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Month: December 2009

Holiday Sweater Party? Have I got a deal for you!

Holiday Sweater Party? Have I got a deal for you!

So if you were sitting on Santa’s knee, what would you ask for?

wtf_pics-nancy-reagan

Me?  I’d like a sweater.  A really nice sweater.  Like this one.

Alright, it may be a little small for me- but I could be a medium if this was the sweater in question.

It also may be a little seasonally oriented, but something about it’s style I really like..

It’s a “Blue-Ribbon Winner”  Like a well known beer perhaps?

clothing-sweater-ugly-bicyclesanta1This beauty is for sale on Ebay for the low “Buy it now” price of $130.99  Or you can make them an offer.

I am realizing that though I generally put Function before Form- When it comes to bicycle clothing and collectibles, I can somehow overlook both Form AND Function, and enjoy things simply because they involve bikes.  My choice in movies, books, and, well, clothing is evidence.

Over the Edge.

Over the Edge.

“A kid who tells on another kid is a dead kid”

I like the kid riding with the shotgun sitting in the apehangers.  I think another movie night is in order soon.

Winterizing your bike

Winterizing your bike

Winter riding. It’s cold. It’s dark. It rains. Heck, last December in Seattle we were buried under a foot of snow. This year is looking a little different- though Old Man Winter can turn on us quicker than crap hits the ground, so it’s best to have a game plan.

Many folks that ride often have what they call their “winter bike” or “rain bike.” Often times it’s a touring bike, mountain bike, or something that has braze-ons for fenders, allows for wider tires, and maybe a little less sporty- it’s more about a procuring a stable ride over potentially unstable terrain. This is of course, the ideal situation- if the weather is nice, and you want to put in some miles, you can grab your faster bike and get out there with no need to strip off the fenders, put on different tires, etc. It’s not, however an option for everyone. Whether you have environmental concerns about owning multiple bikes, you can’t afford multiple bikes, or you just don’t want another bike, there are lots of folks out there that are bike-monogamous. Good for you. But, if you only have one bike, then, my friend, I hope you chose wisely, because in most cases, from October to February, you are going to be sacrificing one of two things: comfort or speed.

My Rain Bike – The Train Wreck Cruiser

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This bike was put together on the cheap, pulling from my parts bin, and in an effort to have not only a loaner bike, but one that I could ride drier with.  RIDE OR DRY!

Frame: converted road bike frame, with track ends where the rear dropouts used to be.

Full Fenders:  I picked up some aluminum fenders from Velo Orange a few years back. They are now cracked, which may be an argument for plastic.

Handlebars: Upright style. Kinda like a 3-speed bar- I want to be able to see traffic, sit higher, and have traffic see me.

Saddle: Plastic Saddle- wet saddles suck. You can get a fancy cover for your leather, or use a plastic bag that can be stored tucked under the rails, or say screw it, and just go plastic. It’s not as comfortable for long rides, but for around town and running errands, it’s dry with a wipe of a cloth, and it does the job.

Drivetrain: Single speed- Coaster Brake. I am a big fan of coaster brakes- though they sometimes get a lot of flack -“Don’t they catch fire?”, “They fail all the time, “They are junk”. Well, I’ve ridden coaster brake bikes in Seattle and San Francisco for many miles, up and down many steep streets, and I’ll  say that I’m still stoked on them.

Tires: I am running Schwalbe Marathon Pro’s 700x28c right now (review coming up soon.) They are solid, puncture resistant, and have good traction in the wet. The wider the tire, the more surface area/traction you have, and the 28c’s are as wide as I can go with this bike. If you have a touring bike, a Surly-anything, or (obviously) a Mt. Bike, then you can fit fatter. Studded tires are an option for many bikes, and are a good option for icy conditions. Snow is different to ride in (slower, but safer, in my opinion) Read below for more info on tires.

Rack: Not for everyone, but a basket, a rack, something to haul goods, it’s nice to have. Your bike is getting heavier anyway, a rack means that a case of beer sits on your rack, not your back. It feels good.  It makes my bike more of a utility bike.

Your setup is bound to be different than mine. Different budgets, personal preference, and what’s available will get you on the road on whatever you can make happen. I love seeing peoples winter rides. They are sometimes very creative. And it’s quite possible to have beautiful bikes, with clean lines winter and summer. Bikes that we call “Dutch Bikes” have this utilitarian, “ready for anything” look about them. Full fenders do a lot for the ride, even when crossing occasional puddles.

