Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I should be sleeping or packing, but I'm not. I'm trying hard to remember everything I'm afraid I'm gonna forget. Nonetheless, Owen's frame is ridable -- and also fun. The test ride to the pub to get a slice was a good time. I really want to convince Owen to ride short track on it as a 'niner. It'd be so fast. Anyway. That's done, and now it's vacation time. If you wanna come say hi at the mountainbike campout, fan me on the Facebook and checkout directions from the event page.

Monday, August 17, 2009

McKenzie River Mountainbike Campout

Vacation! Finally within my sights. I've been working my ass off seven days a week for the last month, and I'm right about to see the spoils of my work: Owen is going to be riding his pre-release bike (unpainted and in the form of a mountainbike), and I'll be getting to ride with some of my good friends in a completely relaxed environment. No phone, no computer, no work I could possibly do. When I get back, I'll have to start back up with the same ridiculous schedule through the end of September, so I'm going to do my best to get all the fun out in one go.
Today I put the finishing touches on Owen's frame: a seat stay bridge, brake bosses and cable stops. It's all brazing from here on out, which is somewhat relaxing to me. Much different, at least, than TIG welding, which puts me on edge knowing that whatever I do is pretty much final. Silver moves a little bit more slowly, and much more smoothly. There's not a lot of room for fixing little bobbles in a weld bead. And there's just something comforting about 'brushing' silver around with a cool blue flame. Very Bob Ross. Happy silver, happy fillets...
I'm not looking forward to packing, which I have to do Tuesday so that I can depart right after work on Wednesday -- after having gone home to pick up everything I will realize I forgot.

Monday, August 10, 2009


First Thursday at StepChange was incredible! I'd guess that over two hundred people made it through including Johnathan Maus who got some great pictures. Thanks to everybody who made it down. It was really nice to see so many of the friends I haven't had a chance to catch up with -- let alone show my work to -- in a while. Things worked out nicely.

My commuter bike is finally the color of purple I'd dreamed it'd be: shiny, sparkly purple that's super bright in the sunlight. Those gold and purple sparkles make the glint from the side so inviting. It does feel kinda' funny to be riding such a flashy daily driver, but I'm hopeful for the advertising effect... I hadn't originally intended to show it on Thursday, but knew that I had to build it up and put it on display as soon as I picked it up from paint.

Right now I've got my head buried in finishing Owen and Erik's 'cross rigs so that I can move on to my entry for the Oregon Manifest Constructor's Challenge/Race and then to my own 'cross racer. My seat mast construction is coming along nicely and, I think, should give me a unique edge at the Manifest and Oregon Handmade Bike shows. Look forward to pictures in the coming weeks!

Coming down to McKenzie River Mountainbike Camp? It's going to be great to be away from my shop, home, the pub, my phone, and the internets for a few days. I'd like to say it'll be nice to be away from responsibility, but I'm afraid that won't quite be the case. Ah, logistics. Though I won't really be responsible...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sorry to leave you hangin'

Yes, I took a little vacation – and for a bit, it was good for me to be away.
But there's all this stuff I should be sharing with you! ...and I know how important that's become for all of us.

In summary:

For the last month and change I've been racing a bit, training as much as I can, working a bunch and refocusing for the most important stretch of the year: short track mountain bike racing, show season and cyclocross.

I raced a few of the last Mt. Tabor Series road circuit races -- which were fun, but more importantly a powerful kickoff (and compliment) to Portland's Short Track XC Mountain Bike series. The series started about six weeks ago and will end this evening, 8/3. Right now I'm holding fifth in the series for the Single Speed category, which feels awesome. As demanding as it can be to get everything together week after week, I'm consistently rewarded with the company of some of my favorite racing peers and increasingly challenged to ride even faster this 'cross season. One more race. And if I'm lucky, I might just take fourth for the season, right behind everybody's favorite, Ryan Weaver. And let me take a second to give props to Peter Zlatnic and Jacob Furniss, who will take first and second, respectively, in both the weekly races and series points. Bravo guys! Keep making me faster.

