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Archive for the ‘Everything Else’ Category

Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway Winner

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Congrats to Elliott, the Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway Winner!

We’re excited to announce that the winner of our Rapha + PUBLIC Giveaway is Elliott S. from El Dorado Hills, CA.

Elliott grew up riding mountain bikes around Folsom Lake, CA. In college he recalls riding his rusty single speed road bike between his classes and his grocery job, and then going for trail rides on the weekends.

What draws him to riding is the convenience and the freedom. “When I bike I don’t have to worry about parking or spending money on car insurance,” said Elliott.

When he previously lived in San Francisco he bike commuted daily to work and loved seeing the bike infrastructure improvements in the city, like bike lanes along the Embarcadero. Since bikes have always been a part of his life and he believes in encouraging the biking lifestyle, he donates regularly to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Currently, Elliott is living his “dream job” as a videographer for Kirkwood Mountain Resort. When the gig ends, he’s excited to move back to the Bay Area where he plans to “ride this PUBLIC D8i Chrome everywhere!”

We look forward to seeing Elliott riding around the city on his stylish new wheels. Sign up for our e-newsletter to hear about our next giveaway!

Tips From a Pro For Winter Bike Riding

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Jen and her PUBLIC C1 during an Ottawa winter / © Dwayne Brown the loveOttawa project

When scrolling through our Instagram feed a few weeks ago, we came across a series of pictures from a PUBLIC rider named Jen Dykxhoorn and took pause. There she was, with her PUBLIC C1 and Porteur Rack in the snowy cold of a typical Canadian winter, riding to work. Inspiring. We wanted to know more. Like, why the heck she rides in the snow and what tips did she have for others on biking in winter weather?

We picked Jen’s brain about all things winter riding-related and she was game enough to answer in wonderful detail. For all you need to know about riding in the snow and safe winter bike riding, read on.

PUBLIC: Biking in the winter seems challenging. Why do you do it?

JEN: For so many reasons. I know this sounds contradictory, but for me, winter is both a wonderful adventure and a calming meditation.

The Adventure

I think adventure can be found everywhere, if you are willing to look for it. One of the reasons I bike through the winter is it gives me a little adventure “fix” every day. On my bike, I can challenge myself mentally and physically, explore parts of the city, and spend my day feeling more alive, alert, and happy. By the time I roll into work in the morning, I feel like a champ who has taken on winter and won. My coworkers/friends shake their heads at my “crazy” winter biking, but underneath their incredulity, I think they think it is rather cool.

The Meditation

At the same time, I also find biking in the winter to be calming and nearly meditative. Particularly in the winter, you need to be aware of what is going on around you, and to concentrate on cycling. It is the only part of my day where I am not expected to multitask – flipping between emails, phone calls, and tasks with 10 tabs open on my browser. It is refreshing to only focus on a single task – the simple, rhythmic experience of pumping your legs up and down. You don’t need to worry about what is to come, you only need to tackle the current challenge that is in front of you – from finding the best track through snow or tackling the big hill.

Jen bike commuting during the winter / © Dwayne Brown the loveOttawa project

And also, there is magic. There is something magical about riding home in the evening as the perfect “movie” snow falls around you in big, white, fluffy flakes. Moments like that make winter biking an absolute joy.

PUBLIC: What simple tips and suggestions can you offer for getting one started on biking in winter weather?

JEN: The great news is that you don’t need to be a “hard core” cyclist to ride in the winter, and that all of the reasons you love to ride the rest of the year are true even when the snow flies.

I think most people don’t realize that winter biking is not that hard or foreign, and it is totally within reach. You just need to give it a try! The hardest part is deciding to bike, all the rest is just a matter of logistics.

