Spring arrived early this year in South Lake Tahoe, cutting short the ski season but allowing cyclists to get on their bikes sooner. It’s a beautiful season to ride. The meadows are sprouting with wildflowers, providing colorful splashes to the rapidly greening landscape. The trunks of the big pines glow reddish in the late-afternoon light, their giant cones littering the trail.
The Raleigh Hodala singlespeed with Carbon Drive is fast and agile–a cyclocross racing bike. Belt-drive riding, however, is about more than just speed. I grab the bike from my garage and go, no dirty chain to clean or lube. No derailleur to adjust.
Some technologies make life more complex. Carbon Drive has simplified mine. Less bike maintenance means more time to ride. And to slow down to enjoy the flowers.
Thanks to Tahoe photographer Dylan Silver for the photos.
Bella is an Italian greyhound who likes to go for bike rides. Her favorite bike is the BMC masschallenge owned by Jim Ochowicz, the president and general manager of BMC Racing Team. Jim’s daughter Elli is pictured above taking Bella for a spin. Elli, Bella and the Ochowicz family members all use the bike for running errands and pedaling to their favorite lunch spots. House guests also use it to get in a workout while visiting. But the favorite use is for taking Bella out for some fresh air.
Gates Carbon Drive is an official supplier of the BMC Racing Team and provides the squad with BMC Lifestyle bikes featuring Gates Carbon Drive. The BMC Racing Team is the only UCI pro tour team with an official lifestyle/commuter bike. Bella is the only dog with an official lifestyle bike.
Click here for a 10-second video clip as Bella takes a spin.
If you’ve got a little pooch you’d like to put in the panniers, check out the BMC urbanchallenge below. This is the same bike that the BMC Racing Team has on all its team trucks. Bella says you’ll love it.
Stef Peels is a 47-year-old recreational bicyclist from Helmond in the Netherlands. He rides for fitness and fun as part of the team Mennekes in Black (MIB), a play on the movie Men in Black. The group rides every Sunday year-round. “We go in the sun, rain and snow, no exceptions.”
When Stef decided to replace his old mountain bike, he tested a belt drive Van Nicholas 29er and was hooked. But first he had to convince his wife that he needed a new bike. “She accepted and I was ready to go. Yes!”
Stef decided to get a Van Nicholas, a Dutch brand that specializes in titanium frames. He did some research and determined that a Carbon Drive would be a great low-maintenance option. He worked with his local bike shop, Cycletrend Nuenen, a Van Nicholas dealer. Stef decided to get a custom Zion Rohloff 29er with Carbon Drive and Lefty fork. “When it was finished I saw the bike and I was really satisfied.” The bike is “a real eye catcher.”
Thanks for sharing your story, Stef. Happy riding and keep in touch!
Victoria Cycles is a custom builder based in the Colorado mountain town of Salida. Founder Dave Hill specializes in classic steel frames utilizing lugs and fillet brazing, techniques from a bygone era of bike building that add style and strength.
Mountain Flyer Magazine has featured Hill’s Retro Town Cruiser (above and below) in its latest issue, now on newsstands. “Class and sophistication spin from the wheels of this distinctive dream bike,” write the editors. In addition to its beautiful, swooping frame design and the bike’s Gates Carbon Drive, the Retro Town Cruiser features custom wood fenders, an eight-speed Shimano Alfine internal hub, disc brakes, Schwalbe tires, a generator-powered headlight, Brooks leather saddle and grips, and a custom six-pack holder.
Hill made the bike for his wife, Victoria, for whom the company is named. “She was very supportive in helping me change careers and pursue my dream,” he says. Hill founded Victoria Cycles six years ago after retiring from the US Postal Service, where he worked for 20 years. “This is something I wanted to do since I was a teen-ager.”
Hill, who had wrenched, raced and worked in bike shops earlier in his life, attended United Bicycle Institute to study up on frame building before launching the business. “Airplanes and bikes have always been my passion,” he says.
Hill and his wife have thoroughly enjoyed riding the Retro Town Cruiser, which he says is “whisper quiet.” Want to see it up close? Come to the 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver, where Victoria Cycles will exhibit. For the second straight year, Gates will award more than $11,000 in cash and prizes as part of its Innovative Belt Drive Bike Contest. Make sure to visit the Gates Carbon Drive booth at NAHBS, where we plan to have Hill’s Retro Town Cruiser on display.
Last week’s election in Jackson, Wyoming, brought good news for local bicyclists thanks to the approval of a ballot question to fund a big bike infrastructure project. Friends of Pathways, the cycling advocacy nonprofit in Jackson, led a campaign to approve $4.35 million to complete a local biking and walking pathway. The pathway will connect Jackson to nearby Wilson and will make riding between the communities much safer and more pleasant. No wonder Jackson and Teton County are recognized as gold-level bike friendly communities by the League of American Bicyclists.
“We advocate the completion of a safe and sustainable pathways system, including separated bike paths, singletrack trails and ‘complete streets’ for all users,” says Mike Welch, director of Friends of Pathways. “The goal is a vibrant community with healthy recreation and transportation opportunities in Jackson Hole, so that cycling, walking, and the bike culture are encouraged here.”
Welch has a new bike to ride on those paths: a belt drive Norco custom build. Welch plans to use it for long pathway rides, lunchtime loops and winter commuting. “It’s part of my never-ending quest to have a do-it-all bike.”
Welch worked with local shop owner Tim Hoff of Hoff’s Bikesmith on the build, starting with a Norco Judan 29er mountain bike frame that Hoff had on consignment in his shop. Hoff integrated an eight-speed Shimano Alfine internal hub and Gates Carbon Drive for cleanliness and low maintenance. The bike will be kitted out with fenders for soggy commutes.
“We sell a lot of recycled and consignment bikes,” says Hoff, a longtime bike mechanic who opened his shop two years ago. He also makes custom steel frames and has sold a number of Spot Brand belt drive bikes such as the Rocker mountain bike and the Ajax commuter.
“Jackson is a great bike town. Tons of singletrack, freeride and downhill trails, a bike path that goes all the way to Grand Teton National Park,” Hoff says. “There are lots of diehard year-round riders.” Welch plans to add studded tires to his bike for winter commuting.
Happy riding, Mike.