I'm kicking off show season this (first) Thursday in the Pearl at StepChange: 500 NW 9th (and Glisan). The show runs from 6 to 9 pm. Join me for beers, a DJ (maybe some dancing?!) and bicycles by Belladonna, Cascadia, Courage, Metrofeits, Palmares and Sprout. More of my show season attention is going toward releasing Owen and Erik's 'cross bikes, as well as my entries to the Oregon Manifest Constructor's Challenge and Constructor's Race. Hopefully there'll be just enough time for a new 'cross bike for me, too!

THIS IS REALLY COOL! The Oregon Manifest has a whole new format this year which will feature a retail/gallery space near downtown to showcase builders and their work with front line exposure for winners of the Constructors Race. With any luck you'll be able to find a Sprout in that front window. Builders will unveil our entries on the night of Friday, October 2nd at the Manifest opening party and race them – or have them raced by a proxy rider – across a 77 mile epic on-off road race that ends in downtown Portland. The bike must be able to carry a bottled sixer, post race party outfit and some light party snacks but still be nimble.
Cyclocross! Soon! Mark your calenders for October 4th for the season opener at Alpenrose dairy. This is as close to a 'home court game' as I ever get and can be one of the most challenging (and fun) races of the Cross Crusade. In fact, just plan to make that a bike weekend...two parties and a cross race?!

I'm hoping also to show at the Oregon Handmade Bike Show, which happens four weeks after the Manifest, but am torn since it's the weekend of the Halloween Cross Crusade two day race. Terrible planning in my opinion. What I'm wondering is why anybody would decide to throw a bike show in Portland (the city with the most bike builders per capita) on the same weekend as arguably the biggest party of the biggest cyclocross series in North America. I'm thinking I need to be at the Halloween race in Astoria, which means I need to find friends to volunteer at my booth. With fingers crossed and blessings from friends I should be able to make that happen. Call me if you can help out!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

what's hot?

Cyclocross bikes with seat masts and riding road bikes you're too afraid lock up. Perhaps because they're not practical without a certain level of dedication...or maybe its just the sex appeal.

White bar tape is still hot! It's kinda impractical on a 'cross bike...but that makes it even better.

What drives us to this?

By now you're all probably thinking about cyclocross season. I certainly am. In fact, I'm feeling like it's creeping up a little too quickly. For the last two days I've been frantically trying to finalize my design for an integrated seat post (a.k.a. seat mast). While integration may not be practical for many riders, it finds some great applications on a race-specific 'cross or road bike. You might be familiar with production designs from the likes of Look and De Rosa, but custom builders have also been exploring some cool ideas, generally using less carbon. We've seen some notable designs from Portland builders, most recognizable, perhaps, on Vanilla's Speedvagens. Vertigo developed an integration with a very clean aesthetic that's been mimed by the guys at Signal (take a look at John Dorfer's 'cross rig). Jordan Hufnagel has even made a couple of great looking lugged frames with super extended seat tubes. Barring catastrophe, the 'cross frame I'm building for Erik will feature a design informed by a lot of what you've seen, but with a little twist. You're gonna have to wait to see it, 'cause I don't feel like leaking it until the frame is completed and I know it works. ...but now you're excited?

It's been over two months since I posted my intentions to go camping, and I've now finally made good. Jeremy was back in town, and we made it out to the woods with Chuck. We only did a short overnighter, but it was quite rejuvenating waking up to crisp mountain air and stunning views of Mt. Hood. I'd like to make more time for hiking, camping, and travel in the back-country, but the rhythm of my life lately hasn't been encouraging outdoor endeavors. I'll look forward to Mountain Bike Camp on the McKenzie River Trail (August 20th to 23rd) if to nothing before. If camping with friends, riding the MRT, warm spring soaking, and drinking beer sound good to you, I expect an email.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Yesterday I finally un-boxed and assembled my Anvil Journeyman2 frame fixture. Although I received it in the snow -- on New Year's Eve -- I hadn't unpacked it because I already had a frame in process and needed to use my time judiciously. So, this is very exciting. With some help from Bicycle Forest's BikeCAD Pro program -- once I figured it out -- I've been able to miter main triangle tubes with a confidence in their geometry at a much faster pace than I was able with my old Bringhelli frame fixture. One clear advantage of the Journeyman is its easy to read -- and relatively precise -- angle indicators (to half degrees) for head and seat tubes and chainstays.
On the flipside, learning BikeCAD was less than intuitive. It did make me sign up for FrameForum, which is an excellent resource for frame builders at all levels. There are also regular posts from framebuilding greats like Richard Sachs and Carl Strong. The program itself feels funny running on a Mac, and it's relatively tedious to navigate its series of oddly shaped windows dimension query boxes. In other words, for someone who has learned little new software in the last decade, it's been a process getting proficient with this program. But, It should be amazing for rear triangle design -- especially in terms of crank and tire clearances.