Other Thoughts:

Brakes: Rim brakes are an oft used and fairly effective means of stopping a bike. There are many variables that affect this, age and quality of the pads, the rim surface, whether or not it’s raining, and quality of the brake calipers themselves. I’m not such a big fan of them in the winter. Disc brakes work much better, or you can get into some internal gearing and hook up with a nice roller, or coaster brake. Or you can just say to hell with it and ride a brakeless fixed gear- which brings me to….

Fixed gear bikes in the winter: I love riding a fixed wheel bike. I don’t run a front brake. I think fixed gear bikes are fun, can be ridden safely and efficiently in any city, and I fit right in when I’m on Capital Hill or when I park my bike in front of Urban Outfitters… That said- fixed gear riding in the winter – sans front brake=not very safe. The second you get your butt off the saddle while riding your bike down a hill, you have lost about 40% of your handling. Whip skids look great, and are much easier on wet ground, but you  demonstrating is that you have a marginal amount of control in a situation that’s overlooking a ledge of chaos. Ever try and change direction in the middle of a whip skid? Won’t happen. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ride fixed in the winter- I’m merely suggesting that you add a front brake to your ride, as well as check your speed. Bombing Denny is totally doable in summer, but in winter, when the roads are wet or icey, it definitely sits in the “Poor Life Choices” category. Sheldon Brown (R.I.P.), longtime supporter of riding fixed wheel bicycles, would I’m sure argue on behalf of riding a fixed gear bike in the winter, but with front and rear brakes. I would agree whole-heartedly, though I doubt that we will see many people out there rocking that look. It would be akin to non-ironic mustaches, and minivans (read: NOT COOL)

Studded tires:  Studded tires are nice.  They aren’t necessary in many regions, but in areas with heavy ice in the winter, they make winter riding enjoyable where it was would be scary.  There are a few manufacturers of tires.  Schwalbe makes some fairly affordable models, available to fit different size tires.  I bought a pair of 26″ Nokian 296’s (read: 296 studs PER TIRE) for my winter bike while I lived in AK.  I still have them and bring them out with the weather is really foul.  You can go out and buy some, or you can make some, LIKE THESE.  Studded tires require a frame that you can fit wider tires on, the most narrow that I’ve seen are 35c, on the Marathon Winter($61.95), or the Innova Tundra Wolf ($29.95)  From what I’ve seen, what you are paying for, on top of the rubber itself, is the amount of carbon in the steel used for the studs.  Higher carbon content=stronger steel.  It will last longer as you ride over harder surfaces, such as concrete.  Your studded tires will last much longer if you stay off of anything but ice.  If snow is your thing, I’ve seen chains available for bike tires, and last year on my coaster brake wheel, I just put zip ties around the rim and tire.  It acted a bit like a paddle wheel in the snow, though in the ice I wasn’t that impressed. (note:  this WILL NOT WORK if you use rim brakes)

Lights:  Be seen.  It’s dark in the winter.  Drivers are less used to cyclists on the road because who would be crazy enough to be out in this weather, this time of year?  Raindrops on sideview mirrors distort what the driver can see, and your puny little one LED Knog light is about as useful as riding with a cigarette in your mouth on the level of being seen.  I’ve long felt that the rear blinkie light is more important than a front light for safety; my argument being that I can control what happens in front of me far easier than I can behind me, where I can’t see.  I still believe this to a degree, but after riding with lights that ACTUALLY illuminate the path in front of me, I now believe that both are essential.  Fact:  You should ride with as many lights as you feel comfortable riding with.  But please, for Merckx’s sake- keep the white lights in the front, and the red in the back.  If you have to ask why, then you should sign up for a commuter class from Cascade Bike Club.  There are lots of light options- with different price points for different budgets.  Buy the best light you can afford.  Take care of it.  Make sure you keep it charged, and please make sure that you take it off your bike, because stolen lights put you in the dark.

Clothing:  Winter in the Pacific Northwest can change quite a bit in the winter.  As I write this, the skies are clear, and the cold is such that it literally brings a tear to my eye when I ride down the street.  It’s clear, with icy patches, and if you don’t stay on your toes, you’ll wind up on your face.  The wind bites, and gloves are a necessity if you want to use your hands when you reach your destination.  Next week it could be 55 degrees and rain, but for now, it’s 31 degrees and clear.  That said, riding a bike warms you up pretty good.  A waterproof shell of some type is something that should be on your body or in your bag from fall until spring.  They work great as windbreakers, and you never know when you might need it if you get caught in a winter storm.  Arm warmers and leg or knee warmers are handy to have, small to carry, and work well.  A winter cycling hat that fits under your helmet  is essential.  Stay tuned on a winter clothing specific post.

