The Oregon Coast bike was found this past Saturday, the 1st of August. In case you haven't been paying attention, this was an event called 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders. Fat Bike riding on the coast or in the dunes is something special indeed. The guy who found the bike, Mark Hendrix, seemed super stoked on it. He even called me to tell me so, and to say that he’s about the biggest bike fan on the coast. He might even have said he’s a bike freak. If anyone deserves the bike, it was him. It sounds like he’s the kind of person who will ride this bike like it’s meant to be ridden, and that makes me happy.
The whole process of building the bike, watching the high level promotion of the bikes and their builders, and highlighting some of the most special places in Oregon has been interesting to witness and participate in. I got to see the whole process of advertising from, well, not exactly the inside, since I didn’t conceive of any of the ideas or do any of the video or media production. But I was a part of the video, and I did get to see some of the overall concepts evolve, mature and come to fruition. And, better still, I got to build a bike for it.
It was interesting for me to build a bike that was not for a specific customer — a human — but to build it instead with a region in mind (in my case, the coast). When my intended audience is one person, I make some build decisions based on our interactions. I may make certain aesthetic choices, or design choices, and though I might be making a type of bike I’ve made many times in the past, I will do it a certain specific way with this particular person in mind. There’s the interactions we’ve had, and then there’s my intuition about the person I’m building for. It's aesthetic, design, function, all coming together with the idea of the rider in mind.
But, when it came to building a bike for a region, or for nothing more specific than a type of terrain, there was a moment of something like vertigo because it was so open-ended. The way I look at any bike I’m planning to build is that it will need a rider. The coast isn’t going to be riding the bike. There will be a person on the bike, and without knowing who that person is, and what they might want, I had to invent someone. I thought why not invent and work with the human I know best, which is myself. Which is what I did. I built the bike to fit what I wanted, what I thought the bike ought to be to be a good bike to ride the sand, along the waves, through the dunes. I like unique things, personalized and one-of-a-kind, so I gave the bike some flair that I’ve never seen anywhere else (except maybe on other bikes that I’ve built) — the shape of it, the coins and flasks on the fork, the rack, seat stay configuration, the general style and visual aesthetic of it.
I agreed to give the bike away, but part of me was sad to see it go. I didn’t realize until the bike was actually leaving my shop for the last time how much I liked it, and that I was going to miss it. I don’t typically get sentimental about bikes. For me, for the most part, I think of bikes as tools, meant to be used and sometimes used hard, and if possible, used until broken. It makes me happy when I break one of my bikes. If I ride responsibly, but push it and push it until the bike fails, then I have discovered the limits of what my bikes can take, and I learn from it, incorporating this knowledge into the next bike I build. I’m hard on my stuff, and I always mean for bikes that I build to be used; ie. ridden. Hopefully a lot. And, even though I may have been somewhat sad to see the Oregon Coast bike leave my shop, it made me really happy to get a phone call from Mark telling me he loves the bike and is going to ride the crap out of it. Then I knew that it was OK for me to let it go. The bike’s gone to a good home.