Mike Martin: The photo of your new endurance rig feels like you start to finish. I would love to hear more about the process of this current build. Your writing and experience after these trips is always so laser sharp. I can see so many stories in the bags for example. Can you take a moment to explain the process on these bags?
Chas Christiansen : YO, very stoked on how the bags and bike turned out! I have been planning this bike build for some time. I love my LOW MK1 gravel frame, but after 3 years of racing, it was time for a fresh one. I really wanted a cargo fork to allow for more gear and longer tours, so Andrew and I worked around a Rodeo Labs Spork v1 for the build. A few other small touches, such as a third bottle cage on the down tube, prepared the bike for longer adventures. As all the parts of the bike slowly came together over the course of a few months I kept on seeing these Rapha bags out in the wild. My buddy Robbie got a pair for his first ever bike tour, we spent 4 days in the Eastern Sierra’s, and he was very stoked on them. A month later I met my buddy Nico in France for the TransPyrenees and he had the same setup, which he raved about. Every time I rode with someone that had the bags on their bikes, I noticed how the waterproof material looked perfect to draw on with paint pens. Sometimes you can just tell that a medium will apply smoothly and look great. So, as the 2019 season wound down, I reached out to Rapha about the project idea and they were into it. I got the bags just in time for the holidays and long hours in the studio.
2: Do you ever find motivation/inspiration the bike can give you back while you are out there turning it out on one of these races? Ever find a typo or just find yourself laughing and agreeing to the messages?
Finding motivation from the bike and the equipment is huge for me! When you spend long hours on the bike you stare at the same things all day: your stem, your tires steadily rolling. So I always try to add motivational things to stare at. I am a firm believer in “fake it till you make it.” And when I am hurting and exhausted reading the words written all over my bags keeps me going even if I feel like I can’t keep the pedals turning. The constant repetition of PMA phrases can become like a mantra that I repeat until I feel better. Especially on solo rides. I find myself laughing out loud all the time (along with talking to locals cows or wildlife) sometimes at the situations I’m in and sometimes at the things I have written all over my bike and gear. There are more than a few typos in my art, one of the things I like about using paint pens is that much like real life, when you make a mistake you have to just get over it and keep on going.
3: What was the process for these bags? Are they hand painted? printed? Will they age and show some of the life they will live out there?
As always, the process for my art is trial and error. I really wanted to find a pen that would stay on when you rolled the bags up. I usually use oil based DECO paint pens, but the ink has a tendency to crack and sometimes, because they are oil based, they can interact badly with waterproofing chemicals. I had also been wanting to try out the Krink K42 paint marker so this seemed like a great opportunity. I did a small test patch and was satisfied with how the ink didn’t crack and how opaque it was after it had dried. So I set up a box fan and went to work, it’s hard working with paint pens because they do not dry immediately, so you have to be very careful where your hands are so you don’t drag wet ink everywhere. It can be hard to stop drawing when you are on a roll and wait for something to dry. I use a box fan to keep the air moving around, but it only does so much. After I finished all the bags I let them dry fully and then mounted them on my bike for a studio shoot at Andrew Low’s shop…and then the ink cracked!! I was bummed because when I tested the ink it seemed to be flexible enough to adhere to the bags while not cracking, but I guess really rolling up the dry bags tight was too much. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, so I slowly went back and retraced all the art that had flaked off. Then I had to figure out how to seal the ink in so the art would stay with use. Spray clear coats generally are not flexible and can cause very nasty chemical reactions with various inks. So I went with a Sneaker clear coat. It’s made to preserve custom shoes, it’s flexible and acrylic but not that tough. I figured a slow and steady approach was best and spent 2 weeks applying a thin coat to all the bags everyday and letting them dry fully in between. The next time I went out with the bags I was pleasantly surprised to find that the shoe clear coat worked well. There was some cracking where straps rubbed on the bags but I like things to wear and patina with time, so I didn’t stress about a little bit of wear as I used the bags. They are still fully waterproof and the art is sealed in adequately, they will show wear as I use them, but I dig that.
4: I always love when a series of personal interests are compiled to build something new. i see that in you, and your artwork, from enjoying marking on walls, to technical bags and bikes. Would love to hear how you have approached this project based on past experiences/interests.
