The Vanilla Workshop

Jun 6  |  Speedvagen CX Team Kit (Pre-Order)

Posted by , June 28th, 2013 at 11:30AM    
Daisuke warms up with his number one fan at Lake Biwa. Thermal jacket and AeroRace bibs.

The Speedvagen CX Team Kit Is Available For Pre-Order Through July 12th.

Army green has been one of Speedvagen’s core colors for, well, since the very first prototype I made back in 2006. I love the icon of militarism and the toughness that the color represents juxtaposed by the goofiness of racing your brains out and crashing cross bikes in the mud with your friends. I’ve wanted to do an army green kit for a long time but as I started to dig into the design I was conflicted: On the one hand, you have all of this space that you can fill with words and logos; get all bilboarded up, right? But I kept coming back to the idea of a uniform. A uniform is clean, crisp, balanced, minimal. This kit doesn’t need a lot of shit on it to get noticed in the peloton and for that matter, the more I put on it, the less it really says.

We wanted to offer  something special to our Speedvagen family and friends. The team kit seemed like just the thing to do. You will be supporting  the team this season with every kit you buy here. We hope you can join us this cross season, in person and in spirit as we take it to 11! Stay tuned for more on our race schedule.

We are taking orders for two weeks only and we won’t be keeping any back stock. This means that only a handful of you will have the kit, well, you and our 6 team members. This will be the last time this kit is offered. If you need a piece to round out the kit you already have this is the time to grab it.

The jacket and vest, originally designed by Jeremy Dunn (of Embrocation fame) are an abstract design in our signature blue, army green, and red with an explosion of Speedvagen text and sheilds. The answer to the abstract outer layers is the strictly business base kit in army green with color bands as punctuation on the sleeves, legs, and collar with Speedvagen shields enblazoned on the chest, back, and legs. We also have a new Team cap that you can add to your order.

Castelli makes some of the best apparel available and has for over 100 years. Plus, they’re right down the road from us, so it only makes sense that we work with them for our racing gear. All of the clothing is made here in the Northwest and the items we’ve selected for you are the top of the line of what Castelli has to offer. Wear them well. To place an order please visit the Vanilla Workshop Store. If you have any questions drop us a line:

Scroll down to see the team at work in the kit. 

Copy_SVKit_Team_Curtes_1433Laura and Daisuke cool down in the money truck. SS skinsuits (post race), Laura threw on the team jersey.
1P6A1598Tina makes friends in Nobeyama. Thermal vest and team jersey.
Copy_SVKit_Team_Curtes_0783Laura suits up for a race in the team jersey and AeroRace bibs.

Copy_SVKit_Team_Curtes_0378Sacha rides into the sunset in the team jersey and AeroRace bibs.

Photos are all from our very own Jeff Curtes.

Jun 6  |  *UPDATED* Cyclepedia + Vanilla Bicycles This Summer

Posted by , June 26th, 2013 at 11:50AM    


We are thrilled to be part of the Cyclepedia show at the Portland Art Museum this summer! The show opened a couple of weeks ago on the evening of the World Naked Bike Ride with a hilariously effective promotion, entry would be $1 per item of clothing you wore. Only in Portland right? Well, we’re happy to say that another, ‘Only in Portland’ moment is the fact that we have enough frame builders here to feature a Bike of the Week from a different builder each week for the duration of this show. That’s just one of the places you’ll find Vanilla and Speedvagen in cooperation with Cyclepedia this summer.

August 2-9, Vanilla Bicycles – Trike – 2006

August 30-Sept 8, Vanilla & Speedvagen Road Machines – 2012-13

Object Stories is another place you’ll find The Vanilla Workshop. A multi-media installation including our friends at Sugar Wheelworks, Chris King Components and a couple more TBA, in the basement of the main gallery at the Portland Art Museum will offer visitors a deeper look into the parts of the process many don’t get to see. Vanilla will present the stages of  hand carved and thinned lugs from raw blanks to finished products. You can hear a bit from Sacha about the process as well via the listening station.


We’ve saved the best for last. We have partnered with Provenance Hotels, presenting sponsor of Cyclepdia, to take the exhibition beyond the museum’s walls with awesome bicycle design installations in the lobbies of Hotel Lucia, Hotel deLuxe, the Governor Hotel and the Westin Portland. *Book Your Room With The Vanilla Bicycles Preferred Rate By Clicking A Hotel Link Above*

The installations are an official museum-sanctioned extension of the Cyclepedia exhibition, with each hotel artfully displaying a one-of-a-kind, custom made, Vanilla bicycle or Speedvagen racing machine. They will be on display for public viewing through the run of the show at no cost to visitors. Of course, you can always call for a tour of the Vanilla Workshop while you’re in town too. 503-233-2453

There’s also a pretty tasty package available for the run of the show that includes some amazing, if unconventional, ice creams from Salt & Straw that are inspired by and/or infused with some of our favorite local craft beers. You’re going to have to take my word for it, the IPA Upsidedown Cake with Gigantic Brewing is incredible!

