Shirts are Coming!

Well, I couldn't do pre-orders, but rest assured, I've taken a little of my own cash and ordered up a run of shirts from ooshirts.com to sell to anybody who wants them.  I've also changed up the logo a bit, so this is what that run is going to look like:

It's just a short run with a few shirts (Your basic Gildan white cotton tee) in sizes S-XL, but if you want one, you can find me at Open Streets BTV on September 21 or hit me up via the contact form on this site. $10 in person, $15, shipped. I'll have them in my possession by September 15th or so. 

And- if you are interested in getting a short run of shirts made, for my money,  ooshirts is the way to go- the design interface is pretty simple and the prices are reasonable. More photos soon when the shirts hit my doorstep!

Teespring's a bust, long live tee shirts!

Well, the teespring campaign was never meant to be, it seems. Two shirts pre-ordered out of 42 needed to make it happen. Oh well, it was worth a shot. 

The good news is, I've found another producer with a lower minimum order and initial cost. With a little investment on my end and a little luck, I should be able to get some shirts done for sale/prizes at future events. I'll let you all know when they are available, but they will lilely involve my new favorite graphic, featuring bikes on a roof rack, a tractor doing a wheelie, and a manure spreader:

You know you want that on a shirt. I'm not sure if I should go full color or B+W. Should I still put the Breaking Away-esque "ROLLERS" text on the front with the tractor on the back, or just the tractor on the front with no back text?  I'm not sure, but I should still be able to sell the shirts for 10 bucks, and that makes me happy. 

Stay tuned. Stay Gold.

Matt 

Vermont Goldsprints Tee Shirts are on Sale NOW! Just $10!

The front of the shirt. Expect to be mistaken for a scrappy local pretending to be an exchange student from Italy. 

The front of the shirt. Expect to be mistaken for a scrappy local pretending to be an exchange student from Italy. 

You ride bikes. You love to ride bikes. Sometimes you even ride bikes when it's really cold and snowy out, and sometimes when it's really cold and snowy out, you ride bikes on rollers indoors, or maybe you beat up on your friends at Mad Dashes or another Vermont Goldsprints event. Anyway, you do this enough that you want to tell your friends about it by wearing this t-shirt. 

Back of the shirt- the Vermont Goldsprints logo in all its glory. 

Back of the shirt- the Vermont Goldsprints logo in all its glory. 

On the front, the word "ROLLERS" in a basic font. The kind of font your mom would get put on a shirt she made up for you and your high school buddies as you prepared to race the college boys and give 'em what they deserve for intruding on your local swimming hole.  Also perfect for replacing your ripped up clothes from that time the guy from Cinzano put a stick in your spokes. I could go on, but for heaven's sake if you don't know what I'm talking about, go watch Breaking Away already!

On the back, it's the Vermont trifecta- Hippie fonts, mustaches, bikes. How could you go wrong? 

These shirts are available through Teespring, which is sort of like a Kickstarter for T shirts. You set a minimum order number, and if enough shirts are ordered to make that number, your card is charged, your shirt is printed, and away we go. The "Campaign" for these runs through August 14, and I only need about 40 shirts to be ordered for this to be a "go." I have set the price for the basic tee at $9.99, of which I will receive exactly one penny if the shirt sells. If you are local, you can pay $0.00 for shipping and pick up your shirt from me, otherwise shipping is something like four bucks. 

You have until August 14th to make a decision. Choose wisely. 

 

 

Goldsprints at Open Streets BTV- September 21, 2014

Another just-for-fun Goldsprints event will take place in Burlington as a part of Open Streets in September. I have spoken with the organizers and committed to being there with the racing setup, stickers to give away, and more!

From the event site:

"Open Streets BTV is a celebration of one of the city’s largest public spaces -- our streets! For the first Open Streets BTV event, three miles of streets in the Old North End neighborhood will be closed to cars and opened to people. The event will provide residents and visitors with places to mingle, play, and shop, all while promoting healthy living and active transportation. People of all ages will have the chance to travel several miles of neighborhood streets in a safe, car-free environment, enjoying fun and healthy activities along the way.