Today I finished some nice tight miters for the front triangle of Owen's cyclocross bike. I'm still deciding whether or not I'm going to exaggerate the bend in the chainstays. Doing so would mean having to wait til next week for a bender -- since I broke the one that I made -- but it might be worth it. Not that it needs to be done, but I was kinda thinking of really big swoopy curves. The stays that I have would lend themselves well to a big ess, and the extra clearance would allow Owen to run some smallish 29'r tires. I think he will enjoy being able to rip mountain bike trails before and after cross season, and it so happens that I have an extra steel fork. He can swap the carbon one out when not crossing in favor of the rigidity and tire clearance of the steel. Nifty factor!

a little shower

Weird, but I've been waiting for a little rain. It smells so nice now.

For the last two weeks it has felt like summer is here -- though I know it's not -- and I've been doing a good job of basking in it. Labor Day weekend I rode with a group of friends to Allie's birthday party in Brightwood. It was a fun group ride and just nice to be in the saddle for 40 miles under blue skies with a gentle breeze. Erik and I ran out of gears on the way down the hill to Alder Creek on HWY26. Hard charging!

Monday, we rode back on Marmot Road to avoid as much of 26 as possible without sacrificing convenience. That line afforded us some amazing climbs and descents on a ribbon of roadways tossed across ridge-lines, gullies, and pastureland. Again, some very fast descents.
After a short day of work on Tuesday I rode with Erik, Mike, and an Aussie named Jamie -- who sadly crushed his low spoke count wheel on a blistering descent down Cornell while on a portion of the de Ronde course. I think we'll be keeping this up on Tuesdays for a while if you wanna come join. Besides, it's cheaper, not flat, and more funner than PIR. Get in touch. We'd be happy to move the meeting spot around.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


At this point in my life, I'm done thinking I should feel any different or older on this particular day. In fact, it feels quite ordinary, other than that I cleaned my room and did my laundry. And as happy as those things make me, I've still woken up with an awareness that I should have -- could have -- done more yesterday, the day before, this week. But that's normal. Soon I'll have a dull indifferent feeling, suspicious nothing will turn out how I want it (and yes, as I'm posting this I can confirm that is indeed my mood). On the bright side, I did eat breakfast today...or something like it: brownies and a little barley wine. Today will get better, I'm sure...and it really doesn't matter if it doesn't. It's just a day.
I am though excited to have a couple of beers at the B-Side with the good friends who are able to make it despite the short notice. If you didn't already get the invite: 632 E Burnside, 8:30ish. Maybe dancing later?

I'll leave you with this. It made me laugh, despite the mood.
Check out Republic -- and I shudder to call them -- Bicycles , where 'wasabi' isn't just something you put on your sushi and you can get something nice to accessorize your Ikea living room, library, garage, or beachfront seawall. I forget how I ran into this link, but I followed it and think it's funny. Check out those roller skates! ...and those top tube pads. If this is 'custom' and 'quality', I don't know what I've been wasting my time doing. I'm figuring I still have a job because Republic is back ordered...but I'm sweating. Not totally sure, but I think this is what BikeSnobNYC would classify as an indicator of the fixed gear apocalypse. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

rain and UBI

I'm laying in bed and hear what seem to be monstrously sized raindrops smashing against my roof and the leaves of nearby trees. I'm feeling particularly grateful for two things: 1) I got out for a short but fast ride this evening and 2) I didn't get caught in the rain on my new road bike (it hasn't seen rain yet, but I'm pretty sure it won't like it). I'd planned all day to bust out for a ride but I didn't actually get to it until shortly after seven. That part was totally OK because I love cresting Mt. Tabor at close to sunset, but today I was racing to get out and back before the rain. I was definitely doubting my decision when I left the house as the wind was starting to kick up and smelled like rain. It wasn't a case of 'if', but rather 'when'. Defying increasingly ominous skies, I took just enough time to grab a burrito on my way back. I felt the first tiny droplets a few blocks away from home then ate on the porch, bike safely away from the rain.

