Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Gary Fisher’

News Cycle: Protection for cyclists — is strangulation covered? Dirt Bowl, Women of Dirt, all the best dirt & more

In Bicycle advocacy, News Cycle, Obama Bikes, Rider Down on January 29, 2010 at 2:17 am

If you try to run down a cyclist in your car but somehow miss, never fear. You can always go for strangulation.

In L.A., a booming promise that “The culture of the car ends now!” No throwing projectiles, no verbal abuse, no cutting within 3 feet … and yes! No strangulation! “(No) making physical contact with a bicyclist from a moving vehicle on the roadway either by physical person or use of an implement.” Yay!

I remember when I was this anal about my ride logs…but it was a long time ago.

Reminder that the Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s “Dirt Bowl” fundraiser is Sunday, Feb. 7.

(Two) wheels ‘n feet account for 9.6 percent of all trips, but just 1.2 percent of federal funding. Other goodies as well in the Alliance for Biking & Walking “Benchmarking” report.

Add mtbchick to the growing list of hosts for “Awesome Land: Women of Dirt” showings .

Alan at EcoVelo looks at the iPad’s potential for mobile blogging.

Nothing to do with cycling, other than Yokota’s involvement, but a wild story nonetheless. So wild that the Man Himself, Gary Fisher, retweeted it.

Have a great weekend! Winter’s on the decline, time to get out ‘n RIDE!

Advertisements

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

Interbike 2009: Carbon rising

In Bicycling, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 23, 2009 at 9:15 am

When it comes to cycling, carbon, which used to be called carbon fiber, which was actually a technical implementation of plastic, is becoming the new metal.

From the early 1990s days of carbon road frames that pioneering manufacturers like Watsonville, CA-based Kestrel and big-name companies such as Look and Trek built, carbon has made inroads into mountain biking as well (Kestrel’s seminal frames included). But frames are almost incidental to carbon innovation today.

At Interbike 2009, carbon bikes still are turning heads (the latest being Santa Cruz’s full-suspension 29-incher, the Tallboy). But carbon accessories and parts are showing up all over as well. And like frames, they’re being touted as stronger than aluminum, while also just as light and durable.

So you’ve got carbon handlebars, carbon seatposts, carbon rockers, carbon cranksets and even forks (lowers in mtb suspension forks). The least expected stunner: A carbon “chain,” actually a belt drive, that supposedly will outlast and outperform its veteran steel counterpart.

Although widely reviewed by test riders on a spot-ride basis, the Gates belt drive jury is still out, simply because so few real-life installations yet exist. The drive cannot be used with conventional derailleurs and is best suited to single-speed setups or an internal hub like the Rohloff. That said, it offers immense maintenance and performance advantages — as long as it lives up to its billing.

Similar claims are being made for other carbon parts, particularly handlebars. Once prone to chipping and breakage, bars today come with strength specs that surpass metal while soaking up hits better and transferring less shock for a smoother ride.

Carbon posts, which early on were flexy and unreliable, have made strides as well, although slippage remains a problem. And hollow carbon cranksets are turning in gram counts that put the shame to aluminum.

But is all the carbon chatter for real, or just industry hype aimed at suckering bleeding-edge types and weight weenies? We went through all this before with the first wave of carbon, which relied on pattern weaves and epoxy, and saw frames shatter, components fail and performance diminish quickly over time.

I’ve had three carbon bikes. The first, a Trek Y-33 bike, was light and stiff and compliant (it soaked up hits well). Its single-pivot design was not the greatest and it sure was noisy (the slightest sound reverberated through the hollow body) but the bike stayed in good shape as long as I had it (about a year before it was stolen). I got a Giant carbon hardtail in 2002 and loved it. It was by far the least harsh hardtail ride I’ve ever had. But the bottom bracket shell separated from the frame after about 9 months, and Giant, which had given up making the frame, replaced it with an aluminum model.

Today I have an Ibis Mojo for high-country XC epics, tipping the scales at 25.2 lbs. It seems tougher and sturdier than previous carbon, and I’ve had no issues in two years of riding. I’ve also ridden the new carbon Blur, which feels downright bulletproof. One thing about the Blur is how the one-piece molding transfers load so evenly, you don’t feel like you’re hammering the bottom bracket. The whole bike seems to soak up hard pedal action.

All that said, carbon is in many ways still too evolutionary to draw hard-and-fast conclusions. Carbon still can shatter, as evinced by Jeremy Honorez’s encounter with a traffic bollard. One doubts aluminum or steel would have survived such an impact either, but let’s remember we’re not talking infallibility here.

A lot of the carbon hype has to do as well with looks. Carbon molding, combined with its innate strength, can add some sexy curves and design innovations to a fork and frame. The press release usually banners the performance advantage, but let’s face it, a cherry design sells. And carbon is offering more design variability than aluminum or steel.

