“Life’s too short to ride shit bikes.” Or so Fyxo says. For some that may be true. For the rest of us muggles a bike not up to some people’s standards may be all we have. We may have fallen in love with the color and style. We may just need it to get around town. Or we may, as in Hana’s case, have liberated it from our grandfather’s garage. Sometimes it is not about the quality of the bicycle. It may be the perfect look for the person riding it. It may exude the right attitude or even give the rider an air of confidence. Cycling makes us free. We can’t al have hand-welded steel and slick carbon. We only have what makes us feel like we can go anywhere, get some exercise and not have to park a f**king car. That is all.
All mountain bikers are f**king crazy! Let me explain:
Craziness, especially when it comes to bicycles is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, one can totally overdo it. However, I think these nutbags are in the vast minority. No, I think most mountain bikers just want to have a good time. Some feel they need to barrel down a hill with rocks and roots and snakes in order to get the right adrenaline rush. Hey, the more the merrier. It’s just not my cup of tea. Not my bailiwick. Not in my wheelhouse, so to speak. The last time I rode a mountain bike was in 1989. It was a Made in the USA Marin that was a gnarly day-glo chartreuse color and it had zero suspension. I was 19 and my joints could barely take it. Maybe that was what turned me off to it. Maybe I am not cut from the same cloth as others my age who remember mountain biking in its infancy. In any case, one of these days, I’ll get a demo bike and try it again when I feel like breaking a femur. Now if I can only puck a f**king wheel size. Jesus.
For cyclists and bike enthusiasts, bicycles and their parts and accessories are certainly a type of pron that evokes certain types of feelings. Some of us appreciate a NAHBS-worthy, beautiful bike that is never meant to be ridden. Others choose to love those that are ridden to the point of being downright dirty and ugly. But for all of us, bikes in most of their forms and appearances are wonderful. That said, these emotions and feelings extend to the experience of riding a bike as well. Some of us love a newly-asphalted road with gentle curves and climbs. Others love a dirty, rocky trail that does nothing to bring out the sweat and stink only to spend an hour cleaning the mud off of said experience.
For me, the only thing that would qualify as not being a fun experience is rain. I’m from Southern California so maybe I’m not made of the same stuff as someone from Oregon. Our experiences are all relative. I have serious issues when the temperature dips below 50 degrees F. However, I can take a 100 degree ride no problem. So maybe I was a cat or a tanuki in a former life. I just don’t like to be wet and cold. Will I do it if I have to? Of course! I just will express my extreme displeasure when asked. That said, we are in the midst of a pretty serious drought here in Santa Barbara. We get all our water from Lake Cachuma which is extremely low. So when we had a storm last weekend, I was pretty surprised. Like most Santa Barbarians, I got dressed and made my way to work in the above-pictured mess. The thing I forgot to remember was that most Santa Barbarians don’t drive very well when it rains. Motorists around here tend to freak out a little bit, making it dangerous for cyclists in wet weather. So maybe my aversion to rain is actually a self-preservation mechanism?
Anyways, the mountain biking around her blows when it’s wet. Too many rocks. That is all.
For bicycles and bicycle culture, Santa Barbara is an interesting place. There is a dichotomy of cyclists here when it comes to vintage bikes. I’m sure that this situation exists amongst riders all over the world. The split is this: there are those who ride vintage bicycles knowing exactly what they are, their provenance, etc.; and there are those who just happen upon a really nice specimen, not knowing what it is or anything else about it. Most of the people in this berg are of the former. A lot of them buy these classic Columbus-tubed beauties for a song or in Cullen’s case, get one for free from a friend.
I’m not saying that these two factions, the all-knowing euro-bike aficionados and the people who fall ass-backwards into greatness are fighting each other. Far from it. Being a steel bicycle snob myself, I usually brush aside my criticisms of the random paint scratch and mismatched brake calipers to show the owner how excited they should be that they own such a fine piece of cycledom. The befuddled cyclist finds out what a cool ride they have all the while I am happily snapping away with my Fuji. And seriously, Mavic components? That’s a new one on me (don’t try to adjust the tracking on your VCR when you view the video). I feel educated. See gallery below for more pics.
Bicycles are only part of the person. If bicycles are your entire life you’re probably a weirdo…or a framebuilder. There are more things in life than riding a bicycle. Alex is no exception. I first met him when I started working at the bike shop about two years ago. He’s a lot younger than me by a couple of decades (this seems to be a pattern with me). What he lacks in age, he makes up in life experience. A lot of people would mistake him for your average hipster with a bicycle accessory. I will agree that on first glance he fits the recipe: he has tattoos, a fixie and one damn good sense of fashion. But he’s also a pretty awesome musician, playing drums in his band, Harness. He swears off drugs and alcohol (as most of us should), so he is already leading by example. Here’s what surprised me the most: About a year and a half ago, he left the bike shop to go to barber college. He now works at The Palms Barber shop here in Santa Barbara (37 W Calle Laureles, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. (805) 687-2529). He pulls off some pretty awesome haircuts. Give him a call. I really should go in, they’re right near the Trader Joe’s so it’s not like it’s inconvenient. I guess I am just lazy.
