Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two X Fours and The Anti-Chris

These clips are from a much longer article in Bicycling Magazine on bicycling in Minneapolis. Link  The first I like because at one time in my life jousting with two x fours on tall bikes would have seemed like a really good idea. The second because I enjoy both Kvale and Noren. Chris is calm, quiet and intellectual. Across the hall is Erik. Even after being warned about Erik, nobody is ever prepared for that degree of intensity. If Chris is classical, Erik is rock n roll -  loud, excited, fast and foul-mouthed. I like the fact that they are soooooo different and yet they are friends and respect each other.
"What makes Minneapolis a great bike town, Hurl answers, are the bike couriers and road racers; the BMX racers; the velodrome in nearby Blaine; the small but growing bike-polo community; the Stupor Bowl (the largest alley cat race in the country and, presumably, the free world, says Hurl, held every winter on Super Bowl weekend); and even the local branch of the Black Flag bike gang—its members fuse kids' bikes together, one on top of another, then ride toward one another and smash each other with two by fours."

"The guys want to ride to a large warehouse right next to the Greenway, to introduce me to a couple of frame builders. The first is Chris Kvale, and he is lean, and white-haired and blue-eyed. The surfaces of his shop sparkle. Classical music hangs softly in the air. He has been making frames for 35 years—only steel, "only classic road frames." He is a former racer, and at age 65 still rides 2.5 miles a day to work. When one of the guys makes an old-man joke about his preference for tubular tires, Kvale says, "I'm a minimalist, and they're the simplest expression of the cyclist. Tubular tires demand something of the cyclist. They demand an involvement with your bike. And that's what I demand."

Across the hall is a man whom Kvale's friends call The Anti-Chris. His name is Erik Noren and he starts cursing when we open the door, and continues doing so for the 30 minutes or so that we stay.

"Fuck Portland!" he opines upon learning I am trying to discover why Minneapolis deserves top status over what would seem the logical choice. "All I ever hear is about how cool Portland is. Who rides through the shit we do? We ride more by accident than they do on purpose."


Ma said...

There's an attitude behind the whole thing that makes the Mpls biking scene work. Its pretty apparent that nobody ever bothered to check on whether biking in summer humidity and mosquitos and winter's freezing temps and slush was advisable -- they just went ahead anyway. Ah, the stoic Norse and stubborn Germans.

Gunnar Berg said...

"Ma". I like that. The first step in your new life?

Gunnar Berg said...

I think the next to last paragraph typifies it. She's not a serious cyclist:
"Among the e-mails is a message from a 36-year-old mother of two, a television producer named Angela Keegan Benson. She says she's not a serious cyclist, that she bikes to work only three or four times a week. I ask how far from the television station she lives. Ten miles, she says."

Johann Rissik said...

A serious cyclist is one who does not enjoy cycling :(

Margadant said...

Sorry; not a first step in a new life -- the two year old had crawled onto my lap to see what I was doing and bumped my arm at a critical point. Couldn't unring the bell, so to speak.