Manufacturers also seem confident about boosting carbon’s warranty claims, as Gary Fisher recently tweeted:

“I get asked ” is there a weight limit on your carbon MTBs?” No and they all have a lifetime Garantiee”

Fisher isn’t alone. Santa Cruz has replaced its aluminum Blur XC line with carbon Blurs (not everyone is pleased), and says its longer-travel Blurs will take any fork without risk of frame breakage. Other manufacturers, including Ibis, are making similar claims. Weight claims are getting downright feathery, with 22-pound builds not uncommon.

Carbon still does not seem ready for burly duty. No one yet is offering cranks for freeride or downhill action. Carbon frames are rare in those arenas as well, although they may be coming. Carbon forks, pedals and wheels also do not yet seem ready for the Big Hit crowd. Innovative Pivot went with a carbon rocker for its long-travel trail bike, the Firebird, but has since begun replacing the rockers with aluminum. The issue supposedly is to permit a coil shock, but you have to wonder whether carbon was holding up under the jumps and drops.

(Aside: I asked a recent mountain-biking acquaintance who works on parts specification for Boeing whether carbon was making any inroads into commercial airline production. He kinda laughed.)

Still, carbon’s future seems bright. While aluminum and steel are pretty much set in their ways and maxed out on specifications, carbon technology seems to improve almost annually. And let’s face it, the stuff is basically still plastic, which means costs should keep coming down with widespread adoption.

For now, carbon is cycling’s miracle drug. It’ll be fascinating to watch it evolve in the marketplace.

Links Links Links

Gates belt drive

Blur LT

MTBR.com at Interbike: Carbon, carbon, carbon!

Daily Roundup Returnz!

In Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on June 24, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Sorry all…I’ve been traveling, mountain biking, and collecting all sorts of new contacts. More later…but for now, here’s the newZ!

The City of Seattle intends to complete the Burke-Gilman “missing link” for cyclists, as we noted, but it won’t be easy. From the Ballard Tribune:

“Attendees at the meeting claimed that bicyclists do not need a bike lane on Nickerson, or even on Leary Way, because there are off-street bike trails nearby.”

This needs clarifying: The problem being that the trail is available at some points paralleling Leary, but not everywhere. On the Nickerson side, the same thing applies. Not sure what point “attendees” were trying to make, but in general more bike lanes are needed everywhere in the city, especially along east-west corridors. The other factor in play here is that mixing rec trails with commuter trails is increasingly a harrowing proposition. As bike commuting grows, it needs a conduit of its own to flourish.

A $500 billion Transportation Bill has about as much chance as Dick Cheney renouncing torture in this Year of Living Deficitly, but BikePortland.org has a thorough rundown anyway.

I came within a couple of days of seeing the Ashland Super-D mountain bike race. But it was all the talk of the town even in the aftermath. When I rode Ashland, it was sunny and in the high 80s. More on that later.

You can go 50 miles an hour on this bike without pedaling, and not even downhill. It’s the only bike you can get at Best Buy, and here’s why.

The Godz of Klunkerz, Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly and Wende Crage, were on the public radio station KQED. Photo here (guess which one is Gary!), hear here.

Daily Roundup: Naked Bike Day approaches, Spokane approves master plan, Gary Fisher cancer surgery and more

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup on June 9, 2009 at 10:13 pm
Oui, bicyclettes sont belles!

Oui, bicyclettes sont belles!

Spokane has approved its Master Bike Plan. Hooray!

Gary Fisher, the Legend, just got operated on for a spot of skin cancer. He’s tweeting that everything’s fine. We wish him a full and speedy recovery!

BikePortland.org: Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride, expected to draw 3,000 barebackers, is this Saturday. As is Vancouver’s. Folks from Seattle are expected at both events, since Seattle’s naked ride doesn’t happen till July 11th. Seattle btw is the naked pioneer here, what with the annual Fremont Solstice Parade naked cyclists as well as:

“Seattle was the second city to stage a WNBR event in the world, the first WNBR-affiliated city to organize a day ride, the first city to work with city officials to make the ride a success, the first city to stage its body painting parties in public parks and the first city to have Yoga in the Park stretching sessions in public parks by certified yoga instructors.”

Northstar at Tahoe opens Friday! A month after Whistler. How can that be? Ah, priorities, priorities…

Trek recall: Bikes with JD Fork suspension — 7300, 7300WSD and 7500, all 2009s — are accidents waiting to happen. Take ’em back!

Mountain Bike Action interviews Aaron Gwin, the DH phenom who finished an unheard-of 10th last year in his first World Cup race ever. He’s America’s best current hope in the big rig category, dominated by Brits, Aussies and Kiwis to the point ya can barely unnerstan what da blokes is sayin.

Bike World News: To Astana team leader Alberto Contador as the Tour de France approaches, Lance Armstrong is “just another member of the team.” Ouch! You dunna wanna talk about the King that way, he’ll bite ya!

Pedalpalooza starts Thursday in Portland! Opening night features “Traffic Calming.” Would love to be there for that. If there’s anything I’m in favor of on my bike, it’s calm traffic.

BikeSharing Blog: In Paris, the bike sharing program still brings smiles.