Show #455 – June 1, 2019

Guests: Alex Baca; Steve Rex

Are we reaching a tipping point for some meaningful change as it pertains to the safety of cyclists (and pedestrians) on the road?

Tonight, we chat with Alex Baca who works with the advocacy organization greater greater Washington, in DC. Alex, whose background encompasses advocacy on several fronts, and I were going to discuss separated bike lanes and why they might be better than painted lanes or sharing the road. But, as sometimes happens, a great conversation breaks out on another front.

Then, we’ll take a break and return for a conversation with Sacramento based multiple NAHBS winner frame builder Steve Rex.

Unlike many – if not most – of the frame builders we spoken with over the years, Steve was – in his words – “a shopkeeper” until just last year when he decided to take his frame building business out of a retail location and build his work shop closer to home.

We talk about his philosophy on fitting, disc brakes, and much more.

Show #446 – March 30, 2019

Guests: Patrick Brady; Molly Hurford; David & Emily Lafferty

First up, is the conversation I had with Red Kite Prayer’s Patrick Brady about the judging process at NAHBS.

It’s just not that simple – go around the show, ooo and ahhh about a bike and give it a blue ribbon! In fact, along with frame builder Tom Kellogg and journalist Nick Legan, Patrick has his work cut out for him with a multitude of categories, a show floor full of gorgeous bikes, and a lot of folks hoping to garner one of the top awards. You can also read Patrick’s blow-by-blow (bike-by-bike here)

We speak with Molly Hurford, who is often a guest on TOC. Molly just released an article yesterday titled, Why Sleep Is Critical for Athletes.

With lengthening daylight hours, the recent time change back to daylight savings time, and the outrageous work schedules many of us keep, it’s a wonder that sleep even gets on our day-to-day calendar.

BUT, when you take all of those things and then add intense athletic endeavor… lack of sleep is a recipe for disaster.

You can also learn more about Molly’s new book, Shred Girls! (Out May 7th)

Finally it’s off to the Granite State for a talk with husband and wife team, David and Emily Lafferty. Their company, Cycles Chinook, offers custom titanium tandems. They’ve built bikes for several blind stokers, including the first RAAM blind tandem team. It’s all about your fit, your ride preferences, and where you want to go. They have a cute how-‘they-met-story too!

Show #442 – March 2, 2019

Guests: Don Walker, Kyle Bryant, Brad Sauber

It’s a three-fer! And a very diverse three-fer at that.

First up is a quick check in with Don Walker, show owner and director of NAHBS. The 15th edition of the artisan builder’s show is only two weeks away. Opening on The Ides of March at the Sacramento Convention Center, the event will showcase magnificent hand built bikes, offer up some great seminar opportunities, and give attendees a chance to get up close and personal with a favorite builder.

Then it’s clear across the country to Philadelphia to speak with Kyle Bryant. Diagnosed with a rare and pretty much fatal disease – Friedrich’s Ataxia – Kyle decided to take life by the wheels – 3 of them to be exact – and riding across the country with his Dad by his side and his Mom as SAG, Kyle finds his true spirit as he visits research facilities, some weird and interesting places, and completes what many of us might think is an impossible mission.

Kyle tells it in his just published book, Shifting Into High Gear, One Man’s Grave Diagnosis and the Epic Bike Ride That Taught Him What Matters. It is at once scary, sad, joyful, and exciting!

 

Finally, it’s off to the Mill Valley, California to speak with Brad Sauber.

We talk with lots of tour directors; and Brad, with over 30 years of experience, has just launched his new company RAID Cycling. Not for the faint of heart, Brad’s tours are true tests of a rider’s mettle – but, the amenities that go along with the long miles and steep climbs might just be what you are looking for in a new adventure.

Show #388 – February 17, 2018

Guests: Peter Wilborn; Mary Wisnewski; encore interview with Rody Walter

RADIOTHON 2018!!! Yep – it’s time to log on to wjcu.org and pledge your support for the show AND the station. We only do this once a year and all of the money raised goes directly to the station! Any amount is greatly appreciated – and, thanks for listening!

Over the past year, we have reported on cyclists who have been hit – often fatally – while riding. We haven’t however, talked much about cyclists who crash by virtue of obstacles in their paths – obstacles like potholes or sewer grates or raised barriers that are difficult if not impossible to see.

