Category Archives: bmx

Baltimore Bike Party July 2014 – A Visit From Georgia

Last Friday of pretty much every month I make the trek into Atlanta to participate in Critical Mass, which has been loads of fun.  This time around though, I was heading to Baltimore on vacation, and made sure to schedule my time off to include the last Friday of the month, so I could do Baltimore Bike Party.  This was my first time experiencing the end of month group ride anywhere else but Atlanta, so I was pretty excited to examine the differences.

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The ride started at St Mary’s Park and ended just a a short way away at the Maryland Historical Society, so this particular ride formed almost a perfect loop.  From what I have heard it does not always end so close to where it starts.  I was on the scene by 6:30 and by 6:45 there was already a pretty serious size crowd.

One of the things I dug about the start gathering was that there was repair station set up by Twenty20 Cycling.  There was definitely a lot of action at their table from people needing last minute adjustments and air.  Very good idea to have this included and certainly some great promo for the shop. BONUS LEVEL:  the organizers also posted info about bathrooms for use at the start point.  I like it.

Each BBP has a theme. This month was Boasting Baltimore and Maryland Mania. In addition to seeing a zillion tons of Ravens and Orioles gear, there was at least one person with a giant 3d steamed crab attached to his helmet, and one pink flamingo as a nod to John Waters. Best dressed won some gear from Hill Killer Apparel Co.

Pretty much right at 7pm the ride started.  How about this…the ride has a police escort as long as they do not get a call that supercedes leading the ride.  Yeah, I can support that to the fullness. The ride rolled out to a bunch of “Bike Partaaaaay” whoops and hollers, which would continue throughout the evening, the northern cousin of the “Happy Friday” heard along the way at CM ATL.

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Starting from such a dense traffic light area, the group got separated pretty quickly, and I tried to stay in the front group since I didn’t want to get lost.  We had only gone about a mile when I noticed that there were a LOT more 20″ BMX bikes than I am used to seeing, and you know I love that.

Then the craziest thing started happening. There were these kids riding all sorts of different bikes, most of which seemed to be department store mountain bikes in various states of disrepair, careening THROUGH the crowd at crazy speed, doing wheelies. I mean, looooong coaster wheelies, and then just when you thought the front wheels was going to drop, they would hit the gas and speed up even more. I’ve done wheelies…long wheelies, but never with the reckless abandon that these kids were doing.  But wreckless may not be the right word, because I never saw any of them wreck, never saw any of them have to hop off because they over pulled and came off the back of the bike. They were always teeter tottering on the brink of control, but never went over the line. It was pretty freakin sick.

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One very large contrast to the ATL CM is that about 80% of the riders at BBP did NOT wear helmets.  I don’t really have a point or agenda to state here,  just observing the difference.  Truthfully this ride was so much slower paced than our CM that I can see why people may leave the lid off.  I didn’t.  I really enjoyed how this ride was much more -party paced- and not the faster pace that ATL CM has sort of morphed into over time.  I have no trouble staying in the front group at CM, but I think it may have gotten a little fast  for the folks who come and bring kids in trailers, beach cruisers and such, wanting to support biking in Atlanta but getting dropped very early into the ride.  I feel so bad when that happens.

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The route was pretty cool and we definitely were well received by the folks hanging out outside, having card games, playing loud ass music, drinking booze and being hood. Fuck yeah man, I love my home city, and on this ride you saw things and heard things that you could never experience anywhere else.

Then all of a sudden, in the middle of a park along the way, the whole ride stopped to take a breather at the halfway point.  Wait, what? What a great idea!  There was shaved ice from Hula Honeys and people took the time to be social and conversate.  I even caught up with an old friend who spotted me in the crowd which was super rad.

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The rest stop was just long enough to not be -too long- and soon enough we were on the backside of the ride.  Somewhere not too long after we got going again, we were all stopped at an intersection when about 30 kids on dirt bikes came jamming down the street at a zillion mph, popping wheelies and in general owning that intersection until they were passed. I am not sure, but it could have been the 12 O’ Clock Boys.  The whole spectacle was pretty rad.

By this time it had started getting dark, and I noticed that what the Bmore crowd lacked in helmets they made up for in headlights. Everybody had one, and a lot of people had good ones, not some crappy toytown bizness.  I’m gonna chalk this up to the high number of insane potholes in the streets up here. You wouldn’t want one of them to sneak up on you after dark  for sure. It was a good choice to not bring my roadbike.

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The last part of the route was a long trek down St. Paul street which was a total blast, since it was mostly down hill and the whole group got going pretty fast. Stop lights were obeyed.  Fun was had.

