Lauren Trout of Saila Bicycles. Photo from Saila Bicycles’ Facebook.
There’s something appropriate about a relatively unknown frame builder working under the name Saila (that’s alias spelled backwards). But though she’s not a household name, Lauren Trout’s got nearly a decade of experience under her belt building some of the world’s nicest titanium bikes. Those years rival or surpass plenty of big name builders with even bigger “personal brands.” Trout learned to wield a torch after getting hired as an entry-level finisher at Seven Cycles. She worked her way up to the production welding department where she spent years honing her skills building thousands of bikes. Last year she left Boston for Austin, Texas and went full time with her one-woman shop, Saila Bicycles. I spoke to Trout about her experience at Seven, striking out on her own, her long history as a bike messenger, the faddish explosion of custom companies, and much more.
Bicycle Nomad Erick Cedeño in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy Erick Cedeño.
Whether one night or one week, the end of a bike tour always leaves me wanting more. It’s something I’ve heard from other bike travelers as well, including ones who’ve done far longer trips than I’ve yet managed. A tour’s end is anti-climactic. You might celebrate the arrival at your final destination or your return home, but the rhythm of life on the road–eat, pedal, sight see, pedal, eat, sleep, repeat–fades with shocking speed as you go back to normal life. For some, the solution is to just start planning next year’s trip. For others, such as Erick Cedeño, the solution is to maximize bike travel and make it an integral part of their life and career.
Known to some as the Bicycle Nomad, Cedeño fell in love with bike travel five years ago and parlayed his passion into a business of speaking gigs and merchandise that support his trips. We spoke about his evolution from one night trips around Miami to multi-month adventures around North America, what drives his passion for bike travel, the Bicycle Nomad business, and much more.
Jan Heine riding Naches Pass in the Cascade Mountains. Photo courtesy Jan Heine.
Until we spoke on the phone last week, the only things I knew of Jan Heine were from others’ stories online and in the relatively-small Seattle cycling world. Among them: that Heine was an incredible ultra endurance cyclist, notching very fast times on up to 1,200km rides with a no-nonsense approach to time management and little tolerance for those not riding the same way. That he was a deep devotee to the mid 20th-century French constructeur bikes (low-trail, 650b randonneuring bikes. And that he was unwavering in his convictions and often espoused unpopular opinions as Editor of Bicycle Quarterly with little regard for what other people thought of him. It’s something of an intimidating portrait.
It also turned out to be inaccurate. There is truth to his talents as an endurance rider, devotion to old French bikes, and willingness to express unconventional wisdom, but Heine is affable, funny, and humble–a far cry from intimidating. Over the course of our conversation, we talked about his history in cycling, his love of randonneuring, his magazine BicycleQuarterly and company Compass Bicycles, mainstream cycling media, and much more.
Adventure Cycling Association’s Executive Director Jim Sayer.
As winter turns to spring and the weather starts airing on the side of nice, cyclists give in to powerful daydreams of summer adventures to come. Staff meeting bullet points are lost to fantasies about dry singletrack in remote forests. Dreadful morning commutes in the pouring rain are rationalized as preparation for that big ride marked on a distant page of the calendar. And now, more than ever, those summer cycling trips are taking the form of bike tours. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but the cycling world is experiencing an undeniable bike travel boom, from fully supported luxury rides to self-supported cross-country tours to family bike rides out to the local park for a night of camping. Nonprofit Adventure Cycling Association has played a role in that growth. For the past 43 years, ACA’s been mapping routes, leading tours, and advocating for better bike touring conditions in North America. Executive Director Jim Sayer has been at the helm for the past 10 years. I spoke to Sayers about ACA’s work, his love for cycling and bike travel, bike tourism advocacy, the huge economic impact of bike travel, and more.