Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rant: i'm not as cool as you

ok, so there are a lot of whiners on the internet about tricks and fixed gear bikes. some pro and some con. most who are pro seem to have enough skill to try these tricks for themselves. most who are con seem to not have enough skill to try these tricks at all. yes, a broad statement, but in my opinion, seems to be quite true. i am not saying that the con bikers are not skilled cyclists, just not skilled in the art of fixed gear tricks. to be honest, some of the pro camp should go back to basics too. a lot of bmx tricks are working there way into fixed gear riding, in my opinion its hard as hell to pull off some of this stuff on a fixed gear bike and takes tremendous skill to do so. but the haters say why not just ride a bmx bike? because doing something that takes a lot of skill is rewarding, especially if its something not to many other people can pull off....hence the haters. flatlanders back in the day got the same shit from the bmx racers. the same shit happened with skateboarding too. it's come full circle.

lets rewind to 1994, NYC, i had just put my first conversion together. a real beater touring bike no less. when i first saw fixed gear bikes and the people who rode them, i was in awe. i had a lot of respect for these people. i my eyes they were truly skilled to be able to ride around in NYC without brakes. then there was this one guy named "Evel". i don't remember if he was even a messenger, but he rode around this primer gray track bike with a BIG gear on a 52x14.
and always had his cycling bib on with the shoulder straps around his waist it seems. he was always practicing the "no-handed wheelie" in the park. i remember him getting the bike up, but i don't remember him really sticking the rest of the trick (suspending the front wheel off the ground while remaining no-handed and then landing back to normal.) it took me a few months just to get track standing down as well as the controlled long ass skid. but every time i saw Evel almost make it, it made me want to learn the same trick. by the time i was leaving NYC in 1996, i was at the same point Evel was at, get the bike up and loose control and shoot the bike out forward. i got that far from just watching him too. i never had any "jam" sessions or anything like that. i just tried it for myself and figured it out on my own. i still don't know if i do/did it the same way he did. but i do give him all the props for giving me the inspiration and the idea.

i also have to mention James "the general" Moore. he was rocking half the other tricks i do back in the early 1990's. he is another person who inspired me as well as showed me some new tricks to copy.

this whole trick thing started out for me while i was track standing waiting for a red light to turn green. or standing by, waiting for my next delivery. or after work, while the malt liquor and the blunts were taking affect. doing tricks on a bike made for velodrome racing. drop bars, standard seat position and usually a lot of toe overlap. not much room for error and always worried about messing up my workhorse or even worse messing myself up.

so here i am in the picture above, 1996, i just rode my bike across the USA and full of moxy. all i want to do is show off to everyone who has no idea what i'm doing, let alone what a fixed gear is. that poor girl Meagan had to talk over my loud display of track-trickery (is it too late for an apology?) and most people were like "who the hell is this guy and how is he getting the front wheel up without touching the bars?"

so some of you might be asking wtf? where is the rant?

here it is:

i'm sick of all the people out there who jumped on the wagon yesterday and show up with the $2500 full NJS build with riser bars on it. sick of the aerospoke wheel on the front....even worse aerospoke's on conversions. sick to death of the pista "concept" ugh, what a shitty bike for tricks. sick of all the fucking cheap ass "leader's". the fucking large ass bike companies who jumped on the trend and are making shitty bikes with matching color everything (get off my dick or pay some respect). anyone who uses the letters "NJS" as a label instead of a standard should be kicked right off their bike. i'm sick of seeing 24, 26inch or 650c wheels on track bikes not intended for them. just as bad as all the cheap ass riders who spend all their money on deep v's and toshi doubles and ride a shitty conversion. i am sick of all the ass-backward shit that goes on in the fixed gear "scene". people who ride a fixed gear bike and have no clue how to change a flat or tension a chain.......aaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!

i do a tricks on my bike, its the same bike i can ride anywhere i want. it will handle the same and perform the same and still do laps at the velodrome if i want. that was the whole point from the beginning. doing tricks on your everyday bike, not modifying it just to do tricks. lame.

i spent a good five years in s.f. doing my thing. then the public caught on. other messengers were already doing tricks. some learned quick and were better than me too. Larry Rowe could ride a no handed wheelie! but the trend caught on. at first it seemed to be everyone was out to impress me with there new bike, part or a trick. i was flattered at first, but if i wasn't as impressed, it was the start of a new faction. all these guys i didn't even know were popping up to show off. most of them were ex-skaters too. then guys like John Dwyer started wearing the trucker hat and tight pants. i think this was the beginning of the "hipster" crowd.

i know a lot of folk nowadays are just "doing there thing" but it hurts to see where it came from to where it ended up. if people would start out small and work there way up the ladder, i would be a lot happier with how things could be. i blame the internet and MASH. thank you's to all of my fans and people who had kind words to say about my part in MASH!

i am in the movie MASH. i got my 3 minutes of fame. i have been told that i am not nearly as cool as Andy, James and/or Massan. if this movie was made 10 years ago, i would have been the only person in it. in the end credits, i gave props and thank you's to all those who inspired my riding style. i had one day of filming with no second chances to go back and "redo" any shots. i was supposed to go out for one more day, but at the time i was a new dad with a 6 month old newborn and that one more day never happened. to boot, i had not ridden a bike the whole time my wife was pregnant up until the day of the filming. you can see how out of shape i was, not very convincing on how long i've been at it or how skilled i was. i chalk it up to bad timing. Mike and Gabe did the best with the footage they had. not having a profile in the book and only one picture kinda bummed me out (even though it was an awesome one picture!). what really bugs me is some of the other guys seem to treat me like a "has-been" and i don't feel i get any respect or props for all the years i put in. i feel like the "odd man out" or the "old guy" but really these guys are rockin half the tricks i made up and i get no credit and no thank you. i'm sure once someone finally reads this they will say i'm full of it, but i feel better getting that off my chest. i came up with most of these tricks during messenger races to "battle" other riders. i won a few prizes back in the day, but none of these guys have a clue where half the stuff they do comes from....or they don't care.

