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 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…
Bay Area racers woke up to rain on November 26th and that is a special treat for this part of California. The CX Nation Cup was a new race course in Sonoma and it was ripping fun. It had the standard long straight grass sections expected at these events but over half of the route was more technical and as the day went on, became a proper mess. Enclosed are some details from a day of racing the CX Nation Cup.AdvertisingChelsea changed her program mid-season this year, and is starting to see those results. It was a blast to see her dig in.The new Santa Cruz Stigmata team bikes are ripping. The carbon is built up to create a more forgiving ride, with this same ripping geo. File tread is a common tire pattern for our dry race season. Skinny mud tires with tons of clearance worked on this day. Always fun to race with the Vive La Tarte team here in the Bay.Red on the racers rightChelsea took 2nd for the Elite Women.Pit bikes would be nice for these conditions, as mud added weight and resistance quickly to all the racers.OakThe team is racing on our new X-Grid tape. Rubberized, so it is super grippy in all conditions.Dylan finding his own way of staying warm and dry. Time to get out of the van and race bikes.Bike Monkey supported the event and ran the timing for all the races. Thank you.Chas coming out of a wet rooted section that was ran more then ridden.This section was made up of a series of rollers both up and down before heading back into the trees.Crihs was in town for the holiday, so was nice seeing him in nature, where there are bugs and poison oak.Lots of this all day.This was the first time Chas raced CX with disc brakes and he was so hyped at the end of the race with no mechanicals and brakes that worked in the wet and mud. Three years ago it was death before…Sometimes the best line was on the grassy edge. The faster line often put you in the bushes.When one racer would bobble a technical section, it was a chain reaction slowing the next line of racers until the gap.Found object.Down + outOut + backChas is always so positive in races and his energy is contagious. Fully muddy tongue for an hour of racing.The oak leaves on top of the wet earth made for some very slippery sections.Glasses did not help on this day, but once racers eyes filled with mud, it took tears to continuously flush them.Kell smashes but found a flat with only a lap or two to go.As a photographer I love these course tape drawings in nature.Brue is 40 and putting in some of his best racing of his carier.Ryan fully coated.Cantis did not stop at all. You could tell the fixed gear riders by hearing the foot jam brakes coming into a corner on a descent.Not recommended.Thank for making this race happen. The proceeds go to help Junior development teams and their campaign to race at cx nats in Reno. Such an awesome reason to come out and race and support the kids.WinnerLoserMakeshift laundry rack.Dylan is new to racing geared bikes but is learning what all the cogs and levers do. This day may have been better suited for a single speed.That’s a wrap. Thank you CX Nation and Bike Monkey for making it happen and helping support the Junior program.
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.
Jean and Nick organized a series of fixed CX races last season, and came back this year motivated to get friends together to race track bikes in the dirt. Golden Gate Park was the last stop for the season, and it did not disappoint. Sharing part of a DFL course, women and men lines up to race in some dry loose conditions. Enclosed are some details from Friday night.
DFL is a longstanding tradition in San Francisco. This group of friends have organized underground cyclocross races in the Bay for 23 years and have helped shape the community here, no question. As members grow and have families of their own, the turnout is a mix of new racers learning about these traditions, racing side-by-side with the founding members of the hush-hush race series. It is perfect. The following moments capture the energy and spirit of the series, found by word-of-mouth, on a week night in an empty park, Hunters Point, SF CA.
Cubby Gerry Ride the snake Christina HDTV Ryan Chas Broken barrier
The next generation
Wild fennel often dominates this dry landscape
East side of the course
This part of the city was human made by filling the bay to create more land.
With no rain in the forecast, racers visiting Barcelona for the Red Hook Criterium met at the D’Horta Velodrome to spin legs in preparation for to tomorrow’s main event. With clouds helping keep the temperatures low, a solid group took turns putting down laps on this historic velodrome. It had been years since visiting this track, and was happy to see the remodel wearing in nice. Enclosed are a series of photos from the morning.
Resistance Racing gathered up the crew and headed to the Port of Oakland for stop three of their Track-X series. Racers met on a warm Sunday afternoon, ate tacos, enjoyed a coffee or beer, registered, and lined up to race mostly brakeless track bikes in the sandy landfill that is the port. Enclosed are some photo details for the day. Massive cargo ships unload fidget spinners and whatever else as a backdrop for some bike racing.Tacos and coffee reg was so nice. Thank you!53 for the dirtUCI testing some road disc options for the 2018 road seasonQuick negotiation GO!stopGO!Jeff made a good showing having not been on a track bike in the dirt maybe ever.Chas so was hungry to get out front eary and hold it. He won, and is in the lead for the series.Kel is a beast. He chased Chas on this day, but there is always tomorrow. 2nd for the day.Drez was the only kid out there, and did the entire race. You inspire us!Wild lifeHand up recipient 40 minutes of brakeless ripping in the loose sand and dirt3Ferda BoysNick and Jean counted laps, and placed the podiumPodiumWet PodiumRolling cargo keg stands. Why notThanks for organizing, and look for Golden Gate Park next!