I never know quite what I’m going to feel when cyclocross season ends here. It seems, based on previous years, that it can go one of three ways: (more…)
Dec 17 | Vanilla Team Kit
The origins of this new Vanilla kit are anchored somewhere between the 60′s and Now. Or, more precisely, a combination of both. I’m a sucker for beautiful colors and simplicity of design. It’s so easy to do too much and when you factor in the modern technology of graphics sublimation there’s no limit to what one can shoehorn onto their kit.
Back in the day team names and sponsor logos were either embroidered on, or patches were sewn/ironed on. What you ended up with were very blocky and fairly standard fonts. Colors were mostly limited to big chunks of the jersey i.e. side panels, maybe arm bands, or complete sleeves. A panel across the chest was common. There was a lot of variation from team to team, but the common thread (ignore the pun) was that the apparel of each team was reflective of the time and a product of the available technology. Machines were basic (cars were made of formed steel sheets and you could look under the hood and identify each part of the engine). Materials were basic, (wool was common) and the aesthetic was, as a result, more pure. Maybe we’re desensitized now and we need a lot more of everything to entertain us, including lots of names, nebulous shapes and fades on our bike clothing. Or maybe we just had to push and push until we found the edge – and then we have to come back from the edge to a place that is good and tasteful.
Despite using modern materials and construction for the new Vanilla Team kit, I wanted to retain the purity of the good old days. The hard man days. The forging things with your hands days. The colors are vivid and true to Vanilla’s pallette. The design’s not challenging; its easy to understand and it’ll be easy to wear. And though you can’t tell in the drawing, we’ll be doing our own stainless Vanilla head badge zipper pull as well as other craft touches to infuse these garments with the specialness that you expect from our workshop.
Nov 26 | Surprise Me! Legs
There’s training, and then there’s training. And then, of course, there’s not training, I suppose. I’ve spent my share of couch time partaking in the 3rd option these last few years, but I do my damndest to avoid it, and for the most part training is a thing of my past; something I walked away from after ’bout 10 straight years of training for the 400m. These days I just regular-ass train – ride how I want to and sometimes do hard things that sound like a good idea. It’s really great. My mental health flourishes and I maintain my love for the machines, and I feel that both of those would be in jeopardy if I flipped the switch over from focused exercising to training.
My chosen cycling lifestyle is not without its drawbacks, however. For instance, I’ve lost every road race I’ve ever entered (it’s rough to think of it with that phrasing), and during and after each one it’s been impossible to not imagine different outcomes if only I was, say, willing to hook up a power meter, or ride on the rainiest days that see me instead glued to my gameboy with a spiked coffee in hand. I had a close brush with success in the King’s Valley road race a few years back, for example, and finishing off that podium certainly made a few shitty interval sessions seem more tolerable. Each loss very much tests my resolve to keep not working very hard. Stay strong, Tiny.
If the fear of unrealized potential somehow manages to challenge the benefits I find from keeping it low key, though, there’s one additional element that always tips the scales back towards the chillaxi-training approach: Surprise Me! Legs.
I assume some of you folks out there own and thrash Speedvagens with the Surprise Me! paint schemes. If you’re like me, the Surprise Me! isn’t appealing because you think you’ll get something extra special, or you have some special faith that the design will be perfectly spot on with your desires. The Surprise Me! paint is intrinsically appealing just for being a surprise. It’s tough to beat the excitement of not knowing, but knowing you’ll know, and then finding out. The paint could just be white. White all over, with no details at all. Or black. It could look like a steel version of every carbon bike out there right now. In either case, it wouldn’t matter, because the decision wasn’t to get a paint job, it was to get a surprise. It’s just icing on the cake that the SM paint schemes always ball hard.
For me, it’s the same story with my legs. With no season planning or scheduled peaks, my legs could be good or bad on just about any given day. If they suck in a race, I figure at least it gives me something funny to talk about, and if I’m honest I probably wasn’t going to win anyway, what with almost all of the people losing almost all of the time. If the inverse occurs, though, and I pedal off the line thinking “this feels perfect,” then that’s a surprise plus a little sumpfin’ extra, and you can’t beat that.