It’s funny how personal interests evolve as you grow older. I really enjoyed writing my name on walls as a young man, even got in trouble for it a few times. But the more I traveled and experienced the world the more I realized that most of the time whatever you put up on that wall becomes background noise. I started to draw on my bike frames, my cycling shoes and helmets because I figured people would see it and it would resonate with them. I used the words, phrases, and images to motivate myself and hopefully to get other people stoke out as well. When people started to ask me to draw on their gear I was so hyped! Each different piece had it’s own challenges and I’ve learned something from each piece I have drawn on. Like I said before, everything is trial and error with me, so I took the sum of everything I had learned before this project and tried to create what I saw in my head. It kind of worked, and even when it didn’t that was just an excuse to try something different. It is a lot like real life, you imagine something, and when you set out to do it, whether it be cooking dinner or racing your bike, things always turn out different than you planned. Sometimes better and sometimes worse but regardless you learn from the experience and take that knowledge with you.
6: Wait, you painted the frame too? Would love to hear more about you initial vision/goal, and where that brought you to the finished project.
Yea!! I was very excited to paint this new LOW! I had used Spraybike spray paint on a couple of chiller projects before but was stoked to be able to conceptualize the frame from new. I really like the muted grey color of my LOW MK1 and wanted to keep that vibe going. The Maipei/Colongo livery from the late 90’s has always been a favorite of mine as well, the color fade on the geometric shapes is ultra cool. I wanted to take it a little further and try to use some of the more esoteric mathematic shapes I could find. While the formulas and actual math behind a tetra-decahedron are beyond me, I still find the shapes fascinating. I researched as much as I could and then drew the shapes in my studio, a good friend digitized them and then you helped me cut them on the vinyl plotter. Once I had weeded all the vinyl stickers it was time to apply them to the frame over the colorful first layer. Spraying on the muted gray final color and then revealing the colorful shapes underneath is equal parts stressful and cathartic. Once again trial and error. I wish I had made the lines thicker on the shapes so they stood out more and held their edges better, but next time! Overall it turned out rad, and even with multiple layers of clear coat is already starting to show signs of use, so i can’t wait to see how the paint job wears as I shred on it all year!
7: Would love to hear about how you’re past experiences shaped this current build. Is it event specific in any way this time around?
Every time I go out on a tour or race an ultra I always think I have the bike set up dialed, and inevitably when I get home I have a list of things to change. I think this comes from working as a messenger, being on the bike all day, fully in tune with your machine. You begin to obsess about the smallest details. So THIS build is going to be the fruition of years of riding and will…need some work eventually. I took my experiences racing mostly road ultra’s like the Transcontinental, as well as crazy dirt races like Further and tried to have them meet somewhere in the middle. The SRAM “Mullet” group is a solid solution, it pairs road style shifters with a single ring and MTB rear cassette and derailer. The front ring is a 42t (soon to be a 40t for Atlas Mountain Race) and the rear cassette has a 10-50t range. We lovingly call that extra bit above a 1×1 ratio “oververt” in homage to gnarly skateboarding ramps and it really comes in handy when slogging up mountain passes fully loaded. I have never needed more speed than the 42×10 has been able to give me, if I’m going that fast I should be coasting LOL. The cargo fork is a nice touch that allows me to carry substantially more gear and stay out longer. I improvised a similar fork mount to carry water on a long self supported ride this last year and am very stoked on a more legit setup. In these photos the wheels are 700c ZIPP alloy rims built to an 12spd rear hub and a SON dyno power front hub. The ability to generate power from riding and charge all my gear without having to get off the bike is huge, especially since my bike runs on batteries. For the Atlas Mountain race I have a set of ZIPP 303 650b carbon rims laced to the same SON Dyno, to allow me to run bigger tires for the harsher terrain. I really like the new ZIPP XPLR flared drop bars. To be honest, I was always against flared bars, but having ridden them for the last 6 months the stability and more open shoulder position has grown on me. For Atlas Mountain Race I will have a set of Aero bars installed, which I kind of hate aesthetically but love functionally. I also mounted my Sinewave light/usb charger to the aero bars to get the light as high as possible for maximum illumination. Every build will need tweaks and changes as things go but I am very stoked on how this turned out!
