broken hearts are soothed by open skies.

As I was enjoying a quiet Saturday morning, splitting my time between focused puttering and dressing up my cat in little policeman costumes, I got word from Bob that Jupiter, Florida’s Burt Reynolds museum has, after a lengthy battle, apparently finally shut its doors.

I don’t know where to go from here.

I’m like an astronaut on a spacewalk watching their lifeline to the shuttle break free;

Speaking of which, did you all watch this go down this weekend?

I crapped my pants at 706.49 miles per hour.

Anyway, I suppose the best thing is simply to shove my welling grief deep down inside and dive headlong into work. Please forgive me if today’s post is full of rage and sadness. I’m sure you understand.

Back in happier times (Friday afternoon), I rode my Hunter Cycles brand cyclocross styled bikecycle into the bum poo capital of the West Coast, otherwise known as San Francisco to meet up with my old friend Julie. You recently met Julie in this post, in which I’d mentioned bumping into her at this year’s Interbike Bikecycle Extravaganza.

I’d also mentioned in that post that she’s working for a company called Alite Designs. Well Julie did me the honor of inviting me into their headquarters to not only get the lay of their land, but to enjoy a lunch of locally made tamales with her and her compatriots. Before the food was spread out, I toured their facilities and got two eyes and an ear full.

Alite was founded in 2009 by a couple fellas named Tae Kim & Rob Nail. Tae spent about seven years at The North Face, with his last two to three years as their Design Director of Equipment. Clearly, they are no new jacks when it comes to designing hardware with which to fall into a campfire.

As we walked around their facilities, I took a few photos which came out looking something like the following. First I saw their showroom;

Then I turned around and took a gander at their über hangover sack which apparently is also effective if you are a plywood bear;

And then I got a load of this badass program that they have called ‘The Ranger Station’, which effectively is a loaning library of an array of camping goods for anyone who wants to spend some nights in the woods, but who maybe can’t afford the equipment they need, or perhaps have never camped before and don’t want to invest the money into the products before they get a taste for it;

Scoff if you will, and had I not grown up backpacking with my dad in the Colorado backcountry, I might too, but dig this. According to this report, as well as a number of others I have read similar to it, right now a record number of young people are not visiting national parks. This might not seem like a big deal in the short term, but if you take into consideration that had it not been for the forward thinking of Theodore Roosevelt and others of his time, national parks wouldn’t exist. And look into the not so distant future when this generation who has no concern for these expansive and hugely important tracts of land are the ones in power. Why not sell it to developers, or oil companies, or other interests who have ill intent for what most of us now see as a hugely important resource?

What’s the point of all this open space? The government’s broke, so we might as well auction off National land to the highest bidder, right?

Of course, this is a worse case scenario, but when a company like Alite, or Poler make the outdoors an accessible and viable place for a younger generation to enjoy, every marketing effort such as the ones they are spearheading take on an entirely different shade. Call it ‘hipster camping gear’ if you must, but I think it undermines the importance of their efforts to simply get people who otherwise wouldn’t be, into nature.

Anyway, after we ate our lunch, Julie showed me the rest of the shop. Besides having an array of sewing machines with which configure their samples of tech fabrics any which way they choose, there is an on-site fab shop where Tae can make all the prototype tent frames, or collapsible chairs, or light weight jousting poles he can dream up;

Of course the crown jewell (in my humble opinion) of the shop was the mighty Bridgeport;

At the conclusion of our time together, I grabbed a catalog and thanked everyone for their hospitality. Before leaving however, Julie set me up with one of their 2011 Shifter bags;

This is their bike specific bag, and despite my initial opinions to the contrary, Julie assured me she thought it could rival my beloved Trek bag;

Which if you recall, is one of my most favorite things ever, in the history of forever.
Once I got it home, I picked it apart, and took tons of photos (which bike blogger douchebags (same diff) are apt to do) and have even ridden a bikecycle whilst wearing it at the same time. The first differences I noticed were that the Shifter boasted a volume of thirty one liters, which meant nothing to me. I knew my beloved Trek bag has a soul-bonor popping 2000 cubic inches, (or one 18 pack, a bunch of tools, two extra jerseys, a cüzie, a stocking cap and a bb pistol.) Converting liters to cubic inches was well beyond my second grade match education, so I turned to the Facebook.

