My Experiential Tool for Living

I see bicycles as an important part to a strong community. They amplify a person’s mobility in a way that doesn’t belie their humanity. They simultaneously bridge gaps and enable community expansion in ways that maintain strong tie relations. All this the while providing recreation, fitness and transportation. In this way I see them as a tool for living, a tool for experiencing the world.

I made this video, as my visual story for Phase 2 of my application, to demonstrate my point.

When I talk of bicycles, I mean all kinds. Whether handcycles, cruisers, recumbents, commuters, racers and everything in between. Personally, I’ve had a number of bikes over the years. Mostly mountain bikes, but also a lot of road/bmx/mtb mutants as well. Currently I am using a 29er single-speed with road slicks on it. It is an epic set up for the city. It came to be when I had to sell my fleet in preparation for the Peace Corps but still needed something to ride. This was in ’05 when 29er’s were just starting to get popular. I have pretty particular specifications of affordability and adaptability and only Surly’s Karate Monkey or Soma’s yet-to-be-made Juice met them. I decided to bide my time and wait for a Juice, borrowing a friends Surly 1×1 in the meantime (Thanks David).

29’ers were suppose to fit taller people better so I was excited to try it out. With the wheel being the same diameter as a normal road wheel it would be easy to use it for both on and off road. Initially I built it up with a Woodman single speed cassette disc hub and Salsa Delgados(the only cost-effective 29’er specific rim at the time) and road it literally everywhere. I had folding mountain bike tires so I could ride to a trail with them in a bag, swap tires, lock up everything to a tree, go for a ride and then swap everything back and head home. Awesome.

I am not exactly nice to bikes and quickly found those wheels lacking, so I sold them quick and upgrade to DT340’s and Velocity Dyads. The 340’s were meant for all-mountain and downhill riding so I expected them to be solid. The Dyads I worried about though, since they were a road rim for tandems and commuting; I figured they would be strong, but for off road, I didn’t quite know. The full cassette on the 340’s was also nice because it let me hone my chain-line in a way the single speed cassette couldn’t, while still offering me the ability to put more gears on if I pleased.

That setup worked for a while. It wasn’t until I was in San Diego that I noticed cracks in my rims and on my frame. I warrantied the frame, losing my special limited edition frame color of midnight silver (purple), but gaining un-needed v-brake bosses. The new color was cool, but I wasn’t psyched to have a surplus of brake mounts. I also warrantied the rims and upgraded to more legit 29’er rims that had since come into production. Glow in the dark polk dots were a really a no-brainer too, seriously, they are so fun!

Now, after tearing up the sandy San Diego trails it is pretty much a city-only bike here in Philly, but it is one awesome city bike. It can handle anything these mean streets can dish out. Since being here I had Krauss Cycles make some struts to mount a basket I got from a Gary Fisher Simple City to my fork’s surplus V-brake mounts. It’s been a nice addition though I’ll probably not keep the color…

Oh and P.S. Thanks to Nicolas Coia and Jennifer King for helping me make such an awesome video!