There are some simple things you can do to make the transition to winter riding a pleasant one:

Clothing:

  • Cover your skin. While there are tons of special clothes and products you can buy, you don’t really need most of them for short rides. I think the most important thing is to cover your skin as the wind will find ways into any gaps.
  • Work clothes are fine to ride in. I actually ride most days in my work clothes. If I am wearing a dress, I will throw on a pair of wind-resistant pants underneath for the ride. If I am wearing dress pants, I will layer with a pair of merino wool long johns.
  • Special outerwear is not a requirement. The outerwear is no different from what I would wear out-and-about in town. I have a vintage fur coat that is excellent for riding, I wear leather mittens that block the wind and are cozy, and wrap a scarf around my head and neck, which is thin enough to fit under my helmet, but adds enough protection to keeps my ears warm.
  • Equipment:

  • The other thing to remember when biking in the winter is that the days are shorter, so make sure you have a good set of lights to be visible. I make sure I bring all my lights inside, because the cold can suck the life out of batteries really quickly.
  • The only other piece of equipment that I would put in the “nearly mandatory” category is a good set of fenders.
  • My “luxury” items include a pair of ski goggles for the really cold days and a studded tire on my front wheel, which adds additional traction when the conditions are slick.
  • PUBLIC: How to you keep your wheels from slipping all over the place?

    JEN: The best advice I have for that is to slow down a little and ride in a straight line. Trying to brake quickly, ride quickly around corners, or make sudden changes in direction would be when you might get into trouble.

    The golden rule of mountain biking applies to snowy conditions – look where you want to go! Look for the best route through the snow, and your wheels will follow.

    I also put a studded tire on my front wheel, which adds quite a bit of additional traction, particularly for cornering.

    PUBLIC: When riding in the snow, where in the road should you be riding?

    JEN: When I am on the road I like to ride approximately where the right wheel track for cars would be (approximately 1 meter or 2 ½ feet from the curb). If you get too close to the curb, there tends to be lots of slush and debris there, which can be very hazardous.

    I find that it is much safer to take the space you need on the road, which means you can ride in a predictable manner and that you are visible to other road users.

    I am lucky to live in Ottawa, where the city has made a commitment to clearing some of the bike lanes as part of the “winter biking network.” For a portion of my commute, I get to ride a lovely separated bike lane, which is kept relatively clear as part of the city’s regular snow clearing.

    Jen, sporting her "mascara saving" ski goggles / © Dwayne Brown the loveOttawa project

    PUBLIC: I notice you bust out some serious goggles. Talk to us about those.

    JEN: While most days, I am fine with a scarf coving 80% of my face, Ottawa can get REALLY cold. For the extra frigid days, picking up a pair of downhill ski goggles was one of my best winter biking decisions. When the mercury dips below -10*C, the goggles keep my eyes positively cozy.

    The additional perk of wearing ski goggles is that your mascara won’t freeze on your lashes, only to melt all over your face as soon as you get inside a building. This happened to me on my 2nd day at a new job, and let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight!

    PUBLIC: Your bike probably gets really dirty with all the wet and snow. How do you maintain your bike?

    JEN: If you are going to ride through the winter, you need to show your bike some love, as the sand and salt can be really bad for your bike! I like to give my bike a good sponge bath every week to get off the worst of the salt and gunk.

    I also use a wet chain lube on my chain and also in the freewheel to keep things from seizing up.

    The salt is a particularly destructive force, so be come spring, I will bring my ride into my local bike shop for the “full spa treatment.” I am sure some parts will have to be replaced, but that is fine. I am a much happier person for being able to cycle in the snow, so springing for a new chain or some upgrades when the spring comes is completely reasonable.

    If you are looking for an all-season ride, I love my single speed PUBLIC C1. I don’t need to worry about gears in the winter, and the upright positioning gives me great positioning to be aware of what is going on around me.

    PUBLIC: Are fenders helpful?

    JEN: Oh my gosh, I think fenders are absolutely essential. I would be drenched and miserable without fenders. They are two bits of metal that separate misery from comfort and protecting me from the misery having a “skunk tail stripe” down my back of dirt and a face full of slush. I think fenders are absolutely essential for a winter bike. I have seen very creative DIY fender solutions, but I am so grateful for my full fender set.

