was. Thankfully around twenty thousand other people were headed to the race. So we followed some of them, and kept an eye out for signs just in case the blind happened to be leading the blind.

But how could that happen, really? After all, not only does this race take place in the hometown of Belgian cyclocross icon Sven Nys…it also bears his name. Nys is arguably the most popular ‘cross personality in Belgium, so people flock to this race like Jupiler-clutching pilgrims ready for the onslaught of mud.

Mike, Erica and their 15-month old son Isaac were visiting us for a couple weeks. I’ve known Mike since his days racing for the Trek VW mountain bike team. He’s always been a huge ‘cross fan, and both he and Erica have raced for the VisitPA team back in the US for the last few years. Needless to say, they were excited to see as much Belgian-blooded cyclocross racing as possible.

Sven kills it in Baal. Photo by Jeff Lockwood

I hadn’t heard back from Brandon as to whether or not he needed my support for this race. As such, my plan was to prepare to work, but to also attend the race as a camera-wielding American fan.

As we walked down the street, which was lined with all the vans, campers and trucks of the athletes, I immediately noticed Gregg Germer‘s van and Brandon’s Specialized bikes leaning against it. Gregg was warming himself up in the driver’s seat. We talked a little bit, and he told me that he was able to cover Brandon for the race.

Jeffrey Bahnson takes the hand off. Photo by Jeff Lockwood

Jeff Bahnson a junior from Delaware, and pride of the Philadelphia area, was racing today atop his Van Dessel. Mike and I parked ourselves where he’d be forced to see us. His grin as he passed told us that he saw…and heard…us shouting encouragement. Jeffrey finished 10th on the day, while two other Americans finished in the top ten: Yannick Eckmann (2nd); Skyler Trujillo 7th. That’s some awesome results for Americans racing in Belgium!

Time for the U23 race. I got a call from Gregg asking me if I could grab him something to eat since he failed to eat enough breakfast, still needed to collect Brandon’s warm-up clothes and make it to the pits with everything. I got him a hot dog, and made my way to the pits. Interesting that nobody bothered to check my lack of credentials as I strolled into the pits.

Brandon’s bike and gear sat there, but Gregg was missing. The race had already begun so I sat the hot dog on top of my camera bag, grabbed Brandon’s bike and took position with it in case he came in for a switch. Fortunately, Gregg showed up after the first lap. I told him to eat and I’d take care of the job until he finished.

The course in Baal was an extremely muddy affair. Mike and I surmised that a lot of the course must be a motocross track at other times during the year. The greasy mud made the course insanely slippery. So slippery that Brandon lost control of his bike on the third lap and careened into the fence, breaking his carbon bars. His day was over.

Mike, Erica, Isaac and I sloshed through the mud as we walked all over the course, stopping at several amazing spots to watch the action of the men’s elite race. The course had some hairy sections, the most exciting of which was a long descent ending in a slight chicane of sorts through the trees. Watched a couple people lose control in the mud at the bottom of that one.

Niels Albert wasn’t much of a threat in this race, but there was some good racing between Nys and Stybar. Ultimately, Sven pulled out the win on his home turf in front of his home crowd in a race named after him.

Fidea Cyclocross
Tervuren, Belgium
01.03.2010

We skipped the race in St. Niklaas yesterday to warm up and wash off from the race in Baal. My trusty GPS got us down to Tervuren, a town just outside of Brussels for the Fidea race. This was to be my last day working the pits for Brandon. There were fewer spectators at today’s event, and a lot less mud, than in Baal. But a few inches of fresh snow and ice made reaching the race a bit of an adventure.

I wasn’t able to get access inside to find Brandon to get my credentials, but no big deal. I paid and we made our way towards the starting line to watch the women start. Once they took off, I headed down to the team trucks and vans to find Brandon.

Jonas and Christine photo by Marc Van Est

Jonas Bruffaerts and Christine Vardaros. Photo by Marc Van Est.

I found him as he was riding to the van of Christine Vardaros to unload all his gear. Christine, an American who now lives in Belgium, was out on the course racing the women’s elite race at the time, but she and her husband Jonas were going to provide pit help for Brandon in the men’s elite had I not shown up.

