Monthly Archives: September 2012

From Death Valley to Denali, Chris Figureida’s Ride for the Heart

At the start of the tour. All photos courtesy of Chris Figureida.

Bike tourists often talk about metaphorical highs and lows. An amazing sunset over a breathtaking vista, an endless climb on an empty stomach; they’re the moments that help capture the essence of the ride in its retelling. When Chris Figureida tells the tale of his latest adventure, he has a very literal low and high to which he can point. The low: Death Valley, the start and end to his tour. The high: 17,200 feet up Mount McKinley, the highest peak in the United States and the halfway point for Figureida’s 5 month, 7,761 mile, round-trip bike tour.

According to Figureida, a half-dozen or so other cyclists have done the ride from Death Valley to Denali. He says he is the first to ride it round trip. The 31-year-old set out on this tour in large part to raise money for the American and Canadian Heart and Stroke Associations and Rotary International’s Polio Plus. He raised about $4,000 on the ride. But he also took on this journey to sate his strong sense of adventure as an avid mountaineer and bike tourist.

Figurida set off from Death Valley, California in March of this year. He rode through Nevada and Idaho, across Canada, and eventually up the desolate, icy Alaskan Highway to Denali National Park. The plan was to then ski 60 miles to the Mount McKinley base camp before summiting the peak.

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Meg Fisher: Montana’s Paralympic-winning, 6-time World Champion

Photo from the Montanan.

Meg Fisher has six on and off-road triathlon World Championship titles, a slew of U.S. National Championship wins, and, as of a few weeks ago, a gold and silver medal in cycling from the 2012 Paralympics in London. In short, she’s a bad ass athlete. Given her palmarés, you might assume she’s been cycling since birth. But, Meg didn’t start her cycling career until several years after a tragic accident in 2002 that required doctors to amputate her left foot and claimed the life of her best friend. I spoke to Meg on her brief post-Paralympics stopover in Seattle (where she’s a physical therapy PhD candidate). We discussed her accident, her new found passion and talent for cycling and triathlon, the London Paralympics, balancing school and cycling, and more.

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Major Taylor’s Legendary Life

One of America’s earliest cycling stars and the very first African-American cycling star, Major Taylor is a sports legend. It is unsurprising given the sheer number of inspirational angles to his story. Taylor’s raw talent as a cyclist pulled him from abject poverty. He rose to fame as black man in Jim Crow America. He was breaking world records and became a world champion as a teenager.

Taylor’s story is well documented in at least a half dozen books, a documentary film, and an Australian TV mini-series. The Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog added to that collection with a well written, in-depth article covering Taylor’s childhood, introduction to cycling, rise to fame, the discrimination he faced, his impoverished final years of life, and more.

From “The Unknown Story of the Black Cyclone, the Cycling Champion Who Broke the Color Barrier”:

Before his teenage years ended, Taylor became a professional racer with seven world records to his name. He won 29 of the 49 races he entered, and in 1899, he captured the world championship of cycling. Major Taylor was just the second black athlete to become a world champion, behind Canadian bantamweight George “Little Chocolate” Dixon, who had won his title a decade before.

Taylor’s victory earned him tremendous fame, but he was barred from races in the South, and even when he was allowed to ride, plenty of white competitors either refused to ride with him or worked to jostle or shove him or box him in. Spectators threw ice and nails at him. At the end of a one-miler in Massachusetts, W.E. Backer, who was upset at finishing behind Taylor, rode up behind him afterward and pulled him to the ground. “Becker choked him into a state of insensibility,” the New York Times reported, “and the police were obliged to interfere. It was fully fifteen minutes before Taylor recovered consciousness, and the crowd was very threatening toward Becker.” Becker would be fined $50 for the assault.

Click here to read the whole article.

My First Bike: Todd Ingermanson

My First Bike explores the life and work of professional frame builders by going back to the start and looking at the first bike they ever built. Today’s My First Bike features Todd Ingermanson of Black Cat Bicycles. 

Give me the short rundown of your first frame: when was it built, where, materials, any special details about it, etc.

This isn’t my very first frame. It is the second or third. I don’t remember exactly. The first one was an attempt at an exact copy of a custom bike that I already owned to see if I could even pull off what I wanted without the variables of my own “design” thrown in. This one is the first bike that I ever designed. It was 10 years ago, right as the 29er thing was getting going and I really wanted one.

There weren’t many folks building them and those who were, were pretty tight lipped about geometry and angles. This one, like the others before it, was just an experiment. This one was to see what geometry I wanted before I built the bike I wanted.  An experienced frame builder friend, John Cutter, had given me a curved seat tube from Schwinn Paramount tandem stock and I didn’t want to blow it.

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A New Guide to Portland’s Beer and Bikes

A guidebook to navigating Portland, OR’s craft beer world by bicycle seems like a painfully obvious thing. They are, after all, two of the city’s two best known features. Nonetheless, it took until 2012 for that book to be written.

Due to be published in November of this year, Hop in the Saddle is a 96-page guide to Portland’s breweries, bottle shops, bars and restaurants and how to get there by bike. It is written and designed by three Portland women, Lucy Burningham, Ellee Thalheimer, and Laura Cary. Burningham is a freelance food and drink writer whose work has been published in the New York Times, Saveur, Bicycling, the Wall Street Journal, and more. Thalheimer is a bike touring guidebook author who’s written guides to touring Italy, Oregon and elsewhere. The Bicycle Story reviewed her latest guidebook, Cycling Sojourner, and interviewed Thalheimer earlier this summer. Cary is a graphic designer and did the design work and illustrations for Hop in the Saddle.

Like many independent writers and publishers these days, the Hop in the Saddle authors are hoping to fund the publication of their book through a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter has, without a doubt, provided the opportunity for many authors to publish their work that could not have afforded to otherwise and I suspect Hop in the Saddle is in a similar situation. As I write this, they are currently a little over one third of the way to their $15,000 goal, but still have 16 days to reach it.

Check back here in a few weeks for a review of the guide.