Thursday, October 25, 2007
A visit to Rivendell Bicycle Works World Headquarters
As one who loves bikes, aspires to a more "bike-centric" lifestyle, and appreciates fine crafts and craftsmanship, I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to sell Rivendell bicycles. Thanks to a great job at Harris Cyclery and benevolent boss, I recently spent several days visiting RBWHQ.
In addition to getting to know the RBW crew, I rode a mountainous commute with Grant, experienced my first S24O, and climbed (and descended!) Mt. Diablo with A. Homer Hilsen as my guide and faithful companion.
It all started with a stop in San Francisco to visit my son, Trevor. He moved out several months ago to be with his girlfriend (who I was about to meet for the first time) and I figured it was my fatherly duty to check up on him. I was pleasantly surprised! I got a tour Golden Gate Park and much of the city, and also had a lovely and memorable dinner with Trevor and his friend, Shawn.
The next day I took BART to Walnut Creek to visit Rivendell, where I spent the next three days. I met the staff, learned a whole lot about who they are and the "how and why" of it all, and took a few pictures. I had the opportunity to ride a number of bikes, including the Bombadil, Legolas, Saluki, and A. Homer Hilsen. All were great, and I especially liked the A. Homer Hilsen. I have a frameset at home and can't wait to get it built up!
A friend from Boston recently moved to Walnut Creek and lives just a few miles from RBW. She offered me a place to stay during my visit at Rivendell so I jumped at the chance. John and Grant offered me the use of a bike while I was there, so I was set. At the end of my first day, Mark and Grant showed me the route home and Grant offered to ride in with me the next morning if I showed up at his house at 8:30. When I got there, I had no idea that we weren't going straight in on the 5 minute direct route. Grant suggested a rather hillier off-road route of about 50 minutes instead. Yes!
Grant mentioned that an S24O was planned for the following night and invited me along. I hesitated only slightly, as the World Series was on. Since I was staying in Walnut Creek with a friend from Boston this was a legitimate concern! But I decided to go along and they lent me a tent and sleeping pad (I had taken a sleeping bag with me). There were four of us: Grant and myself on Salukis, Daniel rode the big Bombadil seen in the pictures, and friend Sean was on his Bleriot. I don't have much experience on riding narrow trails and, on the way up, made the classic mistake of looking exactly where I didn't want to go. "Don't hit that stump," said my head. Which then hit the dirt. My pride and my side seemed only slightly damaged, so we continued on.
The sun was just beginning to set as we made camp. The night was clear, the temperature mild, and the moon was full. We couldn't have asked for better conditions! Grant prepared a tasty dinner and we talked long into the evening about bikes, photography, fly fishing, and such. That night, I was pretty sore from my fall and didn't sleep much. No matter, I was thrilled to be there. We headed back to RBW early the next morning with a stop for coffee and pastries. It was a grand adventure and I'm glad I went.
The following morning, I woke again with a sore right hip and side. On the ride back from the S24O the day before, I had noticed that I was most comfortable when on a bike and not walking or sitting. Maybe it was being stretched out a bit, or the seating area smaller than a chair, or less weight on the hip and legs, I'm not sure. And so, when I arrived at RBW the next morning, and Mark and John insisted that I take a 63cm A. Homer Hilsen and climb Mt. Diablo, I said, "Well, Okay."
I generally would put myself on a 61cm AHH, but the 63 was comfortable and available. At 53, and a little achy, I wasn't sure how much of the 11-mile climb I could manage. But I decided to have at it and off Homer and I went, for he was certainly eager! The day was turning hot and I decided to just take my time and see what I could do. I stopped often in the shade, rode some alone and some with a Canadian rider who I met at my first rest stop just above the 1000 foot marker. He turned back a bit later and I continued on and made it (almost) all the way on the bike. The final, steep 100 meters are a real insult! I had to walk that last bit.
Coming down was a blast! Homer loves to descend. Period. It was the longest single climb and descent I've ever done, and it was such fun! Note to self: First order of business when you get home is build up A. Homer.
On Friday, I took BART back to San Francisco with Rich and our bikes. We had a fun ride to his house where me gave me a tour of his wheel building shop. Dinner with Trevor and Shawn was on the docket before my flight home, so I then went to meet him after work at the Ferry Building. Outside, the Halloween Critical Mass ride was forming. I didn't see a single Rivendell.
Many thanks to all the folks at Rivendell for making it both a fun and worthwhile visit. It was a grand adventure and I am grateful for having had the opportunity to learn what I did, offer what I could, and am more eager than ever to match riders with Rivendells!