    PUBLIC: Anything you’d like to add?

    JEN: It is OK to take a day (or two) off winter riding. Some days there are brutally cold arctic winds that just existing is hard, or the occasional massive snowfall dumps. Knowing what days to hop on the bus and what days to battle through the conditions is an art.

    Stay safe and enjoy the ride!


    Additional information:

    All photos courtesy of Dwayne Brown for the Love Ottawa Project

    Read more about Jen’s love for winter biking on her blog.

    Made In A Free World

    Saturday, November 29th, 2014

    PUBLIC is pleased to be selected as one of the first 9 Made in the Free World companies.

    As part of this movement, we’ve committed to be a part of a network of buyers and suppliers dedicated to rooting out modern slavery in our supply chains.

    We were introduced to Justin Dillon, founder of Made in the Free World, through one our amazing contractors who helped get our flagship Hayes Valley store up and running. We met Justin and his colleague Kyle Buetzow and were inspired by their efforts to educate people about the 29 million people living as modern-day slaves who are forced to work for little or no pay.

    They’re an inspiring group powered by lots of heart and a commitment to improving the lives of the least fortunate among us. We’re thankful for their work.

    Through the use of SlaveryFootprint.org, Made in the Free World has helped educate over 22 million people about how modern slavery is connected to the products we use everyday.

    And now Made in the Free World has engaged the business community, including PUBLIC, to leverage our purchasing power to eradicate modern slavery in our supply chains.

    Each company is using Made In A Free World’s revolutionary software called FRDM™ (Forced Labor Risk Determination & Mitigation), which allows PUBLIC to better understand and influence our supply chain.

    Learn more about Made in the Free World and the other companies participating that #GiveFRDM to the world, including Master & Muse, LSTN Headphones, Cotopaxi, Senda Athletics, Worthy Granola, Nisolo, Popinjay, and Yellow Leaf Hammocks.

    PUBLIC Warehouse Sale on Sat, Nov 8

    Friday, October 31st, 2014

    PUBLIC Warehouse Sale

    Winter is here and we’re holding our Winter PUBLIC Warehouse Sale at 205 Alice Street in Oakland on Saturday, November 8.

    We’re selling our test ride bikes, sample bikes, and bikes with slight cosmetic blemishes. We’ll have over 80+ bikes to sell. A handful of them will be for sale as low as $199, but most of these bikes will be priced 30-50% below full retail price.

    The warehouse sale features a variety of PUBLIC bikes in all sizes, colors, and models, including TWO Large PUBLIC D BionX Electric Bikes in Black and Green colors for only $999 (reg. $1,999).

    Warehouse sale bikes go quickly, usually in the first few hours. Come early to get your first pick. It helps to do your research on which PUBLIC bikes you might be interested in so we can point you in the right direction when you arrive for the sale.

    WHEN: Saturday, November 8 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
    WHERE: PUBLIC Warehouse, 205 Alice Street (@ 2nd), Jack London District, Oakland
    WHAT: Bikes Up to 50% Off

    Also let your friends know about the PUBLIC Warehouse Sale via our Facebook event page. RSVP to the Facebook event to receive a free copy of our PUBLIC Works book collecting the original artwork of our PUBLIC Works design project.

    No early viewings on any bikes, nor inquiries ahead of the PUBLIC Warehouse Sale. Keep in mind our PUBLIC Warehouse Sales are quite popular so please be patient since we want to give customers, on a first come first serve basis, the attention they require to help select the right Warehouse Sale bike for them.

    ALL SALES FINAL. NO RETURNS ON WAREHOUSE SALE BIKES


    Our Picks: Best Bike Halloween Costumes

    Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

    If you have a bike, you have the makings for a great costume. We found some hilarious and creative examples of people who incorporated their bikes into their Halloween costumes with total success.