At the state champs cx race a couple of weeks back, I rolled up to the front row of the singlespeed race with a big question mark hovering above my head. I’d been riding a bit more than usual, but I’d also stopped doubling up on races once the weather got colder and wetter, so I really had no clue what my body would do for me or to me. The question mark was the excitement.
That day the dice came up in my favor, and my body did everything I asked and more. My foot found the pedal, so I was able to lock down the hole shot, and my lower back held out well enough for me to always ride (grind) both of the hills that walked the fine line between ride-able and not. My feet lifted themselves high to not snag toe spikes on barriers, and my right shoulder had finally broken in enough to feel no pain from the top tube. It was glorious.
I worry that if I trained, a day like that would be met with muted feelings of “yeah, that’s about right,” and had things gone any differently I’d have no option but to feel true disappointment. By coming into the race reveling in the impending surprise, with little in the way of expectation, I was guaranteed a fun time, and as things played out, I stood on top of the podium with thoughts much more, well, colorful than “yeah, that’s about right.”
If you train, a large part of me is still envious of you and your dedication, but to all of those folks who merely regular-ass train, or even just go outside and ride, I highly recommend paying special attention to your Surprise Me! Legs the next time you toe the line.
On occasion we find ourselves with the opportunity to offer a Vanilla Bicycle for sale to the public. This is one such occasion.
Available today, maybe just in time to sneak under the tree, is this 2013 Vanilla road frame. It’s roughly a 60cm, see specs below, and features brushed stainless steel head tube lugs, “V” dropouts and drive side chain stay. This frame also includes internal rear brake cable routing, hand carved and thinned lugs, two pair of bottle bosses and meticulous paint work by Coat Paint Shop.
Send inquiries to: email@example.com
This bike is built to be a good stage race machine. This means it’ll be comfortable for longdays in the saddle, it will descend at speed with confidence and it will be balanced and predictable while climbing. It’s a larger frame and so it’s built stout enough to respond well for a powerful 6′ plus rider.
The black double panel scheme has a white panel with tomato red fill and black outline. Tomato red, Vanilla blue and black stripes accent each end of the panels. Tomato red fills the stainless “V” dropouts, bottom bracket “V” and stainless drive side chain stay accents.
Internal rear brake routing
Brushed stainless steel “V” drop outs
Brushed stainless steel drive side chain stay
Henry James brushed stainless steel head tube lugs
Two pair of stainless steel bottle bosses
Compact front derailleur braze-on
Top Tube Length: 600
Seat Tube Length: 620
Head Tube Length: 210
Chain Stay Length: 420
Head Tube Angle: 73.5
Seat Tube Angle: 72
Bottom Bracket Drop: 77
Fork not included. We would like to build you a fork and, if you like, a matching stem as well.
Full build packages are available at very competitive pricing.
Oct 22 | Opportunity Knocks
four two bicycles available if you’re just the right size. Fortunately these run the full range so there’s something for everyone. If you’ve been wanting a Vanilla MTB this might be your best chance to get one. Or let us help you come up with a new paint scheme for your new road racer. Hard to find a race-specific cross bike small enough in the shops? We might have just the right thing for you! Maybe a pair of cross machines for the right racing couple even with that 2013 Surprise Me!
A little back story: In 2002 Sacha had been building bikes for three years and things were really starting to ramp up. A couple of friends were racing Vanilla’s in national 24-hour solo MTB races and totally destroying. The Gentle Lovers team had all cat’d up to A’s for cross and 1/2′s on the road and were all riding Vanilla’s. People were finally starting to take them seriously in spite of their every effort to the contrary. It was good times all around.
