Monday, December 17, 2007

Pleasure in an Un-Likely Place

I purchased some items from leather artisan James Brooks who owns Bike Leather, a company that specializes in leathercraft of the highest order. I first saw his work displayed on a SyCip bicycle at NAHBS 07. It was a Kuuru Side Pouch (above). I also wanted this Work Belt that I thought was cool albeit the most expensive belt I've ever owned.
It's this belt I want to talk about. I expected it to be a very nicely-executed piece using high-grade cowhide and solid hardware - finely-crafted if course. And it would hold my pants up.
What I didn't expect was the feeling of quaility when I un-buckle it. The simple act of un-buckling brings forth a plethera of joy and the feeling of luxury, if only for a few seconds. I guess it's the way the leather feels and sounds when I pull the end and loosen the prong. The squeak of leather and the mechanical sound of the roller on the stainless steel (!) buckle and a whiff of leather smell is quit heady. Goodness gracious!
Its like the feeling you get when you press a high-precision button or toggle switch on, say, a high-end turntable. Or pick up a quaility, well-balanced steak knife.
It just has good hand-feel.
Its akin to what Charlie Trotter once said about washing dishes. He likes the way clean dishes smell.
Its a pleasure in an un-likely place. And I experience it every time I pee.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Road Trip

I took a quick trip to New Orleans to help "adjust" some recumbents we sold to a couple in Harvey, LA. and had a chance to see my folks. I also stopped in at the newly opened Bayou Bicycles, the store I worked at before the storm.

(Date in photos is wrong) (Click to Zoomify)

My 1965 International Harvester P/U - LIF.

Small shot of Bayou Bicycles.

My Mom's cat, French Fry, doing what cats do.

The '56 Chevy is closer than you think.

Monday, September 24, 2007

NHRA Fall Nationals

Alfred and I went to the Texas Motorplex this past Friday to watch the drags and met with Whit Bazemore...
(click to zoomify)

Whit is an avid cyclist who rides with his crew members and fellow racers whenever he can.
Oh yeah, he also takes a turn in this car on occasion...

Whit went to the semi-finals against Bob Vandergriff but hazed the tires at about half-track and pedaled, but Bob was gone.
John Force was involved in a heavy crash that sent him to the hospital with two broken legs and other injuries, serious, but apparently not life threatening. Hope is for a speedy recovery.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Meet and Greet...Part 1

Kramer: George, you're becoming one of the gliterratti.
George: What's that.
Kramer: Ya' know, people who glitter...

I have been fortunate, in my various jobs, to have come in contact with some famous people, famous in there respective careers, be it atheletes, framebuilders, musicians, actors. Two that stand out are Roger DeCoster and Eddy Merckx.
Roger was a hero of mine back in the mid seventies when I worked in my family's motorcycle shop in LaPlace, La. my hometown. I met him at a meet and greet in Dallas in 1975, at a Suzuki new model show. My dad and I had our picture taken with The Man at the intro of the 1976 RM-125, Suzook's foray into a "works" production line. The photo appered in our local newspaper as a media blitz. Don't have the photo anymore - lif.
20 years later, I met Merckx at my first Interbike show in 1994, Anaheim, CA. He was promoting his products at the Gita Sporting Goods booth. As I was walking the hall, I ended up behind Merckx and decided to follow him to get peoples reaction as he walked the aisles. I imagined I was following him up a mountain pass in a race, with the crowd parting, nodding, and smiling. OK, it was alittle different than a race but you get the gist.
The reason I clumped these two together, is that they were born a year apart, in Belgium, and rose to the top of their game in the 60's and dominated in the 70's. Everyone in motocross knows Roger D and everyone in bike racing knows Eddy M, and I met them both.
Next M & G - just wait til I tell ya bout Richard Sachs.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

My Favorite Racing Bike

I was on my first go-round at NAHBS 07 when I rounded a corner and came face to face with Tom Ritchey's bike that he built back in 1974. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I first saw photos of it in an early Rivendell Reader and just marveled at the minimalist aspect and attention to detail. It's what a purpose-built racing bike should be. The dual-plate fork crown with open-top legs makes the assembly look trick and light, the rear brake cable routing thru the seattube uses no extra cable housing or ferrules, the delicate drop-outs with gussets and drilled hanger show strength and style.
Overall, the appeal to me is a no-nonsense, innovative, elegant machine that show-cased Tom's brilliance back in the day.
But the most important aspect of this bike was that he built it for his Dad.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