Open Streets BTV will create safe, accessible spaces to come together and have fun, and be healthy by walking, biking, practicing yoga and more. We hope to hold events in different neighborhoods throughout the city on an annual basis. 

Open Streets BTV is inspired by the South American “Ciclovia” (pronounced see-cloh-vee-ah), which originated in Bogota, Columbia in 1976. The Open Streets movement has really grown in recent years, with initiatives currently taking place in more than 100 U.S. cities, as shown in the Streetfilms video, The Rise of Open Streets. http://www.streetfilms.org/the-rise-of-open-streets/

I am excited at the prospect of being a part of this terrific event. It's just what I envisioned doing when I started this whole project- get people on bikes in unconventional situations and build excitement and exposure for cycling! It may also be an opportunity to publicize the upcoming Mad Dashes season this winter.

 

See you there,

Matt 

Unsponsored Endorsement: Enhance Your Sprint with UnTapped Pure Maple Energy

Hang on, I'm going to ramble for a minute...

The name of this project is Vermont Goldsprints. The logo involves a silhouette of the state itself, right?  Right. But the only thing that says "Vermont" more to me than Vermont itself is Vermont maple syrup. And skiing. I really like skiing here, too. I especially like skiing with my three-year-old-son at Cochran's, a local family-run hill where I learned how when I was his age. 

And oddly enough, alongside the slopes of Cochran's are maple trees, and the Cochrans themselves tap those trees and boil their sap into the sweet elixir they call Slopeside Syrup.

"But wait," you say, "isn't this blog about cycling and goldsprints racing? Yup. It is. When I'm not skiing at Cochran's or putting maple syrup on my waffles to fuel up for a day spent skiing there, (or organizing goldsprints) I'm riding my bike. That makes me hungry, but it's hard to carry waffles and syrup on the bike. In fact, sometimes it's hard to carry enough calories on the bike to fuel the day no matter what. And the typical energy-gel fare available out there has all the personality and eye-bleeding weird flavor of gas station candy. But syrup? Natural. Sweet. Full of vital minerals, and delicious.  

AND- syrup already HAS an enormous cycling connection, in the name of Ted King, a professional cyclist with a known and well-stated affinity for the sweet stuff. Yeah, this is King's new business startup:

It's called UnTapped. It's an energy gel made by boiling Slopeside Syrup down thicker than its normal consistency and packaging it for easy portability and consumption on the bike. It's an idea so simple, I wish I'd thought of it. 

Energy gel in a flannel package? Yes please! 

Energy gel in a flannel package? Yes please! 

So, why am I writing about it here? Because I just put down a little dough at Indiegogo to buy a 10-pack of the initial run of the stuff. While I'm psyched to try it, I'm going to hold off for now and pledge that I will give these 10 packages out as prizes at an upcoming VTGoldsprints event, to be determined by whatever event I do that comes the soonest after I get my syrup in the mail. 

I'm also going to go pester King and the Cochran boys to see if they'd like to do a little collaboration more formal than me buying their stuff and handing it out to racers. Wish me luck, and guys, if you're reading this, let's get together soon and make some slopeside goldsprints happen. 

Beautiful Goldsprints Visualization

I saw this wonderful goldsprints visualization on Tumblr the other day:

It looks like they competed over a set time, and riding at greater speeds "unlocked" different visual effects and riding environments on the screen. 

The site for the people at Red Paper Heart who created this says that they built it over OpenSprints. It's a far cry from the default Opensprints interface.

If somebody wants to help me develop something like this, if somebody ever wants to put a more refined system like this on the market for purchase, I'd be very, very interested.  

Too Much Cool for One Hand

Not much going on in the goldsprints world right now. It's summer, the riding outdoors is fantastic, and any sort of indoor or stationary riding is the farthest thing from my mind. 

I follow a bunch of cycling-related Tumblrs via the Vermont Bicycles United account and sometimes I come across an image I like enough to start manipulating. When I first started doing indoor group rides with Vermont Indoor Cycling, I needed a logo, and doing it myself was all I could afford, so I did. Since I couldn't afford software either, I did it all with Gimp and Inkscape, which are what I used to produce this and other graphics posted on this blog. Maybe some of these will find their way onto t-shirts, stickers, or posters for Vermont Goldsprints some day. 