Fenders:  Get em.  Full fenders are the cat’s meow, and you won’t want to go back once you’ve tried them.  You can get clip-on (like Raceblades), beaver tail types for just the rear, or make your own.  The feeling of ice water dripping down the butt crack as you start your day is a feeling that you will remember for a while.  When you install most fenders, prepare to take a fair amount of time to make them work.  Not all fender makes and models fit equally, or even fit on all bikes.

Helmets:  Helmets save lives.  News Flash- they also can keep your head warmer.  It’s a win win.  Bern makes some that have winter add on kits with ear flaps.  Put on your skid lid.  As I read someplace recently- People in wheelchairs don’t get Ghost Bike Memorials.
How to ride:  You should take more care in the winter- it’s good for your health.  Drivers seem to pay less attention.  It takes you, and them- more time to stop.  Be mindful where you ride.  Often, if the snow is plowed, it’s only in the lane, which means that you are left with no option except to ride in the lane.  Do it.  The best surface is generally where the cars tires travel.  Make eye contact with drivers, that are crossing your path.  Also please understand that though a driver may look right at you, this is no indicator that they have any intention of giving you the right of way.  Perhaps they think that you are traveling slower than you actually are, or maybe they’re just dumb, but be ready for anything.  If you ride in Seattle, then you know by now that some of the most unpredictable drivers on the West Coast call this town home.  It may have something to do with how passive/aggressive many people here are.  Though they may be trying to be nice one second, a second later something compels them to jump out in front of you.  I know it doesn’t make sense.  Just be safe.

Bonus tips:  A friend and I were talking recently about visibility while riding.  I, in an effort to not lose my lock while playing a game of U-lock pickup, put white electrical tape around the cylinder.  This is the part that sticks out of my back pocket while riding.  My friend mentioned that it would be a good idea to put 3M tape on the cylinder as a way to increase your reflectiveness.  Good call I say.  It’s on my short list of projects, and I encourage others to do the same.  Just don’t use the same kind as me, because then I won’t be able to find my lock when we play U-lock pickup.

What are your thoughts?  Any more tips?  Questions you have?  What do you think about winter riding?

Meet Your Maker: Performance Couture

Meet Your Maker: Performance Couture

I love seeing the push towards chic cycling clothing. Designers with new ideas and a passion for cycling opening people’s eyes to cycling as something that is fun, sexy, and practical; you can feel good and look good. Nona Varnado is one of these designers, coming onto the scene with some fresh ideas and a new look at women’s cycling clothing. I had the opportunity to talk with Nona about her brand Performance Couture recently, and I’m happy to bring you this little interview with talented designer, cyclist, and world traveler, Nona Varnado.

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GO MEANS GO: Tell me a little about how you got involved with clothing design, and how Performance Couture got started.

Nona Varnado: The Performance Couture project really happened because there were two simultaneous obsessions: fashion and cycling. Fashion is an overwhelming field with too much of everything, but as a consumer I almost never found pieces that were exciting aesthetically that could be fully lived in.
When I was working in India I had clothes handmade for me for the first time, out of respect for the local culture. They were traditional Indian garments that I had tailored to my measurements and updated to be slightly more modern/western. It was so exciting to enter a rainbow of colors and textiles, to work with design schemes and the human form. I was already thinking of garments that could work in two worlds: the Indian and American. I was thinking about how clothes could be true and authentic in two different paradigms.
Long before that I’d been a ‘lifestyle’ cyclist in NYC. I’ve been a messenger, a commuter, a racer and a recreational cyclist. Because of existing urban bike culture there’s a huge forward momentum in mens specific design from frames to clothes. Women specific cycling design always seems vaguely offensive to me; as if women who ride only want pepto-pink, easter egg colors or a little floral line art on clothing that is only barely modified from the men’s – and then there’s the usual made in china on extremely not earth friendly materials problems.
People of both genders in the cycling community are lovers of detail and design that unites experience and philosophy. I’m convinced there’s a lot of room for clothing to be a catalyst for good.

GMG: What’s your inspiration in design?

NV: People who have taken a chance, started small and made amazing, practical things that local communities all over the world have embraced. I’m thinking about: local shops like King Kog and Continuum Cycles in NYC; bag makers like R.E.Load, Bagjack, Bagaboo and Fabric Horse; clothing from Outlier and Swrve. Practical things that remind us that good design improves life and stylish things are a daily pleasure that we can feel good about.
As far as straight up fashion design goes, I think the Stella McCartney collection for Adidas and Y3 is something that I always go back to. I love checking out new anatomical design ideas combined with technical fabrics and doing the double check: would this look totally gorgeous? Can I sweat in it?

GMG: Describe the bike you ride most.