I’m on a kick lately where I have a lot of free time and the opportunity to shoot some of my friends and their bikes. It’s going well. That is all.
Doing custom builds on Schwinn Cruisers is sort of a thing here in Santa Barbara. I used to do it. It’s a lot of fun and you end up with a pretty sick ride after you finally decide you’re done. There seems to be an obsession with Chris King headsets and SE Landing Gear forks on older cruiser frames. It’s pretty awesome. Daniel Quinones, (DQ) is one of those guys who I am extremely lucky to call my friend. He and I mix it up at the bike shop while quoting Nacho Libre on weekends and I can’t say that there is another person who laughs at my jokes more than he does.
When DQ’s not putting some sweet cruisers together or killing awesome trails, he studies photography at Brooks Institute here in SB. I have to say, that he and our buddy Max Frank (also a Brookie) have given me endless advice on how to manage a camera…and a bike. He’s also taken a few good pics of my ugly mug. I must admit I look pretty hard. Straight from the hardcore ghetto of Santa Barbara. I look like I just rode a mountain bike while running hooch across the border from Whistler, BC in 1930. AD. Prohibition and all that. What I am trying to say is that even though I am 20 years older than him, I wish I had his skills.
The best thing about cycling is the people you meet. I took these shots of James and his awesome Free Spirit bicycle a few weeks ago. I promised him that I would post them immediately. Well, life got in the way. That’s why I haven’t really been posting so much. Sorry, dude. But more about this bike:
I have always been a fan of the Schwinn/Free Spirit/AMF/Huffy lightweight steel road bikes of this period. They all shared a similar design: a simple USA bottom bracket and one-piece crank (though I have been known to upgrade a few to piece versions), swept-back handlebars and sometimes fenders. The best thing about these bikes is that there are companies out there like Linus, Civia and Public that are remaking these classic designs and passing them off as the new retro trend. I really don’t mind. Schwinn and Free Spirit co-opted these designs from European models back in the 40s and 50s and did a pretty good job of introducing them to the American cyclist. The new retro cyclist seems to be overtaking the beach cruising college girl and I think it is awesome. Better-looking and more maneuverable bikes on the road.
Trying out a bicycle photo gallery! This is Hugh. He rolled into Santa Barbara a little while ago and I just about fell over when I saw his bike. Rivendell Bicycle Works. Well what can I say? For me, and many others, it is the ultimate in handmade bicycle nirvana. Based, headquartered and just being plain awesome in Walnut Creek, CA, Rivendell sells just about everything you would need for cycling before you die. These frames are hand built. An entire bicycle can be had with all sorts of awesome stuff like Paul Components levers and brakes, Soma tires, they even do quite a bit of 650B randonneur-style stuff. If you have the scratch, the cabbage in your pocket, the green to invest, I say do it. Look at this! It’s a daily rider and he’s hauling water and things!
Why hasn’t there been any updates about people and their bicycles lately? Well, I have been really sick. Sick people tend to stay inside and think about riding bicycles. Sick photographers like myself tend to stay in and watch DigitalRev TV and laugh at all of Kai’s antics as he tries to burn cameras and levitate himself in Hong Kong. Wait. Am I the only one who does that? Seriously, the guy is funny and he does love photography (although he’s got to get rid of that overpriced Leica M9 and stick with the Fuji X series).
Speaking of sick, I think I need to start eating more organic food and double down on the kale. I haven’t been down to the Farmer’s Market quite enough already. With all the supplements, protein bars, recovery fluids and other seepages that cyclists seem to live on, really it isn’t food. All of us, photogs and cyclists alike should be eating real food and getting healthy. On a photography note, you can meet the most interesting people at your local Farmer’s Market. You can throw an organic loquat and hit like, 70 people with a bicycle. It’s a green paradise and a great place to take pictures.
Most people who know me are familiar with how I feel about recumbents. It’s not that I despise, abhor nor detest them. Nay, I absolutely think they are the silliest-looking thing outside of tandems. Now I am not denying that some people need to ride a bicycle in a different way for, say, health problems. Maybe somebody has a bad back or has issues with their shoulders, arms or neck. Should they ride any way they can? Absolutely. But will that stop me from stifling a snicker or a guffaw every time I see them on their ‘bents? No it won’t. I think recumbent riders look like big kids on super-techie Big Wheels.
Needless to say, Ian was out looking silly and being a really cool guy at the same time. Sorry about the tirade, Ian. I just can’t help myself. I will never deny that recumbents have their place in the cycling world. In fact, I will wholeheartedly agree with anyone who says they help get more people out cycling and as a result make cycling more accessible. It’s just…so funny looking. Right? Am I right?
What about the potential Fred effect? What happens when people who don’t need to ride a different kind of bike start doing so just because they can? That’s a whole other topic.
What do you think?