Interviews

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Back in School at The Bicycle Academy of Frome, England

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Back in School at The Bicycle Academy of Frome, England

From its crowd-funded origins in 2011,The Bicycle Academy (TBA) has arguably become the most influential framebuilding school in Europe. With names like Ted James, Robin Mather, Paul Burford, and Tony Corke of Torke Cycling, gracing the past and present roster of instructors, it’s no wonder that TBA has seen over 1,000 framebuilder graduates leave its halls.

TBA’s current space is a large, purpose-built warehouse with a semi-open plan on a labyrinth-like industrial estate just outside of the town center in Frome, England. Even with its spacious design, every corner is jammed full of amazing bits of work, every surface adorned with tools or momentos and every wall covered in paraphernalia that induces positive vibes. It’s a fortress for community building and the halls themselves seem built to foster forward-thinking, where shared mantras include, ”what good will I do this day” “make the new” and my personal favorite “flux is thicker than water”.

Many of the faces are TBA come and go—that’s, of course, the nature of a school—and the fluid shifting keeps the place brimming with energy and dynamism. But a few figures have become cornerstones of the institution. Below, let’s dive into some of the conversations I recently had with a few TBA long-haulers.

The 2022 TransRockies Gravel Royale

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The 2022 TransRockies Gravel Royale

TransRockies has become an institution in the stage racing world: they have been around since the beginning. In late August, the inaugural Gravel Royale was their first foray into the world of gravel racing. The edition of the truly off-tarmac event makes sense, as the main critique of TransRockies in years past has been riders complaining about too many gravel roads. Sounds like they’ve just been honing the course for a real gravel throw down! After the four stages, Rob Britton of Victoria, BA and Rach McBride of Vancouver, BC took the top step in the Elite Men’s and Women’s categories, respectively. What follows is Barry Wicks‘ rider journal from each of the four days which gives a stream of consciousness account, followed by his interviews with other competitors. Each interview maintained the same format and consisted of just three questions designed to skip the small talk: What is your favorite color? What are you reading right now? What is the meaning of life? Enjoy the ride!

Two Legs Too Easy: Why Movement Is Medicine with World Champion Cyclist and Para-Cycling Pioneer Dr. Meg Fisher

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Two Legs Too Easy: Why Movement Is Medicine with World Champion Cyclist and Para-Cycling Pioneer Dr. Meg Fisher

The dawn has barely broken and early rays of summer sunshine splatter golden light across the yard while Meg Fisher throws a ball for her pup Pax. She knows she’ll be leaving him for a good chunk of the day while she gets out for a training ride and wants to make sure he gets some of his puppy energy out before she goes. Her laughter echoes under the trees and her stoke is palpable.  With the great state of Montana as a backyard, the number of trails and gravel roads at Meg’s disposal are enough to make anyone want to pack up and move west.

Into the Mind: Catching Up with Ultra-Endurance Cyclist Theo Kelsey

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Into the Mind: Catching Up with Ultra-Endurance Cyclist Theo Kelsey

I honestly can’t remember the first time I thought about racing bikes or the fact that people might be motivated to race them. I had some inkling that there were professional road cyclists out there, a la Tour de France, but any notion was vague. For me racing was seeped in the nostalgia of a sticky summer day, riding a green BMX bike with a dysfunctional coaster brake. Most likely hurtling at an irresponsible speed, chasing friends down a hill in the hot and dusty interior of BC. Later in life, a university roommate and great pal, clued me into gravel riding, the Tour Divide Race, and so on. Call it bike pack racing, call it ultra-endurance riding, call it solo-soul-searching, or call it some sort of competition of human versus wheels.

Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part Three: Kristi Mohn

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Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part Three: Kristi Mohn

Kristi Mohn is something of a legend. A native of Emporia, KS, Kristi started cycling in 2004. In 2008 she became the co-director of the Unbound Gravel event, which was run for the first time in 2006. Since then she’s been the driving force behind gravel cycling’s drive for inclusion. She’s worked to secure equal purses for women, pushed for non-binary event classes, and driven efforts to engage communities who have otherwise been ignored by the cycling industry. Corey Godfrey and Jason Strohbehn, the co-organizers of Gravel Worlds, cite Kristi’s “200 Women Riding 200 Miles” program, as well as their conversations with her, as inspirations behind their own efforts. Kimo Seymour, President of Events & Media at Life Time Fitness, says that Kristi’s work is what attracted Lifetime to buy Unbound Gravel in 2018. I interviewed Kristi in Stillwater, OK at the 2022 edition of the Mid South, but have been fortunate enough to have known her for close to 10 years.

Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part Two: Rach McBride

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Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part Two: Rach McBride

Rach McBride, Non-binary Professional Triathlete & Life Time Grand Prix Participant: Rach McBride is, in the words of Kimo Seymour, “a fucking badass”. A three-time Ironman 70.3 champion, Rach has committed to racing the entirety of the inaugural Life Time Fitness Grand Prix. They are also the only non-binary athlete participating in the series. This is the second in a series of interviews about the change that’s happening in cycling as seen from the vantage points of people involved in one of the biggest drivers of that change: The gravel cycling world. For each of them, I (Erik Mathy) sit down with the interviewee and have a conversation, recording it so it can be transcribed down to their words.

Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part One: Kimo Seymour of Life Time Fitness

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Conversations About Gravel and Change, Part One: Kimo Seymour of Life Time Fitness

This is the first in a series of interviews about the change that’s happening in cycling as seen from the vantage points of people involved in one of the biggest drivers of that change: The gravel cycling world. For each of them I (Erik Mathy) sit down with the interviewee and have a conversation, recording it so it can be transcribed down to their words. The interviews are then edited for clarity and brevity. This means removing the inevitable “Uh” and “Um”’s that we all use as well as conversational tangents. I also remove myself because, as the interviewer, my voice isn’t important. It’s the words of people like Kimo Seymour, Yatika Fields, Kristi Mohn and others that are important. This will be an ongoing conversation, so please come back often as further interviews are published.

Before & After: 2022 Mid South Rider Interviews

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Before & After: 2022 Mid South Rider Interviews

Comparing what riders think they are going to experience vs what they do experience, as well as what they are taking away from the ride, has always been a fascination of mine. We all bring our hopes and, yes, our fears to the start line. After a nearly two-year layoff from in-person events, I wanted to see what this year’s Mid South participants brought with them to the race. What did they think was going to happen once they rolled over that start line? What were they hoping they’d take away from it all after they crossed it again to finish?

Moth Attack Moves to Tucson: A Shop Visit and Interview with Framebuilder Megan Dean

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Moth Attack Moves to Tucson: A Shop Visit and Interview with Framebuilder Megan Dean

Longtime readers of this site are likely very familiar with Megan Dean and her frame building operation Moth Attack. Her builds span the typology gamut – track, ‘cross, road, mountain, etc. – and she’s been doing it for quite some time now. Check out John’s visit to her space in LA back in 2012! Over the years she’s sponsored a cyclocross team, taught frame building, and has assumed ownership of Handlebar Mustache apparel company with her partner Wade. After moving around the western US, Megan and Wade recently settled in Tuscon, AZ. While I was in town for some riding earlier this year, I caught up with Megan in her home studio while she brazed and formed tubes for the gravel/adventure frame she’s building for Wade. Continue reading for an interview with Megan and a detailed look at two bikes in her personal collection: a 90s Klein Attitude commuter and Team Moth Attack CX…

Alone Together: The Big Lonely Bikepacking Adventure

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Alone Together: The Big Lonely Bikepacking Adventure

Sometimes we don’t understand our reasons for doing something until we’ve fully emerged. That was my lesson learned from waffling around the start and finish lines of The Big Lonely with a camera and disconcerted heart. What is this big and lonely thing that I speak of? Described in one word by the riders themselves: it’s “relentless”, “jarring”, “cold”, “delightful” – “resilience.” It’s “incomplete” and it’s “grueling”. It’s “epic”, “stoke” and “go.” For one rider it was “mom.” Most commonly though, it was described as “community” and I found this to be a curious notion. The dichotomous idea that a 350-mile self-supported ultra-endurance bikepacking race called The Big Lonely cultivated the word “community” more than any other is sort of like a metaphor for life and all the funny ways our experiences are everything at once.

