A New Perspective on Riding

By: Brandon Nov 5

Share |

Get comfortable, this is going to take a minute.....

Coming off of an injury, riding has changed a bit for me. Mid-summer I broke my foot and sprained my ankle. Now, this wasn't my best spring/summer of training, so it's not like I was throwing away a ton of fitness for 'cross season, but bikes aren't just for racing to me. You see, I commute by bike to a neighborhood that offers really no parking to be had in one of the most densely populated areas in one of the largest cities in the country.

With a broken foot I was forced into driving for weeks, fighting traffic, searching for parking. I wasn't pleased. Luckily I am finally back on the bike, albeit without any sort of fitness.

Being forced off of the bike for nearly 2 months changed the way I look at riding. I started riding based out of my love of competition and my passion for gear. For years I did commute by bike, but primarily to get the miles in on my training. Not having to deal with traffic on the highway or fight for parking was an added bonus, but my bikes were tools for racing.

Missing my first 'cross season in 5-6 years has me looking at my bike very differently. The last two weeks have found me searching for new routes not based on where I can get intervals in, but seeing new things. Exploring. Getting a bit more rad than normal.

Being off of the bike for a a couple of months reminded me what I could be doing with my weekend mornings. Pancakes with my kiddos, Saturday morning cartoons, taking those same little goons of mine to the park.

Racing my bike had become not-so-much fun. Sure, dropping friends on group rides was a great time when it happened, and spending time with good friends on bikes is great for your soul. But I had gotten so enthralled in racing that I was missing some balance in my life.

"It makes me sad when I see someone turn their hobby into something not fun."

When I heard that as I was getting back into riding a couple weeks ago it sunk in. Sure, I'll still probably go out to do some hammerfest-type rides. But for the first time in years I'm riding without a powermeter. Let me tell you, it feels great. Stopping to take pictures, turning around to check out spots I may have missed, more coffee breaks.

Now, rather than planning carpools for every Sunday to head out to a 'cross race for the day, I'll head out during the kids' nap time. I'm planning some adventure rides with friends, exploring new roads and trails.

No, I'm not as fast as I used to be, but I never was all that fast anyway. I haven't stood on a podium this year like I used to, but I'm quite fine with that.

These days, rather than checking my power numbers and planning intervals for tomorrow, I'm trying to remember where that trail head was that I saw last week, wondering where it leads.

Get rad, guys. Have fun on your bikes. If nailing a 20 min interval makes you tingly inside, do it up! Remember the thing that got you riding, remember why you do what you do. Being off of the bike for a while has reminded me why I love this sport.

photos and words by Brandon Elliott


A Tribute to Amy D.

By: Brandon Oct 3

Share |

click any photo to view gallery

A year ago the world of cycling lost a young and talented rider. Fortunately, a Foundation was created in her name so her legacy can live on. The Amy D Foundation exists in her honor to "encourage and support young women through cycling, inspiring the celebration of healthy challenge and empowering the confident pursuit of lofty dreams."

A bit more about Amy:

Amy Alison Dombroski passed tragically at age 26 while training abroad in Belgium. She was a versatile cyclist with U23 National Championship titles in road, mountain, and cyclocross. Still early in her career, she was considered by many in the sport to be a rising talent and serious contender at world-class cycling events.

In her short but full life, Amy touched the hearts of communities in the United States and Europe. Amy had a passion for life that transcended the sport of cycling; she loved to share this passion with the friends and family that surrounded her. She also had an uncanny ability to transform challenges she faced in her own life into intense positive focus. The tattoo of a lighting bolt that Amy bore on her wrist served as a remembrance of her mother’s tragic death, and provided her a daily source of motivation.

In support of the Amy D. Foundation, we've created a new sock design. $4 from every pair of socks sold in the month of October will be donated to The Foundation to support their cause. Keep an eye on the site for those socks to land soon!