Working on Logos

I've been working to come up with a logo that will be easy to stencil or screenprint with the hopes of doing some shirts or other graphical swag to use as prizes at events, maybe even to sell. Here's what I'm using now:

...and here's where I'm headed:

It's a little cleaner, hopefully easier to cut into a stencil. I'm not 100% happy with the text. I'd love to have somebody take this and do a woodcut. The way things usually go with me, I'll probably just have to learn how to do it myself.

I'd sure appreciate some input on this. Would you pay good money for something with this logo on it? If not, what would make it a gotta-have-it item for you? Comments below! 

Safety Warning-The Achilles' heel of the SRAM Torpedo Hub

quick note- I used to blog about bike stuff over here, but haven't for some time. Bike-related non-goldsprints-nerdery will sometimes appear in the vtgoldsprints.com feed.  So it goes.  -M

 

The Achilles' heel of the SRAM Torpedo Hub

Like most people who end up in some weird niche of cycling, I also just ride a bike most of the time. For the last few years, my everyday ride has been a Swobo Crosby I picked up on eBay a couple of years ago. The Crosby is a delight to ride, with a stiff frame and a carbon fork that will clear big tires, sliding dropouts that enable easy use as a fixie or singlespeed, and disc, cantilever, AND caliper brake mounts so you can pick your poison. In addition to my wife's lovely Bianchi Volpe, it is also the second Sky-Yeager designed bike in our household.  

You can't get a Crosby anymore, and from what I have seen, the current version of Swobo doesn't really carry anything like it.* 

Crosby up top, Volpe underneath, 24" unicycle for scale. 

Crosby up top, Volpe underneath, 24" unicycle for scale. 

Anyhow, I am my Crosby's second owner but from what I can tell it arrived at my doorstep bone-stock and little ridden. These bikes shipped with an interesting rear wheel, built around the quirky SRAM Torpedo rear hub. The Torpedo hub contains an internal pawl system that allows it to function as a freewheel hub. A second set of pawls face in the opposing direction, which, when engaged, prevent the hub from freewheeling at all. That second set of pawls fits inside a little ring-shaped metal shield, which prevents them from engaging until a screw in the center of the axle is tightened, moving the shield out of the way. This allows the pawls to engage and effectively converts the bike to a fixed gear without ever removing the wheel. 

Although it's a neat trick, it takes me all of a few minutes to flip a conventional flip-flop wheel. Further, freewheels and cogs are universal and pretty cheap, and I ride this bike fixed about 99% of the time. With the Torpedo, there is still some slop in the pawls (which amounts to about one inch of crank movement), the cogs are proprietary, and the hub is pretty heavy. I wouldn't have paid money for the it, but it came on the bike and I've kept it around with my "shoulder season" commuting tires on its wheelset. 

Yes, it's a little dirty...

Yes, it's a little dirty...

Until

Last summer, something funny happened: The bike was in fixed gear mode, and no amount of loosening the screw inside the axle would make it work as a freewheel hub. I was stuck in fixie mode.  Puzzled, and willing to sacrifice the wheel to the gods of knowledge, I took it apart.** Upon disassembly, two tiny pieces of metal that had previously been one piece of metal fell out. It was what SRAM describes as the "carriage keeper key."

The Carriage Keeper Key is the Achilles' Heel

The carriage keeper key is a little bit of metal about 8mm long by 1.5mm thick, with a 1mm threaded hole drilled through it. Its job is to keep the metal ring that covers the "fixed" pawls over those pawls until the axle screw is tightened, moving the pin and the ring toward the non-drive side of the hub. I'm not going into too much detail here, but the pin is under pressure from a spring on both the drive and the non-drive sides of the hub. The drive-side spring is substantially bigger and stronger, so in a fight between the two in the absence of the pin to hold things in place, the ring is going to be pushed out of the way and the hub will be kept in its fixed-gear state. 