Brandon had some last minute running around and warming up to do before his race, so I hung back at the van. While I was waiting for him, I met up with Kevin Bookman…an American, and avid cyclist, living just south of Brussels. I had introduced myself to Kevin about a year and a half ago when I first learned I would be moving to Belgium. Kevin had gotten a tattoo of the comic book-like character from the cover of Dirt Rag #137. He sent an email to the office, and mentioned that he was an American living in Belgium. I made immediate contact, and over the course of the next few months Kevin proceeded to provide me with invaluable insight and information about living over here.

This was the first time I met him in person, and as soon as we finished shaking hands, he reached into his bag and produced a Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA all the way from Delaware, and a German heffe weizen. I had work to do, otherwise I would have cracked that Dogfish Head and had myself a little taste of home right on the spot!

As Kevin and I talked, Christine rolled up after the women’s race, and she was obviously in pain. Turns out she had cracked a rib in a race a few days before, but still went out and threw down today. I don’t know how she pushed through that pain, but she did. After a bit of talking with her and Jonas, I made my way down to the pits with Brandon’s bike and wheels.

Thankfully, Jonas and Christine came down to the pits to lend a hand if needed. Because, as has been my modus operandi as I passed myself off as a cyclocross mechanic the past few weeks, I had a technical issue with one of Brandon’s bikes that was a bit beyond my skill level. Thankfully, Jonas saw me bumbling a bit and came to my rescue. It still took him, Christine and myself about a lap and a half to get the bike to shift correctly so we could successfully hand it back to Brandon for his last lap.

We got back to the van of Christine and Jonas, and I threw back that 90-minute IPA like it was water. Man, that was a treat. We hung out for a bit and chatted while watching the last few laps of the Men’s Elite race. I said goodbye to Brandon, as this was his last race in Belgium. Mike, Erica, Isaac and I headed for home.

Lockwood makes the hand off to Brandon Mart while Christine Vardaros catches the discarded bike. Photo by Kevin Bookman.

Unfortunately, as soon as we came upon my car parked in the snowy, icy parking lot I noticed the driver’s side door was much more damaged than it had been before we went into the race. In fact, the door had not been damaged at all before the race. I guess snow, ice and drunk-driving cyclocross fans don’t mix well. Someone slid into the car quite nicely, moving it about six inches upon impact. They weren’t even nice enough to leave their contact info before leaving. Luckily the door opened and closed without problems.

Belgisch Kampioenschap Cyclocross 2010
Oostmalle, Belgium
01.10.2010

This is it, kids. The big one.

Many people…especially Belgians…consider the Belgian National Cyclocross Championships to be more important, more fun and bigger than the World Championships. In a country where cyclocross is nearly important as religion, those people might be right.

Oostmalle is only about 14 miles from our house here in the center of Antwerp. It was another cold and snowy day, so Mike, Erica, my wife Stacy and I put on a few extra layers and headed out. It didn’t take us too long to get there, despite one missed turn.

This weekend’s races were held, from what I could tell, at an old Belgian military base. Judging by the runway where everyone parked, I’m going to guess it was an air force base. Regardless…we got to the event sort of late, and we were forced to park at the business end of a one mile-long (at least) parking lot…the old runway. The temporary lot was filled with thousands of nicely-parked cars, despite the snow and ice making walking an absolute treacherous adventure.

It took us nearly 30 minutes to walk to the entrance of the race. Once we got there, I was stunned at how many spectators filled the woods, crowded the infield and lined the course. It was immediately obvious to me that there were more people here than I saw at the 2009 Cyclocross World Championships in The Netherlands less than a year ago. I’m guessing we were looking at 60,000 people.

This is some serious business.

I decided to leave the camera at home because I just wanted to go watch the racing and not worry about lugging camera gear all over. It was a wise choice that allowed me to run between several viewing spots throughout the race (we only made it in time for the showcase men’s elite race) and just enjoy the day. We perched ourselves at several prime watching spots in the woods, allowing us to get insanely close to the racers.