The Amy D. Foundation has also created a race program supporting Erica Zaveta for the 2014/15 season. You can also find Erica's blog here.

photos by Gavin Gould, words by Brandon Elliott


Ladies & Gentlemen: A Case Study of Small Cycling Economy

By: Andrew Gardner Jul 10

Share |

If you know the environmentalist and climate activist, Bill McKibben, then you know that he possesses a bike racer’s nervous system. Thin and fit, McKibben mostly rides the gravel roads around his home in Vermont, which is good for his health and the well-being of Vermont motorists. (I was once on a ride with Bill when he, driving hard on the pedals, blew through a stop sign - nearly ending his life and with it the world’s chances to solve the issues of climate change.) Road safety aside, Bill’s drive has given him access to a world that needs his vision and when he speaks, its like the final laps of a criterium- one just does their best to stay near the front of it all, to keep up with the urgency.

“We are all going to have to slow down.” Bill has implored consumers around the world. “We’re going to need to need our neighbors, to focus on the durable economies closer to us.” His written work continues in this pressing notion, highlighting the economy close to home and the benefits beyond mere money, “To wit, the farmer's market: energy-efficient local food, and the average shopper has ten times as many conversations as a supermarket shopper. No wonder they're the fastest-growing part of our food economy. Now we need to get going on other sectors too.”

Bill McKibben in the non-cycling season. (Print by JDK design.)

Other sectors like cycling. The regional loyalties that pervade cycling have catalyzed local fabrication, collaboration and creative economies. Sure there is large scale globalization, beautiful products from around the world, but one need only look at the rise of the regional frame builder to know that cyclists, in particular, long for authenticity in what we own. This takes a village. The people of Gaulzetti Cicli, the handmade, local offerings of this very website describe it thus, “It's a costly business, building bicycles in the US by hand. Skilled workers who have devoted their lives to their craft demand outrageous things like health insurance and a living wage. We're only too happy to be able to provide for those who provide for us, so we gladly accept the price of local, handmade fabrication.”

Not far from my home, the Burlington, Vermont-based frame builder, Hubert d’Autremont has a title for the needs and interconnectedness of his business with a larger creative economy, he calls it “Ladies and Gentlemen.” Working out of a studio in Burlington’s south end, Hubert has slowly and quietly built himself a following by mastering his craft and tapping into a collaborative approach to bike building- the deep economy of the industry.

“Ladies and Gentlemen is for me, a showcase of the people who have gotten me as far as I have. It represents the lifestyle I get to live and the ones I live it with. Ladies and Gentlemen is everyone from industry people like my painter, to suppliers and inspirational souls. It’s about people who have gone against the grain to pursue their dreams because they just don’t see living any other way.”

You can feel a McKibben-type of commitment in Hubert, the same urgent drive. Disposable life would be easier but crafted, durable work calls Hubert. His bikes are beautiful, lugged affairs- tasteful in the way you’d expect from a guy with no marketing, no website and no ads. In his entry for the highly regarded Oregon Manifest last year, Hubert built a Vermont-style porter bike capable of withstanding rides in miserable weather. The bike itself highlighted the craft of frame building while pushing a stout bike commuting agenda. In the process of building his manifest bike, Hubert researched the options for a daily porter bag capable of elegance and tough rides. Finding those options wanting Hubert launched a sister-brand, 27th Letter, a collaboration with Queen City Dry Goods maker, Matt Renna and another foray into creative hand-made materials. In addition to waxed canvas and leather porter bags, 27th Letter boasts cycling caps, flat kits and still more bits and pieces of cycling culture built with Hubert’s keen eye towards the details and the durable. 27th Letter stitches are tight and interconnected.

In a deeply thoughtful and bike-committed way, Hubert’s collaborations mean fuller living, more sustained living. He’s wildly grateful to the people around him and he’s a model for a small interconnected approach to business. He explains it the ease of a builder, putting together the pieces.

“Its about a balance of all of the enjoyments of the world while having big goals. It’s about being conscientious of the decisions we make.”


| Older Posts »

© Copyright 2013 - Embrocation Cycling, INC