You know we’re committed to sustainability. We use a trailer to bike deliver our boxes to Fed Ex and we partner with vendors who choose sustainability: Rendered Clothing, Dharma Merchant Services, and Chris King (to name a few). But, did you know we have an official “Sustainability Box Plan” to help us REDUCE, RE-USE and then RECYCLE shipping boxes and packaging? We do. We thought we’d share the official top-secret plan with you here:
So let’s summarize the plan: We get boxes (and plastic shipping materials) because we get things in the mail. The boxes we can’t re-use we recycle or give to another small company, PLYWERK, that ships out their product to customers all over the world!!
Here’s what the owner of PLYWERK, Kjell Van Zoen, had to say about our partnership: ”We are always extremely grateful when any business is willing to take time out of their busy schedule to help conserve and reuse materials. Our ability to reuse packing materials is entirely dependent on businesses like Sugar Wheel Works. It’s awesome to think that we have built a mini symbiotic relationship to reduce waste and prevent unnecessary overproduction. Hopefully our relationship will be an example for other businesses to follow.”
While we won’t always be perfect, we come in every day with a creative and willing attitude towards sustainability. Ideas and suggestions are always welcomed! Check out our partner, PLYWERK, here.
When one begins to specialize in a specific area, say wheel building for example, one gets very specific about the tools with which one works with. I am no exception. I have tools I like and though they seem somewhat outdated my loyalty has not shifted. I use the same tools my wheel building “Sensai” used and find it very difficult, at times, to switch into less cumbersome methods.
Today’s tool that I’d like to pay homage to isn’t directly related to wheel building but it has been with me from the very first thought about building, business, and has been with me on countless miles of open road. I have replaced parts of this tool over and over and through the years have not managed to lose it. It is my pen. My Fisher Space pen.
The fact that I haven’t lost this pen like I lose keys, wallets, pendants, gloves, shoe laces, dinner plates and countless other ordinary, everyday items dates back to when I was a child and my dad gave me my first “Pen of value”. This pen is sitting at home on a shelf and is well used. It bears a nursing insignia on the top and is a teal green on the bottom. My dad gave it to me while he was clearing out his desk on one of his “De clutter” missions. As an anecdote, my dad’s desk, work bench, and top dresser drawer were always a treasure chest of old, shiny items from compasses to pens to toys he had since he was a child–all played with while he was at work by me and occasionally my sisters. The pen my dad gave me, in addition to two others, remain small treasures to me.
Anyhow, this Fisher Space Pen that I am currently feeling deep gratitude towards first traveled to Patagonia with me and later did several other bicycle trips. It’s the pen with which I first wrote the ideas for this shop and it’s the pen with which I embark on all existential ponderings. It’s also the pen with which I write prescriptions for new wheels. It lives here in the shop, in my apron.
There isn’t much to say about the characteristics of the pen. It feels nice in my hand, I can write upside down with it, on a wall, under water, and should my adventures take me to space, I could even use it there.
And that’s really the end of this thought. A short love letter to my pen. The catalyst of my crazed ideas, the joy of my inked adventures.
Me with my Fisher Space Pen
To say we’ve “Been busy” doesn’t seem to justify not posting some of the great things that have happened in our shop since January. I am making a list and adding some photos just to prove that some things have *Sweetened up* around these parts.
Here’s our list:
1. Went to visit Mellow Johnny’s in Austin, Texas to see some of the wheels we’ve built on Beloved bicycles.
2. Changed our name in favor of something a little sweeter
Our old logo
Our new name
3. Volunteered with a great program in Gresham, OR called “Wheelz”. This program was started by two dedicated teachers who were also cyclists. The program meets twice a week after school and its mission is to help middle school kids ride safely with traffic and pedestrians, learn to maintain their bikes and have fun through fitness. We showed up and showed them how to true wheels…and they did great!
4. Moved our shop. We octupled in size. Literally. We moved from our 64 square foot studio in SE Portland to our new space in N Portland on Williams. In addition to the extra square footage and showroom we are sharing our space with Sweetpea Bicycles.
5. We taught our first Wheel Building and Wheel Truing classes with great success. No tears being shed in the process=great success.
6. We were featured in PELOTON MAGAZINE (Feb-Mar 2011 pg. 114). We are less than 100 pages from Eddie Merckx!
And whilest we have been busy, we’ve maintained our love for helping you find the perfect ride, our curiosity about hand-built wheels, and our insatiable love for the open road. We hope you’ve been well. Stop in and see us at our new location!!
From time to time we get the question about aesthetic options. We listened. We now offer custom painted spokes.
We like them and think that they’ll provide you with the opportunity to make your wheels something special. Here are some questions we’ve gotten about our colored spokes:
Q: What colors do you/will you offer?
A: We’ll have a palette of stock colors+custom options.
Q: Is it affordable?
A: Yes. On average, a colored spoke will cost about $.50 more per spoke.
Q: Is the paint process eco-friendly?
A: Yes. We chose a process that is as green as we can get!
Q: Are there any performance drawbacks?
A: There aren’t any performance issues. The only consideration with colored spokes is that it is paint and miles down the road the paint may thin where the spokes intersect.
