06/10/14

The maiden voyage of the Sparkle Kraken, preceded by a manifesto which you may skip if you like.

by Jessie Kwak

Sorry for the radio silence around here – I stepped back from blogging for a bit in part because I was forgetting just what Bicitoro was to me.

SKIP THE BORING BITS AND SEE THE PRETTY BIKE

Sparkle Kraken closeup | Bicitoro Bikes and Crafts

As I dive further into a freelance writing career steeped in content marketing, lead generation, and returns on investments, I found myself thinking so much about My Audience and My Message and Engagement that I waffled on what to write here.

What does My Audience want to read? What will get the Most Shares?

(“The maiden voyage of the Sparkle Kraken, preceded by a manifesto which you may skip if you like” is not the most shareable title for a blog post, is it?)

Stupid shit, really, because what I was forgetting is that Bicitoro is a blog wherein I write whatever I feel like writing, and you can read it or not. I hope that I do provide helpful tips and tricks, I hope that I inspire people to reuse things rather than throwing them out, and I hope that you folks do find my musings entertaining and maybe even thought-provoking – but in the end Bicitoro is just a project of fun for me.

Really it’s a place for me to gush endlessly about the gorgeous bike ride I just took, or provide vague, rambling instructions about projects I just completed. I’m not trying to achieve pop star blogger status. I’m not trying to build an army of bike crafters. I’m just sewing things and riding on things, and typing words about it here.

So now I, Jessie Kwak, do solemnly swear to keep Bicitoro a sacred space for personal enjoyment, wonder, and community.

Back to the fun.

The Maiden Voyage of the Sparkle Kraken

It’s alive!!!

Sparkle Kraken | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

I’ve been dabbling with this thing for months and months, and this Saturday I finally got to ride the Sparkle Pony Kraken in the flesh. We’ve been slowly collecting parts and putting them on whenever we had a few minutes.

This is the first bike I’ve ever built up (mostly) myself – under the watchful instruction of my mechanic/husband. Rob is an insanely patient and thoughtful teacher – a talent I’ve always admired in him. Despite making my living as a writer, I can’t explain things verbally to save my life.

Sparkle Kraken in stand | Bicitoro Bikes and Crafts

Rob, on the other hand, has the perfect mnemonic device to help you remember which direction to tighten your bottom bracket. He’ll demo wrapping your handlebar tape, then take it all off and make you do it yourself.

Me: Meh, who cares that I wrapped the handlebar tape over the hoods? No one will notice it.

Rob: I’ll notice it. Start over, grasshopper.

Sparkle Kraken powder coating | Bicitoro Bikes and Crafts

The powder coating process left some ragged edges, which I filed down with sandpaper before pressing in the headset.

And what a headset! Rob picked it up at the Seattle Bike Swap in the spring, and graciously donated it to the Sparkle Kraken project. It’s from First Bicycle Components.

Sparkle Kraken headset | Bicitoro Bikes and Crafts

Based on the heavy steel mixte frame (underneath all that paint Kraken’s a Torker Interurban Mixte), both Rob and I were expecting this to be a fairly slow bike. I was thinking Sparkle Kraken would be a novelty bike that I’d take out on short, easy rides to the bar, or to meet up with friends.

But to my surprise, it turns out that Sparkle Kraken is fast, aggressive, and an amazing joy to ride. The steel frame is really plush, and I like the mixte shape quite a bit. The Torker Interurban Mixte only comes in a 44cm frame, but we spec’d it out so it fits me just as well as la Konita.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s got a killer wheelset and Shimano Ultegra. Oh, the perks of marrying a bike rep.

Sparkle Kraken in the wild | Bicitoro Bikes and Crafts

It’s so gorgeous!

And it’s a predator – if it sees another cyclist ahead of us, it just wants to stomp them. Go fast, go fast, go fast, it whispers.

And I do.

05/20/14

Bikes in Space!

by Jessie Kwak

I just got an email from Elly Blue that Bikes in Space: Volume 2 is due to arrive on her doorstep any day now. I can’t wait to see it in print – there will be so many fantastic stories!

If you didn’t grab your copy during the Kickstarter campaign, you can pick one up at the link above. I’ll also be doing a giveaway at some point, so keep your eyes peeled here.

Elly gave me the go-ahead to post my stories (from this volume and the last one) online, so if you’re too excited to wait for your print copy, you can get your feminist sci-fi with bicycles fix early.

I’ve got these hosted on my, um…. I’ll just call it my personal website. You know. My MyName.com site. The one that tries to capture all the threads of all the things I do with my days.

Here be the links.


NewSarjun

Bikes to New Sarjun

When Gretchen Storm takes a teaching position on a remote colony planet, she thinks she’s going to change the world. But when her a shipment of bicycles for her “Bikes to New Sarjun” charity project get caught up in Customs, she’s dragged into a nasty underworld full of fearsome mob bosses, undercover stings, and Creatures that may or not be aliens.

Originally published in Bikes in Space: Volume 2.

.epub (Pay-what-you-will Download)
.mobi ($0.99 on Amazon Kindle)
Or read it online.

 
 


The Bicycle Hunter

The Bicycle Hunter

Far before she imprinted her first bicycle, the young bicycle hunter was taught to hunt and kill her people’s enemy. But when she’s captured by a group of rebels, she learns that the enemy may not be who she’s been taught.

