Monday, June 29, 2009

Colorado: cycling culture and other fun

Here we are: my wife, our sons, and me. Pramila traveled to Colorado for work. Janak went for Zimfest, a Zimbabwean Music Festival. And I visited my son, Mike. We all convened in Boulder, where I snapped this self-portrait (the skill is in avoiding the arm shadow; I did it in this one!).

Earlier, Mike and I had breakfast in Fort Collins as they were just setting up for their Brewfest. As a result, most shops were closed, including the Fort Collins Bike Library. Mike is standing in front of it here.

Inside, there is a Rudge High Wheeler on the wall that you can just make out through the plate glass window.

Mike and I also went for a walk in his town of Wellington which is such a quiet little town that little boys ride their bicycles right down the middle of the street. This guy is clearly not satisfied with silent bicycles as he accompanied his riding with very loud NASCAResque sound effects. Impressive!

On the wall of the Cafe Ardour is this 1898 Columbia Safety Bicycle made by Pope Manufacturing Company. It features a 98" gear, "The Kelly" adjustable handlebars, and wooden rims. There is a badge on the fork that is a permit for users of the paths.

This bicycle (also the Rudge and others I could see through the windows of the Bike Library) are part of the Fort Collins Bicycle Museum Without Walls. There is no building for the Museum yet, so it is a traveling collection. The Museum is a project of Bike Fort Collins. Jeff Nye, Vice President of Bike Fort Collins and owner of the Columbia Safety Bicycle pictured above, says this of the Rudge Highwheeler in the earlier picture:
This is a heavily restored 60" light roadster model built in England in 1885, it features spade grips, a replica Brooks saddle. Sixty inches was the largest size of production high wheel that was available in this period, it would take a person with an inseam of about 44". The bicycle hangs in front of a mural designed and drawn by me and painted by the very talented local muralist Grant Wade, the street scene in the mural represents some of the Victorian architecture of the Old Town area. The machine was the first machine purchased by BFC to be a part of our collection.

Boy, I sure am infatuated with those High Wheelers, but 44' inseam. Yikes! I tried to meet a collector in Golden, CO during this trip, but his current health situation precluded a visit. I wish him all the best.

And guess what else abounds in Boulder and Fort Collins? Bicycle Trails. Everywhere. Well marked. Heavily utilized. With tunnels. Well maintained. A normal part of the landscape. Here's a link to the Bicycle Trails of Boulder County.

Now I know that both are big University towns, but they are inspiring. Truly though, the Bike Library and the clear sense of civic support for bicycling was bittersweet to me. I loved that they've got the spirit in Boulder and Fort Collins, but why not Seattle? On the heels of the movie Veer (my previous post about the Portland bicycle scene), it just got me feeling a little blue because we have so much potential if we just had a little more support (taking nothing away from the progress many have worked so hard for).

Traveling is good for building perspective.

Here's another of Mike and I atop Flagstaff Mountain where we all went out to a lookout (May's Point).

Once again, putting motors to wheels is always alluring. Janak speeds away in Go-Kart #20. Mike is not far behind.

Keep your perspective,


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