Monday, July 22, 2013

Tour De Parks 2013: Fort Steilacoom Park

As a transplant from California, I miss the mountain bike trails that are abundant in the bay area. Sometimes, the sound of fat tires rolling over gravel is just what I need to soothe away stress. There's also a Zen-like feeling when you focus on technique, assess what's ahead, pick a line, and execute it.

I've had my Poprad for awhile, but shamefully have always kept it on asphalt. Feeling adventurous and needing a change from my road bike and commuter, I set out to find some local trails. A quick online search led me to Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood. I knew that I wasn't going to get the high mountain peak views and singletracks that I grew up riding. But for just 10 miles from my front door, FSP has lots to offer.

Granny gear, where art thou?

At 340 acres, FSP has something for everyone: sports fields, playground, off-leash area for dogs, a beautiful lake. Oh, and a labyrinth of trails for biking and hiking. Some of the trails are best ridden on a proper mountain bike, with or without suspension, but definitely with a granny gear. I had to walk my Poprad to get to the view of Mount Rainier.

Worth it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rising From Ashes

Hope is an amazing ride.
A new documentary, due out in theaters next month, tells the story of the first Rwandan National Cycling Team and their journey to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. If the trailer is any indication of the full feature, then count me in to be first in line to see it.

Remember Jonathan Boyer? First American to compete in the Tour de France, winner of the 1980 Coors Classic and 1985 RAAM. Turns out he has been living in Rwanda since 2007, where he created Team Rwanda Cycling.

Forest Whitaker lends his star power to narrate the 80 minute doc. The featured athletes were just children during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This is their story of how cycling helped them to rise from the ashes of their devastating past.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Art of Cycling: Taliah Lempert

Connie's Bike

Based in New York, Taliah Lempert's work is a mixture of retro road bikes, urban fixies, and custom rides. She paints individual bicycles as the main subject without the distractions of riders and backgrounds. 

"Bicycles are important, beautiful, and worth a close look.
Most bikes I paint are, or have been, used daily for transportation, recreation,
messenger work and/or for racing,
They are worn and customized uniquely,
being at once a specific bike and a collective symbol of empowerment."

Lempert has an extensive gallery which can be viewed at going back as far as 1997. Some of my favorites include bikes from my favorite era of cycling: the 1980s. The painting pictured above (and aptly titled) is the bike that belonged to none other than Connie Carpenter-Phinney, 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist at the Los Angeles Games road race.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tour De Parks 2013: Adriana Hess Wetland Park

The Adriana Hess Wetland Park is a nice little gem to visit...if you can find it. Tucked away in Fircrest and less than a mile west of the Fircrest Golf Club (of all places), it's a relaxing spot to sneak away to. There is an Audubon center operated by the Tahoma Audubon Society, but you'll have to catch them during their limited hours during the week.

If you want to take in some nature but don't have the time to go very far, go here.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My First Love

The first bike I ever purchased from a shop was the Trek Elance 310. Before my transition from strolling around the neighborhood to more serious riding, I had my share of hand-me-downs and freebies. But the Elance was the beginning of seeing the bike as art.

It was marketed as a recreational sport bike in 1986 and priced in the mid-level range. If you want a lugged steel frame today, you would be hard-pressed to find it "off the rack" at your local shop. Yet, there was a time when bike companies produced them as a standard feature.

The Elance had a lot going for it: steel tubing, braze-ons for downtube shifters, relatively light for its time. (Oh, my. 36-spoke wheels.) And it was aesthetically beautiful. Notice the well-placed bit of white on the headtube that pops out against the gorgeous red frame.

Bikes have come a long way over the past few decades in all aspects of design, functionality, and riding options. But if I were to judge a book by its cover, I still prefer the retro look of the Elance over most anything you see today.