Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Appetite Seminar’

Christmas shopping for cyclists: A theoretical overview

In Bicycling, Mountain Biking on December 6, 2009 at 2:33 am

The issue for gift-giving to bike riders this season may be summed up in the epigrammatic Dylan lyric about need versus want (“Your debutante just knows what you neeeeed, I know what you waaaaannnt“). That special cyclist on your list may need a new pair of gloves. Or a chain for his or her bike. Or a reflector vest for riding at night.

But are these things they really want? Especially for, of all times, Christmas?

MTRB.com, on the flip side, suggests a new Ibis Mojo HD for under the tree. It may well be something we all want for Christmas. But given that I have an Ibis Mojo in the basement already — which I don’t even get to ride in the winter because it’s just too cool a bike to get all muddy, squeaky and pivot-trashed — is a new HD something I really need?

Granted, the additional travel, beefed up rear end and matching color bling are all things that would come in handy in coming months, especially after Whistler opens the lifts sometime in June. I need another .8 of an inch of rearward boing. I need the stiffer pivot links for climbing prowess. I need a frame without the little scrapes and blemishes on the Mojo I have. And I really need for people to notice my bike and come up and talk to me about how much I like it, which they would most certainly do with the HD.

But even if someone were willing to spring $2400 to get me the HD — or, say, I bought it for my own Christmas present, which has been known to happen — there’s a problem.

On Thanksgiving Day I had the extreme good fortune to be introduced to Mr. Ibis himself, Scot Nicol, on the annual Appetite Seminar ride in Fairfax CA. And when I told him what I not only wanted but needed for Christmas, he just laughed. The HD is months away from production. I could not even place an advance order for one.

This made me feel like hey, I need this bike even worse than I thought I did. But Christmas is just not gonna happen.

So in the vein of more realistic, albeit lowered, expectations, and in recognition that need and want also are a function of fiscal resources, I’m going to be offering over the next few days a more modest rundown of gift suggestions for that special cyclist in your life — even if, as in my case, that special cyclist is yourself.

The bike is the bond: Riding with the legends on Turkey Day

In Mountain Biking, Today's Ride on November 29, 2009 at 9:34 am

FAIRFAX CA — I’ve ridden the annual Turkey Day mountain bike ride, or “Appetite Seminar,” in Fairfax maybe half a dozen times over the years, and each one has been different in its own wonderfully unpredictable way. But Thursday’s edition will top my list for a long time to come.

My Seattle friend (and former world-class racer) John Loomis, who worked for Gary Fisher back at the industry’s dawn and who never misses the ride, was the catalyst. John suggested we meet at the orthogonally indescribable Jacquie Phelan’s eclectic estate and head out from there.

Jacquie is a Marin legend and her blog is one of my favorites. Although I’d heard of her since the late 1970s and exchanged email and was a big fan, we’d never met. But she greeted me like an old friend, gave me the nickel tour of her place, which could have served without modification as a set for my favorite movie, “Harold & Maude,” and then introduced me to another legend, her partner Charlie Cunningham.

Charlie looks just like his pictures from the “Klunkerz” days, with that curly boyish hair and incipient smile of his, and in his t-shirt and jeans he looked like he just got off a Schwinn cruiser after smoking down Repack. He couldn’t ride with us but Jacquie got out one of Charlie’s vintage aluminum bikes, so he was with us in spirit the whole way.

John rambled up, Jacquie donned her nose and glasses, feather-ornamented helmet and sequined wool gloves, joining a wool Peloton jersey, lush velvet skirt and racing shoes, and we were off. I’m sure there is historic significance to each article of clothing, including the funny nose and glasses, but I didn’t get a chance to ask.

Within moments on the climb up Bolinas Road, Jacquie and John were deep in conversation and off like bullets. Both were racers, and I had no chance of keeping up. Which was OK, because at my vintage I pretty much smile and go my own pace, thankful just to be able to keep turning over the cranks another day.

After another rider pointed out my low rear tire (it was 10 psi), and I helped another guy who had broken his chain, I finally pulled to the top. Jacquie had been worried enough to ride back down trying to find me, but hadn’t as she put it memorized the gear enough to pick me out from the hordes. You have to understand, Turkey Day is the biggest mass recreational mountain bike ride you will ever do. Getting an accurate headcount is impossible, because there’s no registration or support station. But I heard the thousand-rider estimate tossed around more this year than ever before, and that was undoubtedly conservative. I’ve been on organized rides all my life with headcounts in the thousands, and this felt like well over 1k. As Jacquie noted (see link below), the youth element was out in bigger force than ever in the past; Marin’s vibrant school teams are having an impact along with the GenX equivalent for sons and daughters of mtb fanatics. Plus people had been primed by a week-long bout of spectacular weather, even though it was a bit overcast and chilly out on the course.

John may have come all the way from Seattle but probably wouldn’t win any “furthest” award. I saw Colorado and Utah license plates in the lot, and overheard one group who obviously were from somewhere in the Deep South.

They really should be called Turkey Day rideS, because you can pretty much pick any route from a dozen or more configurations. There are so many places to ride from Fairfax. The standard route is to head up Bolinas Road to the Pine Mountain Loop. You can get back to Fairfax any number of ways from there.

