To read about TENT SALE, scroll way down, to where it says TENT SALE…
Art School was nonsense. Four years of learning how to look like an artist but not one class on how to sell your work. There were classes in song lyrics, no-math quantum physics, painting classes that required you to form a band and play at a club (lectures consisted of watching movies of Mick Jagger prancing around on stage), and color theory classes that were neither about color nor theory. I learned far more about life in art school than I learned about art.
I forgot things about art, it was that retrogressive. The fourth year was pure coasting. I took classes for a second time, because they were so despicably easy the first time around that I just had to come back for more. Easy classes meant more bike time. I would often report to class after having been absent for a few weeks offering apologies about the weather and the appeal of the trails. It didn’t matter. Even abject zero-talent kids got through these classes. Displaying a modicum of effort was an instant A.
In my final year, I signed up for a class called Painting Over the Lines. Basically, this was a painting class where you never had to touch a paint brush. I didn’t. Nor did my then current girlfriend/future wife, who decided this was a great time and place to try to launch an ultra lite backpacking company called two peak twenty, or ^^XX*, as the logo would have it.
At the time, backpacking was undergoing a huge revolution towards simplicity. Decades of packing had been based on bringing items for every concievable situation. Emergency blankets, knives with one million gadgets attached to them, pillows, huge tents, and heavy boots, to name a few. Backpacks had evolved into mini vans: cup holders, too much storage space, and too many hidden compartments that filled up with Cracker Jack crumbs. People went on weekend trips with 40 pounds of crap on their backs, and went on cross continental trips with more cooking utencils than a French kitchen.
Ultralite backpacking was based on a simple philosophy. You don’t need everything. You barely need anything. Less is less. As in less stuff to haul around, less stuff to break down, less stuff to wash in a cold stream. Ultralite was also started by people, not corporations. People making gear in their own living rooms, testing it in their backyards. Dorks with sewing machines and space age fabrics considered too flimsy by the backpacking industry. It was DIY, before that was a buzz word stolen by that fraudster Martha Stewart.
Over the course of the semester, she sewed a couple of backpack prototypes, a super lite tent, some sub 2 ounce raincoats, and other basic items, like waterproof stuff sacks. The packs and tents involved prototyping, fabric testing, huge creative leaps, and lots of swearing. It was probably the most work she did in the whole four years. And frankly, the sewing part sucked. Not craftsmanship wise, but labor wise. It was hard on her back and fingers and especially hard on our collective geometry skills. Far more fun was the creation of the ^^XX literature: product surveys, photoshoots on location in snowy mountains in virgina, anti-corporate graphic design. We traveled constantly to local outdoor shops and conferred with outdoors experts, climber friends and potential customers, read lots, and spent lots of time outside carting around the finished works. We still use some of the stuff today, and are reminded of the all fun that went around making the stuff. The activities around making the stuff would not have existed without actually making the stuff. Making the stuff was the core, but the parallel activities were the raison d’etre.
Cycling is too often viewed as an activity in an of itself. You pedal around to get fit, to race, to meet up with the local group of riders and hit the trails. You catch big air, bomb steep hills, do two hours on the canal. You put on special clothing (or don’t), ride around, drink flavored water, eat see-through food, and then…
Well then what? For me, the then what is often the most rewarding part. The things that lay outside and after and before. The stuff around cycling is what keeps me cycling. Hanging out with friends at the parking lot, covered in mud, drinking IPA out of a sweating cooler, telling stories that lapse into and out of cycling, scarfing big breakfast sandwiches at a greasy spoon at a halfway point on a cold road ride, stopping to take a swim in the stream after a hard climb on a hot summer day. Taking your bike and going camping, or for a picnic by the river, or just riding downtown to go for a bite to eat. You used your bike as a tool to get to this other stuff, and that somehow heightens the experience. Maybe its the air, the wind, the whisper of the tarmac under carbonized rubber. Maybe it’s the endorphins released by exercising on your way to whatever. Let’s not over think it. These parabiking activities are better because you rode. In a sense, your parallel activity is enriched by the act of biking, because being on a bike is fun. You had fun riding there, so you are gunna have fun once you got there. Simple.
*to the peak (of a mountain) with twenty pounds or less on your back and feet.
Maybe you know this, but we just did a big refit here at the shop. Tore down a wall, made the space bigger by 33 1/3 percent. We did this because we feel that LP records always win over mp3s. Just kidding. We did it because we had outgrown our old space, and needed more space to properly show off merchandise, and we wanted to sell things the way we like to buy things: in a cool, interesting and personal environment. The renovation is maybe 83 percent done. We have a laundry list of major things that still need to happen. I won’t bore you with them, because no one likes to see anyone else’s laundry pile. I don’t even like to see my own. Here is a link to what it looked like a about a week ago. New floors and all that. Looks better now, but this is just an idea. http://360.io/wzS25X
Anyway, if you haven’t been by recently, stop by soon. We’re having a big sale this weekend, which I will talk about in a minute, but you won’t be able to see the store then, because it will be covered in a thick carpet of customers. Come to get a deal, not see what we did. Really, a great time to plan to come is for our grand reopening, which will take place in April, on the 21st and 22nd. We’ll have deals, just for you, there, and live music, and records, and the Common Market is going to cater it, and we’ll have the grill going, too. Schwag giveaways, and other fun diversions will be had. Come to that one, for sure. I’ll send a more formal invite soonishly.
Tent Sale is big. It’s the one huge sale of the year. Everything in the store is on sale. Bikes, accessories, cheap dates with Brandon, EVERYTHING. We’ll have special deals on great, awesome, fantastic shoes, tools, huge insane nutso blow outs on clothing that will get more nutso by the day, because we will make the discount even heavier with each passing day. We’ll have good deals on bike racks, car racks, gloves and socks. Fell of the back of a truck pricing on some computers. Stolen and sold on Canal Street pricing on floor pumps. In short, good deals. Stuff you need at prices you desire. Come check it out. It’s happening Thursday – Sunday, and once its over, everything goes back to full price, and the world continues to spin as before. C’est la vie.
Next week, after the sale, things will get back to normal, and maybe Brian will have time to go to the barber. We’ll do regular updates on the blog here, and also start our group rides again. We’ll do a few more free clinics, and keep doing our regular 1st Wednesday fix a flat clinic.
Thanks for reading,
-The Bike Doctor Frederick crew of unctuous unified utility.