We have more pictures of each and you can get more info if you email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Model: Vanilla MTB
TT length C-C: 23.25”
ST C-C: 20.25”
HT length: 8”
Chainstay length: 15.75”
Needs a fork built, Coat will paint to match frame. Not corrected for suspension.*
Steel Vanilla Forks start at $450
Cantilever or V-brakes
Three pair of bottle braze-ons.
Rack and fender braze-ons.
This would be an awesome 26” wheel touring bike.
*An aftermarket fork would fit but not ride right. This bike really needs a custom built fork, based on the dimensions of the frame, to ride right.
Model: Vanilla Road Bike
Color: Unpainted - We can help you design a paint scheme from the Vanilla palette and Coat will custom paint your frame.
TT length C-C: 56cm
ST C-C: 56.5cm
HT length: 168mm
Chainstay length: 416mm
Needs a fork, which we would like to build for you. Steel Vanilla forks start at $450.
Internal rear brake cable routing
Model: Speedvagen Team CX
Color: Gold team scheme
Specs: (Custom sizing)
TT length C-C: 51.7cm
ST C-C: 48.5cm
HT length: 79mm
Chainstay length: 430
Steerer: 1 1/8th”
Speedvagen/ENVE carbon seat tube upgrade
Speedvagen/ENVE carbon post head painted to match upgrade
Internal Di2 routing for external battery upgrade
Model: Speedvagen Surprise Me! CX
Year: 2013 (New)
TT length C-C: 55.5cm
ST C-C: 55cm
HT length: 170mm
Chainstay length: 410mm
Steerer: 1 1/8th”
Complete frameset including frame, fork and Ritchey post head.
California, prepare to open your hearts and your podiums to the Speedvagen Family Racing team!
We are thrilled to announce our annual team trip will be taking us to the Golden State. Seems appropriate right!? The team will be doing some racing, visiting friends and making stops to visit two of our great sponsors on the trip. We look forward to learning more about what they do, how they do it and who they are. The Vanilla Workshop has always been diligent about working with people and brands that share our values of hard work, creativity and integrity. But we don’t always have a chance to shake their hands. If you see the Money Truck on I-5 give us a honk and wave. Many thanks to ENVE for making the truck a reality and to Yakima for getting all of our bikes and wheels mounted inside of it.
Our first stop will be at Paul Components in Chico. We have worked directly with Paul for years and our cross bikes are built to run Paul brakes exclusively. They’ve been busy the last couple of years and we’re excited to see what’s in store for the future! Next we’ll spend some time in beautiful Santa Cruz for some of the legendary riding and surfing. A visit to Giro will be the cherry on top of it all. Giro has been leading the industry in design and innovation for years. The team is stoked to be wearing Aeon helmets, Code shoes and DND gloves this season.
So, what’s happening between Chico and Santa Cruz? A short stay in San Francisco to visit friends and ride. Some of our favorite people live there, Vanilla and Speedvagen customers, past and present, so we thought we’d host a little get together. 4-Barrel Coffee is the place to be on Wednesday October 23rd at 6:00pm. Coffee, beer and some special snacks provided by our good friend Bill Corbett, Executive Pastry Chef for the Absinthe group. Meet the team, check out the bikes and enjoy some friendly conversation. After the party you can find us at Monk’s Kettle.
Los Angeles is our final destination for the Spooky Kross weekend of UCI racing at the fairgrounds in Pomona. Fortunately, it won’t be all work and no play. Our buddies at Golden Saddle Cyclery are hosting us for a little shindig on Friday October 25th at 6:30pm. The Pure Luck Pop Up will be making food, we’ll have new Speedvagen merch for sale, beer, whiskey, bikes and lots of friends, new and old, to hang out with.
***For the ladies: Join Speedvagen Team Captain Tina Brubaker with Laura Winberry for a women’s cross technique clinic. Bring your friends and your questions to help guide the clinic and get the most out of it! Meet at the somewhat mysterious ”park above the Greek Theatre in Griffith park” at 5:00pm and roll to the GSC party together at 6:00pm. All attendees get a Vanilla t-shirt!***
Party’s over! Time to Race!!