The bike will be on display on Friday March 6th 2020 at the Rapha Clubhouse in San Francisco, I’ll be there as well talking about the Atlas Mountain Race. Come by and hang out, check out the bike and bags in person and pick my brain about ultra endurance racing. RSVP HERE
Issue 28 of Loop Magazine is available today, and wanted to share the new article about MASH. When Toydog asked if we would like to work on an article, I knew I wanted to make this California Street image, and so hyped it made the cover. It feels like a classic image I shot of Massan in 2006, and the opening shot of our 2007 video with Gabe Morford. I met a large group of riders downtown one Saturday morning early, and we just made it happen. This iconic hill in the city still holds up all these years later, with red lights, trolly tracks and a wall made of city blocks. Enclosed are the images, and interview. Thanks for checking it out! MikeThis image of Matt Reyes dropping into 21st Street stacked up nice. They took down one of the 3 antennas, so maybe it will date the image one day.Had been shooting friends that came by the shop with a Polaroid SX-70, then pealing the borders, and hanging them in the shop. Part of that grid was used here on the contents page.Thanks in part to ride organizers like Patrick, Ray, and Evian, San Francisco has a really vibrant community of street riders, and wanted to share some of the local faces here.MASH has always been about fixed gear bikes, but like all good things, it’s also been about the people. But in the last few years, they have also been independently developing and manufacturing MASH specific bike components. Taking risks is the ethos. MASH disrupts the notions of the establishment by collectively determining values, cheering for the underdog, and trusting one’s gut. This article chronicles the last few years of MASH and how holding tight to their mission has always meant being open to the transient, native, and the kid who just wants to mash on a fixed gear.
MASH has always been about fixed gear bikes, but like all good things, it’s also been about the people. But in the last few years, they have also been independently developing and manufacturing MASH specific bike components. Taking risks is the ethos. MASH disrupts the notions of the establishment by collectively determining values, cheering for the underdog, and trusting one’s gut. This article chronicles the last few years of MASH and how holding tight to their mission has always meant being open to the transient, native, and the kid who just wants to mash on a fixed gear.
Visiting with Mike Martin
Back in 2004 Mike Martin was working as a photographer in San Francisco, shooting commercial and editorial projects for work. As a creative outlet, he started getting out and shooting video with local bike messengers, which led to sharing a video short at the Bicycle Film Festival in 2005. This was the beginning of MASH. By sharing this video project, he met Gabe Morford, and together they made a full length video also entitled MASH in 2007. The project exposed how bike messengers and non-messengers were using these brakeless velodrome bikes on the steep hills and streets of San Francisco to the rest of the world. Since then, Mike has always made a point to stay behind the camera, focus on sharing quality riding and design, and encourage anyone wanting to get on a bike to join MASH’s global community. We wanted to hear more about what it is that makes MASH such a special project.
What is it about the track bike that has kept your attention all these years?
The track bike reels you in, first with its sleek look and its simple function. Looks can be deceptive though – these bikes have a steep learning curve, and they are hard to tame, but we have documented multiple generations of young riders doing just that. The 2007 video was not much different than a BMX or skate video with riders having short video parts, and through these edits, viewers could see what it felt like to ride along side several different riding styles: powerful, stylish, efficient, mostly under control. I was inspired by Lucas Brunelle and Peter Sutherland who were sharing some alleycat races and messenger stories, but San Francisco had another piece. We had freeriding that was not always about being a messenger, but just about wanting to climb and drop some of the biggest hills in the city. San Francisco has a rich history of hill skaters, and it was clear that made an impact on some of the riders we wanted to get out and shoot with. America was founded on the spirit of the wild west and that same spirit is still a part of the American ethos in some way. That shows in these brakeless bikes on city streets, a little bit of an outlaw culture, and sometimes in spandex.
What does your day look like?
It always starts and ends with family, then riding mtb down south or a cx/gravel bike up north. I go to the bike shop around 11:00, work on design, any photo or video current projects, and have shop hours a few days a week. In between all this, I like to connect with friends who are planning their race schedules, organizing street races and group rides, all with the hopes of helping if I can. It’s a bit of an organic process with a mission statement that is stripped down to the basics: riding, friends, family, and creating for bike people.
Martin and I create the videos, and Martin has edited most of the video shorts since 2017. Jake Ricker helps manage the bike shop a few days a week and that helps him get his film developed for a photo book he has been working on, Al Nelson collaborates on the main design projects since 2016, and I love how we create together. This year, Jimmy Nolan, has consulted on geometry updates of the MASH bikes by taking rider feedback and incorporating them into final designs.We have also been working on some new categories of frames we want to produce. Additionally, a core group of friends, which includes Matt Reyes and Chas Christiansen, have been incredibly inspiring through their energy, creativity, and willingness to get out there. There are also several generations of riders from across the world who have been consistently supportive, and some folks who share positivity by just stopping by to say hi. These are the people who continue to be at the heart MASH.
