In a previous life, I played some ball. It was that segment of my early life that I really pushed myself physically to the limits, strove to be the best that I could be. All the while just in a small town, on a small team. When I went to college, I decided to leave all that behind and take on a new path. One seeking education, mental enrichment and skill development. Physically I had already proven myself to myself. Artistically, I felt I had a lifetime’s work ahead of me. One thing I carried with me was the Running Game. The one that’s about inches. Slow and steady. Constant work in the hopes to bust out the big play where your skill, determination and sheer effort come to life for split seconds. That’s earned by a constant pounding on the opponent. Digging deep. Not afraid to get dirty. You gotta stay low. You gotta be tough. You gotta get mean. It’s not necessarily the glitzy polished precision that is the Passing Game. But there’s something to the grittiness of the Running Game that’s appealing to my sensibilities because it boils down to Raw Power. But there’s elegance in movement and flow if you know what to look for. If you understand the game and can follow along, you’ll spot just how beautiful it all can be. How simple a great play unfolds.
If you’ve been reading, you may be picking up on a theme that’s running tangent to and in tandem with 44 Bikes. That same grittiness, that same digging deep, that same determination of slow, steady, not afraid to get dirty attitude is emerging with 44 Bikes. This latest build headed to the streets of Portland captures and embodies that spirit of simple flow, understated elegance, gritty “not afraid to get dirty” play of positive and negative space. A versatile machine purpose built for the Running Game. I’ll be packing this one up later today for it’s trip West and into the hands of my client. If I could be a fly on the wall for that first commute.
So far this winter we haven’t had a lot of snow. What we have been getting are some pretty brutally cold days. (The Farmers’ Almanac called for a long cold winter…). With that cold we’ve also had erratic weather at best. One minute it’s 0 degree’s out, the next you could wear shorts and it’s sunny. Snow melting… then clouding over, raining heavily only to change over to snowing. Heavily. And back to square one. So conditions have been good then really bad. So getting out for rides on roads has been a challenge to say the least. I do not own a trainer and that complicates things. I’ve been getting a lot of invites for events this spring… Maybe I need to make an investment so I’m not hung out to dry and then some depending on which events I attend. But I have been getting out on the fat bike so not all is lost. Played catch up for the last 2 weeks due to the flu the week previously so riding has been few and far between till this past weekend.
Having that time during the week to stretch the legs and get outside to take a step back to move forward is a good thing. I find myself regrouping and assessing things presently when I’m able to get out. Reflection is key when running a business. Spending time away from the business is also key when running a business.
It’s places like these (image below) where you step off the bike, take a giant step back and just soak it all in. I do this from time to time during rides. I’ll just stop. Lay down the bike and walk back, turn around and take it all in. Sometimes even take a knee. Gives you a sense of time and place and really what matters: Riding bikes. That’s what matters. Spending time with family and loved ones. That’s what really matters.
So a few weeks back in the middle of Matt’s Huntsman I got the flu which knocked me off my feet for a week. Back at it and finished up his build. So there was a bit of stop and start with this build before it was off to the powder shop. Things came together smoothly despite the week off. What was tricky about this build for me was that it was a singlespeed and sports fenders – so hitting the mark for positioning of the fender mounts was a nice challenge but also working in enough wiggle room to remove the wheel was equally as challenging. I think we hit things “just so”. This will be Matt’s daily driver in Portland, OR so fenders for wet weather are a must as is a front rack for hitting grocery duties and the all important end of the week beverage hauler. Segmented fork is from Mike Flanigan at A.N.T. Bikes. (Thanks Mike!!). Frame, fork, rack and bars will be powdered in Team 44 “Back in Black” matte black. Fenders will be gloss black. Components will be a nice mix of White Industries, Chris King, Thomson, Paul Components and a few others. Color scheme is shaping up to be black (mostly) with hits of white and silver. Should be a nice build. More on this one once the frame returns to 44HQ later this week from powder.
So with the coming of winter, I always start thinking about fat bike adventures out in the snow. I know a lot of you out there roll FAT 24/7, 365 days a year, but for me it happens honestly with the coming of the winter snow season. The beginning of this winter started out with a good bang with lots of fresh powder. Of late that’s been getting kaibashed by a lot of oddly warm temps and rain that seems out of place. Earlier this fall I started with a concept of 1 bike that takes Fat wheels as well as 29+ and that seemed to get some attention. My own motivation was to attempt to get a bit more use out of my fat bike year round, since I largely enjoy my 29er in the spring, summer and fall. Fat-Bike.com ran a good article regarding this setup so if you haven’t, head on over there and check it out.
So with that build being ridden for a while now, I wanted to try out a few things in season. New proto time. Over the holidays I put the pedal to the metal and got this bike together. I wanted to focus my efforts on 4.8″ / 5″ tires, their increased floatation properties and wheelbase considerations as conditions change. Also optimizing this rig for Fat wheels and 29+ so I can get year round usage out of this test mule. When I build bikes for myself, I’m building them not just for myself. I’m also building them for the client too. I don’t try anything new with clients: Only tried and true setups that I’ve tested. This build was no exception and I’ve learned a lot (mostly on the “How” to build fat bikes end of the spectrum). Where bends should be, how parts come together, changes in geometry to name a few all went into this build.
The biggest, literally was building this bike around 5″ tires. The Surly Lou is a rear specific tire, and it’s massive. Getting everything in the right place was a challenge, and a great one at that. With the PMW SLiders slammed, the chainstays come in at 16.75″. I lengthened this a bit from the previous version (which was 16.5″) to afford a bit more clearance between the seat tube and tire for mud/snow clearance. There’s a point to which shorter just does not make sense as you’re compromising other points on the checklist that need to be considered too. But threading the needle on measurements and clearances, pushing what’s possible to the brink is what prototypes are all about. Here’s a few more for you to enjoy. I’ll report back once I have more rides on this beast…
To all my clients past, present and future, fans, and fellow shredders: you helped 2013 be better with more than double the production. Let’s make 2014 even better! Without all of your help and encouragement, I would not be where I am today. So from the bottom of my heart: Thank you!