Aside from learning that I was in fact a dumb American, I got a whole lotta knowledge dumped on me;

Nick came through first with ‘1891 cubic inches’, which was awesome, especially for the fact that at that point I hadn’t checked if the 2012 version of the Shifter bag was the same size (it is). Anyway, as resistant as I am to change, so far I am quite fond of the bag, as DeMonika is of her Hikari;

So there you have my initial impressions on the products and the ethos of a company you maybe hadn’t heard of until now. They are good people with great products and I am proud that they have brought me into their caring embrace.

Now as little as I want to revisit any topic relating to Burt Reynolds in any way, I have to just briefly mention to those of you who were wise enough to get in on the pre-order of the astonishingly attractive AHTBM Smokey and the Bandit replica woolie;

-that word has come down from those in Earth, Wind and Rider’s downtown New York City based ivory tower that the orders will begin shipping TOMORROW.

Did you get that? After a mere four and a half months of waiting (which is still five and a half months shorter than it took to get them the last time) we are poised to all be standing around and laughing the laughter that is generally only reserved for the very rich and/or good looking.

Burt’s museum would want it that way.


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11 Responses to “broken hearts are soothed by open skies.”

  1. c October 15, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    A couple members of the camping group were captain kill buzz and the bummer brigade last weekend. As we were talking after the trip, one of them mentioned how he didn’t pay the five dollar camp usage fee because “its not like they were gonna come up and kick him out for not paying.”

    You wouldn’t believe how much this pissed off every (relatively young) member of the camping crew. As a result, we covered the ten bucks owed and have agreed these people will not be invited/allowed on future trips.

    We don’t fuck around, but when we do… well, you know.

  2. Troy B. October 15, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    Nice content and cool gear however… dude, you could totally make your own sub-machine gun in that shop. Address?

  3. dpow October 15, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Steve, cool stuff. We stopped by and met the A-Lite folks at the show. Digging what they are doing!

    If “hipsters” want to camp, I welcome them. The more the merrier.

  4. John October 15, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    Spot-on with your comments about young people and nature. We’re never more than a generation away from everything going to shit. Fortunately, given the chance to prove it, young people these days are awesome.

  5. tippy cup October 15, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    You could put a bridgeport anywhere in the world and it would be the crown jewel!!

  6. tinytim October 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Man, what a looker on that cx bike. Hopefully, right after that shot was taken, the seams on all that denim busts loose all at once and all the remaining clothes get sucked up by the chain and shot out the derailiuer. Think I gotta go know…

  7. jimmy coffill October 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    i totally missed your jumper buddy. b-hump-in-cause I was at The Texas Toast Jam! You missed it. You really did. I was there high fivin real bike riders that don’t dope. Unless you call a little bit of the reefer madness every now and again doping.
    check that gallery by my bud one Sandy Carson, legit:

    pedal on

  8. coyotes amigo October 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Alite Butterfly chairs are the absolute shit. Good shit, I mean. I’m never huddling like a peasant in the dirt or numbing my butt on a log ever again. Just throw in my tiny one pound chair in my front left pannier and in eight hours later I’m kicking back drinking tallboys like a king. Best chair ever.

  9. thecaptain October 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    F-ing Canardians.

  10. Dirtyonethirty October 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    I bought my wife a a lite shifter bag a year ago. I too am a total bag whore and can tell you I’ve taken to stealing it regurarly and it has proven great. Good weight, stability on the bike and smart, well placed organization.

    As far as getting folks into the woods, I know it was my dad taking us camping as a youth that put the need in me. And now I take my little one out in the woods as well as the kid loves it.

    Start em young. It’s too bad the boy scouts are focused on being bigots and not helping kids learn and enjoy the outdoors.