I'm not sure when or how my carriage keeper key got broken. But I know why it broke: it's a tiny piece of metal with a hole almost as wide as it is drilled through the middle. It is, in my opinion, a matter of time before it breaks. While you could theoretically break the pin by over-tightening the screw, I know for a fact that I didn't and that it worked just fine for the first 18 months i rode the bike. 

Frustrated, I put the whole thing back together minus the broken bits of the keeper key, resigned to riding fixed for a while. I spoke to a mechanic at my LBS about sourcing a replacement key to see if such a thing was possible.  He put in a call to SRAM and found that such a part was not available separately. SRAM could sell me either all of the internals or an entire new hub, I forget which. But not the 50-cent piece of metal I needed to get the hub up and running again. I don't want to waste the shop's time or my own anymore, so I've just continued to ride the thing fixed, secure in the knowledge that it won't break any more than it already has and that it's highly unlikely to just start freewheeling on me.*** That big old spring on the drive side is going to keep that second set of pawls engaged for a long, long time. 

As I was riding the other day though, I started thinking about what would have happened if the pin broke while I was riding, particularly while I was freewheeling downhill at speed. The hub would more or less instantly converted from free to fixed. As much as I like racing goldsprints at high RPM's, the idea of going from motionless legs to spinning at 42X17 at 40mph or better is a little scary. 

I have scoured the Internet and can find no evidence that this has ever happened to anybody. But I think it could, and would recommend that somebody with one of these hubs learn to crack it open and have a look once in awhile.  And if anybody from SRAM is reading this and wants to send me a new carriage keeper pin, have at it. Otherwise, I think I'm going to just rebuild this wheel around a conventional flip-flop hub. 

 

*I have pestered them, however, lamenting that, with a separable rear triangle to accommodate a belt drive, it would be the near-perfect do-everything bike. 

**I wasn't that stupid. I consulted the excellent page on the Park Tool site first and watched all the videos there. Park did a great job explaining this hub, better than I can. 

***Don't do this. If you do anything like this, it is at your own risk. 

I Had an Idea- Poetry and Goldsprints

Actually, long before I purchased the goldsprints setup, I was thinking about ways of combining the raw physical exertion of goldsprints with artistic expression. Those ideas are kind of scattered, (attach paintbrushes to the rollers somehow? Gigantic bike-controlled Etch-a-Sketch?) but one of them is pretty coherent and simple to set up: 

So yeah, your name here. And i'm thinking two poets at a time, but more like a bracket of 10-20, total. 

So yeah, your name here. And i'm thinking two poets at a time, but more like a bracket of 10-20, total. 

Who's with me? I have to admit, I'm not much for slam poetry, but we could even do it with readings if people feel like improvising lines while their heart rate is in the 180's is going to be too hard. 

And I'll get to work on that giant Etch-a-Sketch idea. 

Bike Advocacy Break- Commuting on One Wheel

In addition to liking goldsprints racing more than anybody really should, I'm a big bike advocate and a regular bike commuter. I serve on my community's bike/ped committee and I organize Kidical Mass and indoor trainer rides. 

This week is Way to Go Week in Vermont, when people are encouraged to try different ways of getting to work. Friday is also National Bike to Work Day. For a regular commuter like me, it's just another day to and from work on the bike, but what if I had never done it before? What would that be like? 

To find out, I have decided to ride my unicycle to work on Friday. It's something I've never done before here in Vermont, and I think it will give me lots of perspective on the various barriers to bike commuting that many people experience. 

If we really want to get more people biking where they need to go, we need to see the world from their perspective, with all of their fears and doubts, not the perspective of someone like me.

So, if you see a guy on a unicycle somewhere between South Burlington and Williston Village on Friday morning, give me a wave!

Matt

Last Mad Dashes of the Season- April 30th at ArtsRiot!

Spring may have finally arrived here in Vermont. I took the fenders off my bike the other day, and at least half of my recent morning commutes have been balaclava-free.

Let's keep that energy going for one more night.

Wednesday, April 30th, 7:30PM to sign in, racing and fun shortly thereafter. Live DJ, drink specials, and all the bike racing you can handle without ever riding a mile!