I feel compelled to share the story of one of my most epic bike rides, ever. This is the story, the ride, in which I learned one of my most essential survival skills: Anything is possible. This is also the story that has a specific moral in my life and points to a specific turning point in my ideology.
It was April in Chicago. The weather was in constant flux. One day bright and sunny followed by a day of sleet and/or snow. That’s the kind of spring April 2003 was. In that month I was testing out a new theory for adventure called “Just set the date.” It works like this: If you want to do something, anything, just pick a date to do it. I want to go to Zambia, just set the date and buy the ticket. This type of adventuring would later be dubbed “SOPA” or “Seat of pants adventure.” Though it was pre SOPA it was nonetheless a bonafide SOPA.
I had planned a trip to ride from Chicago to St. Louis in two days, loaded with panniers, having never done any sort of touring, camping, or the like. But I had a date and so on May 11, I was to set out to St. Louis. I decided to get some longer training rides in before the two-day, 300 mile trek. So, naturally, I set a date for these as well. Yes,I was a date setter.
So I chose any old Friday in April and committed to waking up, packing my lunch, and riding the 93 miles to Milwaukee, Wisconsin which was a route I had frequently and easily accomplished in the summer. I committed to this ride regardless of weather.
This was the April, however, when the weather was in flux and on this particular April day it was in a down flux of sleet, snow, freezing rain, hail, etc. I was, however, committed and so put on all my gear and set out.
I stopped after ten miles to warm my feet under a hand dryer at the botanical gardens. I then took out my sandwich, put it in my pocket and bagged my feet with the sandwich bags. I should have turned back. The adult in me says “Turn back!!” But, I kept going.
Twenty miles later I stopped again, now thoroughly soaked, freezing, and only beginning to question which way the wind was blowing. This time I stopped at a laundry mat, stripped off most of my clothing and put it in a dryer. To be blunt, this laundry mat was in the ghetto just outside of North Chicago. It was equally as entertaining for me as I am sure it was for the people doing their laundry on a Friday night, eating Funyons and watching something on the one TV.
Having my clothes dried, I got on my bike again and started going North. It was sleeting. The roads were icy. I had already passed a few cars that had spun out. I kept going.
Then, the inevitable happened. I shredded my tire. I’m not sure how, even to this day. Was it a large chunk of glass in the road that I couldn’t see? Was it fate? The answer is still a mystery but had this particular event never happened, I wouldn’t have learned the single most important lesson of my adventuring career.
After I came to terms that there was nothing I could do, that there was no bike shop opened in the vicinity that would sell me a tire to keep going, I had to come up with a plan.
In 2003 I had an early model of a cell phone. I recall bringing it with “Just in case.” The easiest solution for me was to call my dad who was going up to Wisconsin to pick my little sister up from boarding school. In my mind, this was an easy fix. Dad comes to pick me up and I am warm and dry sitting in the car sharing my crazy adventure. This is not, however, what happened.
My dad answered his phone. He was in the car driving up to Wisconsin as I had assumed. In fact, he was close by. I don’t remember much of the conversation anymore except this sentence: “You got yourself into it, you get yourself out of it.” >Click<.
These words seem harsh by most standards. I can understand. It seemed harsh at the time—my dad didn’t want to come and rescue me from one of my adventures gone awry on a cold, stormy and now dark night when I was at least 50 miles from home. I wasn’t offered much latitude in my late teens/early 20’s and this seemed to highlight that fact. In defense of my dad, I didn’t think things through, I never have. I am a leaper, not a looker. Though his motivation is still unclear to me today, for whatever reason, those eleven words have become my mantra in times of dire stress—they’ve become my ticket to unlock my creativity, to find my way, and be open to how I get to my end destination. They’ve also helped me own my adventure no matter the outcome.
What happened next is fairly amusing to my adult self. I hitch hiked for the first time, learned to wait in a cold, dilapidated train station, be comfortable with the uncomfortable, get kicked off a train because bikes weren’t allowed, ask for help, and thrive on the joy of connecting with people who kindly offer to help.
In short, those eleven words fueled my adventure mantra: Anything is possible. And, while it doesn’t seem like the most earth shattering lesson, for me it was. It opened a world of possibility, of unimaginable things, and fostered a spirit of joy and adventure.
For my parents, in hindsight, these are the worst eleven words uttered by my dad because after this adventure, nothing could stop me. I had, in fact, figured my way back home in the most stress of conditions.
There have been a few days out touring which have offered similar conditions to that April 2003 adventure day. Though I prepare more now, I rarely ever worry because I know I have the skills, the creativity, and tenacity to “Get myself out of it.” Afterall, some of my best days on the road often include many moments of uncertainty, fear, joy, and “In the knick of time” solutions.
Enjoy the ride, every part of it. Anything is possible.
Today we are back to using capital letters (in the appropriate places).
If you haven’t already read the Oregonian article about Epic Wheel Works we mention our new location. It’s true! In mid-spring next year we’ll be moving up to our new location on Williams Ave. in the HUB building which will be in close proximity to Ristretto Roasters (Thank goodness, coffee resource solved), UBI, and HUB.
While we are expanding our facility, we’re also expanding our talent. Meet two new characters: Kurt+Luigi. Kurt is the human one and Luigi is the silver one. Already they are fast friends.
Kurt + Luigi