What have been some of the milestones since the 10 year anniversary project in 2015?
For me, the main goal of the 2015 project was to share a video that showed how the riding quality was progressing. The riders really stepped it up while we simultaneously pushed the video quality. Once that project wrapped, I wanted to focus on our bike development/distribution and to make the bikes we wanted to ride. I knew we needed to manufacture/distribute ourselves, so 2016 was the last year we collaborated with Cinelli. We loved being able to create with a legacy brand for so many years, and we knew taking on production would be hard work, but the excitement masked the intense effort. In 2017, we released 2 frame sets, some components, new collaborations with Phil Wood, Izumi, Selle Italia, Giro, and Oakley. Since the 2015 video, we have released a number of videos online and to me, these videos are a way of sharing what we love in the moment. We also collaborated with Apple to make a video shot on an iphone with Chas Christensen, who made a reflective bike and clothing using his art. With a unique camera build, we made “Reflect”, a short that feels like he is powering a glow by spinning his legs out. Another video that was a game changer was the “Green Video”. Matt Reyes and Chas had really fun video parts in the 2015 feature, and wanted to take it out to Matt’s hometown of Gilroy, California to show some playful and powerful riding outside of the city. This is still one of my favorite videos I have been a part of.
You have visited Japan several times over the years. What was your first impression?
Each time I visit Japan, I love it more and more. My first visit in 2006 showed me what MASH meant to people around the world. Hiroshi Fujiwara, Yopi, Hiroki, Shin, Ataki, and all these brand leaders were falling in love with track bikes, so it was exciting to see their world. Julian Khan reached out early on and asked what my plan was, and I told him that I wanted to put out a video and small book. He reached out to his friends, and we quickly had raised the funds to print it with the help of Supreme, Fragment, Visvim, Stussy, Nike, and a few other brands. I remember John Jay from Weiden and Kennedy pulling up to a checkpoint at an alleycat in Tokyo, and he got out of a white Rolls Royce wearing a white suit to watch the race. This is not what things were like back home. This initial attention reflected how some people were treating the bikes like a fashion trend, but trends never last. Culture vultures jump from trend to trend without truly living what they are emulating. Some messengers assumed that’s what I was doing with MASH in the beginning, but after 15 years of constantly cheering for these bikes, older messengers can see the work we put in helped support the bike we all love. On that trip, we also hung out with the core group who were working as messengers: RK was always a homie, Yohei, Rip, and Moto, and the T-Serv dudes. We love going back and seeing them.
What have been some of the highlights from Japan trips since then?
I love how passionate the Japanese bike community is. These bikes draw in a crowd of outsiders, misfits, and creatives ,and we love being able to celebrate bikes with like-minded riders as well as sharing with new riders who might not yet know the history. In 2007, we had the opportunity to show a video in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka and that trip was massive for that generation of riders. I had a new baby at home, so I only made the Tokyo stop of that trip. Then coming back in 2015 with the support of Blue Lug was incredible. They produced a beautiful series of events around our 10 year video with photo shows, screenings, and a massive group ride and alleycat with local riders. The riders from the 2015 video will always remember that trip and the friendships formed along the way. At the end of 2017, a small group of riders were invited to the Izu Velodrome for a “Track Party” event, which was a pre-party track event for the 2020 Olympics. Yohei helped bring out Chas, Duke, Rainier and I, and that trip was special for a totally new experience. Getting to ride and photograph at the Keirin School, which is a world class velodrome is a milestone for sure. The bicycle is designed to take you places, but I had not imagined how far it could go! I’m hoping to return toi Japan in the next few years, show a video, and get to ride the city and the country. A few of our friends who came out for Tracklocross Worlds earlier this year want to plan a bike tour, which would be amazing.
When we first started talking about making a MASH article we (Loop) imagined it being a history lesson for new riders. You wanted to focus on the last few years. Why?
