Folk Bicycles

handcrafted bicycles that fulfill a need of function and grace

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tour to Connecticut

Hey folks, I'm back. Sorry about the six month absence from this page.

I just returned from a month long trip to Connecticut. One of Leah's best friends, Jordan, from back home was getting married, and we thought it would be an excellent reason to do a cross country tour. A few months before we were to leave we found out about some friends in Boston, Frank and Jade, that were getting married a week before Jordan and Zal's wedding. So we upped the start date a week and started counting the days.

We left on the 19th of June and headed for Milwaukee. The first night we spent at the Kettle Moraine State Forest in a nice secluded walk-in site. We had a stiff tail wind the whole way there, and we felt great. The next morning we made our way into Milwaukee and caught the ferry to Muskeegon, Mi., though not before stopping at an Italian grocery and stalking up on fruits, bread, meat, and cheese. After the ferry we rode about thirty miles til we found a campground to rest. That night was the first of two thunderstorms that we encountered the whole trip and made me glad we brought a huge tarp to cover our bikes and gear.

We headed straight east to Port Huron, avoiding Detroit, and crossed into Canada two days later. From there we headed to Niagara Falls, camping in provincial parks, industrial parks, and church lawns. Five years ago, I did this trip in reverse by myself, passing through Niagara Falls. What I remember about that part was getting thoroughly lost. This time around, we found out that you have to ride up some very steep and long hills to get into Niagara Falls from the west. Once we were up there, albeit in a round about way (again, got a little lost), we rode through the carnival atmosphere of Canadian NF and crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, catching a magnificent view of the falls.

So we didn't have much rain, but I would have gladly accepted some for all the heat we had to ride in. It was in the 90's for most of the trip. Leah and I must have drank around two gallons of fluids a day. My guess is that the worst heat was the first day in New York. We managed to mix things up a bit, though, by getting on the Erie Canal Tow Path, a quite ridable dirt path that was originally used by mules to haul barges up and down the Erie Canal. For the last ten years the state of New York has been restoring these paths for non motorized use. We stayed on it for a good hundred miles or so, a little slower going, but a welcome change from road traffic. I think I didn't drink enough fluids that first day in New York because the next day I drank over a gallon of water and gatoraide before noon and didn't have to pee until about five p.m.

That afternoon we made it to Syracuse, and to the house of David and Dorita Reyen, old friends of Leah's family. What a welcoming place for us to be. David and Dorita make exquisite clothing from felted wool blended with hand dyed silk and their house is one big studio. After a great dinner with locally made mead and some catching up, we got a tour of their jewelry and felting workshops (David being the person who taught Leah's dad jewelry making some thirty years ago). Then we passed out in a little air conditioned trailer that the Reyen's use when traveling to fairs and shows (ahhhhhh...).

Now, we would like to blame it on the heat (and maybe we can!) but the fact was that we were behind schedule. We wanted to make it to Ulster Park (between Kingston and New Paltz, NY) by the 30th of June to meet friends for the weekend, and it was now the 28th. So David took us to the bus station and we caught a ride to Albany, thus avoiding the Catskills and at least a few days of riding. From Albany we rode south along the Hudson, camping in a park, and then having a leisurely fourty-ish mile ride to our friend Pete's house.

I'll recount the rest of the trip in another post or two.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Andrea's Mtn Bike

So this month I have been working on a whole bunch of things. I finished up an order for Velo Orange just in time for the christmas rush, made some racks for Leslie Kendziera's touring bike (check out, started on a rack for Jay from Planet Bike and his cool IF crossbike/commuter, and just made the first (i think) front rack for Velo Orange. No pictures of that yet, sorry, but I've got some photo's of a mountain bike that I have been working on for Andrea Weiler.

Andrea started racing a Specialized hybrid in a bunch of local mountain bike races a couple of years ago and is thoroughly hooked on it. She wanted a real bike but was unhappy with what she found at all the shops here in Madison. Her partner, Ben, prints the t-shirts for Revolution Cycles, where I've got my workspace set up. When they had come by one day to see what we could do for them Jeff, the owner, suggested she talk with me.

Andrea and I talked for a while about what she was looking for, did a fit session, and with the help of my friend Zac at Cascade Bicycle Studio, came up with a fit for a new bike. In the mean time, I gave her Leah's bike to ride because it was a close match to see what she thought.

