Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Post-Olympic Hangover

Hey, did you hear about this? BMX is in the Olympics!

I was not expecting anything great out of this Olympic BMX race. I've never thought of BMX as a spectator sport. BMX has had other opportunities in the spotlight, but for various reasons, it has not panned out.

I figured this would be the same scenario. But in my view, it didn't turn out that way.

See, I happen to think the Olympics are a big deal. I remember that the first time I signed up for Satellite television was so I could get full coverage of the 98 Winter Olympics in Nagano. Before that, I vividly remember lots of other Olympic moments, including the Bill Johnson's Gold medal downhill run in 1984, the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team and Bruce Jenner's Decathlon victory in 76.

I know the Olympics is now a steroid-infested, underage-gymnast-pimpin, politcally-misguided-flag-wavin', extravaganza of Nike/Polo/Speedo commercialism, and that Darfur and Tebet need resolution before another firework needs to go off over the Olympics.

I get all that. But I can't get over the Olympic ideal that I bought into as a kid. Every four years, I get enthralled by sport, by Athletes doing their best, by their effort to excell with the world watching. And this year, finally, after Bob Osborn told me it could be possible back in the early 80's, BMX was part of the Games.

I think that BMX succeeded spectacularly in this Olympics. I am convinced that BMX has gained a foothold in Olympic culture. If you're interested, you can read more about it in a new blog I have started.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Make up post #2 - Rockford

In the BMX world, “Rockford” means two things: It refers to a stellar track in Illinois, USA, which hosts one of the ABA’s biggest races every summer. But increasingly, "Rockford" also is coming to be known for the sideshow to the race: a gathering of BMXers who are members of VintageBMX.com. The Rockford Gathering started out as a dozen guys swapping stories around a Bar-B-Q grill, and has grown into an annual destination for hundreds of the world’s most committed BMX historians. Now, every June, hundreds of BMX bikes of all eras, makes, and models are put on display for attendees to view, drool over, reminisce about, and generally incite passion for the sport of BMX. The passion that is evident in these old school guys is passed on to younger generations, who get the opportunity to learn that Oakley made grips before sunglasses, that frames could actually be Nickel plated, and that Haro is more than a bike brand – it’s the name of guy who steered the sport a lot of positive ways.

This year, the 9th Annual VintageBMX.com Rockford Gathering (or as we simply like to call it: Rockford) kicked off with a meet-and-drink at that American Institution known as Hooters. A good time was had by all, culminating in the Hooter’s staff leading the bar in singing “Happy Birthday” to BMX. Yeah, they’re not hired for their brains.

Friday brought a session at Rockford’s excellent outdoor skatepark by the guys who still ride. While there, Plywood Hood Brett Downs talked about his intention to start a magazine called “RODE”. Get it? Not “RIDE” but “RODE”? Point taken – there’s too many of us who are content to sit back and talk about the old days – there should be more of us still out there doing it. Props to those who did expend some sweat in the park and on the track this year.

Friday also means the Vintage BMX swap meet at the track. Levity was brought to the night when one of our members drove his RV rig into the middle of the swap area and got stuck in the damp soil. Just another thing to make the weekend memorable. After the swap meet, we convened at the Clocktower for pizza, drinks and Karaoke. But for some reason, everybody was too shy to sing – except for my kids. Wait – Natron and Krystina actually were kinda good. While the singing was lacking, at least everyone had a great time sitting around drinking and talking – and getting their picture taken with Mike Dominguez.

Saturday is what Rockford is all about. Our crew fills up about 2 acres of the park that surrounds the BMX track. Guys truck in from all corners of the USA with their collections. This year we were graced with the presence of Neil Clark (aka Subwax) from England, and also Warren “Waza” Eales from Australia (check out his awesome historical website at http://www.vintagemongoose.com/). The bikes are immaculate, and too numerous to mention. Follow the links to the pictures. The show did kind of come to a dead stop when our guest of honor, Woody Itson, showed up with his two display bikes. Woody is a pioneering rider who was truly innovative and influential in freestyle’s formative years. But apart from his riding skills, Woody is known for one thing: the Gold Plated Hutch Trickstar. This bike, along with the Futuristic Black Trickstar that Woody also used during this era, were on display in fully restored glory. And if you still thought the legendary Gold Trickstar was stolen and lost for good, well you should have been in attendance to hear the full story. It’s a bizarre, suspenseful and uplifting story, and reassuring to learn that there are people in this world who will do what they can to make things right. Hey, maybe there’s hope for me to get back my long lost Kuwahara.