In fact, everyone was so close…and so drunk…that one of Niels Albert’s own supporters leaned a bit too far into the course and knocked him off the bike as he came past…crushing his chances for a Belgian championship, and cracking a rib in the process.

Aside from that, the racing today was absolutely fantastic. We were lucky to see some serious skill, determination and strategy. After falling…and dropping a few spots…Sven came back to throw down the hammer and earn the crown of Belgian Champion yet again.

After the slippery and cold trek back to the car, we made the executive decision to stop for dinner at Café Trappisten, which is essentially the café across the street from the Westmalle monastery and brewery. Aside from serving the freshest pours of my favorite beer in the world, they also cook up one of my favorite versions of macaroni and cheese…complete with Trappist cheese. Their rabbit stew is also out of this world.

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup #9
Hoogerheide, The Netherlands
01.24.2010

None other than Chipps Chippendale and his buddy Stan from England drove down to Antwerp to stay with us for the weekend. Aside from sampling the beer and stoofvlees, Chipps and Stan got to take in a couple of ‘cross races. I joined them for the race on Sunday: the final UCI cyclocross race of the season, which was held in Hoogerheide, Holland…about 20 miles from my house.

We met up with James and Gareth, two buddies of mine from BigM…the English-speaking mountain bike club out of Brussels, of which I’m a member. My friend William also came down from Amsterdam to join in the festivities. We all had a few pintjes of beer, a couple gluhweins and enjoyed the racing.

That’s a cloud of fried food exhaust those people are riding through. Mmmmm…best in the world. Photo by Jeff Lockwood.

While the crowd at this event was the smallest out of any I’ve attended, it was still a party atmosphere and competitive as hell. One of the highlights for me (aside from the frites trailer blowing large clouds of fresh fried exhaust right onto the course) was the insanely steep and muddy run-up, down which a UCI-sanctioned photographer took a looong and animated tumble between races, much to the crowd’s audible delight.

Aside from that, Chipps did a nice little write-up of the weekend, and I’ll just link to his post right…about…here.


What’s This?

What’s This?

Well, this is your Go To box for Bicycle Times. If you have a recent copy of Bicycle Times magazine, you might see something like “For more information go to our website, find the Go To box in the upper right,  enter ‘1221’ and then click the Go button.” Basically, it’s a shortcut for finding web content that’s related to an article in Bicycle Times.

You would then come to this here web site and type that “1221” into the Go To box, and then click the “Go” button. Viola! You’ ve found the article.

It’s just one more example of how we’re trying to give you all the information we can, in the most efficient way.


Interbike Mini-Review: Charge Plug

I’d love to make it easy on myself, and make this mini-review truly "mini" by summing up the Charge Plug with one succinct sentence: "The Charge Plug is an incredibly cool and aesthetically awesome bike that’s extremely simple in its design and function." But the editorial team would be rather pissed at me, and it wouldn’t do enough justice to the bike.

So I’ll expand it a bit.

Charge is an award-winning bicycle company based in the United Kingdom. While their current US distribution consists of mostly urban-cetric bikes (such as the Plug and more townie-style bikes), they do offer everything from cross-country mountain bikes to road bikes, as well as bunch of different components. Charge is distributed by BTI in the US, and they supply many shops around the country (check their site for a retailer locater).

As you’re probably aware, a selection of bike companies gave each of the Dirt Rag/Bicycle Times staff a bike to ride for the week of Interbike in Las Vegas. I picked up the Plug at the end of the Outdoor Demo on Tuesday. Preston and Brian gave me a quick overview of the bike, cleaned it off for me and sent me on my way.

I was immediately struck by the pure simplicity of the bike. A simplicity that transends style, function and attitude. The bike was obviously built to be simple, and that simplicity is the bike’s greatest strength.

Aesthetic Simplicity I have to admit that the look and style of a bicycle is very important to me. Thankfully the Charge Plug is a beauty.

The Plug doesn’t have many graphics on the frame, which makes for a refreshing feel when you look at the bike. I’m a design nerd, and a sucker for this kind of style. I think Matt, our graphic artist, is too since he and I talked about the look of this bike more than a few times. We both appreciate how the few graphics that do appear on this bike are very tastefully, creatively and conservatively placed.