Eventually we reached the end of the ride at the Maryland Historical Society.  The entire ride was less than 9 miles. Here is where the biggest difference between CM ATL and BBP happened…this was a full on after party scene!  

There was a parking lot with some security guards at the entrance.  Once inside there was an area specifically designated for bike parking, but it was a little weird, there was almost nothing to lock your bike to. So, people made the best use they could of the poles  and fence that was available, and there was definitely a lot of creative use of vertical space.  I kept thinking how rad it would have been to have the Atlanta Bike Coalition Bike Valet here.  Baltimore people, if someone isn’t doing a bike valet for big events around town, here is your opportunity to get in the game.

The rest of the lot was filled with food trucks, a dj, and they were selling beer!  Really?!  I love it.  The afterparty scene was super cool. so much so that I would be willing to bet that about 80% of the people who started the ride, finished the ride.  How awesome is that?

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Yeah man, it was packed. Packed enough that the smart money said to buy more than one beer from the beer line, which was a good strategy, but even when I did have to get back in line, it ran pretty fast.  I reaaaally should have tried some of the food from the food trucks. You Atlanta people know how the whole food truck thing has had it’s ups and downs, and they aren’t as ubiquitous in the A as they are in some cities which is too bad.

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As I had said earlier I was pretty stoked to see a lot of BMX representation at the ride, but there was one group who really killed it by bringing out the proper vintage gear.  They were running a Schwinn Apple Crate, two Hutch Trick Stars, a Skyway 26″ and a GT which I can’t recall as a 24″ or 26″ but it was definitely not 20″.  All of these rides were super clean and well done. I talked with the guy in the pic for a while but by this point I had had a few beers so I don’t remember his name. Great crew of people though.

The whole after party scene was just so good.  I was chit chatting bike talk with my buddy and his crew who I had met at the halfway point, and probably could have stayed til they kicked people out, but I had to bail to go meet some other friends. I am imagining that at some point maybe someone got on the mic and awarded the best dressed prizes or something, I dunno.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
When I set out to document my experience at BBP, I wanted to make sure that it did not come off as “Here is what we’re doing wrong in Atlanta”, because we aren’t doing it wrong.  We do it our way, and we love it.  I love it.  But I knew there would be a lot of exciting and fun differences I wanted to relay.  I had a pretty good idea of how it would be from following the BBP facebook page, and it was definitely what I thought it would be and more.  The ride here reminded me a bit more of  The Mobile Social back home. I guess the reason that I used so much comparison to CM is that since  BBP happens the last friday of the month, to me it came across as “Baltimore’s version of Critical Mass”.

 

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GT Talera Upgrades

I’m not usually one to buy parts for any of my bikes just because they’ll look nicer. Doing that clashes with my anti-conspicuous consumption programming. But every once in a while you have to walk on the darkside right? So I nabbed a set of purped out anodized quick releases for an insanely excellent price from PorkChopBMX, which just so happens to be in Cartersville GA, so even shipped regular US Post they got here in 2 days. I like em so much I’m probably going to order a set for the ‘Goose also. I bet they’ll get here before the pedals I ordered from Dan’s since my shipment seems to have been “held up due to weather” or some such unfortunate tale.

The shiny new parts really bring out the rust spots and scratches on the rest of the bike don’tcha think?

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Vintage BMX – REDLINE MXIII

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I totally loved my Redline MXIII. Mine was a custom build. Basically transferred all the parts off of my MCS Spider, then switched to a UNI Seat. I had already added some ACS Z-Rims to the MCS, so they were xferred also…black with gold spokes and some 3 piece hubs by a company called Chair, which was a Japanese company I believe.

But enough memory lane…lets examine the ad above. HOW ABOUT THOSE BRAKE LEVERS? Wow! Looks like they are running some Cycle Pro Snakebelly tires, which were always a fave of mine. These frames were very short as far as the front triangle, and very light. Funny to look back now and think that V-crossbars were really a “thing”

I don’t even remember what happened to my Redline. Most likely I sold it by parting it out. Would LOVE to have it now…

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Haro Sport

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What is up with that funky colored seatpost?

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Gearing up for some Fall action

It has ben a bike-free summer for me, I am ashamed to admit. There have been issues…mainly that the car I use to get my bikes to the places I ride has ben broken down, and also that the time I used to alot for riding has been taken up by walking my new dog Lucy.

Now tings have started to mellow out with Lcy a bit, and I -just now- got my beater car GEO Prizm fixed (330k + miles and still goin baby!). So, now I can actually put the bike rack on the car and get a few miles in before the end of the year.

