Monday, February 16, 2009

Corvallis' bike scene is bigger than Eugene's bike scene.

Or at maybe it's just knit tighter. I was there for an alleycat Saturday, and I'd like to thank everybody I saw in that beautiful city for a terrific weekend. You all know who you are. Special thanks to these guys:

Eilif Knutson and Carl Gurney, Corvallis bike warriors.

This is Eilif's front door:

The tandem used to be his father's, and spent much of its life lashed to the side of a boat. Hence the rope on the handlebars and all the rust. Knutson says he's working on turning it into a fixed gear, which is a good, silly idea.

A closeup of the sign on his door. Knutson works for a farm and has a lot of free time in the off-season to work as a freelance bike consultant-mechanic. Note the non-monetary option for a flat fix.

The Gandhi quote is real. Knutson is largely responsible for brining bike polo to Eugene. Back in January 2008, he trucked mallets, goals, bikes, players and a mobile court here every Thursday, until we collected our own equipment.

The art is his own work; he's been professionally mentored in classical illustration. The flier on the right is for Gurney's Valentine's day alleycat, or "Valleycat."

Carl Gurney showed me his trailer the morning after the race (I spent the night on his sofa).

It's welded together from four rear triangles. Gurney works at at Corvallis Cyclery, and his garage is lined with bikes and tools, featuring a frame jig and zero cars. He also won the previous alleycat in Corvallis, which is why he organized Valleycat; local tradition dictates the winner of each alleycat must organize the next.

I rode to the race with Eilif, his neighbor, Aaron Groves, and two friends from Eugene, Ian Summers and Sarah Rose. Here we are outside interzone, an organic coffee house in downtown Corvallis.

The Valleycat was more fun than I had imagined possible. We met up at the gazebo in Central Park at seven. There were 25 racers on 10 teams of two or three. I teamed up with Aaron and a cool dude from Eugene named Andrew, who had already raced earlier in the day. Ours was the only all-fixed team, and we called ourselves "Bromantic Tragedy." We won by two minutes.

Our post-race paraphernalia, tossed at Carl's feet: three valentines and a dumpster bagel.

The valentines are from a checkpoint at interzone, at which racers wrote valentines to one another. Mine reads: "You make my head spin like a pair of 165 cranks." The bagel was part of a dual-duty manifest item, called "dinner and a movie."

My left hand. "Happy go lucky," "I've loved you so long," and whatever's scrawled on my wrist are the titles of the movies playing at the downtown cinema at 9:00. "VBIKE" is a code, whose letters we had to collect from the insides of newspaper boxes.

Of course, I don't have any photographic evidence of the best checkpoint, which was getting married on the steps of the downtown cathedral. Racers had to remove their front wheels, then exchange vows and wheels. We even got a certificate as proof.

With the exception of a long drag race to the manifest pickup, all the stops were pretty close together, with racers passing one another frequently, exchanging whoops and hollers.

About a dozen of us went to a bar afterward.

There's my teammate, Aaron on the left. He's fast, and will have to organize the next alleycat in Corvallis.

Eilif's in the middle. He, by the way, is starting up a fixed gear freestyle night on Mondays in Corvallis. Meetup at interzone after the bike shops close.

At right is Eilif's teammate, Sarah Wright. She and a few others have just started a bike co-op at the edge of the OSU campus, in the student sustainability center near the corner of 15th and Western. They're open 10-5 Fridays and Saturdays, with free workshops from 12-4 Sundays. For now, there's no membership fee, but she says they're having a meeting today with "the money group." At present, funds are generated by selling refurbished bicycles. Wright is really excited about the operation. She wants you to come the the Sunday workshop and says, "You might just learn something or be able to share something." For info, call: 541.740.9985.

Finally, another fine portrait of Mr. Gurney:

Keep it spinnin' Carl.


  1. Fuck yeah Coravallis knows how to bike party! I wanna ride in Corvallis all the time u down for polo Tuesday/ Wednesday riding next week?

  2. You already know I'm into it—let's take a jog up the 5 with a truckload of tarck!

  3. Oh yeah! The glorious school ditch has been approved on all fronts. I still can't believe some random dude bit the tip of the cock off my lil' card. Perv-o.