And so it is over. 6 days and 550 miles later we have completed the Fireflies West 2013 ride. Right now I would say I am suffering from a little bit of post-ride blues (probably mixed with saddle fatigue). As a group we traveled down PCH in a bubble of adrenaline and chamois cream protected from government shutdowns, saddle sores, news, and our jobs. For 6 days all that mattered was getting up, getting breakfast, getting to the lunch stop, getting to the hotel and Chocolate Milk, repeat. Perfect roads, perfect weather, and the wind on our backs (mostly). If you are a rider, is there a better way to spend a week? But none of these things are what made the ride special for me; in the end it was the people I met and rode with. We are all used to suffering in the saddle, some more than others, but few of us express or show how we have suffered in life. Every rider had their own special cause, someone they were riding for. A lost parent or a friend, or in some cases actually riding with cancer. Some were open and wore it on their sleeves (or in my case on my stem), others didn’t need to say anything, you just knew. The feeling of giving something of yourself and contributing to such an amazing charity created a very special kinship. No one was left behind, no one crashed, we just took care of each other and rode together. What we gained in safety we made up for in flats – especially the “King of Flats” – which all being said isn’t a bad trade.
Massive thanks has to go to the organizing crew for picking out such a great route. Right from rolling out of San Francisco to pulling in to The Mill in LA (although we did manage to roll right past the welcoming party and the Brazilian band), the route never got boring and stayed challenging. There were moments that will go into the catalogue of unforgettable rides. Rolling into the Redwoods of Big Sur after a 98-mile day. Climbing up Stage Coach with Ben in the pre-lunch sun with a perfect tempo. Ripping up the Cabrilo rollers on a tailwind into San Simeon and looking down to see my dad’s face smiling up at me and getting that little extra (he knew exactly what was going on:). Rolling out of Ventura on the front and looking back on a bend to see about 40 Fireflies on my wheel, incredible. Riding in the group with Mick into Solvang over what became known as the “Magic Carpet.” A stretch of road that felt like it was going down hill, but didn’t look like it, on a surface that looked like it had been laid down 2 hours earlier (in fact it felt so good we rode right past the vineyards).
Going into a 6-day ride mentally feels like a big effort, but on reflection it actually went by really quickly. Once you get past those first few days, you and your legs slip into a routine. You know when you can push yourself, and you know when to back off. I rode always leaving a little bit in the tank to make sure I wasn’t on my knees by LA. Although there were always those moments when you say f@*k it! Like riding into Santa Cruz on the back of Vlasta the “Czech Vespa” at 34 mph. Sometimes you just have to go, right? On the last day I slipped away at the rest stop and rode up most of the Mulholland climb by myself. Just me, my thoughts, and my dad on my stem – it was a very special moment. Then I was back in the ride again as I heard gears and panting behind me and the climbers rolled past – that might have been the moment where I moved on.
The photo above says it all, the regroup at Father’s Office in LA. A beer in hand and a closing speech from Mick, we were all happy to have finished, but also maybe just a little sad we were done. Bittersweet – although the ice cream Tracy bought me helped. If you ever want to challenge yourself on the bike and do some good in the process, the Fireflies is a damn fine place to start – I recommend it to everyone. There was one thing that made me smile maybe more than anything. So many people commented on how good a wheel I was to ride behind, how consistent and safe it felt. After 3 decades in the saddle you would hope I got it right :), but really it comes from riding behind my father who had the most perfect souplesse pedal stroke crafted from years on the track and touring for weeks at a time. He was a good study and I know he would have been proud of the compliments as he worked hard to get me there both in the saddle and in life. Thank you so much guys for those words, they meant so much. The ride has reinvigorated me, and made me want to get lean and fast again. Here’s to next year – hell maybe even the Alps.
Did someone actually say “Should we keep going to Tijuana”?
