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!

Show #180 – February 1, 2014 (WOW!)

Guests: Liz Jose, WEBikeNYC; Don Walker, NAHBS

 

Everybody seems to have their favorite season of the year. I like any season in which I can go for a bike ride (which turns out to be all of them, if I’m dressed right and sufficiently motivated). But looking out my back window today it occurred to me that without leaves to block the view, we can see the true structure of trees much more clearly. Currently, the Grey Squirrel Acrobatic Company is putting on a fabulous show for an appreciative audience of one.

So, in the spirit of the season, we get right to the heart of a couple of folks doing interesting things in very different areas of cycling. First up is Liz Jose, founder of WE Bike NYC. The “WE” stands for “women’s empowerment”, and the organization grew out of Liz’s day job as a bicycle mechanic in Manhattan’s East Village, and a desire to get more women riding and working on their bicycles. Liz was also featured in a recent article in Bicycling magazine.

In a very different region of the country, and a different part of cycling, Don Walker is getting ready to produce the tenth annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show, March 14-16 in Charlotte, North Carolina.Don joins us in the second half of the show to talk about the evolution of NAHBS, what to expect this year, and what he’s been up to lately.

Show #131 – February 22, 2013 – NAHBS!

GUESTS: JOSH SIMONDS, BRETT HORTON

 

The 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show is in full swing as of this writing, and Diane is not only attending, she’s participating in Smoked Out Live at the Framebuilder’s Party on Saturday night. You can attend virtually at overthetopcycling.com.

To get us in the mood for this evening, Diane chats up Josh “Too Tall” Symonds from Velocipede Salon. Always irreverent and unpredictable, Josh will be one of those holding court at tonight’s event.

There is lots of news in this week’s show, followed by a deep dive into the world of bicycle racing memorabilia with Brett Horton. Brett is the curator of the Horton Collection, an outstanding, um, collection of jerseys, posters, bike and other physical artifacts from bicycle racing’s golden age. Brett is a former racer himself, who has honed the art of finessing top pros like Eddy Mercx out of some of their prized memorabilia.

Show #129 – February 9, 2013

RADIOTHON!  Guests: Don Walker, Richard Pound, Larry Graham

Radiothon link! Pledge early & often!

 

Do you enjoy your weekly dose of The Outspoken Cyclist? Would you like to help ensure it continues to tickle your ears every Saturday? Then support WJCU during Radiothon 2013. WJCU is non-commercial, listener-supported radio, staffed by dedicated volunteers. That means your small annual donation goes directly towards keeping the lights on at WJCU, and keeping the Many Voices, and Many Choices on the air and on the Internet.

Thanks for your support; let’s get on to this week’s show:

The annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show is just a couple weeks away. We caught up with show director Don Walker in a rare moment of calm during his pre-show frenzy to talk about NAHBS, ‘Cross Worlds, and life in general.

Richard (Dick) Pound has a C.V. as long as your arm, including Olympic swimmer, attorney, university chancellor, and IOC board member. But the role for which we know him best is as one of the founders and president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. For the past several years, Mr. Pound has been swimming against the prevailing tide with regard to doping in cycling. Recent revelations have vindicated him, and he was gracious enough to join us from Toronto to share his thoughts on cycling’s ugly past, and his hopes for its future.

Finally, a little closer to home, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming ultra-distance racing season, and one of the premier events is right in our backyard. Larry Graham, co-director of Calvin’s Challenge brings us up to date on the 22nd edition of this iconic race set for Saturday, May 4th, in Springfield, Ohio.

Show #81 – March 10, 2012

Diane’s back from NAHBS this week, and fired up with a show that runs the full spectrum.

First up is Tim Blumenthal, President of People for Bikes. Tim is here talk about the recent bombshell announcement that the three major bicycling organizations in the U.S.: The Alliance for Biking and Walking, The League of American Bicyclists, and People for Bikes intend to unite to form a single, consolidated entity to promote and encourage cycling. There is still a lot for the leaders of the three groups to discuss and decide, but it appears that cyclists will have a unified umbrella after more than 30 years of wishing and hoping. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this, especially after the Bike Summit toward the end of March.

Argyle Armada
After a refreshing dip in the pool of cycling news, and a much needed rest stop, Diane welcomes Mark Johnson, the author of a new book about Team Garmin-Cervelo. Mark was lucky enough to be invited to embed with the team during the 2011 racing season, and talented enough to write and photograph a book about it. The book is titled The Argyle Armada!

 

Show #80 – March 3, 2012

Holy smokes! Even though Diane is on the other side of the country at NAHBS, she still managed to leave us with a blockbuster show.

First up is an interview with cycling renaissance man, Thomas Bowden, from Richmond, Virginia. Tom is a bike commuter from Richmond VA, a corporate lawyer with an MBA, and a board member of Bike Virginia. He also contributes to Commute By Bike. You can hear all about his activities in those arenas, plus the big event he’s been working to bring to Richmond, Virginia in 2015.

And in the second half of the show, an interview with a true cycling legend, Graeme Obree. Yes, that Graeme Obree, The Flying Scotsman himself. Twice-decorated as the Hour Record holder, Graeme is still designing, building and riding bikes, and right now, he’s “tuning up his engine” for a run at the HPV land speed record in Nevada this fall.

Does it get any better than this? I think not, at least until next time…

Show #79 – February 25, 2012

Before we dive into this week’s show, let me take a moment on behalf of myself, Diane, and everyone at WJCU, to thank Outspoken Cyclist listeners for their generosity during Radiothon 2012. Thanks to your support, The Outspoken Cyclist doubled our pledge amount compared to 2011, and more importantly, you helped WJCU meet its overall fundraising goal. Chapeaux to everyone who donated to Radiothon!

Now to why you came here in the first place. We start this week’s show right in our own backyard. After years of talk and rumor, Cleveland is finally, actually getting a velodrome. Brett Davis, board chair of Fast Track Cycling, the non-profit that is spearheading this project, stopped into the WJCU studios to bring us up to date on the latest, including an expected June 2012 opening!

From track cycling in Cleveland we move on to the upcoming North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), which opens March 2 in Sacramento, California.

In conjunction with NAHBS, Paul Skilbeck and Julia Beckner are curating and coordinating ArtBike, a bicycle-centric community art exhibition designed to bridge the Sacramento community and the bike show. Paul and Julia were nice enough to join us by phone and give us a preview of what to expect in Sacramento this coming week.

Moving on with more about NAHBS, Don Walker, the founder and Chief Executive Everything of the handmade show (and owner of Don Walker Cycles) joins us from Louisville, Kentucky. Don had just finished loading the trailer for his road trip from Louisville to Sacramento, when we caught up with him. He shared some info about this year’s show, and a detailed, inside look at a very unique bike project Don will be exhibiting at the show.