See you there!

ArtsRiot Event Page

Facebook Event Page


Write in, Get Stickers

I worked up a little promotional sticker set last week and put in my order with Stickerguy. I'm ordering 5.5 by 2.5" bumper stickers, but the design allows each one to be cut into five little rectangles. That way, my order of 250 stickers becomes 1250! The cut-down size is perfect for stems and top tubes:

Reminding you to "Stay Gold."

So yeah, corny pun, springtime, fleeting youth, Robert Frost, teen angst, blah blah blah whatever.  It can mean whatever you want it to mean, but it reminds me to keep it fun on the bike, even when I'm just training or trudging off to work on my daily commute. 

Want a sticker? Shoot me a message via the contact form on this site, tell me what interests you about Vermont Goldsprints, promise to like me on Facebook and follow me on twitter, and I'll send you one. Tell me if you want black or white, but no promises. 

Last Night's Mad Dashes

I went into last night's Mad Dashes unsure of what to expect. We only had nine people on Facebook saying they were going to show up. I hadn't been able to coordinate putting up posters around town. I hadn't gotten the event pushed out to the usual community calendars and online venues I like to use.  To top it off, a local retailer across town was hosting a shop party with free food to announce the beginning of their bike enterprise the same night and at the exact same time as Dashes. 

But:

One new rider and one veteran.

One new rider and one veteran.

Our loyal crowd did not disappoint.  We had over 20 racers, some very close matches, and a full evening of qualifiers, grudge matches, and finals. Most importantly, by my count, we had about 25% brand new racers who had never done it before:

Two brand- new racers demonstrate the typical goldsprints sequence: Hi-fives, race, win, prizes!

Two brand- new racers demonstrate the typical goldsprints sequence: Hi-fives, race, win, prizes!

When it came down to the finals, Dan and Bjorn duked it out for the men, while Leelou and Ida competed for the women's title. In the end, Dan and Bjorn finished with the exact same time, but the clock face display showed Bjorn ahead by a nose. Ida  (another first-timer) took home the title and a sweet Lazer Helmet and Budnitz T-shirt to boot!

Ida and Leelou for the final women's race of the night. 

I'm really enjoying being a part of Mad Dashes. We'll have one more event in April to (hopefully) ring in Spring, then it's onward to other Vermont Goldsprints projects until next winter!

On Publicity and Successful Goldsprints Events

In some ways, I realize I've put the cart before the horse:

At the moment, I don't actually own a goldsprints racing setup. (I have made a deposit on a used rig and I will own it by the beginning of the summer.)  I've insinuated myself into the local race series here in Burlington (Mad Dashes), and tomorrow night, we'll hold the fourth Mad Dashes event in what has been a very successful series. 

And here I am with a website. A twitter account. A Facebook page. Here I am saying I want to run goldsprints events in other places, with the rig I don't own yet. Here I am trying to figure out how to grow and promote an event that many people outside of the cycling community have no idea exists.  

It's going to be a learning experience:

What is success for a goldsprints event? Like many things, there are levels. I'll admit that I went into this year with guns blazing: I pictured growing Mad Dashes into a signature event that would attract cyclists and non-cyclists alike, young and old, avid and casual. I imagined people who hadn't been on a bike since they were a kid throwing a leg over one of the race bikes and suddenly, in the midst of an eye-bleeding sprint, tapping into just a little taste of all the fun and awesomeness bicycles have to offer. I imagined getting people hooked. 

Instead, from what I can tell, our events have been attended by a medium-sized crowd of core racers and their friends. The faces are pretty familiar at this point and many of them go way back to the beginning of the series years ago. They are avid. They would come if we put on Dashes in an abandoned building with no heat. They would race even if we didn't have a live DJ, fancy lights, and beer. They would probably pay to race (many did in the past). 

That's great, but I want it to be more than that, and when I get it off the ground later this summer, my guess is that if I partner up with a shop or a group or club who wants to put on a race, they are going to want more than that as well. They may not have the luxury of an embedded user base or a recognized race series to go on.