I know the lack of flashy graphics is common on urban bikes such as this, but a lot of these messenger-clone bikes tend to take on a monochrome style that make the bikes look more like some kind of weird art. With its leather-style saddle and taping, sparse chrome bits and conservative styling, the Charge Plug sucessfully bridges the gap between hipster ride and traditional bicycle.

Function Simplicity The cromoly Charge Plug is a very simple bike made to hop on and ride. I initially thought it would have been a good idea to have some fender or rack mounts on this bike. But after thinking about it for a while (and learning other versions of the Plug model do feature such bits), I came to the conclusion there was no reason to include them…again, simplicity is the name of the game here.

The most complicated thing on the bike is the flip-flop rear wheel. One side of the wheel has a fixed gear cog, while the other side has a freewheel. I’m really, really not into the fixed-gear thing, so having the ability to flip the rear wheel to run the singlespeed freewheel is very nice. Despite that, I actually ran it fixed the first day. Sandals as my only footwear for the week, toe clips/straps and a fixed gear don’t mix so well, so I flipped that baby on the second day.

Simplistic Attidude I mean that in the best possible way…there’s no pretension with this bike. You can hop on and ride it without worrying about being part of a clique, or about pissing off that same clique. This bike will earn fans that love the fixed gear scene, and people who hate that scene. That’s rare in a bike.

But enough of all that touchy-feely stuff. We’re talking about a machine here.

As a machine, this bike performs very well. There’s not a lot of bling hung on this bike, and I don’t have a problem with that. The parts collection is a selection of utilitarian pieces that work well, and help the bike achieve the $749 price point. If you’re looking for flashy component names, look elsewhere…or add them later.

The Plug is a snappy, yet stable, ride with a 71/73 head/seat angle. Toe-overlap was no more of an issue than on any other similar bikes I’ve ridden. I have to admit I’ve never ridden bullhorn bars before. It took me a couple spins to get a comfortable balance when getting out of the saddle with a heavy bag on my back with these bars. Once I got it, I liked it.

Thankfully Interbike only lasts a week, but it was a bittersweet moment when I had to give the bike back on Friday. I was glad to be getting out of Vegas, but would have loved to had a couple months to ride this bike around the city (not Vegas, though) to give it a proper flogging…and to have people turn their heads in envy as i ride past.

Note: Much thanks to Kryptonite for loaning me that 30 foot cable and lock for the week. (I’ll get the keys back to you soon!)


Ride for a Cause

Instead of doing a daily journal for the 2009 Pennsylvania Perimeter
Ride Against Cancer, I am just going to write a bit about my highlights
of the ride. I was able to take copious amounts of notes during the
2007 ride, but I didn’t seem to find the time this year. There is no
shortage of stories and memories, and I’ll detail some of them here.
But none of us really needs to read about my perspective on every
little detail of the week. However, I am going to break it up into
three digestible posts instead of one really long entry.

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There are countless stories about the people on the ride and the
memories and emotions they shared with everyone. It’s this sharing of
experiences, combined with the extreme physical output each day of
riding, that brings the whole group close enough to consider each other
family members by the end of the week.  What people say and do each
evening is very close to being considered sacred, and anything I write
would only cheapen what each person exposed and would possibly betray
the trust in the room.

Additionally, my words will never do justice to the efforts and
selflessness all of the volunteers on the ride who cook the food, give
us water, lift our spirits with jokes and basically tend to our every
need. And the Freeds? How they pull this all together with such grace
and modesty is nearly incomprehensible. Raising a beer to/for them each
night isn’t nearly enough. If you ever see them on the street…give them
a hug. Much love to all the people who offered floor space and service
along the route.

On with the show.

As in 2007, life for Stacy and I was completely chaotic leading up
to the ride. There was debate up until the last minute as to whether
Stacy and I would actually be able and/or willing to leave the kids for
a week to hop on the bike. But in the end, we decided that we made a
commitment (on several levels), and bailing this late in the game would
let a lot of people down…especially ourselves.

