For the last few years, Seattle cyclists have always looked on with envy at BikeCraft, Portland’s bikey craft show. For the uninitiated, you could buy everything from clothing, rain capes, art prints, bike mustaches to coloring books at BikeCraft. This weekend, a few handmade bike gear makers who were tired of waiting for something to happen organized their own show, Pedaler’s Fair. Put on by Ryan from GoMeansGo and Jason, Martina and Sonia from Swift Industries , Pedaler’s Fair was Seattle’s first independent bike show outside of the very large Seattle Bike Expo. The venue was a working studio space for several makers and lent an industrial feel to the show.
In total, there were 23 very diverse vendors from some frame builders, clothing makers and even a high end furniture maker that included bicycle parts in his design. Some highlights from the show:
Haulin Colin is well known in the Seattle bike scene, particularly for his work with cargo bikes. At the show he debuted a non-destructive cycle truck conversion kit. Think of it as the Xtracycle for front loaders! We have an affinity towards cycle truck and think of them as more of an Everyman’s long-john that can still be transit friendly. This conversion kit will be something to watch in the coming months.
The beautiful and functional furniture of Independent Woodworks caught our eye. Jesse had some amazing wall mounted shelving units that held up bikes to cabinetry that had cogs as handles and crank arms as feet.
Another standout was John from HighAbove who has been working with Cuben Fiber, a sort of super fabric that is stronger and lighter than Cordura. He had on display some wares using Cuben from a “touring wallet” which weighed a scant 7.51 grams. John also had a rucksack and some classy computer cages made with an oil-cloth on the exterior. He hinted at making panniers from Cuben with carbon fiber hardware that would weigh less than an Ortlieb!
Swift Industries had their Bilenky cargo bike out with all their latest wares, including lots of multi-colored rando bags and even a brightly colored Brompton bag! One small item that I was pretty excited about was some pocket kites that Jason’s dad is making. We are big fans of bringing non-bike related items along to introduce some fun while bike touring and these pocket kites are perfect.
Another notable mention was T’s Leatherworkz. Tarik, a full-time chef and bike aficionado is just entering the bike craft industry and is making brightly colored leather fenders with rivets. They look great and last long (with some proper proofhiding) even in Seattle’s wet weather. He has a brand that he heats up on a stove at home to burn in his signature T. At $19 per flap, they are a steal!
We gave a presentation to about 30-40 people about our travels and got to meet some longtime readers. It is always a special treat when we get a chance to talk to someone who has been following for the last three years. During the event, I did some bike portraits for show attendees.
Even though it was only the first year of Pedaler’s Fair, the organizers managed to put together a really great bike event. Perhaps the true measure of its success was the diversity of cyclists that showed up. Seattle has a reputation for a really stratified bike community with very little overlap. However, at Pedaler’s Fair roadies, commuters, family bikers, cargo bikers, bike polo and fixie kids were all in the same room celebrating cycling in all its forms together. Can’t wait for next year.
It has been an amazing, challenging and strange journey these three years. Come here about it! This weekend we are going to be at the first annual Pedaler’s Fair, a bikey fun event in Seattle. We’re really looking forward to checking out the cool handmade bike stuff as well as connecting with readers and making new friends.
We’re going to be giving a presentation with lots of pics, stories and videos this Saturday at 2pm.
I will also be roaming around the show taking portraits of people and their bikes for the princely sum of $5. So dust off your best bike and come on down!
