Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Jacquie Phelan’

News Cycle: Bike freeways, Dirt Bowl, new Banshee site, Fork drag & more

In Mountain Biking, News Cycle, Videos on February 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Jacquie Phelan on Sunday’s Dirt Bowl fundraiser in Fairfax.

How the premiere of “Women of Dirt” in Seattle last Friday evening went, here and here.

Banshee Bikes, winner of our Top 10 Bike Names of All Time citation, has a killer new Web site. Unfortunately, someone forgot to renew the URL. We’ve messaged them and will alert when back up (unless they’re changing domains, but even then they need pointer).

You’ve felt it, I’ve felt it. You lower the travel on your fork on a long fire road climb and immediately the bike feels more sluggish, like brake drag. RC speculates on its origins but, like every other explanation I’ve seen, doesn’t quite nail it down. Should be a simple matter of physics. Get MIT on the case! Why is this so hard?

Where does your stolen bike go? Trek-Livestrong theft shows up in flea market in Mexico, sans wheels.

Normally when a car runs down a cyclist, it’s by accident. But not always.

BOOKMARK this link: Bike footrests not same as metal knuckles, court finds. For the next time you get stopped for carrying assault weapons on your BMX.

Can the Prime restore Hayes’ disc-brake glory? I rode Hayes, the industry standard, for years till their weight, grabbiness and lack of adjustability drove me to Magura. Plus they really needed to do something about ease of pad replacement. Lots of buzz about Prime, which seems to address most of these issues, but we’ll remain skeptical till we see the things. Strokers just did not turn the trick, and at this point it’ll take a lot to win me back from my Martas and Louises.

Bicycles should have their own freeways? Why, certainly. With a car lane on the right-hand shoulder of course.

Before “Women of Dirt,” there was “HardiHood”

In Mountain Biking, Videos on February 8, 2010 at 10:21 am

“Women of Dirt” is enjoying a much-deserved smash debut, with its worldwide premiere having sold out Friday night in Seattle, forcing addition of a second show opening night. And then came word of a new all-women Beti Bike Bash on June 12 at Lakewood, CO.

But one point needs clarifying. There’s a general perception that this is the first film about women and mountain biking. That’s not true: Nearly a decade ago, there was “HardiHood.”

The title came from a Susan B. Anthony quotation about women being persons — something no

Mountain biking suffragists

male, no matter how misogynist, would have the “hardihood” to challenge. The quote set a decidedly feminist tone for the movie, which featured what might be called the early suffragists of mountain biking.

These women — Jacquie Phelan, Missy Giove, Cheri Elliott, Elke Brutsaert and others, but especially Phelan — had to endure a lot of second-class treatment in a male-dominated sport. Without them, the generation of younger riders featured in “Women of Dirt” might never have gotten exposed to mountain biking. In many ways, “Women of Dirt” and its cast are the children of “HardiHood.”

“HardiHood” got minimal attention when it was released (there’s not even a mainstream publication quote on the case) and sank like a stone. A Google search turns up a lot of linkrot. I managed to track down a copy on Amazon but had to wait three weeks to get it.

In contrast to most — make that pretty much all — mtb films, “HardiHood” focuses on (as the title quote suggests) the person, not the athlete. The opening sequence shows Phelan philosophizing about breast cancer and life’s meaning. The always voluble Giove is shown chatting and chopping veggies far more than riding her bike. Elliott talks about what it’s like being a mom and caring for a child while on tour.

Although the feminist undertone is there, “HardiHood” isn’t dogmatic. Its director, Nicole Hahn, uses the film as a vehicle to get into the minds and lifestyles of the riders — the whys and wherefores that led them to get involved in such a male milieu in the first place, how they stuck with it, and what it’s meant to them. Phelan, winner of the first three NORBA national women’s titles, especially comes across as ruggedly dedicated. Her cameos teaching women mountain biking in Marin, playing banjo and revealing what it took to beat most of a male field of riders are priceless.

While a lot of mtb DVDs over the past couple of decades have promised this kind of behind-the-scenes look, the fact is that the riding action always dominates. If a male rider has ever discussed cancer, fatherhood, or the rigors of travel on any of them, I missed it. However spectacular their aerial and speed skills are, male riders are like Her Majesty in the Beatles song: Pretty nice guys, but they haven’t got a lot to say. At least, that’s the way they come across in the films.

One problem may be the predictable, formulaic script of mountain biking/freeriding films. You get stunts, stunts and more stunts, accompanied by music soundtracks that range from awful to pretty good. You’re in awe of the action, but like too much of anything, it gets repetitive and humdrum. To some extent the Collective films, especially “The Collective” and “Roam,” step back for a reflective look. And Clay Porter’s perennial series on the World Cup, particularly “The Tipping Point,” captures more culture than most. (Not to neglect either “Klunkerz,” Billy Savage’s superb historical documentary on the roots of the sport, or “Tread,” the first and maybe best mtb film ever, which had women and men.)

But the focus is generally on the riding.

Would it be possible to get into riders’ heads today the way “HardiHood” did? “HardiHood” not only captured women’s perspective in a sport, it captured a moment of time in an ongoing evolution. Mountain biking was something no girl had grown up ever thinking she would compete in. There were no role models, there wasn’t even a sport. Phelan studied medicine; Marla Streb was a biomedical researcher. Streb has even written an autobiography, something few other riders male or female can claim (Phelan is working on one). The “HardiHood” riders had depth, character and life views shaped by a whole set of issues and values that were considered passe by the time their successors came along.

