Saturday, March 27, 2010

The fame, or perhaps infamy, continues unabated on the internet.  Check out the news from Bike Radar

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Photo courtesy Dave Maialetti, Philadelphia Daily News.

As some of you may know, I've been training for Nat's since early this spring-- working on my position, some sweet modifications to my Brompton S2-X, and more than anything, doing sprint fold reps.

The race format was unusual, but I knew that through my hours of prep-work, I'd have as good a chance as any one for the Stars and Stripes Cumberbund that goes to a National Brompton Folding Bike Champion. We staged our bikes by registration number in a large grid, Le Mans style on the grass near the starting line, and then were directed behind the starting line some 50 feet distant. All 65 contestants were dressed in the required garb: collared shirt, dress pants, necktie and suit jacket. I chose a lightweight grey wool blend as my primary uniform. I knew that getting on the road fast was critical to success, so I staged myself appropriately. The gun went off and we sprinted for our Brommies, I wasn't first to the bikes, having run around the back side of the staging area for a clean shot, but my fold technique was good, practice had paid off and with about a 12 second fold, I was in good shape. I sprinted again to the road, mounted my steed and was off. There were two riders ahead of me at this point, Peter, who works at the Trophy Bikes Garage and who is a veteran Brompton Racer, and another unknown gentleman in a dashing white linen jacket. I put down some serious spin in my 56x12 (on 18 inch wheels) and caught up to Peter, where we formed the breakaway group. The dapper fellow in white dropped back, but there were still some riders working to bridge up as we rounded the bend and headed down Black Road. Black Road is treacherous on 700c wheels, but the 18s made it all the more exciting. I was able to avoid overcooking any of the turns and actually, the only crash I saw happened after the finish; brompton riders are a safe bunch.

Peter and I worked together pretty smoothly for the first straightaway, and then we proceeded to pull away from the other riders up Greenland drive and back around to the southbound leg of MLK. Peter seemed to have used up a bit too many matches in the start: he managed to fold his bike while running on the road, and we struck a gentleman's agreement not to sprint until the pillars. I was doing most of the pulling by this time, and while I suppose that we could have slowed a bit and saved some energy for the hill, I could smell the pastures of home, and I wasn't interested in getting caught by the competition. We turned back onto Black Road and I downshifted from my high gear into low, and we powered up the climb. I didn't make any strong accelerations at this point, but I managed to inch away from my breakaway partner up the hill and around the final turn. By the straightaway I knew that victory was mine. I was the United States Brompton Champion.
There are a number of good photos of the spectacle to be found here

I'm looking forward to Worlds in October. Roberto Heras (no I'm not kidding, and yes THAT Roberto Heras) won it last year, but I mean to give him a run for his money. ENGLAND HERE I COME!! Many thanks to Mike McGettigan at Trophy Bikes, for dreaming up this ridiculous event, making it happen, and loaning me a surprisingly sweet ride. Bromptons are fun.  Couldn't have done it without you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Work is starting to be a bit fun, but also a bit hectic. Working at 2 different jobs is really not the ideal scenario if you want to do a good job at either place. I'm now stretched a little bit thinner than I would like, but I still enjoy my work at the Clean Air Council and at Trophy Bikes. I've almost got 3 jobs if you want to count the bamboo bike work as one, though I've not turned anywhere close to a profit yet.

Spring is here though, and that means that I'll probably be abandoning my other responsibilities on the weekends and riding my bike a lot more. I'm actually registered on Saturday to compete in the Brompton National Championships, silly as that is. I souped up one of the shop bikes last Friday and I'm going to take it for a test ride around the course this Thursday to put it through its paces. I'm a bit nervous, as always before a race that I should do well at. The first place prize is a trip to London in the fall, so I'd love to win it, though I'm sure that there are other guys who feel the same

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's a while since i last posted, a busy two weeks it has been. Two weekends ago was the fun one, Jennifer and I went down south of the Mason-Dixon line to hang out with some old friends and meet some new bikes at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. NAHBS was grand, and we stayed about the appropriate amount of time, though it would have been awesome to spend that time over the course of 2 days rather than cramming 8 hours of bikes into one day at the show. It was great to see all the bikes and get up close and personal with all of those purely custom vehicles. I finally had a chance to see so many of the bikes that I've been dreaming about and using as reference points for my own work on the bamboo ones. I was sure to come dressed for success in the Raleigh sweater that I had stolen from my dad several years ago. It's my favorite sweater ever, it looks great, and actually fits my minuscule upper body well. We stopped to say hi to some of the people that I'd met at other shows, and some of the builders from Philadelphia who were there as well. It was awesome to be totally surrounded by bikes, sweet bikes at that. At one point Jennifer and I were walking up to the Pegoretti booth to check out some of my favorite custom steel frames. As we approached the booth, a middle aged Italian guy came up to me and said, "Nice sweater!"

I responded, "Thanks, it's real vintage gear, I stole it from my dad."

The guy said, "Yeah, I know, I designed it."

My eyes probably bugged out a bit, and then he introduced himself as Giorgio Andretta, the founder of Giordana bicycle clothing. He had worked with the Michael's Cyclery cycling team back in the middle 80s when they were a dominant force in American bicycle racing. He introduced his son, and they took some pictures of me with my vintage sweater and then we chatted a bit about the good old days, when I was about 7 and Michael was running the team out of the shop in Ames.  

I remember as a kid always wishing that we had more money, and being upset because we couldn't afford a Nintendo, and we had to check out a VCR from the library, but I was always psyched that my dad worked at a bike shop. That was coolness to me. I am even prouder now to say that he owns his own shop.

I sometimes shake my head when I look at my $120 paychecks from Trophy Bikes after 6 years and a bazillion dollars that I spent on my own higher education, but I always find a little lift in my heart whenever I walk through the doors of a place that deals with my favorite conveyance.

The rest of the trip was good too, not to discount the joy of seeing Paul and Mary in DC and then Brendan and Meghan when we visited Meghan's place in Baltimore. We had some tasty food courtesy of Crisp and Juicy chicken in DC--some amazing Peruvian roast chicken that we demolished with just our bare hands around Paul and Mary's kitchen table. It was also great to catch up with B and Meghan, and hang out with their respective significant others. I always like hanging out with my first college roomate. B and I are not always the most alike, in fact we're pretty different aside from our general tallness, but we've always been extremely compatible. Part of that is just that Brendan is compatible with most people; he's the slowest person to anger I've ever met, or perhaps he's just the slowest to show it, and he seems to always know how to make people comfortable. The other part is that somehow we just clicked, we were excellent roomates, we always seemed to get along. I can't speak for him, but I can say that he never actually pissed me off while we were living together, though I certainly shook my head at his Malibu Coconut rum and his propensity to shower BEFORE heading to soccer practice. We recounted all of these things and we laughed a great deal about all of the dumb stuff that we did back in Dupre 3E. It was great.