I get this question a lot and finally got around to making a longish video describing my kit and rationale. Prior to our New Zealand trip I always brought a Nikon DSLR and a point and shoot. My current Nikon is a D700 which I love and feel is more or less the perfect camera for me. I carried it on our trip from Oregon to Glacier National Park and loved the images but hated the weight and bulk (esp. on the Bromptons). When that trip was done, I swore I was through with big DSLRs for touring and searched for a good alternative. Just around the same time the Micro 4/3rds cameras looked like they were maturing. I pulled the trigger on an Olympus EP3 and eventually a Lumix GH2 and haven’t looked back ever since.Read More»
On Monday, we boarded an Amtrak bus from Portland with our Bromptons – but this time we weren’t going bike camping. In fact, we left our well-worn camping gear at home, in exchange for shirts with collars and buttons and nice shoes. We were embarking on a completely different kind of bike overnight. We were going to Salem, Oregon’s capital, to the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, to give a presentation about our experience with the Otago Central Rail Trail in New Zealand to a roomful of some of the state’s brightest bike and active transportation advocates. Yes, we were a bit nervous.
We’ve been traveling more or less constantly for three years by bicycle. In that time, we have always viewed our trip through an advocacy lens. We love bikes. We love bike travel and we want more people to do it. To this end, we gave presentations across the country about the lessons we learned about bike touring. However, the more we traveled, we saw that the next logical step of the puzzle, after inspiring people to try bike touring, is to inspire businesses and rural communities to embrace bike travelers. So this week, we took our first step in the new role we hope to forge for ourselves. We are changing hats from being active bicycle tourists to advocates for bicycle travel. What this will look like, exactly, we are not quite sure. In many ways we are still winging it like we were while we were traveling. One thing we do know is that the voice of touring cyclists, especially the upcoming younger generation, has to be heard. What are their wants and needs? Is it different from the touring cyclists of 1970s? How can we make the experience better? How can we inspire communities to embrace bicycle touring? What other groups and organizations have to be engaged?
For our first public presentation with our new hats, we were in some pretty esteemed company. We shared a panel with long-time Oregon bike advocate Scott Bricker, Jerry Norquist from Cycle Oregon, and Kristin Dahl from Travel Oregon. We presented our findings from our New Zealand trip to a full room, focusing on what we thought were the successes and important lessons from the Otago Central Rail Trail.
Laura and the audience watch our video on the Otago Central Rail Trail on the big screen.
Our videos were a hit, and I think we gave everyone in the room a new vision of what bicycle travel could look like. It was stressful but it was fun and fulfilling. After the presentation, we got a chance to meet with advocates (a lot of whom were readers as well!) about our future plans. The personal highlight for me, was when I talked about the importance of transit and bicycle travel and questioned why it was so difficult to get from Portland (a super bikey city) to Bend (another bikey city) without driving. There are bus services, but they make it an absolute nightmare to take a bicycle on board. It was obvious by the crowd response that it was something that many people had thought about as well.
We’re updating from our hotel room in Salem, dead tired after two intense days of talking bikes, transit and active transportation. For those who are afraid our bike traveling days are behind us, don’t be. We still fully intend to continue to travel by bike, but now we are hoping to more fully engage the communities we are going to ride through. So stay tuned and we hope you join us on the next phase of our constantly evolving journey.
A quick video review of the Leatherman Squirt PS4 which has quickly become my favorite EDC and bike touring multi-tool. Super small and super useful.Read More»
This weekend we did a S24O with CycleWild, a local non-profit group that organizes monthly trips. The trip they had planned was out to Ainsworth State Park in the Columbia River Gorge. It is a scenic ride that runs along the historic Columbia highway which has multiple points of interests and great views. When we heard that there was an actual chance we’d see the sun, we dusted off the Surlys and strapped on our camping gear.
We took the MAX line out to Gresham to the start of the ride. Many Cyclewild trips offer the option of either riding the entire length from the Portland city center or taking transit to the start. Feeling a little lazy in the morning we opt to take the light rail. When we arrived there was already a good group gathered at the Gresham stop. One of the things we enjoy about short bike tours is that you can do it with very little and in a myriad of configurations. Laura was trying out a front-biased load with front panniers and a Carradice, I had an Acorn handlebar bag and two rear panniers. A reader we met was using using a Burley Travoy Trailer, which we had once contemplated pairing with the Brompton.