Cyclists have been badly injured – sometimes sustaining permanent disabilities – and their equipment has been damaged.
Now that the roads are beginning to show the ravages of winter, I thought it would be a good time to talk about what you can and probably should do if you encounter these types of issues.

My first guest is Bike Law’s Peter Wilborn. Peter knows all too well about cyclists who are injured and equipment that is damaged as he has devoted his legal career to their causes. We walk about what to do if you encounter a road hazard, what needs to change when it comes to being less vulnerable on the road, and ends with a plea to “keep on riding”.

After a break, Chicago Tribune transportation reporter Mary Wisnewski talks to me about the work she has been doing in her town to shed some light on the disparity among residents who are being ticketed to minor cycling infractions. Her 2017 article “Biking While Black: Chicago Minority Areas See The Most Bike Tickets” was followed up this week with her column Black neighborhoods still see most bike tickets, police data show.

Mary and I talk about what the statistics show and how, while the number of tickets is decreasing, the disparity is staying the same.

Finally, since this is NAHBS weekend – and, unfortunately, circumstances did NOT pan out for me to attend the show, I thought I’d bring back one of my favorite people in an encore interview. Rody Walter from Groovy Cycles in Wooster, Ohio has been my guest a couple of times and was also a member of my frame builder’s panel in Sacramento.

He has a smart and unique view of the custom bike world and I thought hearing this conversation again would whet your appetite for some fancy bikes.

#nahbstweets will be goin on all weekend and beyond to showcase some of the beautiful equipment being exhibited in Connecticut.

Show #386 – February 3, 2018

Guests: Susie Marcks; Richard Fries, Don Walker

I cover a wide range of topics this week starting with toddlers on balance bikes.

My first guest, Susie Marcks, is the media voice of Strider Bikes. When the company was founded in 2007, the founder, Ryan McFarland, realized that his child needed and wanted to learn to ride. As with many children, training wheels were not working – and, Strider was born.

Today, the company has arguably become that “first bike” for thousands of kids from toddler through the 20″ BMX machine.

Then, there are the Strider Cup races, the World Championship, the partnerships, the philanthropy, and so much more.

Then, I have conversation with Mass Bike’s Richard Fries, a frequent guest on the show.

While Richard and Mass Bike are doing some amazing advocacy feats in Massachusetts, our conversation today is once again about the serious issue of police officials getting it wrong when a crash occurs – in these instances killing the rider.

We pick up the story of Dr. Anita Kurmann who was riding in her lane, carefully navigating traffic. In a video compiled from traffic cameras in the area, Richard tells us about the 16 seconds that the driver of the truck had Dr. Kurman in his mirrors, yet turned right anyway. She never had a chance.

What happened in the aftermath is the heart of our discussion about what it is going to take to enforce the laws, teach the police and prosecutors, and in effect change the system.

Finally, it’s time for the 2018 North American Handmade Bike Show and this year it is finally on the east coast in Hartford, CT.

Kicking off on Friday, February 16th and running through that weekend, NAHBS is celebrating 13 years of beautiful bikes, interesting and educational seminars, and a look into the myriad ideas of the handmade machine.

Show director Don Walker will give us the rundown on the event and how it has changed the industry.

 

 

Show #239 – March 28, 2015

Guests: Titanium frame builder Kent Eriksen; Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Ned Overend

For this last week of March I’ve chosen two of the industry’s favorite sons – Kent Eriksen and Ned Overend.

Kent started the brand Moots, moved on to his own company – Eriksen Cycles – and is one of the early adopters of titanium as the “material of choice”.

He calls himself a “seat of the pants” engineer and grew up riding and working in bike shops in his Wisconsin home.

He talks about his years of living in a tree house and today, he works in a very interesting facility in Steamboat Springs.  Earlier this month, Kent won “Best TIG Welded Frame” at NAHBS.  He still loves to ride and ski and spends a lot of his time, just as I’ve found most builders, IN his shop!

We discuss a bit about fit, technology, and of course my usual question for all builders these days – his opinion on road disc brakes! You might be surprised by his answer; but, seems that he understands the market as well as anyone with whom I’ve spoken.

