Max Kullaway might not have the same celebrity as some in the industry, but his roots in frame building run deep. He got his start production welding at Merlin. He later joined Seven Cycles as the company got off the ground. Now, with over two decades of experience under his belt, he’s building for Hampsten bikes, welds titanium frames for Davidson, and runs his own company 333 Fabrications (pronounced triple three). I sat down with him in the workshop he shares with Steve Hampsten at Hampsten’s house in North Seattle to talk about his background in metal fabrication, his early days in the New England frame building world, his move to Seattle and reentry into bike building, getting 333 off the ground, and more.
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 Joshua Bryant of Cycles J Bryant.
Give me the short rundown of your first frame: when was it built, where, materials, any special details about it, etc.
I built my first bike in the basement of my apartment in the winter of 2007. I had recently gotten back from a honeymoon bike touring around central Europe. Towards the end of the trip, my Kogswell P/R was stolen. I set out to build a bike that was similar, but lighter in weight than that bike. I had a rather dimly lit basement and spent any free time I had mitering tubes, prepping material, brazing, etc. It was made from somewhat light gauge Nova tubing, 8-5-8, and was spec’d to house 650x36b. It sported a front rack and a wired headlight. I rode that bike on many of my first brevets, a couple flèches, some gravel exploration and a few overnight camping trips. It was modeled after the great French Constructeurs, but teaching myself, I didn’t execute a few of the finer details I was going for as well as I had hoped. I had a lot of miles on the bike thinking of how to properly execute my vision and my next bike turned out much closer to what I was looking for. I rode this first bike for about 3 years until I set out on a 300k training ride, preparing for the Cascade 1200 several years ago. I ended up wrecking the bike pretty bad. Luckily, the only real damage to the bike was the front wheel exploded. The bike is still rideable and fairly true even, but it’s hanging in my basement for now.
Cycling photographer Emily Maye is on the rise. Only a year and a half after shooting her first race photos at the Tour of California, she’s been published in cycling magazines such as Bicycling and Paved and worked for major brands such as Rapha, Bontrager-Livestrong development team, Crankbrothers and more. Emily is known for her strengths as a visual storyteller. Rather than only focusing on a race’s major climb or finishing sprint, she turns her lens on the drunken fans, the anxiety-filled race prep, the harrowed mechanics, to try and capture the entire atmosphere of a professional cycling event. In this interview, Emily discuses her background in photography, her attraction to professional cycling, the parallels between ballet and bike racing, her approach to storytelling, and more.
Nelson Vails was the first African American cyclist to medal in the Olympics, making history when he won the Silver in the 1984 track sprint. Before his professional cycling career, he made his living as a bike messenger in New York, which earned him a role in the famed Kevin Bacon messenger movie Quicksilver. In short, he’s an awesome figure in cycling history. He’s also one of the featured athletes in a forthcoming documentary on African American cyclists called RIDE: In Living Color. Click here to read the recent interview with RIDE’s director Yolanda Davis-Overstreet.
A few weeks ago, a teaser for a Nelson Vails documentary was posted on youtube by user stephgauger1. It’s made the rounds on cycling blogs, but nobody seems to know who’s behind its production or anything about the film beyond the stated “2013” release date. In this day and age, a movie trailer without any accompanying information pretty much constitutes a mystery. But, a little Internet sleuthing reveals that stephgauger1 is Stephane Gauger. He is one of the two filmmakers involved in Cruzin’, about a ride former professional cyclist Tony Cruz did down the length of Vietnam.
I contacted Cruzin’s production company, One World Media Group for a little information on the Nelson Vails film. Cruizin‘s director Scott Nguyen responded. He said: “As of right now we’re still in the development phase for the documentary film. It basically outlines Nelson Vails life story, his trials and tribulations, etc. We are set to shoot the film in NYC this December for an April, 2013 release.”
Team Rwanda’s story is fascinating. Many of its founding members were young boys during their country’s horrific 1994 genocide. They’ve found redemption and success as professional cyclists competing on an international level. The team’s founder, Jock Boyer, was the first American to race in the Tour de France. He too found a form of redemption in the team after his life in the United States fell apart following his professional cycling career. The team, its stars, and its founder were the subject of a terrific New Yorker article that stands out as one of the best pieces of cycling-related writing out there.
Team Rwanda is now the subject of a new feature-length documentary, Rising From the Ashes. The film has been in the works for six years and brings to it the star-power of Forest Whitaker as Executive Producer and narrator. Like the New Yorker article, the film looks at the foundation of the Team, its standout riders, Jock Boyer, and, according to the film’s synopsis, uses them as a catalyst to explore the larger issues of Rwanda’s genocide and its aftermath. The trailer is excellent and I look forward to seeing the film.