It’s great meeting people from all walks of life, but there’s always a little extra kick you get when you meet folks who have a lot in common with you… Earlier this week I received a couchsurfing invitation from a fellow cyclist from Portland, Oregon who now lives in Wiesbaden, Germany. He spotted my profile among those of other surfers who were looking for a place to stay in his region and took a chance; I would be his first CS guest.
Later Rick would tell me that as he looked over my profile, he got the sense that he somehow knew me. There was something familiar about what he saw that was jogging his memory. So he had a closer look at my blog and my facebook page, and that’s when he figured it out; he’d seen my name come up on his friend Charlie the Bikemonger‘s page back in August. One degree of separation… Small world!
Charlie was the guy who’d set me up with a Surly LHT bike frame way back before this Euro tour even started. After a few friendly long-distance chats with him and his wife Michelle to sort out the deal, I decided that I would definitely swing by their shop in Swanage when I rode through England a few months later. It was on my ‘to do’ list from the get-go.
When I finally did make it down to Swanage six months into my tour, I was glad I’d made the trip. Michelle’s as sweet as she’d sounded on the phone, and to say that Charlie’s a pretty fun guy to hang with would be a gross understatement. Plus, he had a shop full of fun stuff, including some Surly bikes with larger-than-life tires that are a riot to ride. What you soon realize after spending a bit of time with Charlie is this: If there are people out there who are into Surly bikes… they probably know Charlie too.
Sure enough, Rick has had a few Surly bikes over the past couple of years. His first big-boy Surly toy was a Moonlander, and later he would do the Camino de Santiago on a Pugsley. There are still a few Surly bikes in his collection today (he currently has 11 bikes!) And yes, he’s also met Charlie; once at the single speed World Championships in Italy, and a second time in Belgium at a Cyclocross race, where both men competed. (Though in Charlie’s case, the challenge was to beat the drunks and the jokers to come in last.)
Rick’s love affair with cycling is nothing new. He was riding mountain bikes back when he was studying biogeography in college in Oregon, and started adding more bikes to his collection about ten years ago. Single speeds, cyclocrosses and more mountain bikes, then some vintage bikes to spice up the sauce. When he moved to Germany for work three years ago, he started commuting by bike every day. In fact he just completed his first year of not owning a car, which I’d say is a great cause for celebration. …I suppose some would believe that it was fate that brought a tattoo artist into Rick’s home just in time for the anniversary. What better way to treat yourself after a year of eco-friendly commuting than to get that cycling-themed tattoo you’ve been dreaming about!
So last night we put in 5 hours to give Rick his tattoo, an homage to three great passions in his life: Cycling, the great outdoors, and world travel. I’d been given clear and simple instructions before I started working on the design: No cycling tattoo clichés. Beyond that, I was practically given carte blanche (what a treat!) The end result was a design built around a single speed chain ring, with stylized leaves – one kind of leaf for every continent – to give the image an organic feel. An oak leaf, ponderosa pine needles, bamboo leaves, a coffee leaf… Oh, and Rick’s friend Tom, a beer-loving co-worker who’d seen the design before we got started on the actual ink, suggested adding a hop cone, in honour of all the good times that were had when beer and/or bikes were around. Why not. We’ll say that one is for Antarctica… 🙂