Category Archives: Cycling Media

Jan Heine: A Randonneur’s Long Rides and Strong Words

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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 Bicycle Quarterly and company Compass Bicycles, mainstream cycling media, and much more.

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Eben Weiss: Cycling’s Most Famous Snob

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Bike Snob Eben Weiss in New York City. Screenshot via Vimeo.

I got off the train and started to jog. I was in Inwood at the very northern end of Manhattan and I was late for my meeting. Given that the man I was holding up has made his name as a scathing critic, I was a little worried. But when I arrived at the Indian Road Cafe, Eben Weiss greeted me at the door and quickly forgave me when he found out I was visiting from a subwayless city. As we waited for our waitress, Weiss explained that the park across the street from us is supposedly where the Dutch bought Manhattan from the Lenape Indians and that the confluence of the Harlem and Hudson Rivers was just around under the Henry Hudson bridge into the Bronx.

Weiss is, of course, Bike Snob NYC. He launched the wildly popular blog in 2007 as an anonymous and acerbic cultural critic, picking apart the booming fixed gear fad, the racing world, and the bike industry with daily posts. In 2010, as a lead up to the publication of his first book, Weiss came out to the world as the Snob. At the time, people wondered if the unveiling would mean the end of the blog. But five years and another two books later, Weiss is still posting daily as one of the most vocal cycling world pundits. Over the course of our lengthy lunch, we talked about the start of his blogging career, his evolution as a bike advocate, the oddities of bike world celebrity, becoming pals with Lance Armstrong, and much more.

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The World’s First Mountain Bike Film (Probably)

Canadian filmmaker Wolf Ruck made Freewheelin’ in 1985. The short film highlights early mountain bike footage set to a decidedly-80s soundtrack. According to Brian Vernor (read The Bicycle Story’s 2011 interview with him), it is likely the first purpose-made mountain bike film in history. Vernor writes:

“In early 2010 I showed this film to multiple cycling media outlets in an effort to re-release the film, or even do an in depth profile on the man that as far as I know has made the first mountain bike film. the FIRST. This is a film. It is not a bunch of scrappy footage. Wolf Ruck made something beautiful and important, and then he moved on and made other films about other subjects. He was very humble when I approached him about his film FREEWHEELIN. He was even surprised anybody cared. What a shock to see this film for me. Besides the historical importance, the great vibe he transmits from the scene as it was back then, jamming soundtrack he co-ordinated, Wolf Ruck can likely be credited with the first urban POV shot in all of cycling. Plenty of people have made names for themselves simply from that shot alone. As a filmmaker this whole film inspires me.”

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Cycling Sojourner Washington is an in-depth guide to self-supported bicycle touring in Washington State. It features 9 distinct tours throughout Washington with all the info you need to set out for an adventure on two wheels. I wrote two chapters of the book and have copies available for purchase through The Bicycle Story’s store. Get a copy for yourself or give the gift of bike touring this holiday season!

Kathryn Bertine: The Fight for Women’s Equal Share of the Road

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Kathryn Bertine. Photo via kathrynbertine.com.

This year was big for women’s professional cycling. The Women’s Tour of Britain–the country’s first stage race for women–saw upwards of 10,000 spectators lining the streets for some stages. A.S.O., the company behind the Tour de France put on La Course, a one day women’s circuit race in Paris that coincided with the final stage of the Tour. Races such as BC Superweek and the US National Road Championships started offering equal prize money for the first time. But though these steps towards equality are important and signify a little bit of progress in professional cycling, they are the exception not the rule. Prize money is still often wildly unequal. According to journalist Lee Rodgers, 2013 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad women’s winner Tiffany Cromwell won just 270 euro while her male counterpart Luca Paolini won over 65,000 euro. The 2013 Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali netted 90,000 euro. Giro Rosa champ Mara Abbot earned 450 euro. A one day circuit race ending on the Champs Elysees is better than nothing, but it’s certainly not equivalent to three weeks of the world’s highest profile racing. Luckily the cycling world is starting to open its eyes to inequality.

Perhaps as important as 2014’s big races and sometimes-equal prize money, the conversation around inequality in professional cycling was elevated further into the mainstream than ever before. And Kathryn Bertine helped make it happen. The former journalist and current professional road cyclist combined her passions for storytelling and sport with her documentary Half The Road. The film documents the vast disparities between men’s and women’s pro cycling through interviews with the top women in the sport and the top decision makers in cycling’s governing body. It played to sold out theaters around the country this year and helped spark broad conversation about the subject. I spoke with Bertine about making Half The Road, the struggles for equality in cycling, the path to gender parity, her careers as a journalist and professional racer, and much more.

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