It’s always fun to match a fave brand to its foreign, brick and mortar store. During my recent trip to Japan, I visited Cycles Grand Bois, a venerable bicycle company known for its elegant handlebars, polished bike parts, custom frames, and 650b tires. Thanks to a rando pal who knows how to navigate Google maps in Japanese, we found GB in a suburb of Kyoto. Trading shoes for slippers, we explored the main shop area and talked to the manager. The showroom space is cramped, with bikes packed in tight bunches on the main floor and auxiliary frames stacked in window display pyramids or hung from the rafters. I’m including a few snaps from my visit. Follow Grand Bois on Instagram for a more immersive view of the shop.
Rene Herse beauty
Vintage basket bike updated with a motor
Shop bikes stashed outside
Custom bike bell
In the last ten years, wool cycling jerseys have become widely available in a variety styles from classic retro reissues to microlight, itch free performance merinos. I prefer my cycling jerseys to be made from a thick wool and resemble designs which date back to the 1920s (interchangeable with shirts designed for camping, tennis or golf). Something like this:
As a female cyclist, however, it is still semi challenging to source a quality jersey that is not simply a unisex version of a gent’s model. Ibex, for example, makes nice, lightweight wool cycling jerseys but succumb to the idea that women want cap sleeves and contrasting color panels (often in pastels or apple greens). I’m currently field testing the new Standard Cycling Jersey by Cedar Cycling. A version for gents is also available. This made in California jersey was designed and patterned with the input of a number of local cyclists.
I’ve been testing out the Cedar Cycling jersey on early season randonneuring events (aka “brevets”). The three features that I like most are the the full length zipper, reinforced pocketing and bright red color. Unlike most jerseys, the wool-nylon blend fabric is on the thick side making it fine for cold weather use when paired with wool arm warmers and a wind vest. I can also imagine wearing this jersey in the heat of August thanks to the extra wicking power and breathability of the fabric.
On the flip side, while I like how wool nylon blend provides extra durability and helps the garment keep its shape, and wicks moisture, I would like to see the wool content increased in this jersey. On longer, rainy rides (on Saturday I was riding a 300k) the jersey started to feel a little clammy against my skin after 8 hours in the saddle. By comparison, even when wet, 100% wool jerseys keep me warm.
This jersey has some of the best pocketing I’ve ever seen on a jersey for women. All the pockets are double stitched and reinforced. And unlike most jerseys for women, this one comes with three rather than two slots. On my all other jerseys, pockets are the first thing to fail. I don’t think that will be happening with the Cedar Cycling jersey.
Now, I just need Cedar Cycling to final a local source for chainstitched lettering so I can add the Oregon Randonneurs logo to the front of my jersey.
Last month, I traveled to the UK to ride the 1400k randonnee, London-Edingburgh-London. I survived the ride but couldn’t really tell you what I remember. After pedaling for 4.5 days on about 8 hours of sleep (total) I recorded and erased most of the experience. I did manage to take a few snaps of the trip with my phone and loaner point and shoot. These are a few my “before” photos from the days leading up to LEL. In next few weeks, I’ll post my post-trip field trip notes from my visits to a few of my favorite London shops.
UK arrival – assembling my Vanilla in the courtyard of the Snaresbrook Travelodge
En route to city center to repair on an out of true wheel. Lots of guest appearances by Brompton folders on this trip.
I wish we had had more time to chat with Ninon, owner of the amazing, Bicycle Workshop. Like all my favorite shops. BW focuses on repairing utility bikes but harbors a hidden inventory of vintage parts and deadstock bits. Ninon was the only person on my trip who remembered Hebden Cord, the now defunct UK clothing company that used to manufacture bespoke cycling shorts.
We spent a pleasant hour at Book & Kitchen, a neighboring bookstore.
Loved the UK only VW California camper van. Integrated bike rack on the back
Riding partner, Susan O, and her retrued wheel outside Royal Albert Hall
Ok. I love our cotton duck, Archival Musettes. They were designed as functional, more durable iterations of the classic pro peleton musette. Though I own a lifetime supply of musettes, I still shop for novelty models on ebay. Here are some great looking, Bob Jackson & Jack Taylor branded musettes via this ebay seller. I still dream of pedaling through my next Paris Brest Paris on a made in UK, Jack Taylor frame. Perhaps I need a matching musette to go with my 2015 ensemble. For reference, Flickr contact Hudsonic owns an exemplary Jack Taylor.
I’m heading to London in a week for London Edinburgh London, a 1400k randonnee. I’ve just assembled all my bike gear (which includes many non archival, ziploc packed servings of powdered nutrition). Sadly, I’m going to have very little space in my luggage for non cycling garb. At the moment I’m boiling my travel garb down into a single outfit I can wear on the plane and than for five days in London. What I’m missing is the perfect pair of comfortable canvas sneakers. Many of my pals prefer Superga, Tretorn or Chuck Taylors. What I want is a pair of made in Japan, Wakouwa deck shoes. I’ve been wishfully shopping for Wakouwas since I spotted them in the window at Anatomica in Paris. You can buy them through a few US stockists but alas, most don’t sell them in smaller sizes for women. At Mohawk General Store, you can even buy them in Yves Klein blue. If you have a secret Wakouwa source, or could suggest a stylistic alternative, let me know.