    1. Inspired by the 2014 Burning Man theme Caravansary, we had an artist friend of ours transform a PUBLIC bike into a desert-worthy camel.
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    2. You’ve heard of the Headless Horseman, right? Change up the myth by transforming into the Headless Biker.

    3. 3…2…1…blast off on your rocket-powered bike. Transportation to and from your Halloween destinations is a breeze.

    4. All you need is a red hoodie, a front basket and a cardboard cut-out of your favorite alien.

    5. If you loved the Neverending Story, then this is the bike costume for you.

    6. Transform your bike into a four speed: Walk, trot, cantor or gallop.

    7. A grey suit, bow tie and red bike are all that’s required for this classic Pee Wee Herman costume.

    8. Make a political statement like these Latvian cyclists. Erect a bamboo structure in the shape of a car and wear it while you ride to demonstrate how much more space cars take up versus bikes.

    9. Eschew candy in favor of pac-bites and make sure you go everywhere in a maze-like fashion on your Pac Bike.

    WeiWei Good

    Monday, October 27th, 2014

    Every now and then a person or an event comes along that makes us appreciate just how profound and provocative the combination of art and public space can be. Usually it’s an artist that shapes that vision. I have had a few peak experiences in my life to support this, like when I saw Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC and Donald Judd’s works in Marfa for the first time. Both of these installations have made permanent impressions on me.

    Just a few weeks ago I had a similarly profound experience on Alcatraz. Artist Ai Weiwei was recruited by Cheryl Haines (SF Art Gallery owner and FOR-SITE founder) to use Alcatraz as a location for his artistic and political expression.

    Ai Weiwei is well known internationally for his art installations. He has used the bicycle as a metaphor in these installations in Tokyo, Taiwan and Italy. This amazing exhibit, currently on display at the Palazzo Franchetti in Venice is a great example.

    The installations on Alcatraz do not incorporate bikes, but they contain many of the fundamental themes relevant to bikes, freedom being at the core of this.

    Much has been written about this phenomenal show in the media, including the thorough article from The New York Times “Art Man of Alcatraz: Ai Weiwei Takes His Work to a Prison” that includes a terrific slide show as well.

    There are seven installations total on Alcatraz. They range in scope and depth from porcelain flowers in toilets (shown left) to sound systems in jail cells. All must be experienced first-hand to be appreciated. They are not easily summarized.

    The Lego installation has received a lot of media attention. It features over 176 Lego portraits of many “prisoners of conscience” that have been jailed, tortured or like Ai Weiwei, prevented from escape (like the inmates of Alcatraz). It includes people like Edward Snowden and many other less well know “dissidents.”

    I found this installation particularly powerful upon learning that Ai Weiwei intended this to not only be impactful to adults, but children as well. Many children visit as tourists with their parents. Ai Weiwei hopes to get inside their little minds. How many artists take on the challenge of provoking thought in adults and kids alike?

    Alcatraz is a legendary prison with an inherent comment on public space that’s compelling to visit on its own. But these installations take the experience of being there up to another level. It’s worth coming to SF just to see this show. Kudos to Ai Weiwei and Ms. Haines for pulling off the San Francisco event of the year, in my humble opinion, that rivals the Golden Gate Bridge in drama.

    Ai Weiwei’s installations are currently on display on Alcatraz through April 26. Tickets aren’t easy to come by, but you can book yours here.

    Vote NO TODAY: Walk/Bike Toll on Golden Gate Bridge

    Friday, October 24th, 2014

    Today at 10AM PST, the Golden Gate Bridge District is voting on a proposal to collect a toll on anyone who walks or bikes over the Golden Gate Bridge. Please join us in opposing this short-sighted scheme by signing a petition here (it’s a simple, under a minute process) and tweeting @ggbridge with your opposition.

    The Golden Gate Bridge is a beloved international landmark that is a tourist attraction for locals and visitors alike, with an estimated of 10,000 people walking the bridge daily. It’s also the only bikeable bridge into San Francisco and as such it’s a thoroughfare for an estimated 6,000 daily bikers who reduce car traffic and pollution by riding their bike to work instead of driving.