which leads me to a shitload of un-answered questions: when are people going to start caring about the roots of our bike culture? when will people follow through when they ask for advice on a proper bike build? when are people going to learn to crawl before they start running? when will i finally get some credit for all the time i put in? do i have to start shaking my cane at these whippersnappers?



i guess a few pictures are in order.

this was the san francisco fixed gear ride circa 1997. we would meet at the gandi statue at 9am and leave at 10am. we always ended up waiting for someone to show up till up to 11am....haha, sometimes they waited for me. some people pictured: myself, erik zo, amaze, seagravy, toby, lisa and silly seth to name a few. we called him silly seth because he would take his bike apart and rebuild it every day. he would relace the spokes and everything. he would come up to me while standing by at the wall, start to giggle and then ramble about bike mechanic nerd stuff.....and then walk away. he even rode around all day once without bars, just holding the stem! silly. in this pic his bike is the one with left side drive.

we would ride from this statue along the embarcadero to 3rd st. then we rode out to the industrial zone past the projects. then out by south city near the golf course we would have a "break" at the duel spot. erik zo is such a good tour guide, he knows so much about san francisco. he was the one who started the ride to begin with. he set the route, cause he knew the city the best. after the break, we head out to skyline and then the beach. cliff house and then out and around the presidio. the marina to the point and then back to the statue. usually we would head up market st and head straight to the bar. sometimes we got lazy halfway and cut the route short. sometimes we went on the ferry and went to some bike swaps or the brewery....good times.

this was my first ligit street track frame. the bernie mikkelsen kamikaze. i bought it from tim slack in nyc back in 95ish. i "imported" it to s.f. it was rebuilt by bernie, had a new seat tube and the rear washer brake mount was taken off. it was originally sold as only a frame with no fork....but i got a mikkelsen straight fork to match since i was already getting it fixed, why not? the phil wood hubs laced to the mavic cxp30's were a tight combo for a while. blue campy bmx cranks and some purple mtb straight bars....with bar ends! one of my favorite parts was the leather and metal skull headtube badge i put on it. it was originally a heavy metal wrist band that i bought off some dude on the f-train in brooklyn. i cut it down and zip-tied it i loved that bike for what it was not how it rode. it was fast and light, but most of all, way too small for me. i know my body took a few hits for that bike...worth every pothole. i sold it to a girl named olivia who brought it back to nyc only to have it stolen by another "messenger" her and the bike live back in s.f. and i think she has it set up with a coaster brake wheel.

so this is me a few years back, when i had a little more hair..... it was taken for a newspaper article about fixed gear bikes in san francisco. i felt the article made us look "dangerous" and "illegal" but that was to be expected back then. they took a good picture that made me look like a giant which was the only good thing i got from it. i was that "crazy"fixie guy. the one with no brakes and obviously no brains either.

i was on evening magazine too, the "local news" show that mike sugarman did sometimes. he did the usual interview stuff but then the acton shots..... he had me stop on a dime that he was standing next to while skidding down this street in nob hill. i pulled it off, but the way they cut it for the show, it was so dramatic....they even shot it through his legs and cut every second like i was gonna crash into him, but i totally rocked it and came out looking like a skilled cyclist. then mike put on a helmet and he tried to ride my bike on the embarcadero...what a good sport. i wish i still had a copy of that....oh well

Sunday, August 24, 2008

welcome to the internet fellow bike people

this is the first of many fun and interesting posts about my world of bikes. i just feel it needed an outlet other than my big mouth. anyone who knows me has probably heard most, if not all of the stuff i might talk about here.

whats in store:

plenty of fixed gear talk. (you name it, i got something to say about it)
bike maintenance (repair how-to's and funny customer stories)
ride's (fun rides, group rides, charity rides and other ride related stories)
messengering (all encompassing 10+years worth of good times in multiple cities)
frame building (i make custom frames and will share my builds with you)
teh netz (links to other cools spots i think are worthy of sharing)
bike porn (photos of bikes i think are sexy)
bike shops (who, what, where and how good)

a little bit about me.

i started riding a bike when i was 4 years old. i grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. i've had quite a few bikes over those years. i started messengering in NYC the mid-90's and took to fixed gear bikes soon after.

i rode across the USA on a mountain bike in 1996 and moved to S.F. CA. i spent 10 years messengering in S.F. on a brakeless trackbike (yes, up and down the hills). though out these years, i became skilled in the art of street bike maintenance and a full time mechanic for a while. i went to frame building school at UBI twice to learn about lugged and fillet brazed bikes. i was also in the bike movie MASH SF.

at one point i had over 10 bikes in my stable, but now i whittled it down to 4. i ride Ditta #1 still almost daily. i also own 3 3Rensho's: 1980's Specialized Allez road, Katana road and my baby the triple triangle 2x700c pursuit trackbike. i just recently sold my Italian stallion, the 80' Coppi trackbike.

i am currently living in San Diego with my lovely wife Chiaki and my 2 year old son Tatsuya. i work at Adams Ave bikes and build custom bikes in Santee. i share shop space with the one and only Brian Baylis, one of the worlds top frame painters.


richie ditta