Our conversation is fun and interesting.

After our news break, we head on out to San Diego to catch up with mountain bike legend Ned Overend. Growing up the son of a U.S. diplomat and living all over the world with his family, Ned talks about his childhood, his early racing days, and takes us right up to the present with an article he wrote last week for Bicycling.

Ned is a Mountain Bike Hall of Famer, has appeared in dozens of mountain bike videos, still loves to ride and race, and is the tech product guy at Specialized.

Our conversation runs the gamut from the early days of mountain biking to his most recent article in Bicycling titled “Ned Overend’s Secrets to Riding Forever”.

 

Show #230 – January 24, 2015

Guests: Elden (The Fat Cyclist) Nelson; Don (Mr. NAHBS) Walker

We’re getting into that time of winter where we long for sunny skies, warm temperatures, and green! So, probably one of the best ways to forget the winter doldrums is to laugh – at it, about it, or just find some funny stuff.

And, this week we did indeed find humor. Back at the beginning of the month, we spoke with commentator and journalist Dan Wuori. During our conversation, Dan mentioned that he had participated in the forward of a new book by the “fat cyclist” and I said… “Who’s that?”

Well, this evening, we get to talk with the “fat cyclist hisself”… Elden Nelson isn’t fat and he IS a cyclist. In fact, he’s an avid cyclist having completed 17 of the 18 Leadville 100 events he’s entered (there’s good reason he was DNF on the 18th!)

Elden writes the irreverent and mostly outrageously funny blog fatcyclist.com. His new book, “The Great Fatsby – Absurd Cycling Stories Disguised as Expertise and Insight” is a compendium of his blog from 2007 through 2010 and in it he adds many of the incredibly funny comments that were left after each entry.

But Elden isn’t just a humor monger – he’s the real deal and has raised millions of dollars for charities near and dear to his heart including Livestrong (yes, he believes in the organization and what it does), World Bicycle Relief, and the Kesem Camps (just listen and you’ll learn about them).

Then, after our break and some news, we hustle off to Louisville for the skinny on this year’s NAHBS show with founder and owner Don Walker. Oh yeah – NAHBS #11 is only 6 weeks away and Don gives us some excellent reasons to head over to the show and to the city of Louisville for some great cycling culture.

So, get your ears on and let’s listen in to my conversation with Elden Nelson – MR. Fat Cyclist.

Anvil Bikeworks – Don Ferris

I know I like to get my whine on once in a while about standards or some such but nevertheless I’m constantly amazed at how today’s bespoke/custom builders rise to the challenge. And how rising to the challenge so often goes unnoticed to the masses. This is going to be long & ugly….

For those folks who aren’t intimately familiar with NAHBS, don’t bother reading any further.

This year at NAHBS I had a reality driven home that I always “knew” but never really had made so crystal clear. There were many great bikes at NAHBS Charlotte, really great bikes. The bar is set so high that it’s easy for your eyes to roll back trying to get your mind around it all.

With that said, in my booth I had the honor of displaying several builder’s frames as “props” in our frame fixtures. These frames were all built by folks whom I consider to be some of the very best at what they do. One of the frames was a Kent EriksenTi Fat Bike frame that was in the as-welded condition. Meaning it wasn’t finished or brushed or polished or bead blasted or painted. It was just a sublime raw Ti frame presented with no more prep than what is required to assemble the frame and weld the joints; it was fresh out of the fixture and off the table. Being that it was built by Kent and welded by Brad Bingham who is arguably the best welder in the industry (and I hate him for it) you should have a hint of the quality: near perfection without the need for built in excuses. On top of all that, the fabrication and tube manipulation skills required to pull this frame off were, well, off the charts. On my very best day, I might be able to produce 90-percent of what this frame presented. It was, in a word, humbling.

And that’s where it starts to get sideways: 99% of the people who looked at it didn’t even notice and those who did were mostly other Ti builders. There was no flash paint, no polished bric-a-brac, no carbon fiber nuttin’. Just quiet, over-the-top craftsmanship and trade mastery that would be all up in your grill and ready to knock you on your ass if you only knew what you were looking at. I did my best to illuminate anyone who would linger & listen but I’m only one voice. Most folks looked at it for a moment and then moved on, never realizing that what they were seeing represents the very best of the craft.