We Knew the Work Had to Continue: The Soul of Dario Pegoretti is Here

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We Knew the Work Had to Continue: The Soul of Dario Pegoretti is Here

Not Chaotic, But Like Jazz

“We are all building on what Dario left us.”

On August 23rd, 2018 Italian framebuilder, artist, music aficionado, cancer survivor, and living legend Dario Pegoretti unexpectedly passed away. At only 62 years old he had made an indelible mark on the cycling industry. After building uncredited high-end custom frames for names such as Induran, Cipollini and Pantani he started his own company, Pegoretti Cicli. Both a traditionalist and iconoclast Dario never wavered from his love of steel while also constantly playing with innovations in technique, frame design, and painting. In all of these, he was a renowned master.

A Ferry Tale on the GranGuanche Audax Trail: A Video Project by Josh Ibbett, Sofiane Sehili, and Ryan Le Garrec

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A Ferry Tale on the GranGuanche Audax Trail: A Video Project by Josh Ibbett, Sofiane Sehili, and Ryan Le Garrec

The GranGuanche Audax is a series of self-supported race events – trail, road, and gravel – across the Canary Islands. Pacing is established by ferry schedules, so it’s more of a race against the clock instead of other riders, as transmarine connections are required to travel from island to island. And, unlike other similar endurance cycling events, pelotons are allowed. This past November, Josh Ibbett and Sofiane Sehili took advantage of the Audax format to ride the trail version together and film their adventure. Ryan Le Garrec connected with Ibbett and Sehili to edit their video, which we’re debuting here today (below), layered with an interview between Ryan and event organizer, Matteo Minelli, and an epic image gallery from Minelli, Sergio Villaba, and Rubén Plasencia.

Interview: Chris Orr on Adaptive Cycling Trails, IMBA, and More

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Interview: Chris Orr on Adaptive Cycling Trails, IMBA, and More

I met Chris Orr when I was fresh out of high school, smoking dope and working as a mechanic at VeloPro in Santa Barbara, California. Working at that shop was a truly memorable time in my life and Chris was one of the shop locals who was friends with all the employees and a regular shredder on our after-work shuttles to the top of Camino Cielo for a ripping sunset run down Tunnel Trail.

It’s worth noting that Blake, Vincent, and Tom mentioned in this interview were also employees of VeloPro at this time. For me it was an unforgettable time in a very magical place. But the years pass, and people fall out of touch. I moved from California to Portland in 2005 and it would take 10 plus years and social media for me and Chris to reconnect.

This past summer, Chris was up in Portland to work on the Adaptive trail system at Gateway Green and I was fortunate enough to have him over to my backyard for a safely distanced dinner. He has been a passionate supporter of people and community throughout his life and has a long and inspiring history of building trail systems and communities. Chris is no-bullshit.

It’s my experience that incredible people like Chris are not anomalies, that their goodwill and good deeds build the places and spaces where we find solace, safety, community, and honest enjoyment. That there are more of them in the world than we are aware and that’s a problem. It’s my belief that awareness is the mechanism for inspiration, growth, creation, community, prosperity, and peace. So please meet Chris Orr.

Hyperlite Interviews Geoff McFetridge

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Hyperlite Interviews Geoff McFetridge

Do you recall the video Going Without Knowing we posted a few weeks back? Well, Hyperlite Mountain Gear just posted a follow-up interview with artist Geoff McFetridge on their blog and I think you all will find it interesting:

What parallels can you draw between your artistic style and how you travel and engage in your preferred pastimes outside?

I think I get pretty deep into things. Deep and fringe-y. I first raced my bike as cyclocross, and I became more engaged with skiing when I learned to telemark. I didn’t get interested in fishing until I saw Tenkara. I don’t run road races, only trail runs. You can see a pattern here. I am not embarrassed to go directly into the deepest (trendiest?) zone of the margin—the single-speed of EVERYTHING.

Read more at Hyperlite!