Anyway, I rejoined Jacquie and John at the trailhead and we started up the vicious rubble-laden fire road toward the Pine Mountain loop. Unless you’re in supreme shape, every so often you have to stop and push a bit up the climb. Which was fine, because it gave Jacquie a chance to introduce me to more legends. First up was Joe Breeze, riding with his son Tommy. At the next stop Jacquie was holding forth when some guy crept up behind her and started planting little air kisses on her neck. Jacquie never did catch on, despite the big circle of grinning riders gathered around.

The guy turned out to be Gary Fisher himself, tall and wickedly fit-looking, riding Fisher colors and bike of course. So I got to meet the most famous name in mountain biking.

At this point I should say something about how real, grounded, open and humble all these folks were. Somehow the press clippings, fame and adulation haven’t worked a number on them — a real credit to their sense of what is truly important in life, which is just being yourself. As a result, they instantly make you feel like just one of the crowd, even if you’re just another guy on a bike who can’t keep up. It’s one of the things I love about the mountain bike culture: The bike is the bond. It’s like a secret handshake or tattoo or password would be in another context. If you have mountain biking in common, you know you have a world of other things in common too.

At the turnoff to the loop we met my final legend of the day, Scot Nicol, founder of Ibis Cycles and developer of my XC bike, the Mojo. I don’t have my Mojo in Cali so was riding my Firebird, but I mentioned how my Mojo-riding friend and I formed Team Carbon Copy in Seattle (after I pretty much duplicated his build on my bike; we’re both sub-25 lbs.), and have done various epic exploits around the Northwest under that moniker. “Really?” Scot said, “send me the links. I’d love to take a look.” I sure will. And I’m sure he will.

Due to time commitments I didn’t do the loop but instead headed up toward Repack with the intention of hitting Tamarancho for the ride back to Fairfax. But there was a huge group at the junction with Repack, which I hadn’t ridden in years. I decided to go for nostalgia and headed up the grade. Then I remembered I hadn’t seen the plaque commemorating Repack as the birthplace of mountain biking. I went back and looked around where I remembered it being, but either I was wrong or the plaque is gone. Or maybe it’s all just a figment of my imagination, or maybe I dreamed it; there certainly ought to be something marking the place.

Repack was a whole lot more fun, and shorter, than I remembered. It may be because I was on the Firebird, which is a real adrenaline stoker on the downhill. The road was in primo shape, great for launching at the water bars and risers, and some guys were screaming down the steep parts. It made me wish I’d been there back in the day, when John and Jacquie and Charlie and Joe and Gary were creating the foundation of a different way of thinking about cycling, a new way of riding bikes, and a magical way of bringing people together to ride.

Jacquie Phelan’s inimitable version of this year’s ride

Charlie Cunningham

Last year’s ride

The historical sweep, including the worst Appetite Seminar ever

Happy Thanksgiving from Fairfax CA and the Appetite Seminar

In Mountain Biking on November 25, 2009 at 8:29 pm

I’ll be in Fairfax on Thanksgiving for the most fabled Thanksgiving Day mountain bike ride of all, the Appetite Seminar. Hundreds of cyclists all over the hills of Marin, quite the spectacle and a great time to say hello to familiar faces and meet new ones. See you there!

Weekend Roundup: SF Bike Expo, How to get off with light sentence, Joe Breeze, LA’s “Dr. Doorstop” and more

In Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on November 20, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Tomorrow is the big SF Bike Expo at the Cow Palace. Since along with the jump competition and usual eye candy there’s a killer swap meet, I will be a lighter cyclist in the wallet this time tomorrow. Also, they just announced Cove Bikes will be showing up. Back in the day I’d hang out at Cove before tackling NorthShore stuff — this was when they had the station wagon from the seminal MTB film, “Tread,” out front. Cool folks then, still are. Some of them may even be at the Expo! Schedule here.

How do you shoot at someone’s head, come an inch from murdering them, and walk away with just a 120-day sentence? As DrunkCyclist explains, you do it by making sure the person you’re shooting at is riding a bike. If I’m not mistaken, DC is studying the law, so his deconstruction makes for edifying reading.

And in other anti-cycling news, David Zabriskie makes it easy for cyclists to put in a bad word for the Los Angeles physician recently convicted of intentionally injuring cyclists by jamming his car to a stop in front of them. The physician reportedly is gathering lots of letters of commendation; let’s counter with letters of condemnation. “The District Attorney’s Office is collecting these statements in support of the cyclists,” Zabriskie’s “Yield to Life” site notes. “She plans to submit the letters with the motion at the end of next week so we encourage you to submit a letter to her in a timely fashion so that she can include it in her packet to the judge.” All you have to do is click.

Just 6 days away: The annual Fairfax CA Turkey Day ride, or “Appetite Seminar.” Last year there were hundreds of mountain bikers climbing all over the hills, and this year’s weather forecast looks smashing. Never to be missed. See you there!

Robb at Mountain Biking by 198 interviews the venerable, the humble, the august, the acclaimed Joe Breeze.