We left Ocean City on Friday night and headed to Hazleton so we
could spend Saturday doing our final packing and prep for the upcoming
week. We ran all over town getting food and other supplies. Our errands
were done in the early evening, and we headed to Dave and Selene’s
house in Emmaus. The plan was to meet up with Maurice, Taylor and a few
other people for some food and beer at Tap & Table…a fine food and
fine beer establishment. Great place.

After filling ourselves with food and beer, we headed back to Dave
and Selene’s for one final beer at the bar in their house. Stacy and I
then crashed on the futons downstairs. Before we knew it, we were
running out in the pouring rain to get ourselves, our gear and our
bikes over to South Mountain Cycles where we were to meet Maurice and
Co. to load into his van for the trip up to Burlington.

We arrived in Palmerton and had our Grand Depart there, which
consisted of loading the trucks, vans and buses with people, gear and
bikes. All sorts of family and friends were there to take part in the
ceremony and to see us off.

Eleven of us loaded into Mo’s van for the several hour, rainy drive
up to Burlington. Judy took one for the team and drove the whole way.
The trip up seemed to go fast. Jokes were shared, work was done, beers
were downed and sleep crept in here and there. We arrived in Burlington
in the early evening and had some good bar food and beer before heading
to the YMCA to set up for the night.

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After getting our sleeping arrangements set, we had the first of our
fine evening group meals. Lots of stories and emotions were shared as
usual. It was also interesting to have my first taste of several Miller
Lites in a long time.  I had always wanted to visit Burlington,
especially Nectar’s, which is about two blocks from where we had
dinner. Soon enough, about six of us were over there having some nice,
hoppy Long Trail Ales. I’m just glad they let me in since my wallet
went missing earlier in the day…and which would remain out of my
possession the whole week.

Morning came VERY early (5:30) and nearly everyone rolled into the
center of town in search of caffeine. After some milling around, most
of the group started on their journey. As in years past, our group was
the last to roll out. We hadn’t gotten 10 miles out of town before
Joachim, Plunkett, Pryor and I stopped for breakfast. Our group stopped
at least seven more times throughout the day. It was a lot of stopping,
but our speed between the stops allowed us to roll in at a decent time.

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The route through Vermont into New York was absolutely amazing. The
scenery was breathtaking. But more than that…we didn’t have any real
climbs at any time on the 92-mile route. Just nice rollers through the
country. I had expected some serious mountains in “The Green MOUNTAIN
State,” but Eric and Bob managed to find the best route through it all!

For the second time in a few months, I got to ride a ferry during a
bicycle ride. This one took us across Lake Champlain into New York.
Stacy rolled in while I was in the shower. Today was her longest ride
ever on a bike, and she kicked much ass. Same for my sister. She
hammered it. Stacy’s dad and Barbara came by to see us after the ride
in Ticonderoga. They stayed for a bit, wished us well and headed on to
Vermont to see Barbara’s daughter and family.

It must also be noted that it seemed that both mine and Stacy’s
sunglasses were lost with my wallet. I remained sane because of the
fact that nothing was too lost since all items were likely together,
but I was still pissed that for the second year in a row, I was without
my favorite comfortable shades for the ride. I rode without glasses for
the day, and gave Stacy a pair I borrowed from Maurice. But they didn’t
help her…she still managed to sunburn her eyeballs. No joke.
Ultraviolet Keratitis, so said Kenny, the emergency room doctor riding
with us. I didn’t believe him (despite her raging red eyes), and asked
him several times if he and Stacy were both joking me. But they
weren’t. Later that night I found an extra pair of shades for Stacy to
wear the next day, and I borrowed Mo’s for the rest of the week.

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I wouldn’t say I’m a creature of habit, but I do find comfort when I
know how certain events will unfold…especially when beer is involved.
Like clockwork, people gathered in the back of the Penske truck and
cracked many beers. Once I was showered up, I parked myself in the van
for some good recovery beverages. Then we headed off to dinner. And
then for some serious sampling of local flavors, which included local
personalities and regional beers: several of us headed to a local bar
and literally drank them out of Genesee Light while playing pool and
fusbol.

Read the other two posts on my personal blog here.


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