Great Bike People We’ve Met
As we approach almost a year of being on the road, we’ve been looking back at some of our experiences. One of the running themes with the people we’ve met, not surprisingly, is that they’re involved with bikes – independent business owners, bike bloggers, bike advocates, etc. There is just something about the bicycle that seems to attract really fascinating and interesting people. Here’s a list of some of the folks we’ve been lucky to meet.
Jonathan Maus – BikePortland
BikePortland, to bikey folks, needs no introduction. While it remains solely focused on bike issues in Portland, its reach and influence easily spills across the country. We’ve spoken to many people interested in bike advocacy across the country and they all watch BikePortland like hawks for inspiration. We’ve crossed paths several times with Jonathan over the last few years. We first met briefly at the 2007 Tour de Fat. We met again a few years later in Long Beach, CA while he was visiting some family not too far away. During our current trip, Jonathan helped set up a presentation at Roots Brewing company. He is an all around great guy, and BikePortland is tireless in its dedication to keep watch on Portland’s bike scene. During our presentations, we talk a bit about BikePortland and how bike watchdog sites like that are absolutely essential in creating a bike community.
Jeff Mapes – Pedal Revolution
Not even two days into Portland, we got invited to help in a bike move. While there, we met Jeff Mapes, a journalist and author of Pedal Revolution. It was one of those strange moments, since we had been reading the book while on the Amtrak heading to Portland! Pedal Revolution has become required reading of sorts for people interested in bike advocacy. I know that, in Long Beach, the bike/ped coordinator handed out over 100 copies to some of the most influential people in town, to enlighten them about the possibilities of the bicycle. Jeff walks the walk. During the bike move, he rode his cargo bike, a Yuba Mundo, and pedaled along with everyone.
Todd and Martina – Clever Cycles
The word “bakfiets” was barely on the radar of cycling in the United States until Todd, Martina, Dean and their other partners began importing them for their store Clever Cycles in Portland. We had been huge fans of their store and always stopped by whenever we visited Portland. Todd gave us a rambling tour of his side of Portland, meandering through neighborhood streets, picking fruit from trees and riding up Mount Tabor. It was wonderful to watch him ride a bike because you could see him instantly transformed into someone with effortless grace on two wheels. We also spoke a lot to Martina, who was determined to expand cycling to families. She was appalled at some of the cheap low quality trailers and child seats that were made for bicycles and was adamant that if more families were to ride on bikes, manufacturers would have to create better products! I remember riding around town and I asked her how she felt when she saw a bakfiets on the streets of Portland. She was proud, and rightfully so, because without Clever Cycles the US would still be in the dark about the possibilities of utility cycling.
Kent “Mountain Turtle” Peterson is another prolific bike blogger. I’ve been reading his blog for some time and enjoyed his posts about his overnight bike camping trips in the outskirts of Seattle. He is also well known for his single speed exploits on the Great Divide. He competed this year in the Great Divide Tour but didn’t finish. In a poignant post he writes about why he ended the race and his realization that he was more tourist than racer. One of our favorite posts was what he wrote about how there is an inverse relationship between information and adventure. The more information you have, the less adventurous your journey feels. That one bit of insight really inspired us to leave ourselves open and let serendipity be our guide.
Martina – Swift Industries
We met Martina in Seattle, where she runs her business Swift Industries. Martina is strongly principled and does her best to run Swift sustainably and socially responsibly. We use her front panniers and are happy to know that we are supporting a great independent maker who is trying do right in the world through her products. Click here to see a multimedia story on Martina!
Shane MacRhodes – Eugene, OR Safe Routes to School
We had a beautiful homestay with Shane MacRhodes, father, cyclist and Safe Routes to School coordinator for Eugene. Shane and his wife Missy, did a trip very similar to ours a few years ago, and shared stories and knowledge from their experience. Shane is active in the community and is a LCI (League Certified Instructor), has sat on the bicycle advisory committee of Eugene and also founded the successful “kidical mass” ride in Eugene. He and Missy are the proud parents of three young kids (congratulations on your new twin boys!), and they are a great example of how cycling advocacy has to grow up beyond the angry young men of Critical Mass and encompass a wider scope of people to be truly effective.
This was one of the big highlights for me, being a big Rivendell fan for some time. We rolled into Walnut Creek during a storm and the Rivendell folks were kind enough to give us some shelter for a few hours and show us around the office. We got to meet Grant and talked to him about Etsy and photography. I also tried to get him to carry Opinel knives to no avail. : )
I snapped a rare photo of Robert (aka “Pineapple Bob”) the once reluctant Bridgestone model. We got to hang out with the guys in the shipping department who were having a great time.
We also met Rich, their wheelbuilder, who many weeks later would help me out of a jam by building a wheel and sending it via UPS overnight to our campsite! They are good guys and I was ecstatic to finally meet the folks behind this company that is shrouded around so much mystique.
Tammy and Logan
Sometimes you meet folks on the road and know that, given the opportunity, would be great friends and neighbors. Tammy (RowdyKittens.com) and her husband Logan are just good people. When we rolled into Sacramento, I was miserable, having just burnt my hand, and Laura was coming down with the flu. They were kind enough to take us in for a week and let us convalesce. Tammy and Logan are also into simple living and the tiny house movement. They had both reduced their personal belongings to just a handful of items but were richer for it, having more time to enjoy their lives, instead of trying to work like mad to maintain a lifestyle. They have since moved to Portland and Tammy has released an eBook called Simply CarFree that you all should read!