In Randonneuring, a perm is a permanent route you can schedule to ride at any time. On Saturday, I rode Michal Young’s scenic Alsea 200k loop with several friends from the Oregon Randonneurs. On Sunday, I dragged my friend Bruce up to Portland for what I would consider my favorite Archival shopping perm. The loop starts somewhere around Eye Styles, migrates over to Little Tee for lunch followed by gabbing and gawking at Blake, coffee at Barista, more aspirational shopping at Lizard Lounge and than a post meal retreat to Cinema 21. Though I rarely make purchases on my perm, I consistently catch and release the same evidential photos: Japanese eyewear, FWK Engineered Garments, heritage footwear, denim and print ephemera from the movies. Contact me if you wish to recreate my route. I will provide you with a start time, a list of controls and a few informational questions to confirm that you followed the correct route. Here is some evidence of participation from my weekend:
Theo taking a white line nap next to his lovely MAP custom
Our rando mob (photo by Asta C.)
…matching suede green Quoddy mocs
Croque Madame at Little Tee
A rare patch from the Jantzen swimwear company
Spot watch check: a Filson rep’s Marathon chronograph
Neil sampling frites and cidre at Irving Kitchen
Thanks to Bill Lane at Wall Bike
for reprinting this pictographic feature on front handlebar bags from the Japanese magazine Cyclo Tourist. Apart from Guu-Watanabe
, many of the brands are new to me.
For reference, here is my post from 2008 showing the of the range of French, US and Japanese made handlebar bags in use by my randonneuring friends.
While I don’t need another bicycle I’ve been air shopping for Alex Singers and Rene Herse randonnee frames via ebay. Here’s a beautiful 1975 randonneuring bike from the Rene Herse workshop. If you’re a pure road cyclist and you’ve never seen a Rene Herse, check out all the bike’s unique, rando specific features: custom front rack, integrated lighting system, polished mafac racer brakes, full metal fenders, maxicar hubs, etc. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, a Rene Herse randonnee would make the perfect getaway rig.
If you’re interested in reading a history of the Rene Herse workshop, check out this handsome new tome by Compass Press.
PBP spectators in Villaines, France
I just got back from the 17th edition of Paris Brest Paris, an ultra distance cycling event held every four years in France. I always say that I record and erase my memory of rides longer than 600k. I can confirm via official records that I successfully covered the 1200k course in a time of 86 hours and 55 minutes. My primary setback was a series of intense drowsy spells that left me convinced that I was pedaling in my sleep, but overall I felt strong.
First night. 1200k to go
Scenic views and slumbering cyclists
During PBP, I did my best take photos of my practiced obsessions: people, bicycles and food. Snaps of the scenic countryside are in short supply. For interested parties, here is visual evidence of my participation in Paris Brest Paris with some fragmentary notations
Maya. Organized first randonneuring events in Japan
Amused Breton bystander
Audax England rider (designed the club’s jersey)
Photogenic Bryan on his Box Dog Bikes
Pelican (SF Rando pal and AC stockist, Gabe, offscreen)
NC rider on one of the last Coho rando bikes
Duane Wright on his Peugeot fixie
Snappy French (?) gent riding a Gilles Berthoud
Riding buddy Jeff on his lovely Boxer Bicycles custom
Jeff “I’m having the time of my life” Tilden
Bill, Oregon rando pal, at the ride start
Charismatic control worker
Food is one of the great motivators in cycling. On PBP, you can forage from Boulangeries on the course for your primary fuel (for me, pain au chocolat and jambon sandwiches). Jeff’s strawberry tart was a visual highlight of one boulangerie which we liked as much for the free coffee. Fatigue and the need for forward movement often drove us to save time by eating at the official PBP controls. My photos reflect the matter of fact nature of this food.
One control from the finish
Jeff’s brevet card (so much suffering to go)
Sample view. Vanilla at rest.
Full PBP 2011 flickr set here
Tomorrow, I (Lesli) leave for France for Paris-Brest-Paris,”the most famous long-distance randonnée.” During the ride (which covers 12oo kilometers in 90 hours), I will be off the grid and out of communication with Archival readers. In lieu of a live broadcast, I’m providing some placeholder photographs documenting my experience.
Arrival at Brest
On the train
Lining up for the August 21st start (8 p.m.)
Traveling along a road in France
Overnight control in Loudeac
At the finish (August 25th).
Interested parties can track my progress via the Official Paris-Brest-Paris site. The Vanilla and I are registered as US frame number 4641. Eight riders from my club, the Oregon Randonneurs, will be making the trip. After PBP, I will be spending a week in Paris recovering from the ride and shopping from the present.