Riding a little more has me feeling much better than a few posts ago.

In case you haven't yet heard: the United Bicycle Institute (UBI) is expanding to a North Portland campus on NE Shaver between the well traveled North-South couplet of bicycle boulevards Vancouver and Williams. Started in 1981, UBI offers classes from hobbyist maintainance to professional mechanics certifications as well as frame design and construction, boasting some very well recognized guest instructors. Citing proximity to an international airport (PDX), the City of Portland's aggressive approach to attracting cycling industries, the city's "vibrant cycling culture", and a "very active and creative community of custom frame builders", owner Ron Sutphin called UBI's expansion to Portland an obvious choice.

I took a frame design/construction class at the original Ashland campus back in 2002, which set me on the path toward Sprout Cycles. The first frame out of the Sprout shop was finished just less than two years ago. Yes, it actually took me five years to put the money, parts, tools, and space together to build what you've come to associate with Sprout Cycles -- and I still feel like I need more of all of the above.

I'm particularly excited because the school is planning to, "expand its curriculum with more specialized seminars and industry-specific training aimed at working mechanics and framebuilders." It's hard to keep up, but at last count it seems like there were about 20 framebuilders in Portland proper (and roughly another 10 in the rest of the state). The push to organize has really only come over the last couple of years. That push took shape largely in the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association (OBCA), which brought you the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show in '07, the Oregon Manifest in '08, and promises a newer, cooler format for Manifest '09. Having a year round physical location for builders to cross paths and talk will be a definite boon. Beyond any direct benefit to me, I'm excited to see yet another indication that Portland is becoming a framebuilding hub with international renown.

My advice? Start saving -- both for your class(es) and for all the tools you will know you NEED afterward.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Turnin' 27

My birthday is next Wednesday (May 20), and I'm trying to decide where to invite my friends to have a drink with me. This shouldn't really matter, but I'm having a hard time deciding. B-side? Sloan's? Crush? Hal's?
Anybody got a good suggestion? Drop me a line.
...and when I figure out where I'm going to be, come join me!

0.0 Returns to Active Duty

10:30 am
I've had my shower and I'm walking into the shop.
Last night I left the shop at 2:30 after having laced three wheels and mostly tensioned and trued one of them. I was totally delirious and cross-eyed by the time I decided to get off my stool. My last memory from the bench is of being so tired that I was closing my eyes and relying only on the sound of the rim brushing the caliper. It felt so nice with my eyes closed. At some point I realized that I was in an odd sort of wheel building trance that was quickly leading to sleep.
'Just stop before you start to eff up. Do it in the morning.'

That is, the real morning: after some sleep.

12:40 pm
Wheel truing has me in a daze again.
I'm locking up the shop to go grab a burrito and some rim strips.

2:37 pm
Rim strips, burrito, beer? check, check, and check.
Ready to work again.

9:35 pm
My sister just left with the Sprout 0.0. It's back on active duty after much too long.

I have to eat the Thai food she brought me before I can type anymore...

