It takes a brave soul to disassemble a Rohloff hub.
It’s hard to say what it is about cycling that attracts D.I.Y. tinkerers. Part of it is certainly the relatively low-consequences of bike mechanics. Sure there are certain key components of a bike that require more skill to install or adjust than others, but a botched crankset installation likely won’t kill you. Another aspect is probably the sheer number of things to change on a bike. In the hands of a dedicated mechanic (amateur or otherwise), a bike frame becomes a blank foundation on which to attach a nearly infinite number of fork, wheel, tire, handlebar, drivetrain, fender, rack, saddle, and electronics combinations. Bring welding skills into the picture and the fabrication and modification possibilities are almost limitless.
Thanks to my Internet addiction, I’ve come across a lot of great examples of DIY bike crafts. Here are a few good ones I’ve seen of late:
Mark (third from left) with several Seattle International Randonneurs. Photo from the Seattle Rando flickr.
Mark Thomas knows his randonneuring. The current head of the Seattle International Randonneurs (the largest rando club in the United States), former head of Randonneurs USA, and current RUSA board member, Mark has been riding brevets all over the world, organizing events, and promoting randonneuring for well over a decade. For those unfamiliar, randonneuring is a self-supported, timed, long-distance event where riders follow a set route 100-1200 kms long (roughly 60-750 miles) stopping at checkpoints along the way. It probably goes without saying that Mark and I talked randonneuring–specifically the highs and lows of long-distance riding, the progression of this niche-subsport of a niche sport, and what it will take for randonneuring to keep growing in the U.S.
Sure a little kid would probably be better off in school than working 13-hour days as a messenger while smoking a pipe, but damn if this kid isn’t the biggest bad ass I’ve ever seen on a bike.
Photojournalist Lewis Hine played an integral role in the creation of child labor laws in America. Hine took a post with the National Child Labor Committee in 1908 and spent the next ten years documenting child laborers and their working conditions around America. Though real child labor reform didn’t come about until 1938 (thanks as much to the Great Depression as anything) Hine’s photos nonetheless helped show America the destitute, exploitative conditions in which young children were forced to work.
Laura and Russ. Photo by Russ Roca.
Over the past two years Laura Crawford and Russ Roca have ridden thousands of miles around America, exploring its nooks and crannies, meeting its people, and documenting their adventures on their website, The Path Less Pedaled. Though a multi-year bike tour already sets them apart from the average tourist, Laura and Russ’ trip is that much more unique because it is open ended. Before taking their first pedal strokes away from their California home in 2009, they sold or gave away everything that wasn’t coming with them on the bikes. I caught up with them in Portland, OR where they’ve settled in for the winter to talk about their journey, feeling disconnected, and their practical advice for touring wannabes.