From Gresham we made our way down to the Sandy River, crossed a bridge and began the slow gradual climb to Women’s Forum, the highest point of the trip. From there you can see the ponderous stone Vista House and the Columbia River Gorge. All the riding is on a small rural roads which alternated between having a small shoulder to none. Although there was a fair amount of traffic (it was Easter weekend and the sun was out!) most of the drivers were fairly well-behaved. This route is one of the more popular road rides in the Portland area so cars tend to be aware of bikes.
After a windy break on Vista House, we descended down a series of switchbacks to the river. Once in the gorge, we passed a series of waterfalls which had viewing platforms. Perhaps the most popular was Multnomah Falls which has a cafe, bathroom and was crowded with tourists. After Multnomah Falls, there is a noticeable drop in traffic since most drivers tend to leave the historic highway for the modern freeway at that point. This meant a few quiet miles into Ainsworth State Park.
Ainsworth is a small campground but has full facilities with drinking water and a bathroom with some really nice showers. The best sites are the walk-in sites just to the left of the entrance of the park. There are 6 sites tucked in the woods that offer a nice forested camping experience. There are train tracks not too far away though, so on occasion the illusion of being out in the woods is broken with the rumbling of a passing freight train.
My favorite part about riding to Ainsworth is the ride back. Starting out early in the morning, there is hardly any traffic and you get a significant tailwind that sometimes feels like its blowing you up the hill. The slow gradual climb from the Sandy to Women’s Forum becomes a glorious coasting descent in the other direction. Of all the close bike camping options from Portland, Ainsworth is one of our favorites. It offers lots of opportunities to stop and take in the scenery as well as a pleasant camp experience. Its only downside is the traffic on the weekends. If you have the time, it makes a great mid-week getaway!
We got to try out and handle some new gear on this trip. We borrowed a friends Marmot Haven 2 Tent. It is single pole design and is closer to a tarp tent than a dome tent. It requires staking out to hold its structure. It has an open floor design with an optional footprint (which we used since the ground was a little damp). Its biggest asset was its size! It offers 56 square feet of room for about 4lbs of weight. If you were a solo tourist you could literally park your bike inside as you slept. If we had brought the Bromptons we could have parked them folded with plenty of room to spare. The initial setup was fairly easy but required some fine-tuning to get the pitch just right. Because of its open floor design it also has no mesh, so it probably wouldn’t be our first choice for camping in really buggy areas.
Another bit of gear we got to play with was the Leatherman Squirt, a small light-weight multi-tool which stores commonly used tools in a tiny package. Notably, it had a small pair of scissors, pliers, bottle opener, blade and screwdriver. It is even smaller and lighter than the Leatherman Juice that I really love. And speaking of blades, I also tried out a CRKT Ringed Razel which is a beauty of a knife. It has a chisel style blade at its tip which is great for push cuts and scraping. The knife is really well balanced and beautifully constructed and would make the short list for a fixed EDC knife.
And of course, I can’t seem to go on an S24O without nerding out on some coffee geekery. On this trip, I brought along our trusty Hario Slim Mill, insulated Klean Kanteens and a Hario V60. The Hario has been my choice of single cup brewing at home paired with a Bonvita kettle. It worked great in camp though I didn’t have as much pour control with our GSI kettle. Shawn, the ride leader on this trip, showed me his really cool Esbit coffee maker. It packs down into the size of a coffee mug, but contains a Moka pot style brewer, complete with its own Esbit stove and flame extinguisher! It really is a nifty and elegant setup.
While in New Zealand we had the pleasure to talk to a few members of parliament. Perhaps one of the most vocal champions of bicycling is Kevin Hague, who also happens to be a keen bicycle tourist himself. We visited Kevin at his home in Greymouth and talked to him about his role and vision of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network. A few things emerge from the interview, the importance of making cycling cross party lines, the importance of cycling to local economies and some unexpected benefits outside of tourism that the new cycle trails are creating.