Which brings me to my point…

I have to preface this. NAHBS is a lot of things to a lot a people; those who know me know I love it and I truly do. It can stress me out and I can go from calm as a Hindu cow to full-tilt asshole without warning during move-in and move-out, but for those 3-days when I’m on the floor it’s my heroin. If you asked Jill, she’d probably tell you that I’m an extrovert trapped (but not really trapped) in an introvert’s job (be a machinist, travel the world and meet people, they said…) and NAHBS is an opportunity for me to get out of my daily bubble and rub elbows with some of the best people in the world, people I love & respect. And she’d be right. When I talked to Patrick Brady after the show, I told him something to the effect that I thought NAHBS was part trade show, part craft fair, part fashion week, part high school reunion, and part Hunger Games and just when you think it’s going to end up with stacks of bodies and runny mascara, it doesn’t. NAHBS just is and just to head the inevitable off at the pass, can NAHBS be better? Of course it can, but that’s a different topic.

I’m close to getting to my point.

NAHBS, at its core, is a vehicle to allow cyclists to meet and view the handiwork of bespoke builders & vice versa. In other words, it’s ultimately about those dirty words commerce & profit. If it’s a party thrown for cyclophiles and the builders are invited or if the party is thrown for builders and the cyclophiles are invited, I don’t know. I don’t even care as long as both customers get what they’re paying for. What I do know is that if you’re a builder and you’re displaying at NAHBS, you can bring your A game and it might not be enough. There are a lot of A games out there. Though it’ll piss off the folding table and white sheet crowd, since it’s about profit & commerce, it’s also about PRESENTATION to the public and the fact that the public will very likely not recognize your craftsmanship without it. And that’s really what I had driven home for me when I started this ramble. I’m not promoting one-upmanship for booths or having some sort of constant cold war escalation in art show freak bikes resulting in mutually assured destruction.

What I’m talking about is that for a show like NAHBS, how you present your craft is almost as important as mastering it. If you want a sterile presentation, go for that. If you want flash, go for that. But don’t go for mediocre because NAHBS will spit you out the back. Do I wish it wasn’t this way? Hell yes, but the fact is that it’s a reality that is outside the control of the exhibitors, the attendees, and the host. I felt bad seeing people on their migration from one flash paint scheme to the next walk right by the booths of folks who were just as, if not more so, on top of their game, skills-wise, but presented it poorly. It’s just the reality for all of us. We get drawn in by looks. Understand it and plan for it.

Once last thing. Those new builders who show up and display in the new builder’s booths are some of the bravest & most talented folks I know. It’s tough going toe to toe against established pros. I applaud and congratulate all of them. It’s also a sad fact of life that inevitably some self-described expert, i.e., some moist fingered blog writer who doesn’t even attend the show, will try to knock them down a few pegs for having the balls to show there. I’ve got knuckles for those types if they’d ever like a taste.

Show #190 – April 19, 2014

Guests: Rock Lobster’s Paul Sadoff; Entrepreneur Pamela Dorr

This week we’d like to begin by wishing everyone who observes them, a happy holiday – Passover and/or Easter.  Sunshine abounds here in NE Ohio and for THAT we are very grateful.

I wanted to create a show about the 10th NAHBSThe North American Handmade Bicycle Show – and come at it from a couple of different angles.

The first is actually from someone who did NOT attend the show in Charlotte, NC last month. Rock Lobster’s Paul Sadoff‘s reasons for NOT attending were first brought to my attention in a blog post from Bicycle Times Magazine. And, he expands on those reasons and delves into the custom bike builder world in more detail as well as tells us about a new collaboration between himself and the venerable Bruce Gordon.

I also speak with Pamela Dorr who went from apparel designer for Victoria’s Secret in San Francisco to entrepreneur extraordinaire in Greensboro, Alabama.  The NAHBS connection came from an incident that happened when her HERO   (Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization)  bamboo bike was Kidnapped from the Handmade Show and her story, her enthusiasm, and her successes will blow you away.

When you hear our show via podcast this week, you will learn about our new sponsor, Dodd Camera.  We welcome them and appreciate their support of our work.  When you are looking for professional equipment and advice about photography, Dodd Camera is a great place to look!