9:55 pm
My belly's full, but I still want more. I haven't had 'evil jungle noodles', as Thai Orchid calls it (it is really just a panang style curry over rice noodles with broccoli, baby corn, green bean, and bean sprouts) in quite a while, so this is really hitting the spot. Perhaps too hard. It's also making me feel sleepy, so I think I'm making the decision not go back to work tonight.
I am really happy to have gotten the original Sprout frame back on wheels. It's hard to believe, but I built that frame at bike school seven years ago. I will admit that as I was reassembling it I noticed many of the design flaws that, at the time i built it, were just details overlooked, but now seem like much larger errors -- like 17+ in chainstays (that's really long). Oops. It hasn't been ridden since April of last year when I loaned it to a friend to ride with me in Fruita. (Incidentally, that was some of the most amazing trail riding I've ever done. Quite comparable to the McKenzie River Trail.) Last fall I sacked the wheels in order to build my 10-year-old niece a cyclocross worthy rig, which she rides multiple times a week -- sometimes to school.
Without going into detail, suffice it to say that the bike my sister had been riding was not up to par, and she's really starting to take pleasure from the riding that has become a regular part of family time. As with all my bikes, I like to see them getting ridden, so it was perfect to put the 0.0 back on the trail, especially under my sister.

Today my niece got the tires I originally wanted to give her: Schwalbe CX Pros. They're 26x1.35" and have a relatively traditional style cyclocross tread pattern. I'm excited to see how much faster she is this year.

I'm calling an early bed time tonight.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Rain again today.
I'm suffering from too much work and not enough riding.

I got caught in the deluge/lightning storm on Saturday. I got very wet, very quickly.

Here are a couple of pictures from the City Club event. There are more at Thanks Jonathan! These will have to tide you over until I get photos back from Wonder Knack.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

blog. blog. blog.

fri. 12:27 p.m.

I can't really believe this, but I'm blogging from the City Club meeting.

Today August saw his complete -- short of fenders -- bicycle...and didn't seem disappointed. Happily, the attendees of the program seemed to like it as well. I blush as I type, but somebody actually said that August's bike was his favorite on display. That made my day. I promise pictures soon.

I saw lots of pretty bikes today, and it was very nice to make introductions to a few builders I hadn't formally met: Greg of Milholland, Ken of Renovo, Ed of
Palmares, and Phillip of Metrofiets.

It's always great to catch up with my peers, but (as usual) I spend an hour in what seems like fifteen minutes. It never fails to make me giddy as a schoolgirl, and today especially.

Special thanks to Jordan for lending me a bike stand-y thing.

Show favorites!: the super purple grocery bike by Tony Pereira and Joseph Ahearne's four speed road commuter (with a subtle but SO hot paint job by Spectrum). I'm also not-so-strangely drawn to the Signal fork-mounted wine rack.

postscript. Mia Burke is both an amazing speaker and a wonderful advocate for efficient urban design and healthier communities. I wish I could list the innumerable accomplishments she has helped earn for non-motorized transportation. Apparently she's worked in 48 states and four countries and has been instrumental to the development of Portland's bicycle friendliness. And she's happy to tell you about it, eloquently and energetically.

My last week has been crazy stacked with work: building wheels, frame detailing, bike assembly. Then we add some shifts at the pub and a monthly inventory... This Sunday was supposed to be a 'me' day but, as it seems now, will be the day I do everything I didn't get done during the previous six.

THIS JUST IN: rain, shitty. I'd had visions of pink sparkling wine on the patio, potentially sunbathing in my panties (or maybe less). Perhaps a ride? A boy can hope.

maybe on Monday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

longest post. EVER

The weather is beautiful again, which has made shop days a difficult struggle between my desire to get work done and the urge to go riding. Early evenings have been the toughest: I have a half day of work done, the temperature is perfect, a little breeze kicks up, and the light starts to take on that platinum hue... This always seems like the perfect time to ride, but I find it extremely difficult to walk back into the shop after dark and pick up where I've left off. After a good ride 'til dusk, it just seems right to lay around, bask in the glow of a freshly worked body, sip a frosty one, and ponder how to be faster next time. The key for me seems to be to ride either at the beginning or end of my day. Both require that I get up earlier...
...soon to come.

On Sunday I rode with Team Beer and friends to celebrate the life of recently fallen teammate Steve Nelson. While I did not, by any means, know Steve the best, I remember him as a smiling face and company to clink glasses with from many a race. Oh, if these pints could talk... The ride was widely attended and was a nice opportunity to share the light of Steve's life and the company of others that he enjoyed. Steve, you will be sorely missed! But never forgotten.

