“One of the most frequent comments I get from people once I tell them what I do for a living is, “You’re a bike guide?! You must ride your bike all the time!” Believe it or not, that’s not always true.
First off, like any other human being, our time is limited. Don’t get me wrong, we do bike a great deal, and yes, it’s the first thing we think of doing when we get the occasional moment to ourselves. But once we get that out of the way, there’s a broad range of interests we guides entertain and only a finite amount of time with which we can invest it.
Fortunately, however, you don’t have to dig deep to notice this diversity. Take, for example, Dan Frideger, who, though being a long-time cycling and walking guide, on any given week could be found backpacking with his wife and kids in Colorado, VW van camping in France, or building a sauna in his backyard.
Then you’ve got Greg Lyeki, who’s the epitome of renaissance cyclist, but could be found doing anything from riding his motorcycle cross country, to picking antiques at a local flea market or estate sale, or taking some time to work on the build-out of his vintage Airstream trailer.
And I won’t even start talking about Jason and Sonja fly-fishing their way across Patagonia this past winter! Bottom line is we’re a varied bunch of people with an even more diverse collection of interests and passions. Cycling’s just the thread that binds it all together.
For me, it’s mechanical things. And right now, that means cars!
I recently headed out to Los Angeles to witness a gathering of vintage Porsche sports cars this past February. It was called Luftgekühlt, which means “air-cooled” in German, referring to the early models before water-cooled engines were a thing. I left directly from the guide meeting in Solvang where we get together each year to put all our ducks in a row for the coming season, so I was already coming off a high from the A-class camaraderie, and was very excited for the chance to indulge my new-found car fancy! I wasn’t always a “car guy,” you know.
The event was hosted by a motorcycle and surf shop called Deus Ex Machina in Venice, and was being held at the headquarters of a local media collective named Bandito Brothers. There was an open invite to any Porsche owner with an air-cooled engine (anything pre-nineties, basically) and there were security guards on walkie-talkies at each gate serving as bouncers, deciding which cars merited entrance and which did not. As I walked in, even the parking lot was lined with finer cars than you’d see in your average week. But as I made my way to where the actual rows of “Luftgekühlt” cars started, my jaw dropped from the sheer presence of these decorated sports cars.
Each one told a totally different story. There were early 911s that had clearly seen race action or participated in historic events and had been meticulously preserved in their original glory. And then there were stripped down functional track cars, built piecemeal with parts cherry-picked from the best of each generation the 911 had to offer. And then you had the 356s! The predecessor to the 911, and the first model Porsche made, these cars carry with them all the class and refinement of the finest sixties era roadsters. But these bad boys, when hot-rodded, are commonly referred to as outlaws, because they also carry with them a lot of the grit of earlier days of racing, back when the engine blocks were hand-lathed, and the body panels hand-hammered and shaped by eye!
I have a memory from my childhood of playing with blocks, setting up city streets and race tracks, and running my Hotwheels cars around them, railing them into corners and crashing them into things – “brrrrooooom brrrooooom” noises in full effect. There were two toy cars that became centers of my collection in those days. A late-sixties era red Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with a removable roof and…a Porsche 911 Carrera (internally named the 964, for those who get nerdy about those things). Both cars had these incredible stand-out curves that made them completely unique from anything I had seen on the road at that early age. I may not have had the concept of what it meant to own a car, or drive one for that matter, but I sure as heck knew that these cars were special!
So leaving my friends’ house in Montecito Heights, just north of Downtown L.A., that Sunday morning, I was thrilled to be following up on that childhood fascination. And just setting foot on the grounds of Bandito Brothers for this Luftgekühlt gathering brought back a lot of that childhood wonder that had drawn me to the fine detail of those Hotwheels cars as a kid. Much in the same way that I was eventually drawn to bicycles as a young adult. For me it’s not just that it’s something for me to get to know and interact with, it’s that someone else has done the same, and invested their time and energy into making something beautiful.
Which, in essence, is what drew me to the bicycle, as I’m sure it’s drawn many others. And, as I think about it, whether it’s hiking, camping, boating, building, road tripping, antiquing, or fly-fishing, it’s probably part of the essence of passion. We see something beautiful that’s worth investing our time into. And luckily we’re usually rewarded with a sweeter result.
Take Trek Travel, for instance.”
Written by Trek Travel guide Jake Rasp. Follow his journey of passion and discovery on Instagram @raspwheels.