Woody’s stories were shared in full at the Awards banquet, slide show style. Woody started at the very beginning, showing loads of photos that demonstrated how he started out like all of us, on the local dirt trails. From there he took it to the skateparks and the streets, amassing skills like over-the-fence-flyouts and 40-inch bunnyhops. If there were any racer-types in attendance who doubted our choice of guest of honor, I am pretty sure Woody’s 30-foot ditch jump pictures won them over. From his roots in Orange County, to stardom riding Hutch Trickstars all over the world, Woody showed how much fun can be had as a BMX professional. And on to today – Woody continues to promote BMX with teams performing on some of the biggest stages.

After Woody’s presentation, we got down to the business of handing out trophies. Claude Murphy, all the way from Louisiana, scored big with wins for both Best 70’s BMX (a Cook Bros.) and Best 80’s BMX (a display of practically every product Cook Bros ever made in the 80’s.) Best Mini went to Brian Page of New Jersey with his 1985 Vector Mini. Best Cruiser went to Cheesehead John DeBruin for his gleaming candy red 1983 National Pro. For the second straight year, Best Retro went to Ed Ferri of ColoredTuffs.com, this time for his 2008 Knight Industries Redline Squareback 24 (rolling on Skyway Tuff Wheels, natch.) Best Pit Bike went to Brian Pegausch for his mini-me of Woody’s bike, a gold-plated Hutch Trickstar pit bike created at C4 Labs. Juan Mattos and Jamie Jennison’s ultra-rare 1984 Free Agent Freestyle bike took home the Best Freestyle award, along with Best in Show.

After the awards, the ever-popular product raffle occurred. Tons of great product was handed out, thanks to the generous help of our sponsors: ABA, Hutch, Kuwahara USA, Redline, Supercross, SE Bikes, Action Graphics, DiamondBack, Profile Racing, S&M Bikes, BMXaddicts.com, C4 Labs, HaroFreestyler.com, ColoredTuffs.com, RetroBMX.com and MinnesotaFaction.com

So that’s a wrap on Rockford 2008. Click over to http://www.vintagebmx.com/community/index.php?act=idx and look for the Rockford BMX Collectors Gathering Forum to read more about it. While you are there, check out hundreds of old school bikes in the museum found at the top of the page.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Woolly Report - make up post #1

June 2, 2008 - a severe storm rolled thru at about 2-3 A.M. Rain, wind, lightning like crazy. Will this affect the race today? Getting up at 5 AM, the weather is now calm. TV forecasts 90 degrees with more scattered storms. Temp outside seems just right for a comfortable MTB race. Get to the course with my mates, Keith and Mark. We head out on ATVs to do the course marking. But soon I realize, I better get back to the Race Start, to handle registration, along with Mark Fisk's Mom...

As the sign ups roll in, I sense that, yes, the weather could be a problem. Not a real problem - this could not be a better day for racing. But a perceived problem. I think people heard the storm roll through, got up and saw that the ground was soaked, and assume that the course is gonna be pure mud. This not being 1988, but 2008, with most people having bikes worth somewhere north of Four Figures, I begin to realize that people just ain't down for racing in mud.
But the reality of the situation is that we have a course which sheds water. Maybe Mark's Dad applied some Teflon coating to the trails or something. He's one of those crafty old guys who does stuff like make a pontoon boat out of a washing machine and a few 55-gallon drums. I thank him for taking pictures that you see here. Bottom line, when the 10 AM start time arrives, we have 30 racers ready to sample the delectable Woooly singletrack, which in all honesty, couldn't be in more perfect condition. Race Director Keith prepares to send them off...

The race goes off, it is fast and clean, challenging and competitive, and everybody has a great time. What a day. We couldn't have asked for anything better.

The future of cycling:

Thanks so much to all our sponsors: The RiverBank, Johnson Motors, St. Croix Floral, Park Tool, Penn Cycle and Leif Bjornson Pottery Works.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's up...

OK, so here's my latest excuse for not doing much RetroBMX stuff. I am one of the guys organizing this...