Before the memorial ride, I started brazing my fork together. By 11:00 on Monday night I was done with the torch and started to polish the stainless crown. Tuesday was one long day of polishing. My fingertips are again stained black and my thumbs chafed to near blister. My crown? near mirror. I'm telling myself that there's no need to find an excuse to polish anything for a little while now. I don't need to. I won't. Ok.

I rode to work at the pub today without my bag on my back. It was a spur of the moment decision, but as I ran out the door -- edging on ten minutes late -- I decided to throw my bag on my new rack. Looping the shoulder strap around the handlebars and clipping the buckles for the flap around the rack frame, I gave my bag a good shake test just to make sure my laptop wouldn't launch to sure catastrophe. Secure. Go! I gotta say that the rack took a significant weight off my back, even if it made me a little late. 'Welcome to the dark side,' says Tad. We'll see.

I'll be buckling my own straps for the next nine days. On Friday, May 1st, I'm joining seventeen other bike builders in displaying our craft to attendees of the City Club's 'It's All About the Bike' forum. I am really hoping that all of August's parts will be ready for pickup on Saturday because I still need to build wheels, and the last I heard the paint shop was waiting on detailing for both the hubs and frame. Hmmm. This should be interesting.

I'll be taking my commuter frame to be repainted with my new fork.
I'm finally going to have a pretty, pretty, purple bicycle.

Sleepy Time

I'm a little late to bed, but I got my fork finished! After cleaning and truing my front wheel, I installed a new tyre, brake caliper and my semi-custom TCB porteur rack.
Very short test ride.
I could hear the noise of fresh rubber on asphalt, projected through steel fork blades and rack struts, then magnified by the aluminum deck plate.
More will have to wait 'til tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So I was supposed to go on a mini vacation this week -- or at least sleep in my sleeping bag somewhere other than my house. One of my best friends, Jeremy, is in town for a couple of weeks, and I was excited to venture out with him and Chuck like we used to in our more youthful days. Sadly, Chuck found himself stranded in Fontana, CA (which I know little about, but sounds like maybe not the coolest place). I did, though, get to have a few long days in the shop, which I appreciated, seeing as I hadn't gotten as much done as I would have liked in the week prior. Things seem to go that way for me sometimes.

After having ordered labels and paint masks from Kyla at Signwizards and dropping off everything for August's bike at Class Act (the paint shop), I'm sitting here with an immense feeling of relief. I can focus now on a fork for my commuter bike that will have both a polished stainless steel crown and top eyelets for a rack a la TCB .Cross bikes for Owen and Erik are queued up behind that.

I guess things worked out, but I'm gonna sleep under the stars -- or clouds, as it may be -- soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Now that's a stem...
...just for August.

Monday, April 6, 2009

August's bike

August's frame is finally finished! And, having now put him on the trainer with a couple of different stems and spacer sets, I've been able to decide on a good position for his bars. We'll be off to paint just as soon as I've got a stem brazed together.

Polishing August's water bottle/rack bosses and dropouts ended up taking a ridiculous amount of time, but was a good learning process. Horror: discovering deep scratches on the dropouts after having installing wheels for the trainer session! Some of them aren't going anywhere. Ouch. They'll be covered by bolt heads once the wheels are on, but I'll know they're there. ...and they'll ruin my perfect pictures.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I rode the De Ronde today. It was the gnarliest road ride I've ever been on. Fifty miles linking all of Portland's 'worst climbs ever'. Brynwood was something amazing. Every time we approached Fairmont on the last third of the ride, I was sure we were about to see the last climb to our final destination at Council Crest. That was about every time the route turned back down the hill: more super bumpy, broken pavement and twisting west hills descents. It was both terrible and delicious.

I'm totally bushed, but as I type this at Tiny's over a Cubano, I know I can't go home without quaffing one at Roots with the survivors. I also know it's about time to get back in shape...and build a lighter road bike.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hey everybody!

What else have people needed in their lives but a Sprout Cycles blog? Now I can keep you up to date on what I'm working on -- and what I'm dreaming about. Stop back soon. There will be content! and you'll read it. and you'll like it!