MASH is always changing. There is no buisness plan, no marketing or advertising, there is just this force of creativity that sparks me when i’m with friends, and that drives me to do new things as MASH. Over the years, I have tried to listen to each generation of riders and their personal goals on the bike, and tried to help them achieve those goals in some way – from the bikes they ride, to travel, and race entry fees, to creating video parts they are proud of. After the fashion-wave of popularity died down, some thought fixed gear bikes were dead, but that’s far from the truth in San Francisco. I was never a fan of #savethetrackbike. I am an optimist, and whatever it’s taken to get here, it’s working. New energy ands spirit has kept it alive as I witness the current wave of riders in San Francisco organizing weekly rides, races, and monthly longrides through Phixed Kings Expeditions (Thank you, Dudes!), the obvious talent of this generation is alive and thriving. Matt Reyes inspired this new level of trick riding on go fast bikes, and that combination of being able to rip the city in style has been really inspiring to me. And it really just comes down to that – creating and expressing this joy.
The DFL (Dead Fucking Last) bandit CX races are what I love about being in San Francisco. I don’t know anywhere else that has an annual cross dressing cross race series that has lasted for 25 years. It’s all because every year a bunch of (mostly) dads rally together, plot a course, put some flour in the dirt, put on a dress, and casually race in a field that may or may not be filled with broken glass and loose wire. This race in particular was special because it was my first time back on a bike since getting returning from Japan for Tracklocross Worlds. I usually ride my CX bike to these races, but was so used to riding my work frame to everything that I decided to bring that out instead. As expected, it was loads of fun – lots of tight, windy, fast turns that are perfect for being fixed. Ultimately, it’s always a great time because DFL is essentially a lighthearted, very semi-serious environment that is welcoming to all ages of folks who want to enjoy what I think is the best part about cyclocross: the community and shredding in some dirt.
The AC-1 is our first aluminum + carbon frameset as MASH and we have checked all the boxes we want in a street and track frame.
Our original geometry is responsive on street and tracks well on the velodrome or criterium circuit.
We developed a monocoque carbon fork from the ground up. The 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 tapered fork with a 30mm rake and carbon dropouts adds to this new stiffer ride.
Working with Columbus, together we developed a new Airplane grade aluminum tube set that is stiffer so your energy is transferred to moving you forward and not flexing the frame first.
MASH was the first to offer drill-able fork to support a front brake and we have taken it one step further by now offering a drill-able rear brake bridge, so the bike can support front and rear brakes. Perfect for a road trainer or countries requiring two mechanical brakes.
Available in six top tube lengths: 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, and 61mm
Evan has a few races under his belt racing our new frameset, and we had a chance to share his build while in New York for Red Hook 2018. This is our first aluminum/carbon design under our own name, and we are excited to share some details of what’s to come in 2018.
We launched our first design intent with the Bolt frameset in 2008. Ten years later, we are sharing an update to a geo we first showed in 2014 known as the Parallax. Our hearts are in the streets, so we wanted to continue that tradition with the new AC1, and we could not be more excited with the end result. The design process has been invigorating as we grow as a manufacture. This new design shows what is to come as MASH. With eight years working closely with Columbus, we had the opportunity to develop new tube specs to create a light modern frame that is stiffer then our past designs. The stainless steel plates on the rear dropout are detailed with millimeter markers.It is common for bike brands to use OEM forks, but we chose to open a new mold to create our own monocoque carbon fork. We wanted to create a full carbon fork with a 30mm rake and nothing existed. Working with Al Nelson, we developed and tested this new stiffer shape that weighs nearly half of what our carbon forks have in the past. In 2008 we developed the first drill-able carbon fork, and we have kept that tradition alive today. This is a small detail as purists do not want brake holes, while some parts of the world require running brakes on the street.Phil Wood X ENVE 20/24 race wheels built for Evan by John Bennet at MASH. Look for a fun collaboration with Phil later this summer.Design + Paintwork for this finish was developed by Al Nelson. We named this graphic Gamma. The greek word has a broad meaning, but we found inspiration in the process of darkening and lightening hues in photo/video processes. The inside fork and rear stays illustrate stepped gradations of the same tone. This effect is reminiscent of creating test strips in the darkroom. Nerdy we know, but that is who we are.Framesets will include a low rise headset, compression plug and seat collar. This is the first time we have used the smooth welding process. It was too expensive in the past, so we are happy to be able to finish clean welds without using any filler. Both the fork and now the rear brake bridge are drill-able so a rider may choose to run a single or full brake option.
We made 150 pieces for this first delivery. Fifty will be offered in Japan through Blue Lug, and a few shops will share the remaining 100 pieces. Look for pre-orders opening in July, and shipping in August 2018.