Jeff Boatman – Carousel Design Works
Jeff lives and works in a small house in the hills of California gold country that his grandfather owned. After a personal tragedy and a serious injury that had him laid up for two years, Jeff combined his love for ultralight backpacking and cycling and began Carousel Design Works. His frame bags are a true reflection of his stripped down back to basics lifestyle. We stayed one night at his house in the woods where we reflected deeply on the strange paths that life sometimes takes us down.
Mike McKisson – TucsonVelo
Mike is another person we talk about during our presentations. His life was transformed by the bicycle. One fateful day he rented a bicycle in San Diego. After having fun on the rental, he decided to try cycling in Tucson, AZ. From then on, cycling took hold of him and he lost over 100lbs in a year, began bike commuting and racing. While we were there we talked a lot about bike advocacy. Coincidentally, he had setup a webpage but it hadn’t been officially launched yet. At our presentation at BICAS, the local bike co-op, we plugged his new website TucsonVelo and from then on it has become the bike news/advocacy site of Tucson.
Ken Wallace – Bisbee Bicycle Brothel
Tucked in the hills of Southern Arizona, the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel is an unlikely gem in an unlikelier piece of rock. Ken Wallace, the proprietor of the Bike Brothel, let us stay at his place while a snow storm blew through the hills. His knowledge of cycling ephemera is encyclopedic and he was an absolutely fascinating person to talk to. If you are anywhere near Bisbee and like bikes, his shop/personal bike museum is an absolute MUST visit place.
Beth Nobles – Texas Mountain Trail
Beth Nobles of TexasMountainTrail is also an amazing woman we met along our journey. Responsible for promoting tourism in far West Texas, she is broadening her approach to promote cycling as well. During our travels through her region, she helped us connect with places to stay as well as suggested things to see. We recently got an email from her, telling us that she has been working with the city council of Valentine, TX (a super remote area in Texas) to allow cyclists to stay at the Community Building! She has also been working with local hotels in Van Horn, to carry bicycle pumps and other tools for touring cyclists.
Keith Byrd and Elliot McFadden
Keith Byrd is the charismatic leader and organizer of immensely popular Thursday Night Social ride in Austin. While he didn’t start the ride, he has grown its popularity and has worked with local businesses to support it. While we were there, the rides easily numbered around 300 people. We’ve heard that it can get into the thousands on real popular nights. Elliot McFadden, is the webmaster of AustinOnTwoWheels, the BikePortland equivalent of Austin, covering news and events in Austin. While we were in Austin, we were lucky enough to attend their first Taste of Downtown ride, an attempt to take the Social Ride and turn it mainstream.
The ride took people to various restaurants in town that offered up drinks and snacks. Keith led the ride on a newly acquired bakfiets (courtesy of Clever Cycles…you see all the crazy little connections?). The sense of bike culture is thick in Austin and a lot of it has to do with Keith and Elliot.
Bernie and Bryan – Trinity Bicycles
Bernie and Bryan, the owners of Trinity Bicycles, hosted our most amazing presentation to date in Fort Worth. We got a crowd of over 100 people and it was evidence that Fort Worth and North Texas had a large latent bike culture. Trinity is the first commuter/touring focused shop in Fort Worth. Bernie specifically wanted a shop with showers that was close to transit lines so he could help serve commuters. Since our presentation many months ago, they have also led several bicycle rides and even an overnight bike camping trip! The shop was just barely painted when we had our presentation and now it is becoming ground zero for bicycling culture in Fort Worth.
Howard Draper – BikeFriendlyDenton
Howard Draper is the calm and persistent voice of cycling in the small North Texas town of Denton. Through his website, he has begun to find others in Denton that want to promote cycling. He has also made large strides in reaching out to the mayor, city council and businesses to think of transforming Denton in a pedestrian and bike friendly city.
Maurice – Bicycling Lawyer of Shreveport
Maurice, our host in Shreveport, Louisiana, is quite possibly the only lawyer that bike commutes in all of Shreveport. While not the leader of any organized group, he has provided a great example to others in the community. He is knowledgeable about bike laws and bike safety and played an instrumental role in getting a very anti-bike law struck down (there was a bill proposed to require cyclists to wear blinking lights at ALL TIMES). His continued personal advocacy will hopefully soon inspire some of the younger cyclists to step up to the plate and start a movement in Shreveport.
Jackson Bicycle Advocates
The words bicycling and Mississippi don’t usually go hand in hand unless its used in a disparaging sense. However, despite Mississippi not being historically known for being bike friendly, bike advocates are beginning to assemble in Jackson. A motley crew of bike commuters, planners, journalists and artists have come together to turn Jackson, Mississippi into a nicer place to get around by bike. While there is much work to be done, there is hope. At the very least is has been pleasantly surprising to find bicycling enthusiasts hidden in the Deep South, the very frontline of bicycling boundaries!
Nashville has the potential to be a great cycling city and Dan Hensley, the owner of Nashville Bicycle Lounge, is going to drag it kicking and screaming. He is admittedly brusque and is often ostracized for being vocal about cycling issues in Nashville, but he is passionate about getting folks on bikes and is one of the components in turning Nashville around. His shop, the Nashville Bicycle Lounge, is the only shop in town that directly caters to commuters and utility cycles. Just a few days ago, he received cargo trailers and is renting them to the people of Nashville with the hopes that when people see the trailers, they’ll realize the untapped utility of the bicycle.
After 7500 miles, we have met some amazing bike people, and are thrilled by each connection and conversation we’ve had. As our journey continues, we look forward to all the great bike people on the east coast and the middle of the US.
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