Last year at the 2022 Sea Otter Classic, as I was walking through a parking lot near the Expo I came across a pair of athletes with the most incredible bicycles I’d ever seen. They were rugged, heavily-built trikes with two mountain bike wheels in the front and a massive single fat mountain bike tire in the back, and an electric drivetrain was apparent on each. Both athletes were in wheelchairs. Later that weekend I’d see them, and other para-cyclists, compete in both the Downhill and Dual-Slalom events. It was the first time para-cyclists had been given their own separate classes in any Sea Otter event. I was flabbergasted and, honestly, in awe of not just the bikes but by the para-cyclists and how hard they were sending it on every single run. I came back to Sea Otter this year to talk with and document a few of these athletes.
“A Big Motherf*cking Rock!” 2023 Paris-Roubaix Femmes Before and After Interviews with the EF Education-Tibco-SVB Team
We’re interrupting our regularly scheduled broadcasting to bring you this story from the World Tour side of our sport, because it’s just too damn inspiring not to! Erik Mathy had the fortuitous opportunity to witness this year’s Paris-Roubaix Femmes race where dark horse and EF Education-Tibco-SVB Team rider, Alison Jackson, took the top step on the podium after a five-up sprint in the velodrome. Erik shares before and after portraits and interviews with Alison and her teammates about her momentous result!
Schwalbe is Recycling Bicycle Tires in Germany
Schwalbe is the world’s first and (so far) only manufacturer that not only takes back used tires but also uses them to produce new tires. Back in 2022 at Eurobike, the German tire brand announced the “Schwalbe Recycling Program,” an initiative to collect used tires, recycle them, and manufacture new tires with recycled material. This program, which won Eurobike’s “Innovators Prize,” is underway and scaling rapidly, as Schwalbe has received an initial shipment of recycled carbon black (rCB) to begin making the first batch of recycled tires. We thought this sounded exciting, so reached out to Felix Jahn, Schwalbe’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, to learn more about the recycling program and where it’s headed.
Conversations with Tom Ritchey Part Two: The Influence of Jobst Brandt
This is part two of an in depth conversation between Tom Ritchey and Ryan le Garrec where Ryan seeks to identify key periods in Tom’s life alongside key people. Perhaps second only to Tom’s father, it seems that Jobst Brandt had significant influence of the young Tom. Below, Ryan shares excerpts from Tom’s side of their conversation that highlight Jobst’s character, his notorious rides, and his lasting impact. Enjoy!
A Tale of Two (Colorado) Trails: Lachlan Morton’s MTB Progression
“I wasn’t going back because I wanted to go dramatically faster but because I wanted to put myself in the same situations I was in three years before and be more comfortable. I knew that the only way to do that was to try to do it fast because that requires you to push yourself to a place where you are kind of on the edge of your capability. And every time I reached that limit this time, I was comfortable, in a way. I wasn’t stressed whereas every time I’d reach that point three years before I’d just crumble.”
In 2019, Lachlan Morton rode the Colorado Trail for the first time, starting in Durango and finishing three days and 22 hours later in Denver. He went back this summer, riding the trail in the opposite direction in three days and ten hours, and chopping nine hours off any other recorded time. However, after sitting down with the EF Education Easy-post athlete, it seems that speed was a byproduct of the feat, not the primary focus. Read on for a more detailed look behind the clock, from my conversation with Lachlan about how he went from surviving the CT in 2019 to establishing a new level on this iconic route this year.
Cape Town Steel Safari: A Shop Visit to Mercer Bikes
Growing up in a small South African town in the late 80s and early 90s meant David Mercer was largely shielded from the travesties of the apartheid era. But in 1994, in a coincidental coming-of-age historical convergence, the status quo was cracked open, not just for Mercer but for the whole country. The same year he turned 16, South Africa officially ended apartheid as the country held its first democratic elections. At this point, Mercer was well enmeshed in his love affair with bikes, having grown up a young BMX ripper but becoming fully infatuated with mountain biking as a teen. Many youthful afternoons spent pouring over bicycle magazines like MB UK and Mountain Bike Action led him to develop a fast fascination with steel-wielding magicians like Dave Yates and Chas Roberts and were responsible for his own framebuilding aspirations. However, the end of apartheid brought a wave of foreign frames as longtime sanctions were finally lifted. This swift influx quickly decimated the local steel bicycle manufacturing industry and a deflated Mercer went on to become a veterinarian. The dream of bikes was always there, simmering in the background, but it would be nearly a decade-and-a-half before he’d pick up a torch himself.
Conversations with Tom Ritchey Part One: Tommy, Thomas, Tom
Tom Ritchey is not what you would call an open book. Rather, he’s a whole library; a labyrinth with many alleys, chockfull of stories, where everything splits and branches like the best network of singletrack, and there are no cul de sacs. Every door leads you to another room. Every answer opens up another question. There are no shortcuts.
The following is just a casual conversation. In it, you might not find all the details of the next frame that he is working on but you may find a better understanding into what it took for Tom Ritchey to become Tom Ritchey.
“I have a public self and I have a personal self. I could answer that question on a public side and tell you I just love riding my bike and being by myself and all (…) That would be an authentic answer but it’s not the whole answer of course. So I’ll give you the personal one too.” – Tom Ritchey
Introducing the Argonaut Cycles GR3 Gravel Bike, Shop Visit, and Interview with Founder Ben Farver
Over the years, we’ve done a lot with Argonaut Cycles, from documenting its first shop location to photographing its race team at the Rouge Roubaix and shooting bikes at various showcases. The brand has come a long way in that time and today, after three years of design, testing, and research, they are releasing the GR3, a next-gen custom carbon gravel bike.
While in Bend, OR, recently, Josh caught up with the Argonaut Cycles team for a tour of their facilities and sat down for an interview with founder and designer Ben Farver. The conversation covers the brand’s fully custom in-house carbon frame and component production methods and more. Below, find Argonaut’s GR3 introduction, Josh’s interview with Ben, and an extensive photo gallery detailing the Argonaut fabrication process!
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 Bird Was a Butterfly: Ana Orenz on Recovering from Injury
About one year ago, Ana Orenz had a crash going downhill during the first night of the Trans Pyrénées. Her accident ended in nerve damage, spinal injury, and facial reconstruction. But Ana never backs down.
Continue reading below for Ryan le Garrec’s multimedia profile of endurance cyclist Ana Orenz…
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
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.
Community Building with ABC: A Bike Club for Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Folks in Seattle
Gideon Tsang recently caught up with Kae-Lin, Steve, and Jim of Seattle’s Asian Bike Club (ABC*). The club hosts regular meetups geared toward sharing food and building community. Let’s check it out below!
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
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
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, Erik Mathy sits down with the interviewee for 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
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 Erik Mathy sits down with the interviewee for 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. Erik also removes himself because, as the interviewer, he deems his voice isn’t important. It’s the words of people like Kimo Seymour, Yatika Fields, Kristi Mohn and others that matter more. This will be an ongoing conversation, so please come back often as further interviews are published.
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?