The Vanilla Workshop houses three brands: Vanilla Bicycles, one of a kind and built by Sacha White; Speedvagen, our batch built race bike brand; and Coat Paint Shop, painting and powder coating for independent bicycle frame builders including Vanilla and Speedvagen.
We do a lot of things here at The Vanilla Workshop. At the core of what’s going on here is the design, innovation and refinement of the bicycles we make from scratch for our customers.
We’re looking for someone who is organized and consistently nails their goals. Someone who likes challenges, who communicates well, is good-natured and who feels at home in a shop environment. A mantra at our shop is that if it isn’t going to be 100%, or damn close, we’re not going to do it. As part of this, we will hire someone who is very particular about details.
Our new co-worker will have a minimum of 2-years full time framebuilding experience and should be totally comfortable with both Oxy/Acetylene torch and
TIG. Additional management duties will include:
- Organizing materials orders
- Developing tooling
- Managing frame building assistants
- Coordinating with paint, design and mechanics to meet goals on time and on budget.
Pay and benefits:
The pay for this position will be based on the person’s level of experience. We’re committed to a good standard of living. On top of the base wage, we offer
a solid benefits package including health insurance, profit sharing and paid time off.
If you feel that you’re a good fit, please apply by email. In the body of the email, state the length of your last two jobs and the amount of time you’ve spent working with a framebuilding shop, or building frames on your own. Also attach a one-page resume and a one-page cover letter describing your life experience as it applies to this job, including any experience with bicycles or the making of things to:
The deadline for submissions is October 28th, 2013.
Oct 14 | Double Duty
Speedvagen Family Racing team member Jeff Curtes made a stop at the Boulder cup last weekend and raced his butt off in the Masters 45+ both mornings. He started at the back and clawed his way to two top 25 finishes back to back on the Nationals ready Valmont course.
A quick clean up and gear check and Jeff was behind the camera for the elite races both days capturing some really fantastic images Check out the gallery now at Paved mag.
Oct 11 | Kids Cross At Alpenrose Dairy
The Speedvagen Family Racing team hosted over 200 Kids at the kick off race of the Cross Crusade series here in Portland. The first race of the series is perennially held at the Alpenrose Dairy and this year we were fortunate to have our own course for the Kids.
The Hot Laps we tested out last year at the final two events of the season will be a feature at every event this season and this first round had a great turnout. I had privilege of leading out all of the laps and I kept having to give myself a progressively longer head start as the older kids were really nipping at me heels. Good to see them getting faster!
The ‘B’ race was the largest field at 150! Tina and Laura led them out like last year and despite making our own barriers for this season and making them 3.5″ shorter they still created a crazy bottleneck. Cute but crowded, the kids pushed through and a few tears were shed. All in all they came out of it smiling and ready for a carton of chocolate milk, which we happily provided.
The ‘A’ race was a smaller and decidedly more aggressive field of racers. Remember, some of these kids have been lining up for 5 and six years! They really appreciated the longer, more technical course. The new format has them racing for 15 minutes plus one lap, just like mom and dad. There were some strong leaders early on but overall the pack rode together very well. Definitely a smart and considerate group of future racers.
Speaking of future racers, I was told that they ran out of Junior numbers at the mid-week race series. Good problem to have, the growth of the Juniors category over the last two years has been incredible! Keep up the good work OBRA!
Finally, we got this awesome note from a parent:
“I wanted to give a huge thanks to the folks at Speedvagen Racing
Machines and everyone else who helped to expand opportunities for the
younger folks. I am especially thankful for the longer course and longer
time for the 8 and 9 year olds. My 8-year old had grown frustrated with
the short races for his age group. He absolutely loved getting to race
for 15-20 minutes. This is exactly the kind of thing that will keep him
interested in cross until he can ride the big course. Again, thanks to
all who made it happen.”