Several upcoming mountain biking DVDs are being promoted with the line that they’ll break the mold and bring us a much-needed alternative perspective. Nothing new there, it’s been promised annually since most of us tired of gap jumps and back flips. Whether the focus is on women or men riders or both, a mountain biking film today that incorporated the sensibilities of “HardiHood,” released way back in 2001, would indeed represent something “new.”

Elly Blue: “My year as a woman in a city of bikes.”

Daily Roundup: Video detection for cyclists, Lemond-Trek update, Lance trains on mtb, Million Car Challenge, Happy Birthday Jacquie!

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Lance's Chances, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on December 9, 2009 at 3:16 am

Innovative use of signal-mounted cameras to automatically change light to green when cyclists are at intersection. Santa Clarita CA, named in 2007 a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, has requested $390,564 to fund a “Bicycle Video Detection Project.”

VeloNews: More on the LeMond—Trek legal spat, this time with backstory of Greg dissing Lance.

The secret is out! Lance and his new Team Radio Shack are training on mountain bikes!
: The Million Car Challenge to allow bikes to use the full right lane.

Happy birthday Jacquie Phelan!

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

Daily Roundup: Rossland bike fest, Portland bike arrest, Fluidride Cup No. 5, Alice B. Toeclips is baaaccckk!

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on August 31, 2009 at 12:11 am

Rossland, B.C.’s first fat-tire festival will take place this weekend. How cool is that?

I spent a few days last summer in Rossland and was blown away, not just with the widely worshipped Seven Summits epic ride but all the close-to-town tech stuff. Rocky, steep, challenging, with hucks, structures and drops, the local trails will get your skillz up to spec in no time at all. My video of Seven Summits.

Portland takes its reputation as the nation’s leading bicycling city seriously. A man has been charged with intentionally crashing into a cyclist, a Class A felony, which “is used when police suspect there is an intention to cause serious physical injury…” More at

They may try to ban bikes on Grand County roads in Colorado. But they will never succeed in keeping bikes off of Grand County roads in Colorado.

Great Fluidride Cup. No. 5 in Port Angeles report from PinkBike. Some photos not for the faint of heart. Apparently you needed armor just to walk the course.

Delicious BikeHugger rant over airline charges for bikes as luggage … and how to get around them. In Missouri you can run a red light, long as you’re responsible about it. One point is unclear: How do you tell a pavement-sensored light from a timed one? D’ya just have to sit there and wait?

In any case, a good idea, if somewhat dicey legally (e.g., what is a “reasonable” amount of time?).

Jacquie Phelan is back home in NorCal. Her pithy travel assessment of 60 days on two wheels: One Less Corpse. Ride on Jacquie!

Catching up with the Daily Roundup

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycling, Daily Roundup on July 15, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I’ve been traveling from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle the past few days — got in some great rides in Ashland OR — so need to do some catching up. Fortunately the blogosphere never sleeps!

Biking Bis gives a great recap of the Seattle-to-Portland double century.

Jacquie Phelan is riding and writing her way across the country, as only Alice B. Toeclips can.

Experienced cyclist Bruce Rosar, 56, a safety instructor and by all accounts a careful rider, apparently made a fatal wrong turn, according to a preliminary police report. See comments. I got some pushback for saying the car “mowed down” Rosar, an expression I meant to be descriptive rather than accusatory, but I understand the reader’s point. The war is not between cars and bikes, it’s between staying alive and not. Nonetheless, I’d like to see the final report. A lot of variables enter into a vehicular collision, and police, experienced more with 4-wheelers than 2, can draw incorrect conclusions. reminds us that you don’t have to be hit by a car to die on a bike.

Nor do you have to be riding on a road.

You can even be standing in a bike shop, as the folks at my LBS, BikeSport, found out. Although no one was hurt, you really have to wonder how a car happens to pick on the most prominent bike shop in Ballard.

From a shop e-mail:

July 12th 5:12pm Ballard’s BikeSport to get into head-on collision with some dumb dude. A younger male driving a “borrowed” older white Ford Bronco that wasn’t insured hit BikeSport’s storefront on Saturday around 5pm. After hitting a mini van about two blocks north on 24th, suspect drove south on 24th then running (driving) from the scene and proceded to hit three more cars in a domino order in front of Aster Coffee. He then lost control and ran into the front of BikeSport. An employee and a test rider were just a few feet away from him on the sidewalk. Employee ran to the car and kept him from leaving the scene. He was very out of it mentally and denied being drunk when witnesses were asking him if he was ok. Driver didn’t remember doing anything and was asking what had just happened. Witnesses had to tell the man over and over to shut the car off and how to do the emergency brake. He also had no remorse or acknowledged any wrong doing. Police said there was no sign of alcohol and it was possible “he was just that dumb”. No one was hurt inside the store though James, an employee, had to jump out of harms way. Police are positive the fellow will go to jail for his hit an run accident.

PS: Feel free to park in BACK of BikeSport.

When faced with this lemon, you make lemonade: A Door-Buster sale!

Sale, yes. Door prize, no.

Sale, yes. Door prize, no.