Aside from trail and road biking, I keep thinking about BMX and going to the skatepark. I saw a company called Sapient which has BMX bikes at about half the price that you see n the Dan’s Comp catalogs, but the bikes look pretty much the same but w/o heavy marketing and branding. Since I don’t keep up with which bike company is “cool” for the BMX crowd at any moment, I am thinking that one of those bikes might be a good way for me to get back into action skatepark-wise. The GIANT that I had been using, which I bought used a few years ago just isn’t cutting it any more, especially since I bent the handlebain a crash a while back and ended up replacing them with these gigantic cheap ass GT bars tat were on some junker bike in my backyard.

 

Hoping to get SOME knd of riding in this year.

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Haro “Freestyle Moves” Book

Now that we have a new printer/scanner dealie, I have started to go through my archive to digitize some things, and came across this little gem from years gone by:

Bob Haro “Freestyle Moves”, purchased 1984 from Golden Ring Bicycle Shop, where I would start working 4 years later. The book was probably the first ever freestyle how-to guide outside of the BMX magazines. It covered everything from the basics all the way up to the toughest tricks of the day. It also features lots of “kick turns” and variations for the small wedge ramp, which has long since gone the way of the dinosaur. Heres the actual page flip pic so you don’t think I went out and grabbed a jpg off the google then tried to front.

One hand one foot drop in baby!  My copy is pretty beat up…some of the pages are loose from the binding and the edges are pretty tattered, but it is a complete specimen. I could be persuaded to sell it for the right price to a good home.

If you want to see a much more detailed list of BMX Freestyle books, including a complete scan of Freestyle moves, check out this site. I’m gonna go do some curb endos and reminisce.

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Some really sick riding…

I would love to post the video of the Nike 6.o BCN BMX finals here, but WordPress isn’t playing nice with trying to embed from Vimeo…however you can click here to view the vid directly

I don’t often post links to vids, because I

know clicking through is too much work

for you…but trust me this one is worth it.

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PK RIPPER meets fixed at dub station

The SE Racing PK Ripper is without a doubt my favorite bmx frame of all time.

I’ve never “clicked” with a bike so well. I had a waaaaay earlier version than the one you see here, which did not have cable braze ons or bosses or brakes, since everyopne used side pulls during my era. Heh, I never even had brakes on my PK, because by the time I got iot, I had entered the -low budget soul rider- phase of my BMX days, and just wanted the thing to be light. I wasn’t worried about stopping. All I did was carve arojund Landsdown bowl with the thing anyway…it was like when old surfers still go out and catch waves but don’t try to bust crazy switchbaks and tricks, they just get into the zen of the whole ride…smooth and fast. Mine was set up with these incredibly light (but incredibly fragile) Tioga HOLLOW one piece cranks, and Mongoose Pro Class 36 hole wheels. It was sickeningly light, but board stiff, and I could throw it around like I was riding air.

ANYWAY…even though I sold it a zillion years ago, my love affair with the PK has continued. I have always said that if I could have any BMX bike I’d want to build up a vintage Ripper.

So, why all the nostalgia? Well, I came across this little gem today:

If that front wheel will clear the downtube for barspins, I WILL HAVE TO HAVE ONE. Serioulsy. Yes I know there are probably better bikes out there, but to me it would just be so neat to have the best of my current fixed fascination mashed up with a longing for BMX days gone by. I’d love to try some of the FGF stuff, but my peugeot has nowhere near modern enough angles to make it worth doing, plus I want to keep the pooj equipped with my flop-n-chop budget bullhorns.

Yes, I think I must have it.

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BMX Jam @ Coan Middle + ride notes

Saturday I loaded up the pooj’ and headed to Atlanta to check out the BMX Jam at Coan Middle school and Downhill Challenge Soapbox race at Starlight Drive In. The weather was not terribly nice…blustery cold wind and it actually rained most of the drive to town. We weren’t 100% sure we were going to bike to the events given how crappy it was outside.

Once I got to Grahams hut he sorted me out with an appropriate beer

Beer always increases my chances of biking somehwhere if I’m undecided about whether I should ride or not. We made a plan to at LEAST ride to the BMX jam, which was not that far away. Grahams shirt is all kinds of WIN.

We suited up for the trek and you would have thought we were doing the iditarod or something. Graham and I are both from upnorf, but living down here for so long has really had an effect on what we would consider cold. We headed out not really knowing if the BMX jam was actually happenong yet since there was no time listed on the flyer. As we neared the school, we could hear the music so we knew the session was in effect. In fact the turnout was pretty darn good.

It was a pretty loose session, lots of room on a great totally flat cement pad with roof. I had imagined that there would be some street riding going on, utilizing various obstacles around the school, but it seemed to be pretty much just a flatland thing.

