TSC: There are plenty of beautiful bicycles out in the world to ride and gawk at, but you’ve built and ridden some of the finest (atmo) there are. Aesthetically you’re the cream of the crop. I think that’s not up for debate. What’s been your attachment to bicycles over the years, and what has been the best adventure you’ve taken on two wheels?
ST: I certainly won’t debate it. Attachment is a good word for my relationship to bicycles. I like that. I rode a bike as a kid but don’t have clear memories of it. I have vague memories of doing “cool stuff” like putting my feet up on the bars as I was coasting but who knows. I broke my arm once, apparently by jamming the front brake too hard and flipping over the bars. During college I rode a borrowed 60cm Schwinn Le Tour III that I had to tip over to get on/off, but I guess it got me hooked. I remember its cloth bar tape would flap in the wind and I didn’t even think of that as something one would fix. But once I moved to NYC I started taking bikes apart and rebuilding them, for fun I guess—and then I got big into bike forums and it was all over. That was my life. I only got into riding longer distances once I understood bike mechanics, that’s just how I am. I’ve done some cool tours with awesome people, but my favorite way to ride is alone and with a destination.
Best adventure might be when JD Gesus and Steff (@spiceholler) babysat Flynn for a night so I could ride Sarah Swallow’s Sky Island East Loop in southern Arizona. I parked in Patagonia and they met me there for dinner the next day with the pups. All that day I thought I’d just sit under a tree until I died from heat. It was especially nice to have dinner at a restaurant.
TSC: You seem to be interested in, or motivated by the effects of playing with form. There is a textural aspect to everything you do; whether a photograph; a bike; in how you construct something physical. It’s both playful and calculated, which makes for a very immersive experience. How much focus do you give to form, and what influences from your background as an artist have helped shape your style?
ST: Well, cool. I don’t consider myself an artist, but I did study visual art long ago and have been working in the technical periphery of the art industry ever since. I definitely think that the way I look at bikes is informed by an appreciation of form and color and visual balance…but I do think the ideal with machines is for form to follow function. If it wasn’t evident already, I’m definitely a snob, but I also enjoy a good giggle. For me (and for several of my close associates) bikes are about so much more than mechanical function and looks. In the chasm between what works and what works there is soul and passion, and I think what you’re describing is just a product of that.
TSC: What is the one place…?
ST: where there are photos of me everywhere? Rivendell HQ! I find it pretty funny that there are new photos of me every time I go. That’s never been a thing for me—growing up we didn’t hang pictures on the stairs or whatever like the families on TV. It’s kind of nice!