Originally published as “To See the Stars from the Other Side,” in Bikes in Space: Volume 1.

.epub (Pay-what-you-will Download)
.mobi ($0.99 on Amazon Kindle)
Or read it online.

05/2/14

Everybody wants you to win their bike stuff

by Jessie Kwak

It turns out everyone, including me, wants to give you cool bike shit right now.

Must be spring, right?

I just found out about two contests from Snapguide and Torker bicycles that feature some pretty awesome prizes, and I’m still running a comment contest to give away Cycling Sojourner’s Washington Guidebook.

Feeling lucky?

Win goodies from Walnut Studiolo and Portland Design Works

Contest runs May 7-June 6

Screenshot 2014-04-30 15.33.02

From Walnut Studiolo:

Walnut is teaming up with PDW and Snapguide to do a “bike hacks” promotion.

Snapguide is an app that lets you make “how-tos” easily using photos and videos on your smartphone. We use it to make our installation guides, like this. Snapguide will be offering elaborate prize packages filled with lots of awesome Walnut and PDW goodies to the best “bike hacks” (bicycle-themed how-to guides) added to the site as part of the contest for a couple weeks starting on May 7th. It could be technical, crafty, or anything. For example, how to plan a bike tour, how to make earrings out of bicycle tires, or how to true a wheel. It would be great to see some bike guides out there for women and by women!

You can enter as many times as you want, so get planning! I know there are quite a few crafty folks out there reading my blog, and I’d love to see some great tutorials! You can bet I’ll be joining in the fun.

Enter the contest here.


Win a Torker Interurban

Contest is on now, deadline is May 18

Torker Bicycles* is giving away a ton of stuff in a Pinterest contest, including a Torker Interurban Flat bike** and Betabrand clothes.

The instructions are in the flier below (click to embiggen).

Torker-Pinterest-contest

* A disclaimer – my husband works for Seattle Bike Supply, which owns Torker.

**Sparkle Kraken is a Torker Interurban Mixte.


Win a copy of Cycling Sojourner’s Washington guide

Contest is running through May 7

Want a copy of Cycling Sojourner’s Washington guidebook? Go leave a comment here.

04/30/14

Review and giveaway: Cycling Sojourner’s guide to the best multi-day tours in Washington

by Jessie Kwak

CyclingSojournerWA_BookCover_July2013-235x300

UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for all your comments!

I was so excited when I heard that Ellee Thalheimer of Cycling Sojourner was writing a Washington version of her awesome bike touring guide. I’d snagged a copy of the Oregon version, but since I lived in Seattle I’d never gotten a chance to try any of them out.

Well, as the world turns, by the time the Washington book was released, I’d moved to Portland. :)

I got my sneaky Oregonian hands on a review copy, though, and let me say it looks fantastic! Keep reading to find out why, and to see how you can win your very own copy.


The book features nine routes throughout Washington State, from an easy overnighter from Seattle to multi-day epics in the Okanogan and Palouse. I was drooling as I read through the descriptions of the John Wayne Trail and a wine tasting loop in Walla Walla.

(I’m quite the fan of wine tasting trips with bikes in.)

This guidebook does a great job of making bike touring seem accessible to riders of all levels and budgets. In the introduction, you’ll find a shoestring guide to bike gear, advice on choosing touring companions, and a nice discussion on how to carry all your stuff. There’s even a handy packing guide at the back.

Many of the trips are contributed by local riders, which means that you can count on a knowledgeable guide to camp sites, lodging, and places to chow down. I loved the attention to tasty restaurants and breweries along the way. Ellee was one of the coauthors of Hop in the Saddle, so you know the woman is a fan of good living.

The maps and cue sheets are top-notch, and the attention to detail in the route descriptions is really superb. All in all, it’s a beautifully-produced book and I can’t wait to go try one of the routes!

Giveaway!!

As I mentioned above, I’ve got a copy to giveaway to one of you folks. I picked up two through the Kickstarter ages ago, and one of them could be yours!

To win, just leave a comment below. Tell me either: 1) In your opinion, what’s the most beautiful bike ride in Washington State? or 2) Where in Washington do you dream of riding?

The contest will be open through next Wednesday (May 7), and then I’ll pick one comment at random.

Fire away!


If you’re in Seattle tomorrow, you should definitely check out the release party at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s headquarters in Pioneer Square. There will be beer, book signings, and all sorts of fun!


Read more about it and order your copy on the Bike Alliance website

Order a copy on Ellee’s website

04/28/14

Pedaler’s Fair crafty fun time

by Jessie Kwak

Hey, Seattle gang! What are you up to this Saturday?

Are you going to Pedaler’s Fair?

PF-2014-poster

Pedaler’s Fair is a marketplace of Washington based, bicycle-inspired small businesses – but it’s way more than that! There will also be live music, workshops, presentations, and a Bicitoro Craft Table for your crafty pleasure.

Check out the schedule of events for everything that will be happening, including Bicycle Yoga, a camp cooking presentation, and a film screening.

I’ll be there from 11-5, hosting a table where you can come get your bike craft on. Come say hello!

If you’re planning on biking there, consider joining up with the Critical Lass Ride, which will be starting at Fuel Coffee in Montlake at 9:30. I’ll be riding along.

Hope to see you there!