Flatland riding is not easy to capture completely with still photos. You really need to see it live or on video to really appreciate it. When you shoot flatland, you are only getting one moment of a series of complicated tricks connections…these guys easily string together moves so fast that if you don’t know the names of tricks you just get lost in it. I’m pretty clueless about most of the trick names so I won’t even try to describe some of the better moves we saw. I’m from the era when a “decade” and a “cherry picker” were the hot tricks lol.

The folks from Atlanta Bench were providing the soundtrack. I’ve ben meaning to check out their store…if you get a chance swing by and show them some love.

The riding just kept getting better and better

We were kind of tripping out on the interesting design of the bikes. Barely anyone was running brakes. The stems were either super short or no extension at all.

You don’t travel on these kinds of bikes, you go to a spot and you session. They seemed to be geared extremely easy…at least one person we saw just opted out of cranks altogether, which didn’t seem to have a negative effect on his riding at all.

We met a kid named Nicholas who had at least two Red Bulls and decided to get in the session with the heavy hitters

Nicholas was lovin it. He pointed out this silly graffiti to us

Bitch Duct Tape  help keep our community clean. Indeed!

The riding continued to get better, and more people actually started to arrive…

The one downside of the BMX Jam, was that I kind of hoped to see some of the fixed gear freestyle crew to show up. Not to party crash and try to ride or anything, but to see some really evolved trick riding from another genre of bicycles that they can learn from. I don’t know if anyone ever made it over to No-Brakes with a flyer, but I am betting not, because I’m sure some of the FGF crew would have stopped through. I mean, No-Brakes was only like two blocks away. I’m into the idea of the bmx buys and the FGF guys being aware of and supporting one anothers events. Looking at some BMX sites online, it seems some of them have real issues with the mountain bike guys who do tricks and ride park…it just seems weird to me. It’s all bikes. Fuck it, I like it all.

We were getting kind of cold by now though, so we decided to bail and head to SOPO so Graham could adjust his bottom bracket

I can’t believe people were wearing shorts man, it was pretty cold. Sopo is kind of “the shop that love built”.

After getting Grahams BB adjusted, we either had to ride back to the hut and get in the car togo to the downhill challenge, OR we could just ride there. This is where a confluence of things happened. First I suggested we might as well ride there, since we were probably closer to the Starlight than we were to the hut. Simultaneously I began my “typical epic complaining” about some of the hills I knew were coming up. See, I complain constantly when I ride. The folks I ride with know this, and find it a huge source of amusement. I’m the bitch and whine king. But I usually do the ride anyway, even if I am the slowest in the group, the first to get dropped and the one that really stands a chance to not make it to the end. So…onward to the Starlight Drive In we went…

It wasn’t too bad. Suprisingly, riding on the high speed sections of Moreland wasn’t as scary as I thought. The two big hills did whip my ass pretty good though…but I made them both without getting off or giving up. I just settle in and grind it out….slow as hell but steady pushing.

So we got to the Drive In and saw a zillion cars coming out. You could still hear music though, so we snuck in through the exit and headed towards the people. As soon as we got in there, we could tell the race was over. There was still a pretty good crowd on hand and it looked like it had ben a great event

There were some mummies playing music

There really wasn’t that much of a reason to stick around though since we had missed the race, so we headed back towards EAV..but not before grabbing a mandatory Drive In souvenier pic…

I did most of my complaining about the hills in my head on this phase since Graham had pedaled far enough ahead that he couldn’t hear me anyway. Oh yeah, I had my closest encounter of the day with a vehicle on this section of the ride. It was with a Marta bus, and heres the kicker…I was actually on the sidewalk at the time. The buss swept past me by like 3 inches. Bitch you ride the Marta Bus.

Stopped at the Earl for some grub on the ay back to Grahams hut. It was a much needed pit stop. The final portion of the ride was way cold, since the sun was down, but otherwise uneventful. I did my trademarked “spring up the last hill” which is always a good way to close a ride. We mapped out the route after we got home and it came out to 13.5 miles. I think that is the furthest I have ever ridden my fixed gear. It may not seem like a lot of miles to some of you fit people, but to me, it was pretty big!

Fun times.

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cross bike heavy drop + skatepark

Hit up Duncan Creek for the first time in almost 2 months or so today. Took it easy. Just carved around, did a few airs, a few jumps and actually like 2 sloppy double peg stalls. I wasn’t padded up or anything, and I didn’t feel like going full tilt bonzo or anything. Easing back in as I would say. Wow, I am out of shape. At least I didn’t wreck. Hopefully I can start heading down there routinely again, but I want to split the time with trail riding instead of just BMX all the time.

I love this photo:

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