About Cyclepedia + the Collection

Drawn from the collection of Vienna-based designer and bike aficionado Michael Embacher, this special exhibition features some 40 bicycles, each chosen by Embacher as examples of pivotal moments in the evolution of bicycle design. The exhibition will include racing, mountain, single speed, touring, tandem, urban, folding, cargo, curiosities, and children’s bicycles.

You can view the whole calendar of events accompanying the show here. Hope to see you soon!


Jun 6  |  Black Vanilla – Part 3

Posted by , June 14th, 2013 at 6:00AM    

This is a three part story from Laura Winberry about the  Speedvagen CX Team’s trip to Japan last fall to race, share and learn with their teammates there.

Part 3:


In between Biwa and the countryside, there were also a brief, somewhat overwhelming thirty-eight hours spent in the cluttered Dōtonbori zone of Osaka. A former pleasure district, Dōtonbori is associated with the word kuidaore, which means roughly “to ruin oneself by extravagance in food.” Dōtonbori itself seemed to be associated with everything in excess—men’s hairstyles, women’s clothing fads, overall consumerism, raucous extroversion—overstimulation and sensory overload at their finest. Especially after having been transplanted from the Zen of Daisuke’s abode and surrounding cowboy country into this Osakan scream in the matter of a few hours. But, finding peace in an inherently peaceful place is, well, somewhat easier. It’s when things get loud in every direction and shit hits the fan spinning out of control above your head that the internal quietness becomes more difficult to seek, discover, keep. When life gets hairy, that’s when we practice. Which is exactly what I did while wandering the drag queen dinosaur of a stretch that is Osaka’s Dōtonbori.


Where’s that word for tightness in the throat when you want to cry but swallow the sea instead? I needed it. I need it. Walking past young and old wholly dedicated to neon slot machines, blaring music diluting their sense of space and time and reality, I remember my throat tightening. I remember thinking to myself: we are screwed. In certain situations of negative overstimulation, I often come to this conclusion about our species. This was one of those situations. But you swim through it, right? It’s all the same. One thing is no different from the next. It’s all in how we perceive it. And even then, perception is something we create in order to assimilate what we don’t understand, what we fear. So I’ve heard. In that case, walking through Dōtonbori is, essentially, the same as wading through sandy pain on the shores of Biwa, is the same as patient communion with Yatsugatake fog, is the same as tires trying to grip through mud and grass and deep ruts. The same as a bike made from James Dean and lightning. The same as all the things we think we understand and all the things we don’t.


So I walked, throat and all. I made intuition-based lefts and rights, down one alley into the next and the next. Not remembering where I’d come from. Only knowing when I had arrived. And I did. I did arrive. In the recesses of this byzantine mess of towering structures and glazed crowds, this sea of chaos, I found myself at the calm in the middle of the shitstorm. Like pastoral Sacha with slight upturned lips, standing in the centrifugal movement of cyclocross. Of it all. I opened my eyes and in front of me sat a Buddha carved from stone. Water and moss cascaded his long earlobes and trickled his joyful chest. I put my hand to their cool softness. In the distance, I could still hear the ching of dreams being fed to a selfish and unforgiving world, the call of the wild beyond. Conscious and full breaths resumed. I closed my eyes, touching middle finger to thumb on each hand. Felt the tightness in my throat. Then let the sea go.


Jun 6  |  Black Vanilla – Part 2

Posted by , June 6th, 2013 at 9:53AM    

This is a three part story from Laura Winberry about the  Speedvagen CX Team’s trip to Japan last fall to race, share and learn with their teammates there. Part 1 

Part 2:

To begin to know the Japanese people you must understand their language. And while I do not claim to know a damn thing about either, I have deduced that the Japanese, aside from being one of the most endearing [people] ever, seem to have a word for everything. I like this. As a writer forever in search of ‘words to describe the indescribable, the intangible; words to pinpoint sentiment, emotion, things of the earth, breath,’ I like this. It both astounds and enlivens me to know a language has taken the time to sit with something as important as universal human sentiments and actually honor each with its own word. That tightness you get in your throat when you want to cry but don’t because you’re in public, I bet you there’s a word for it. That oceanic rush from your sacrum, through your navel, up into your chest and heart when you encounter something or someone so divine it takes your breath away, there’s a word for that. I’m sure of it.


Yugen is one of these words. I have yet to find an English equivalent for it, so if you find one, let me know. Used to describe the “subtle profundity of things,” Yugen is an important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. It suggests “that beyond what can be said but is not an allusion to another world.” Yugen is about this world and this experience, a wholly “profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the Universe… and the sad beauty of human suffering.” Whoa. Yugen is tits. It also happens to be one of the most fitting words to describe our entire ‘Speedvagen in Japan’ experience.