    We urge transportation officials to take a page from the city of Lillestrom Norway, where the government recently handed out a “reverse toll,” giving each bike and pedestrian commuter up to €12 for choosing not to drive a car that day. After studying the fiscal impact of biking and walking on the national health care and transportation systems, they found that the average 4km bike trip saved the government €12 ($15) and the average 1.7km walking trip reduced government spending by €11.

    The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most cherished public spaces in our country, and it should remain free for all people to walk and enjoy. And as a critical bike route into the city, planners should be finding ways to increase bike traffic on the bridge to maximize the social benefits of biking over driving, rather than deterring bike ridership with unnecessary fees. For more information you can visit the SF Bike Coalition, listen to a discussion on KQED’s Forum program, and join us this morning in opposing this backwards idea.

    The Cities That Play Together Stay Together

    Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

    By riding a bike, you instantly become a more connected part of your community and a little happier. It’s the reason why one of our taglines is “Ride a Bike. Smile More.” Since the concepts of fun and urban engagement are important to us, we took notice when a recent article on the importance of “play” in cities passed by our monitors.

    The article from The Guardian entitled “Playable Cities: the city that plays together, stays together” makes the case that our culture is becoming increasingly more isolated by technology. So by cultivating activities in your city that bring joy – like “Zoobombing” every Sunday on a zany bike in Portland – you create an environment that’s active, happier and paves the way for a more cohesive city. This article specifically highlights quirky, city-wide events like those illustrated above and below.

    Play in cities takes many forms. Here are a few we found and a few we snapped with our own cameras.

    Open Streets: NationwideAn increasing number of cities around the world organize Open Streets, which opens public streets for people to walk, bicycle, play, and connect with each other. They’re called Sunday Streets in San Francisco and Berkeley, CicLAvia in Los Angeles, and Sunday Parkways in Portland, Oregon.

    Bring Your Own Big Wheels: San Francisco, CA – Adults don costumes and zoom down one of the curviest and steepest streets in San Francisco on big wheel bikes every Easter.

    ZooBombing: Portland, OREvery Sunday night adults on kid’s bikes and art bikes careen down a hill near the Oregon Zoo.

    Art Installation: Chicago, ILA water art installation geared towards children (but clearly adults were having fun too).

    Break Dancing on the Streets in BarcelonaThe simple act of dancing in the streets is a sign of play in the city of Barcelona.

     

    Best New Bike Apps for City Biking

    Friday, September 19th, 2014

    Best Bike Apps for iPhone bike directions and Android apps for biking

    In honor of iPhone Day, we put together a list of some of our favorite iPhone bike apps and Android apps for people who bike in the city. The newest generations of smartphones are some of the best bike accessories ever, with some really cool new bike apps now available that make city biking even more fun and easy. From navigation to weather to fitness tracking, here’s a quick list of some of the apps that have earned a permanent place on our home screens.

    Got a better app that we should know about? We are always looking for ways to make city biking smarter, easier, and more fun. If you are interested in developing a new bike app or gadget, get in touch. We are always interested in strategic partnerships to develop smart new bike gear.

     

    Google Maps for Mobile
    Turn-by-turn GPS bike navigation
    Free: iPhone | Android | Web
    Google Maps bike directions for iPhoneAfter Apple ditched Google’s maps for the iPhone 5, Google soon released their own new version of the Google Maps app for iPhone. It surpassed the original in most ways, and recently it even added bike-friendly directions, something Android users already enjoyed, and Apple’s maps never offered. While its bike directions are still sometimes a bit odd, Google Maps has been continuously improving its map data for a decade now, and it’s one of the only apps available with turn-by-turn voice navigation for your bike, just like in a car. (Pro tip: tuck your phone in your shirt or jacket’s breast pocket to hear the speaker while riding. Also a great way to add some jams to your ride.) The Android version also has some cool extras like an elevation chart to see how steep your route will be. For a quick way to plan a bike ride across almost any city, the Google Maps app deserves a place in every biker’s pocket.