The previous Richard Sachs identity was maybe one of the most established identities in the sport of cycling, so no small task to take on the redesign and make it equally iconic. Time is the only thing that can decide if a piece of design becomes an icon, but the guys at House Industries (one of our favorite font makes here at HUGE) have done a really beautiful job. Right down to the color mix by Joe Bell the red is special to the brand. It is a finely considered piece of design done by people who understand the nuance of the sport and the intricacies of frame design. Shame they have to cover that frame and kit in mud.
City Publishers in Orestad have taken the bookshop to the road. With a converted cargo bike powered by an editor or a writer they are taking books and coffee to the streets of Copenhagen. Like most countries publishers and bookshops are struggling to keep the printed word relevant and are starting to look for different ways to get themselves out there. City Publishers is a small independent publisher who publish under the motto “Books for the people”, and it is their small nimble size that has pushed them to try different things to connect with their readers, in this case via the bike. The plan is for the mobile cafe to move around the city and park itself in front of parks, business’s and bigger city landmarks.
These photographs on the Billy Kirk site are almost like pieces of art. They are renowned for the quality of their hand-crafted leather products, and here they have applied that to the classic Toe Strap. The rugged design is made from 7 oz. genuine bridle leather sourced in the USA, and made to last. They also offer a variety of color options that allow you to match the straps to your saddle and grip tape. A no frill design with dull nickel plated brass buckles for adjustment. You can get them here.
If I am completely honest I have had a little bit of creative block for the last 6 months. Loosing a parent impacts all of us in very different ways, for me one of those ways was a loss of joy in the things I used to find enjoyment in doing. This blog, brand, photography, publishing thing was one of them. But I feel different this morning. I am just kitting up for a 6 day 550 mile ride down one of the most beautiful rides in the world, PCH. I woke 3 hours early with nervous energy. If that wasn’t enough I am doing it with a bunch full of creative minds, all for the cause of raising funds for the City Of Hope Hospital. My father will be riding with me in spirit (he is actually taped to my stem, literally) and I know he would have loved this. I think this ride is going to give me a new burst of creative energy, so be warned I am going to bore the shorts off you with posts about how beautiful bikes are and how happy I am that the UCI has at least for now someone who seems to want to give us our sport back. Ride on….
This is one well crafted pack, a fine combination of traditional materials and modern design. Made by Japanese brand Nanamica they use a lightweight and durable Cordura for the main material and leather straps with brass buckles to secure the top closure. The back has a padded back panel for comfort and padded shoulder straps for carrying. Two compression straps on each side keep the the pack close the body when riding. It comes in a lot of different color combinations, but really liking the blue and red above.
It is the 60th anniversary of one of Italy’s best loved bike brands, De Rosa. To mark the occasion they have launched a new series called ”Sessanta” - this special edition or “Black Series” are made in the four materials of frame building, Steel, Titanium, Aluminum and Carbon all in one lush dark color. My favorite is the Aluminum version above, although I think it is a miss to not include one of the best logos in cycling on the down tube. From the launch site it reads like the frames can be custom tailored for size in all four materials, all made in Italy.
I love a good surprise in the post. This week brought these wonderful prints from the illustrator Otto Von beach. They are a series called 100 revolutions that celebrate The Tour. They are lithographic prints on 350 gm silk board, 210mm x 285mm and printed by Spiegl Press of Stamford in an edition of 500 (unsigned). In his own words and ones that I could never hope to better:
“REGRETTABLY I was already entombed in my icy berth when those sixty savages of the road set forth on the first Tour de France in 1903. However, I did have the dubious pleasure of meeting the eventual winner, Maurice Garin, at the inaugural Paris-Roubaix in 1896. To commemorate the 100th edition of the Tour—and to recover the five guineas Garin charged me for his autograph—I am delighted to offer a set of six prints illustrating each of the six stages from that first race.”
These are well worth getting, very unique and beautifully executed, I don’t doubt that down the line they could become collectable. You can get them here.