And also one of another crew of guys organizing this...

So, you should really seriously think about attending one or both of these events. Cause Smitty don't make no crap!

www.woollyrace.com and www.oldschoolbmx.com - click the Rockford link.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Parts update

Well, this blog was started to keep RetroBMX customers up to date on products. So I guess I should say something about the products, since it has been a couple of months since I mentioned anything.

I just got my raw seats in today! This means I am soon going to fully "in stock" on seats and stems - for the first time in like 3 years. Crazy. This actually might function like a business again.

I'll make a marketing push as soon as I am sure that my new seats pass incoming inspection/quality assurance.

Thanks everyone, for your patience with this little wannabee BMX company.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Boulder, CO

My new job took me to Boulder, Colorado last week. I liked it. Felt somehow like a small college town to me - though there are 260,000 residents in the Boulder Metro Area. Sadly, since this was a two day business trip, I could not bring one of my bikes or snowboard - the near-miss on snowboarding being the real tragedy for me. I've never spent any time near any mountains in my whole life. The only places I've boarded are hills right around my Wisconsin home. So for me to travel to Boulder and see the Rocky Mountains - the honest-to-God Rocky Mountains - seemed a little like being a "Seeing Eye Dog" in a steakhouse...you know you are there just to do your job, but damn, you sure wish you could get a little taste of that delicious Filet Mignon that everyone else is enjoying.

And it seemed like everyone in Boulder was ready to take advantage of the their surroundings. Yakima or Thule cartop carriers abounded - set up either for skis, boards or bikes.

Well, even though our schedule did not permit me get loose in the powder, I wasn't going to visit Boulder and just look at the Rockies. So I got up early on day 2, put on my running shoes and left the hotel heading west. I was a little worried about my fitness level (our unseasonably cold Spring in Wisconsin has conspired to keep me from getting into my running/biking workouts like I had intended) and also worried about the elevation difference, so I jogged at a comfortable pace. As I ran, any fatigue I felt melted away as the sun came over the horizon behind me and lit up my goal in front of me like it was an exquisitely painted backdrop of a 1960's Technicolor film (my only reference for comparison.) I made the 2.5 miles to the foothills of the Rockies in about 25 minutes, and from there I scrambled up the first tall mound in sight. From this dimunitive peak, only 100 or so feet above the city, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had a wonderful view of Boulder below, as it awoke to just another Tuesday morning for so many residents. As I took it all in, I was only mildly disappointed to realize I had left my camera in my hotel room. I'm no photographer anyway - so go google image search Boulder CO to see what I was seeing.

Mission accomplished. I touched the Rockies. And as I bonus: I got into double-digits on my run back, sprinting past one of the many Radar Speed Signs posted on Boulder's neighborhood streets. Next time I visit, I'll make sure it includes a weekend so I can see more of this wonderous place - and hopefully some high-altitude powder.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oh yeah...

That new seat logo below, that was a big part of delaying the seats, and it was a bust. It just did not look good when it was embroidered.

I'm gonna look into hot stamping...like the Original seat was done...

Friday, February 08, 2008

What I would do if I were rich...

Ken Block knows how to treat a Subaru WRX.

Ack...forgot something

In my excitement of my last post, I forgot that there is an engraving step. So the lot of georgeous machined billet aluminum is at the engraving shop, where it has been all week. Patience...the mark of a RetroBMX customer.

Seats are being held up as we rework the logo. Here is the new seat logo for your perusal...

It may not look like much, but it is a direct knock-off of the old Elina Logo.

Thanks Bill Sympson, for all your graphic design expertise! You are the unpaid creative genius of RetroBMX!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Here's a bit of drivel...back on Dec. 17, I said:

Two other things to do today: run to downtown MPLS to the Star-Tribune to drop off my daughter's entry for the "Color this Christmas tree" contest...yeah, mail would have been a better way to get it there, but this one I can blame on her...and get my wife a Christmas present.