New Commuter-Oriented Website

Quaility Bicycle Products (QBP) is a leading component and accessory distributor for the bicycle retail industry. They are probably one of the most progressive in promoting company-wide bicycle use, many of the employees are year-round commuters. This means alot since they are located near Minneapolis. They are responsible for bringing Surly and Salsa branded bikes and products to our living rooms.
They are launching a new bike brand called Civia Cycles, and their interactive website is a must to visit. One can register and create a profile that provides weather info and maps pertaining to your commute; it will even give you a suggested way to dress.
There are no bikes posted yet, but I can't wait to see them.
Commuter bikes designed by commuters.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

2 Years Ago... this very moment, my wife, Tiffany, and I packed our dogs and a backpack with a couple of t-shirts and shorts and , before I climbed inside the truck, I looked back at the house and thought "This may have been the last night we spend in this house". We met our friend, Alfred, at the bike shop, I parked my truck on high ground (haha) and we were gone, two cars into the contra-flow jam that was the exodus high-tailing it out of New Orleans.
Twelve hours later, we pulled into my mother-in-law's driveway in Mesquite, TX. and, after listening to news reports of how big and dangerous a cat 5 storm would be when it hit the city, I knew our lives would change. Dramatically.
I wasn't going to write this but it was floating around up here and I thought what the heck.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I thought up a term to describe what is going on these days in the area of design that features artisinal craftsmanship, high-quaility materials, and a vision for the traditional. The term is "era-crafting" - the process of making a new object that evokes another time, utilising craftsmanship and materials from both past and present technologies.
There is a whole host of individuals out there, framebuilders and visionaries, who capture this style perfectly - Grant Peterson, Tony Pereira, and Chris Kulczycki just to name a few.
Outside of the bicycle kingdom, the style is prevalent in watches, motorcycles, and architechture. An interesting parrallel is what the SyCip brothers are doing with their boardtracker and Paul Brodie's motorcycle project.
My favorite motorcycle designer, builder, visionary whatever is Shinya Kimura. I would like to think if Shinya put his efforts into a bicycle, it would look like this -
(click on photos to zoomify)

My Mirella, 60's vintage Italian, brush-painted flat black, re-purposed fixed gear. Signature detailed pieces include misc bronze plated bits, powder coated components, exposed bearings

This reflector bracket exemplifies the style - simple, mechanical, elegant

Threaded inserts on Campy seatpost bronze plated

Re-worked MAFAC Racer brake. Bronze plated hardware and springs. Also shows brass valve liberated from rubber coating and elegant cap.

Mixing old with new, ultra high-end with cheap. Ibis Ti stem with Wald steel Northroad bars and Nitto stainless thrown in for good measure
(click photos to zooomify)

Bronze plated locknut with wording highlighted

Exposed bearings in rear hub, flame-tarnished QR handle

Thursday, August 16, 2007

This Blog Thing...

(click to zoomify)

I like to write and express my views on things and show people what my bikes look like. There'll be lots of photos, and lots of trivia. I love useless information. In my future posts, you will be exposed to my humor and my subtle way of letting you into my life. You'll see how, two years ago, my wife, three dogs, and I (and Alfred) evacuated New Orleans to Dallas and how most of our stuff was "lost in the flood" (LIF). How now I work for a huge bicycle retailer and spend my idle hours putting my quirky spin on bikes that I have. I'll tell stories of people I've met in the cycling world, rides I've done, a planned bike business, and crap that annoys me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


When I first started cycling, not at 6 but at about 23, I fell in with a group of riders, the Crescent City Cyclists, who laid the foundation of my life's bicycling jounrney. You know, when you're new to something, you soak up the info like a sponge. You admire people, their bikes, interesting things they do in life. One guy I thought was the Guru was a rider named Steve Brown. He wove a romantic web of the love of cycling. His was the first Brooks saddle I ever saw, the first bottom bracket cutout (Masi "M"), first fixed-gear training bike, first guy I saw riding rollers. He knew he had an audience in me and I was rapt. As the miles went on, I was tought the art of riding in a pace line, marking a century with Don Henry arrows, and how a thin layer of lycra can keep you warm in the winter. I held my first CD in his new Isuzu Trooper, heard OingoBoingo and Echo and the Bunnymen, got my first set of touring wheels, handbuilt by him. He had this funky wooden abstract thingy on his dashboard, the word "BYKYAK" written in sort of a '70s love-in style. He said it's what we do - talk about bikes - "Bike Yak".

That's what this blog is going to be about - talking about bikes, my so-called life, my penchant for stylizing my rides, the bike industry and my adventures thru the years.

It is sure to be the most boring stuff you'll ever read in your life.