After the countryside was the lakeside. Lake Biwa, to be exact; the largest freshwater lake in all of Japan. Biwa is located a long, expensive sprinter van ride away from Minamimaki, in the Shiga Prefecture just northeast of the former capital and Buddhist temple laden city, Kyoto. Biwa’s origins are tectonic, making it one of the twenty oldest lakes in the world. It also boasts, until a more recent invasion by foreign fish, about fifty-eight endemic species. Biwa, to say the least, is an enigmatic body. It moves you. Even when you’ve just entered into a quarter mile slog of its [eastern] shore for the third time of many, a golden steed slung over your shoulder, labored breath drowning out the sound of sand in cassettes, cleats, teeth; mucus and salt dried onto your right cheek and disappearing down into underlayers, still, Biwa moves you. A glance over its vast hush, a brief thought of ancient Japanese Nessies just beneath its surface, then back to the clumpy sandbox before you. Yugen. Biwa has moved you. It has made you feel something real.



May 5  |  Black Vanilla – Part 1

Posted by , May 30th, 2013 at 11:50AM    

This is a three part story from Laura Winberry about the  Speedvagen CX Team’s trip to Japan last fall to race, share and learn with their teammates there.

Part 1:

I roll to a slow stop and my right leg swings back and over the saddle. My left foot unclips and waits for its partner to follow through before touching ground. Cuffed-up dark blue jeans reveal ankles, socks, slightly pigeon-toed feet easing into soil. Not just any soil. Japanese soil so rich and churned up I want to shove it in my mouth. Dark earth as tempting and as sensuous as wet coffee grounds. Soil so fucking tangible I can feel it settling into my fingerprints, nails, imperfect teeth. I take one conscious, full breath and wiggle the toes inside my carbon-soled shoes. Pretend I’m digging them into the vast black fields of Nagano.


Laura with Daisuke and Sacha in the Money Truck.

I rest my bike against a winter-bare tree, James Dean against a wall with a cig in his mouth. Its golden frame winks at any pretty little thing that walks by. I familiarize myself with the lay of the land: mountain folds, lines of cloud, mustang and foal. I hear the croon of a voice akin that of Dwight, Johnny, Merle, Reba.  My eyes search the weathered clapboard shacks. Moist nostrils, dark eyes, hay-strewn stalls. They naively decide they are in the very center of an anomaly: a literal Asian dude ranch—amidst the ever-folding Yatsugatake mountain range, inside the speck of an ancient Minamimaki farming village, within the prefecture of Nagano, in the center of the center of  Japan. The incongruity, of course, exists only in my own quietness. Japanese ranch hands, chaps, coiled rope, feathered and worn ten gallons, clinking spurs, Carhartt vests, western kicks. How small the mind can be. I am the anomaly here. I am the other. And with another full breath, the fog line waits patiently with hooves, brush, soil, while I take it all in.


Team Captain Tina Brubaker follows Laura through a turn in Nobeyama.

Altogether it’s a slow blur. Yet it each minute pulses with the certainty that we are very alive. I look at the range and how it folds in gradients. It never ends. I have air coming in through my nose and things beating inside my chest. They will end. I feel winter’s sun and the stark contrast of her solemn shadow. I am here and I fling myself through night air and into the unknown. I shift with the seasons. We all do. We are children of the wind. Everything chaos. Everything calm.

As a result of many factors I am here, on a dude ranch in Nobeyama, wearing bicycle shoes and staring back at horses and fields staring back at me. The most prominent of factor is a gentleman named Sacha White. Damn, we are all here together, in Japan, thanks to Mr. White. And Daisuke Yano, of course. Who else would so graciously open his home to a handful of dirty ‘cross racers who consume vast amounts of food, coffee, chocolate; who can’t comprehend ‘no shoes in the house’ as a rule; and who don’t know what an onsen is and why they can’t just take their own long, hot American showers. Right. Like I said, Daisuke and his family are making it happen. Without them we wouldn’t be here either.


Tina and Laura get a little trail riding in between races in Japan.

So here we are—fumbling Yanks, loud Aussies, the whole damn motley crew—attempting to assimilate an entire Japanese culture in two weeks flat. Not to mention race the piss out of our legs. Each of us with golden bicycles that mingle like rods of lightning: subtly, with striking grace and with the allure of all things silent and natural. Glowing frames that whisper our names in English and Katakana. Mud-dicing wheels that give a nod and a wink to the flags of two nations. A hand-crafted fleet, our torsos swathed in olive and green. Common ground, bare knees. Bare bones comprehension of a language at which we marvel.  And all the while, Mr. White stands wordless in some gritty transition pit. Buddha grin, honest eyes, grease black fingers. Tranquility. The calm in the center of a staged shitstorm that is cowbells, is beer, is clogged gears, cracked housing. Is foreign super-fans, loud noises. Indeed, this is ‘cross. And indeed, these are Speedvagen Racing Machines. The bikes and the individuals who ride them. But really, this is magic. This is cyclocross and Speedvagen on a freaking dude ranch in Japan.

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