So, publicity:

I've had a few ideas boiling away about how to publicize goldsprints. Of course, I have the various social media accounts established and ready to go. I have local media contact sheets for the Burlington area. I have the Green Mountain Bicycle Club listserv. What I don't have is a whole lot of confidence that any of those things are really going to generate new ridership.

What do I think will work?  Showing up and making contacts, one person at a time. Leveraging fans of the venues where races will be held, leveraging fans of DJ's or musical acts that will be there for the event, etc.  

My commitment to any potential partners I work with to organize goldsprints events is that I'll do everything I can to help you get people to your event, That's what this website and those social media accounts are all about. However, if we end up working together somewhere outside of Chittenden County, I'm probably going to lean on you pretty hard to get out there and talk up your event. Get local personalities to show up. Get radio coverage. Get posters up around town. Hit up other local places for prizes to give away and see what they can do to help promote your event. You might want to offer some sort of prize or raffle for your hardcore riders who show up with a new racer.  It isn't rocket science, but I expect that in the end it's good old-fashioned shoe leather that's going to get the job done.  I believe that especially to be the case when you reach outside of the existing bicycle community.

Planning for a successful event:

Here's where I come in. I know the equipment. I know how long it takes to set up, how far the various cords and cables will reach. I know how bright my projector is and about how long it takes to cycle a given number of racers through a typical event. I also know to check everything three times and how to have backups in the case of flat tires, mechanical gremlins, odd computer issues, and the like. When we talk about your venue, I can put that knowledge to use and make sure I exceed your expectations.  I imagine we'll probably talk or email a couple of times ahead of your event, and I won't commit to an event unless I can be on-site at the venue at least two hours before race signups start to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.

Measuring Success:

Putting on goldsprints as one of many events at a bike festival or concert may have a totally different metric for success than I have set for Mad Dashes, where the number of riders and crowd size is the most important thing (after safety and fun, of course). If it's part of a larger event, or a sideshow at a Farmer's Market or a race: Did the rollers sit idle, or were people lining up to race?  At a more private event, it might be more about camaraderie than competition. At a school event it might be more about enthusiasm for bicycling, or awareness that bicycle racing exists (last I checked there aren't a lot of high school cycling teams out there). Fundraisers are easy- did you meet your fundraising goal? 

Hoping for overall success:

My goals for the first year of this project are simple. Mad Dashes happens in Burlington next year, as good or better in 2014-15 as it has been in 2013-14.  More people race. more people come to cheer the racers on. More people try goldsprints for the first time and more positive energy for bicycling exists in the universe.  Beyond Mad Dashes, I want to see more goldsprints in the rest of Vermont and beyond. I want to put this unique setup to work more days out of the year and I want to use it to do good things for Vermonters, good things for bicycling, and good things for organizations and clubs that are doing other good things. It's really pretty simple.

Hit me up on the "Contact" page of this site, and let's make it happen.   

Mad Dashes is back! 3/27, 7:30PM at ArtsRiot, 400 Pine Street in Burlington

Mad Dashes returns for another night of racing on Thursday, March 27th at 7:30PM!

Why, yes, this is the Mad Dashes made famous by National Public Radio in that piece they did a while back.  Give a listen, and then imagine yourself actually there, actually racing- YOU CAN MAKE THAT DREAM A REALITY just by showing up to ArtsRiot on the 27th and signing up to race. 

The format for Mad Dashes is simple- racing is free, drinks are on special from Switchback, KJ Gollum spins the tunes, and there are lots of prizes and local glory to be won. 

EVERYBODY races a preliminary 250 meter (13-16 second) round, then ANYBODY can call ANYBODY out for a grudge match for ANY distance between 250 and 2000(!) meters. After that, we'll construct a bracket of the fastest racers and run then off in a series of 250 meter events until a winner can be declared. 

If you love bikes, come on down! If you've never been on a bike before, come on down anyway! If you love making lots of noise and screaming in people's faces to GO FASTER as they contort in agony, COME ON DOWN and bring your friends so they can cheer you on as well. 

It will be fun, promise. Click on the photo or link above to go the the Facebook event page.