Now I've got the bike nearly done. Just have to finish off the small bits. It was tough hand filing the stays, especially since I just ordered the one set, but it came out all right. I've got this fascination with lugged mountain bikes. I've got a late eighties Trek that I found in the trash that I love, and I think the bikes that Mike Zancanato (I know he has a website somewhere, anyone?) has made are great. I wanted to use a part of a lug to reinforce the headtube and downtube, but the angle turned out to be perfect for a lug, so I welded an extension on and brazed it up! I love that it enabled me to add some style to the bike as well. I hope Andrea will like it. I'll add the top part of the upper head lug when I do the water bottle mounts and cable stops.

It's going to get a nice durable powdercoat, but I still need to know what color she wants. Some of my up coming projects are going to be a fillet brazed bike for Chris Kulczycki of Velo Orange, another for my friend Matt, and a lugged touring bike for my sister Jess. Good times!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Put a Fork in it!

I recieved my fork jig a couple of weeks ago and thought I'd show it off. My friend Matt Sheridan (SevenCycles machinist extordinare) designed and fabricated it for me. It is super fantastic, if I do say so myself. I can build anything from a 20" wheel fork to a suspension corrected 29"er. Although the rake adjustment isn't quite what it could be; the rake scale goes to 140mm, but the jig will only adjust to 55mm or so! A little modification and a clamp will help that. I've got it to 64.5mm, which is right where it needs to be for a bike I am preparing for Chris Kulczycki, of Velo Orange.

Here is Leah brazing a fork for her winter bike. She picked up a cool old Herculies and has been working on getting it ridable. The fork had a crack in it so we figured we could just make a new one! Leah has done a bit of jewelry work in the past so the concept of brazing was not new to her, and she did a fantastic job for her first time brazing anything bike related.

So far, it has built two forks. None by me, though. Jon, of Jonny Cycles, did the first one and was very impressed with it. Soon it will be my turn. I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Completed bike

Hey, so here is the completed bike. I've been riding it for a couple of days, but finely dialed in everything last night. It rides like a dream, if I do say so myself. I intended it to be a cross bike, and there are a few races yet this season, but it is quite stable and very comfy (note long chain- stays and slackish angles). The interesting thing is that it feels fast. I took the wheels and drive off my Surly, so the gearing is no different, but rather than toodling in second gear as I usually do, I'm in third nearly all the time. Maybe I'm just having too much fun.

Before going on, I thought I'd give you an update on Gas Gas. Leah (my girlfriend) and I got
him back from Leah's sister a month ago and he has been doing quite well. We've had him on a harness and been letting him be outside on a leash on the nicer days. He loves it and complains a lot when he is brought back in. When I've tried to let him be without a leash, he is in the neighbors yard withing five minutes, so it's the leash for now. Perhaps in the spring I'll try to go without.

Okay, here is my first logo. It's a stencil done by Leah. I'm sure some of you will recognize her
style. I like it a lot, but the paper I used peeled up a bit when I painted it, so it's a little messy. I think the propelant cooled it down so it started to freeze and become inflexible. You can also see the cable hanger I made for the fork. A little stainless tubing and a cable stop. It's pretty crude, but it works.

next up are some racks I've built recently, and hopefully in a few weeks I'll be starting on my next bike. I hope to have some "in process" pictures. See you soon, ahren

Sunday, October 29, 2006

So here are a couple of highlites from my frame. This is the first fillet brazing I have ever done. It was great fun, but the cleanup took a while.

Notice there is no binder on the seat collar? I was inspired by a few bikes in the "Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles", namely some Alex Singer's and others that had an internally expanding seatpost. It looked so clean. I am modifying a cruiser post to take an 1-1/8" quill stem wedge. I'll be painting the bike tomorrow. It is supposed to be in the sixeties! Have to take advantage of the weather while I can. We have had a tast of chilly weather the last week or so, just a teaser of what is to come. See you soon. Ahren

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hello, my name is Ahren Rogers

The purpose of this log is to document and display my thoughts, ideas, interests, and creations. Just like any other blog, I suppose. But I hope you are inspired by what you see here and that you take that inspiration with you where ever you go and put it into what ever you do.

If you weren't sure by the title, I am thoroughly consumed by the style, function, and culture of the bicycle. Soon I will be posting photo's of my first Banjo. It is a three-speed cyclocross bike. A blend of symplicity, adaptability, and just plain fun. I will also explain a little of myself in the next few postings, as well.

So stop by every so often to see what I am up to. Til then, take a deep breath, stretch your eyelids, jump up and down a couple of times, and have a great time. See you, Ahren