NV: Ha! That depends on where I am. I travel a lot and have been at the mercy of the international bike community for the last year. I got lucky in Berlin and San Francisco, but I’m dreaming for the day that I can afford the Dahon Tournado, a full size folding road bike with totally sweet components/styling. At home in NYC I usually ride a beater pink fixie or my long time companion, a Cannondale Cyclocross.

GMG: What’s a typical Sunday ride for you?

NV: In New York the typical ride is always Nyack, a local roadie training loop that’s A LOT more challenging on a track bike. I love taking the train out to the Hamptons and doing some fast miles out to Montauk on the well-maintained rolling roads. It’s a great ride alone or with a group.

GMG: What do you do when you aren’t working on Performance Couture?

NV: Online marketing/development and events management. I’m 29 so I’ve had the good luck of starting my career in the old school way of doing business, but growing up consuming new technology so I tend to work for start-ups who need to create new ways of reaching people. Plus after a certain point employers realize that you’re the creative one who can pull off wild ideas. Now I have to find jobs like that because I’ll never fit in with bean counters!

GMG: Where can people buy Performance Couture?

NV: NonaVarnado.com – the online shop. Buying direct helps me out because setting up local distribution is a very time consuming and expensive process, particularly when small shops can’t afford to keep a large inventory or take a risk on an unknown.
We’re looking for local shops to carry stuff, as it gets picked up it will be listed on the website. So far pushbike SF carries several pieces. They co-sponsored the SF Style Ride, the Performance Couture launch. The plan is to repeat the Style Ride in NYC, DC, Boston and Seattle and hopefully pick up distribution, meet people and have a good time riding around stylishly.

GMG: Where is the clothing made?

NV: Right now everything is made in NYC. I’ve worked with awesome pattern makers and stitchers in California and it’s very possible that any larger production will be moved there.
My feeling with clothing manufacture is that it is important to establish real relationships, to know that workers are being treated fairly, that ethical decisions are being made and production is as local as possible to avoid the pollution of transport. Fashion, even at LVHM levels, is still about 1:1 relationships, particularly when it comes to manufacturing. I think that being forced to start slowly and be flexible about production has made me develop a deep appreciation for individual crafts people and that is not limited to the United States.
I’ve lived in rural Romania, which has a historically strong garment production culture. Look at the tags on your H&M product or indie hemp fiber t-shirt, it is very likely made in Romania (or Bulgaria) with Italian or Scandinavian management. That’s the world we live in and the important thing to me is to be there, to monitor that people are not being taken advantage of, that there is quality and love in the process and the end product.
I’m probably getting decades ahead of myself, but I’ve got family there, so if Performance Couture ever develops a European following, I know where to look for stitchers!

GMG: Do you plan to expand your line to include men’s clothing?

NV: Yes! I’m working on the prototypes for men’s wool shirts/jersey’s. There are a lot of companies doing great stuff with men’s clothes, and I’m not out to duplicate or compete with people who are already doing it. I’ve got a men’s hipster (aka. kidney warmer or cycling belt), but my prototype stitcher accidentally made the men’s samples with the women’s ribbon fasteners… and that kinda killed it. Men need manly, practical details – like the Chrome car buckle. Revised version TBA.
The mens pieces that I would like to expand to (womens as well) require extremely expensive technical fabrics and construction, which is almost impossible for a small operation. If I can survive until next season I want to come out with these awesome rain jackets for both men & women.

GMG: What is your spirit animal? (mine is a possum)

NV: Birds, all kinds. Anything that can flap its wings real fast and take off!

Stay tuned for more designs from Nona and Performance Couture. Men can expect something around Christmas, and the spring 2010 line looks promising as well. Follow the Performance Couture BLOG, the FACEBOOK PAGE and the TWITTER!  Also keep your eyes peeled for more Style Rides around the world. Thanks to Nona for her time, and GMG readers can expect a review of some Performance Couture products in the near future.

London to Paris

London to Paris

GO MEANS GO is excited to welcome film maker Grace Ladoja to Seattle from London town.  She will be here as we host the Seattle premiere of the new film “London to Paris” – her documentary of 10 fixed gear riders from around the world as they travel from London to Paris to meet up with Lance Armstrong at the close of the 2009 Tour de France.

There will be two screenings on Sunday, December 13th- one starting at 6:15pm and the other at 8:15pm.  Seating is limited, so get there early.  It is 21+, and $8 gets you in the door, as well as a raffle ticket for door prizes.

flier design/layout:  Chris Black
flier design/layout: Chris Black

The Jewelbox Theater is located at 2322 2nd Ave., inside The Rendevous.