     

    Citymapper
    All your transit options in one clever app
    Free: iPhone | Android | Web
    Citymapper public transit bike directions for iPhone and AndroidThe mission statement of Citymapper is to “make cities easier to use,” and at PUBLIC we think that’s pretty cool. Since they recently added directions for the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s quickly become one of our favorite apps for getting around town. It scouts out every available transportation option to help you find the smartest possible routes. You can plan a trip by bike, bus, ferry, train, taxi, or walking, and even city bike sharing systems if you don’t have your own bike with you. It packs in a ton of features without feeling too cluttered, and even makes room for some clever jokes, like showing the calories burned on your bike ride in units of soy lattes or $4 artisanal toast. While the new Bay Area bike directions could still use some improvement, the app overall is very thoughtfully designed, with lots of cheeky details that make your commute a little more fun. Plan a trip by catapult or teleporter and you’ll see what I mean.

     

    Bike Maps – by Maplets
    Curated, downloadable bike maps for your local area
    99 cents: iPhone | $2.99: Android
    Bike Maps by Maplets for iPhoneBefore the iPhone era, the state of the art bike maps were on paper, showing the official bike infrastructure of the city. These local maps are often quite carefully designed for city bikers, and they encourage you to build your own knowledge of your city’s bike routes rather than relying on GPS instructions. The Bike Maps – by Maplets app brings these bike maps to your phone, with an extensive list of maps available for your local area. Once downloaded, they can be navigated offline, saving your battery and data plan. My local favorite is the San Francisco Bike and Walking Map, which shades every street in the city according to its steepness. Crucial, because I am a big wimp about hills. You can make notes and draw routes to remember your favorite spots, and some maps allow you to overlay your current GPS location. The map collection is extensive, including parks and off-road trails, so you’re sure to find some new rides. Well worth the paid download.

     

    Forecast.io Weather for Bicyclists on iPhone and Android Forecast.io
    Crazy good hyperlocal weather reports
    Free: Forecast.io web app for all devices | $3.99: Dark Sky app for iPhone
    Forecast.io Weather App for Bicyclists on iPhone and AndroidGood weather reports are crucial for bike commuters to know what clothes to wear or pack for a dry day at work. Especially in the legendary San Francisco microclimates, a good weather app should pinpoint your precise location for the most accurate information. Forecast.io is the best designed free mobile weather app I’ve found, with a proprietary API that compiles 19 different sources of weather data to provide a simple accurate forecast at a glance, with a cool scrolling timeline view. When rain is looming, the screen adds a little precipitation chart that predicts how wet the next hour will be – great for picking the best time to ride home in between rain showers. It’s a free web app that works on any smartphone, tablet, or computer just by visiting http://forecast.io in your browser. If you like what they do, check out their Dark Sky app for iPhone which offers rain notification messages.

     

    IFTTT Rain Alerts for Bike Commuters on iPhone and Android IFTTT – if this then that
    Customizable weather alerts (plus a million other possibilities)
    Free: iPhone | Android | Web
    IFTTT Rain Alerts for Bike Commuters on iPhone and AndroidIFTTT offers all-purpose internet wiring to connect different websites and online services together and make all kinds of cool things happen. One useful way to use IFTTT for biking is to create personalized weather reports that automatically send you an email, text, or app notification when rain is in the forecast, so you’ll never be caught without a raincoat again. Just sign up for free and make this recipe: If Weather:Tomorrow’s forecast calls for… Rain, Then SMS:Send me an SMS. Instead of a text message, you can also choose an email, or a notification from the mobile app. You can set this all up on ifttt.com, but the mobile apps are also quite slick and they enable some extra features like app notifications. Here’s a link to my recipe if you want to use it to get started!