2018 is an exciting year for us. For the past 8 years, we have designed framesets and components, and in partnership with Cinelli, had the opportunity of distributing them to riders around the world. As the years went on, it became clear to us that we wanted to manage it all, and the experience has been invigorating. For the first time, we are creating and manufacturing these designs independently as MASH, and shaping the designs with every detail we envision in an object. The first frameset offering is our SS Steel design. Born as an all-arounder with racers, workers and commuters in mind, this Columbus steel frameset was developed. As an aggressive SSCX geometry or a well handling track bike, our frame designs are historically aggressive. This one splits the difference by being comfortable with a front rack loaded, tracking well in the dirt, while still responsive on the city streets. PRE-ORDER HERE
Columbus Cromor Double Butted Tubing
Straight blade fork with 35mm rake
1 1/8 threadless headset (not included)
27.2 Seat Post
30.0 seat collar with cable hanger
100/120 track hub spacing
BSA english 68 bottom bracket
Two water bottle mounts
Removable Brake Studs
Internal rear brake cable routing
Clears most 38c tires
Frame and fork weight: 2900 grams
Includes nylon plugs to fill brake holes if needed
Top cap, bolt, and star nut included
Frames are built with Columbus Cromor triple butted steel tubing. We love the balance of strength to weight for this set.The Black Chrome finish of the frame is fully chrome plated then coated with a black clear. Over time these painted frames can chip to chrome like many of the classic Italian road bikes. The downtube and rear dropouts are a window to this layer.We offer 5 sizes with subtle geometry updates based on three years of development and testing in the dirt and on streets.Framesets include a removable seat collar and rear cable guide if set up with cantilever brakes.
The silver smoke finish draws inspiration from paint techniques of the early 90’s. This metallic silver base with smoke contrast creates a beautiful finish with white artwork on drive-side, and black on the non-drive.Each frame includes the top cap for 1 1/8 threadless stems, the bolt, and star nut.These frames have removable brake studs and internal cable routing. You can run them as lean brakeless street bikes, or set them up with brake options for canti or mini-v options for racing or commuting.The fork includes a brake hole that can be used for mounting a rack, fenders, or long reach caliper.
Our pre-order for both finishes of this frameset are available today, and will begin shipping worldwide at the end of March. If you are in Japan, you can pre-order both designs from Blue Lug in Tokyo. If you are in New York, you will be able to get frames and components from Deluxe Cycles. We do not have any additional dealers at this time, but hope to offer frames to a few new shops as we grow.
Look for new designs in 2018 including front racks, riser bars in alloy and carbon, and toe clips, as well as collaboration projects with Izumi and MKS this spring. We will continue to offer additional frame designs including an aluminum/carbon track frameset this fall.
Thank you for riding with us as we embark on this next journey!
The summer is as always an exciting time, work slows down, people find themselves with some free time, and everyone can make some excuses to skip town for a bit. This year two of my favorite events – Minneapolis’s “All City Championships” and The North American Cycle Courier Championships coincided within the same two weeks in the blissful late august Midwest. We arrived to mpls on a thursday built our bikes up and started what would turn out to be a pretty wild trip. ACC consists of 3 days of events – SK After dark (alleycat) Bike Jerks Bandit Cx and the Main Shindig on Saturday. Being the pre-event for NACCC many people were brought to mpls for their first time, and once seeing how those fools got down they will likely make it a yearly stop just like myself. After the weekend of events, the few if any hours of sleep, and stupid inside jokes already making the rounds through the group – about 20 of us geared up and started the Pre- ride to Milwaukee, WI which would be a 4 day 3 night 380mi~ adventure through the middle of Wisconsin. A few of us had done the reverse of this ride a few years back when the NACCC was in MPLS, and woah what a trip it was retracing our steps 3 years later. The scenery of WI is Beautiful- rolling hills for days, cows, bluffs, tunnels, and my favorite the rails to trail. Jeff Oneil did a fantastic job routing us and keeping the group together oh and of course telling us how many mile to go every 5 min. We finally rolled into Milwuakee and were greeted by everyone at Cafe with free beers and friends. Turns out that same weekended was the Harley Davidson 115th anniversary so the streets of Mke were swarmed with two wheel Vehicles of all sorts, it was rad. After a long ride no way better to sooth the tired muscles with an out of towner alleycat and Karaoke party which is exactly what we did. The NACCC organizers somehow scored an entire elementary school campus to use as the course for the main race which we spent many an hour at over the next few days. Siting atop a small hill in the Hay-market district, they provided a challenging course with elevation sharp turns gravel and alley ways. By far my favorite course to date.