Well the Christmas present has probably been forgotten by now, but I'm pleased to report that a letter from the Star-Tribune arrived yesterday - Emily was a runner up in the "Color this Christmas Tree" contest. Her prize was two four-packs of tickets to the MN Science Museum and the MN History Museum. She was stoked. But this reminded her that she had submitted an entry to Pepperidge Farm's "Create a new Friend for Finn" contest at about the same time...not a winner there. That would have been nice...the winner gets a trip to Florida. Mmmmmmm, Florida would be mighty nice right now (see previous post.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Minus Sixteen

-16 degrees below zero degrees Farenheidt. That's what my car thermometer told me the temp was this morning, when I drove my kids to school (I remember what it was like to ride a school bus when it got cold like that...not doing that to my kids.)

The bank clock said -20.

Couldn't have been much better last night, when I went snowboarding. I don't know what I was thinking. It was miserable. I don't get too many chances to ride my board these days so when my church's youth group asked me to chaperone, I thought I should go. I should have put my foot down and said "Let's reschedule". Oh well. I guess I survived it.

The machine shop sez the new batch of stems are in process. That's better than them saying "Stems? What stems?"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Seats now available on ebay!

I threw in the towel...I can't make my online store work. I decided that I might as well fill up my ebay store...so I did.

Check it out at this link... http://stores.ebay.com/retroBMX

I hope you check out my seats - maybe get the custom color one that you have always dreamed about!! Thanks for your support!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Seats update

So the seats you see in the picture below are all going to be for sale. I'm going to focus on getting them into an online store for you to buy easily.

There are 6 more odd-ball color-combo seats that are being assembled this week with my assembly guy.

After that, my embroidery supplier is embroidering the next batch, which will be a big. In this batch we will have all the standard colors, plus a few odd balls.

I'll let you know here as soon as the webstore is operational.

Thanks Bros.

Retro Pro Necks

Lots of people have been inquiring about the status of the Pro Neck stems.

I've wanted to implement an improvement to the stem for a little while now (adding to the thickness of the stem to make it even more torsionally stiffer), but needed to get back on a CAD system to make the necessary design changes.

This was complicated by the fact that I lost my "real job" at the end of September - downsizing, you've heard it before. My design work was done in the past by using the CAD stations at work after-hours.

I recently got a chance to get on a CAD system at an old friend's place, and now the new blueprint is at my Machine Shop and he's moving ahead with production. We'll have new and improved stems available in January, though I don't know exactly the date. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Condo Classic

Just back from the Condo Classic. For those of you who have no idea what that means, it is the reprise of the old Rondo Classic BMX race which was held indoors in St Paul MN in January of 1981 and 1982 and maybe 80 or 83, I can't quite remember.

Anyway, Mark Conley of AllTheRacing.com (see link to the right) put this together and it was a blast! All kinds of "Vintage" Minnesota Racers came out of the woodwork for this race held at Rehbein's BMX. It was just awesome to see some of my childhood heros like Shawn Sheely, Dave Christiansen, John Sandberg and Gene Oberprillar going at it on the track like it was 1980 again. I was moto-filler, just like back in the day. I took home a 7th place plaque, but that suits me fine. It was a great time and I wish to thank Mark Conley for his vision in pulling this together. I hope that next year's event is even bigger and better.

I debuted my new batch seats at the race and donated one to the door prize raffle. Gene-O won it and had just the bike in mind for it. I look forward to seeing it on his ride. I hooked up Jayson Lindsey with a long-awaited camo seat for his cruiser and he gave it a big thumbs up for both the looks and the comfort. Jayson is ABA National Age Group #2 on his Cruiser and NAG #4 on his 20", so I am glad to get a seal of approval from him.

The rest of you who are looking for seats, well, hang in there!! The time is coming!!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Seats, Baby, Seats!

OK, check this out. Here's the first batch of the long-awaited seats. I am going to be donating some of these to the Condo Classic on Friday night. I'll write a follow up post to let you know how they are received. Later, Gator.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Holiday Hangover

Wow. I sure got slack on this blogging stuff pretty quickly. Been a few weeks. I'm gonna use the excuse that it was too much stuff going on with the Holidays. Yeah, that's it.

In addition to making sure that my kids had a great Christmas, I did manage to get out on the snowboard once. Also, I did get to the skatepark last Friday. Didn't take much for pictures though...but here's one of Minneapolis Legend, Mark Lukens. That's a pocket wallride for you. Awesome rider at age 40-something.

Hey, my first pic. I could try to put up a pic of the seats, but jeez that's a lot for one day.

2 days 'til Condo.