     

    Moves iPhone activity tracker for cyclists Moves
    Simple, automatic activity tracking
    Free: iPhone | Android
    Moves iPhone activity tracker for cyclistsIf you’re interested in activity tracking but aren’t quite ready to commit to a Fitbit, the free Moves app offers simple movement tracking throughout the day using just your phone. Automatically detecting whether you’re walking, running, or biking, it generates an elegant daily and weekly journal of your activity in terms of steps taken, miles traveled, calories burned, and time spent moving, to motivate your fitness goals. (Not for the paranoid – you end up with a detailed list of every place you visit.) You can also use it to record other activities and workouts, and it can share your activity data with more heavy duty fitness apps. It oddly doesn’t include any kind of goal setting features, but at least its simplicity offers a pleasant, zen experience. It thankfully includes a Battery Saving mode to make sure your phone doesn’t tire out before you do.

     

     

    Strava bike fitness app Strava
    Athletic tracking with friendly competition
    Free: iPhone | Android | Web
    Strava bike fitness appDefinitely the most popular app for the lycra wearing crowd, Strava turns your phone into a bike computer to calculate all kinds of fitness data while you ride, like calories, miles, elevation, speed, and mapping your route on GPS. It awards you for personal best records and keeps track of your cumulative rides and runs over the course of the year. Our product manager Aaron recently used Strava to track his progress as he rode every street in San Francisco. What makes Strava different is its heavy emphasis on social networking, with a news feed of the rides your friends are taking, local leaderboard rankings of the most popular spots around town, and regular challenges to motivate you to ride. Its ride mapping has also inspired a new genre of bike route art that’s most notably led to a marriage proposal spelled out street by street. Top that one, Aaron!
    Strava Marry Me

    Did we miss your favorite bike app? Tell us what’s on your home screen in the comments below.

     

    Robin Williams: A Reflection

    Friday, August 22nd, 2014

     

    With Robin Williams’ passing this past month, the San Francisco Bay Area lost one of its best ambassadors to the world at large and also to the world of biking. I had the privilege of meeting him a few times and knowing him a little.  I am not unusual in this regard.

    Robin was a very accessible person, especially to those with a love for bikes.  Many local bike shop owners and bike related charities were also acquaintances of his. He rode the same Marin County routes like Paradise Loop that Bay Area riders frequent. He loved bikes on a number of levels and his obsession was as legendary as his humor.

    Robin gave me a tour of his 50+ bike collection at his 60th birthday party. He housed his bike collection in a big garage in Napa and it was filled with amazing road bikes dating back several decades.  In this garage he was “a kid in a candy store.”

    Robin had a few bikes by the celebrated Italian bike builder Dario Pegoretti, a bike builder we both respected and admired.  I saw the two of them at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in 2008. The header image and the shot below are ones I took of Robin with Dario at the Portland show.

    Read this excellent The Wall Street Journal article about Robin and Dario and you’ll learn about yet another legendary side of Robin Williams – his generosity and heart.

    He even once gave a bike to Conan O’Brien to cheer him up. He was like that. Watch Conan tell his funny story.

    Robin Williams was well known at Bay Area bikes shops for his patronage. He spread his good will around, exemplified by his generous contributions to non-profits and support for the arts in general. Trip for Kids, a San Rafael based charity that takes bike donations and gives the bikes to needy kids who cannot afford new bikes, was an organization that Robin continually supported.

    We all know Robin Williams’ unique talents as an actor and comedian.  At heart he was an enthusiastic boy who loved bikes for the same reasons that we do – the freedom they bring, the jolt of a little friendly competition and rebellion, and a lot of smiling. As Jason Gay from The Wall Street Journal recounted, when asked “why he loved riding a bicycle so much. I’ll always remember his answer, because it was wonderful and true. He said it was the closest you can get to flying.”

    I wouldn’t use the phrase Rest In Peace for Robin Williams.  He was too high energy for resting in peace. His spirit is perhaps on a bike somewhere, making those fortunate enough to be biking along side him buckle over in laughter.

    Best,

    Rob Forbes

    Please send any personal comments to me here.