Just wanna say thanksthanksthanks to all of the Organizers for giving us one hell of a Mess vacation and congrats to Allan Shaw for taking home the NACCC overall win, against all odds we could say. I wish i had the words to describe how fuckin’ insane and fun the whole trip was but I just can’t, guess you’ll just have to see for yourself…
An email message can lead to nothing or something. One was from an old friend, Yohei Hanazwa, who produces crazy events in Japan now. You might remember him from the friends chapter of our 2007 video. He let us know that official Keirin had tracked him down and asked if he knew how to get in touch with MASH. To promote the 2020 Olympics coming to Japan, Keirin was organizing a large event at the Izu velodrome, inviting national and international racers to compete and wanted to invite us. Incredible! Track Party was a one day event that encompassed a fixed criterium, a box jump demo, a flatland demo, live music, comedians as announcers, gold sprints, vendors, and a ton of track racing. Enclosed are details from this special time in Japan getting hyped on bikes.
The Izu velodrome is a magnificent structure. Modern indoor tracks come at a steep cost, but are a requirement for a nation applying to host the Olympic games. The Izu velodrome is five years new and is perfect. It is built on a cycling campus that includes multiple velodromes and a Keirin school, which hosts training and racing for the state and national level teams. Programs like this are crucial for the future of this sport community.
It was a massive rush to be invited to race on this Olympic level velodrome. MASH was born on the street, helping adopt bikes intended for velodrome use and contributing to the fluidity they bring to the streets. Over the past 12 years, the velodrome has been a part of our community, but admittedly, a smaller piece than other cycling formats. It could be location, with the closest track an hour away by car, but a core group from SF have made the pilgrimage year after year to train and race at Hellyer.
Ever wonder what those high speed cameras that record photo finishes look like?
Track racing has been part of the Olympic games for 120 years and with the rise of urban cycling feeding into fixed gear criteriums, there has not been a spike in track cycling that reflects the rise of the bikes born from the velodrome.
Happy to have been able to bring Duke on this trip. He raced, explored, soaked, and ate some new stuff. Outside the velodrome, several events, displays, vendor tents, and a fixed criterium all happened in the rain. Freddy!
A bento tray carrying race
Meet the press
The women’s Keirin racing program is growing in Japan. It still feels a bit sexualized, but we hope to see this component mature in the coming years.
Who’s ready to go back inside?
Beautiful Seiko lap timer for the fixed criterium Nickolas’s Kalavinka street bike
Traveling around the world to race bikes is an incredible opportunity. Rainier and Chas have found themselves in so many inspiring moments together over the years, and this trip was one of them.
Qualifiers required putting in a fast lap. Sub 10 second laps transferred you to the main events.
Ultra-high-performance sports speak less and less to the new generation, and this is a concern for its organizers. A skateboarder has a low buy-in to their sport. They can roll around in the area they live and progress. Cycling has a more expensive entry that can come easier to some. Velodromes can offer youth programs and loaner equipment to help those who show potential, but do not facilitate a support system that can fund the required commitment and expenses. The facility and the equipment seem to be limiters for growth to the sport.
Like a skate park, a velodrome can be a community center – a place where those interested can meet, share ideas, train, learn and race together. This trip was challenging to digest as a high performance sport. It felt like the future of these spaces and this level of competition could be less exclusive – opening these spaces to after school programs, maybe using the infields for mixed use like skate parks.
View from the top of the bank looking down
This is Yohei, you might know him from the friends section of a video we released in 2007. He is an event organizer in Japan, and helped bring us on this trip. Thank you for helping make it happen!
The flatland demo went on throughout the day, making a fun use of the infield.
A racer changing his gearing between race formats.
Roller race set up for adults and kids
Duke warming up in a quiet spot
Chas raced on one of the frames he hand painted
The equipment can make a difference. If you are fast, you simply are. When the races come down to a fraction of a second, the technology matters. A $7,000.00 wheelset makes a difference at the line, and the list goes on. The clothing can shave as much time as the bike and when you are defining winning and losing by a fraction of time, it all adds up.
Duke traveled from London to race bikes. This was his first time to Japan.
He won his race, and felt good about his effort.
Rainier Chas on his last of an eight lap individual pursuit.