Friend of the SPACE

Introducing Chocotenango

Leti_Kugler_Chocotenango

 

Have you ever thought about what it takes to be recognized as one of the best in the world in your particular specialty?  It’s not just talent and hard work - plenty of people have talent, and plenty work long hours.  It’s more than having access to vast financial resources as money alone does not ensure excellence either.  And it’s not just being well-studied and mastering the fundamentals – that may get you to an average level or above, but it will not put you on the world stage, recognized by your peers as one of the best at what you do.

What separates the best from the rest of the field is the ability to tap into extraordinary imaginative powers, and the dogged pursuit to bring the ideas to a reality worthy of the richness of the dream.  This means having a breadth of perspectives from life experience to tap, and an abundance of personal sacrifice to bring it to fruition.

It’s no secret that cyclists have an enhanced mental agility.  Master Chocolatier Ismael Neggaz is no exception.  He has been developing his recipes and techniques for over a decade, and his company Chocotenango has won multiple international and national awards.  He makes his chocolate right here in Washington DC by hand, which makes it even more incredible that he has achieved his level of excellence because hand tools do not afford the same level of precision as industrial machinery.  Look closely while you’re out and you may catch a glimpse of Ismael darting about town on his bicycle as he goes about putting Washington DC on the world chocolate map.

Break off a bit of a Chocotenango bar, put it on your tongue, and find something to hold on to.  Your mind will race off to the exotic places from which the exquisite combinations of tastes are derived, and after the silky flavors slowly dissipate you will be left wondering how it is possible that someone is able pack so much taste and texture into a small brown square.

BicycleSPACE is proud to announce that we have Chocotenango bars in stock at all three shops, just in time for the holidays and the winter season, available by the bar or by the case.  Stop by to try it out and tell us your story, and stay tuned to our media for Chocotenango tasting events at the shops.

 

Green Machine

In our Friend of the SPACE series, we catch up with folks to see why they love riding and how they make their bikes their own. Here we talk to Hal about his Linus. 

How long have you been commuting? Ever since I moved to DC and discovered the bike lanes. By bike commuting I guarantee myself at least an hour of exercise every day. On rainy and snowy days I take the Metro. Metro's service is a constant reminder of why I prefer to bike.  

How does it feel to bike in the city? There's nothing better on a crisp morning to kick-start the day or a night ride when the streets are mostly free of cars.

Do you have a favorite road or trail? My favorite is the loop from Georgetown to Adams Morgan. You begin on the Capital Crescent Trail in Georgetown. Once you reach Bethesda the Georgetown Branch Trail takes you towards Silver Spring and the Rock Creek Trail. Rock Creek Trail loops you back to the Zoo and Adams Morgan. On the weekends, Beach Drive (part of the Rock Creek Trail) is closed to car traffic. 

Why green color scheme? Becky from BicycleSPACE sold me on the British racing green Linus. I accessorized with green transport bags and painted my helmet and lock to match.  

What are the benefits to a bike like Linus for city riding? I'd ridden dozens of bikes before the Linus and none of them felt right. They ranged from too heavy to unstable. The Linus was just right and BicycleSPACE gave me a great deal! 

Any advice for those curious about bike commuting? Find a shower at work and a dry-cleaner nearby for keeping your clean shirts and suits on demand. 

What's your favorite bike for getting around the city? How have you made it your own? Let us know in the comments. 

 

On the Road with Cirque du Soleil: Brompton is the Star of the Show

People often use the term "circus" to refer to a situation which is frustrating and out of control, but this is far from being an accurate use of the term.  Cirque du Soleil is one of the best organized, most profitable, best in class businesses in the world, with over 5,000 employees of 50 nationalities, and 20 shows running in 77 cities and 19 countries around the world.

 

Within a show like KURIOS, which is running in Tysons Corner, VA, right next to the Silver line Metro stop until September 18th, there are 114 employees from 23 countries, performing for over 2,600 people as many as ten times per week.  They have their own chefs, physiotherapists, accountants, and support staff for the 46 performers and musicians.  

 

The world actually turns upside down in this show for a bit, and it's a fantastic journey back in time, or is it into the future?  To make it all work, the logistics and technical staff need to not only construct the big tents and get the mini-city set up and maintained, during shows they need to work in the darkness of the backstage, silently, so when the audience tunes in, everything has magically changed and they suddenly find themselves in a new, mysterious environment.

 

We talked with the General Stage Manager, who has been touring with Cirque du Soleil for almost 14 years, and uses a Brompton bicycle as his go-to transportation and recreation, in whichever city he finds himself in.

 

Meet Alan Parry:

 

Q:  Welcome to Washington DC!  Ok, first the obvious question, when did you get started working in Cirque du Soleil, and what drew you to it?

Thank you! I’d been aware of Cirque du Soleil since the mid 1990’s but finally saw my first live show in 2002. I was blown away of course and left intrigued by the performance and the idea of touring. Then a year later, by a stroke of luck and good fortune, I was presented an opportunity to work on the touring show Dralion. It was really a matter of me being in the right place at the right time. When they asked me if I could follow them to the next city I dropped everything and packed my bags. I literally ran away with the circus.

Q:  What kind of skills does it take to do what you do?

Stage managers tend to be organized, methodical, even-tempered, punctual, responsible, and efficient. Some (but maybe not all) of those qualities apply to me. I find my strengths to be in adaptability, in time management and my ability to problem solve, think clearly, and operate in stressful or high-pressure situations. When the show is live I am captain of the ship which is a big responsibility but is also very rewarding. It’s a beautiful thing to orchestrate the many elements of a show and see everyone come together every night to make the ‘magic’ happen. The show is a big puzzle and all the pieces need to work perfectly together to get the result we’re looking for.

Q:  How much time do you get to stay in each city you go to? How is the daily life?

Our city runs can be anywhere from six to twelve weeks but average around eight. We have shows six days a week and can perform as many as ten shows during those six days. If that wasn’t enough we also do a lot of training to make sure we’re always running at 100%. Stage managers are there for it all so it’s a lot of hours but we love what we do. You have to.

A life on tour is not for everybody but it can be very fulfilling. Many people have their spouses and children on tour which makes life easier. One thing people might not realize is that the tour never really ends - It’s not like a rock tour where you go away for 25 weeks and then come home. KURIOS will likely tour uninterrupted for the next 15-20 years.

I never imagined this would become my life but now it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.

Q:  How does your Brompton bicycle fit into your life?  Why a Brompton?  Which model and options do you have?

Bicycles were a big part of my life as a child but then left me for many years during adulthood. The idea of having a bicycle on tour came out of necessity really, a desire to get from A to B. I choose not to have a car on tour but still wanted a way to commute to work and explore a city on my day-off. I first purchased a cheap single speed bike which I really enjoyed but it was also impractical in many ways and the lack of gears occasionally made biking impossible. A Brompton turned out to be the perfect solution. I love the flexibility it gives me – I can easily store it in an apartment or hotel room, I can ride to work and then put it under my desk when I get there, I can take it on the metro, into restaurants and to the bank. I can ride all day and then jump in an Uber with it to get home. That freedom was a revelation. I’m also from England so my national pride may have played a part too.

The model I bought is a Black Edition H6L. My height (6’2”) requires a taller seat post so I went with the telescopic option. I also purchased a black Brompton C bag and a hard case from B&W for transport. The circus supports having bicycles on tour by providing bike racks on site and transporting our bikes from city-to-city for us. Now I have wheels whenever and wherever I need them. It’s a great way to explore a city.

Q:  Which cities have you worked in, what is your favorite and why?

Too many to mention honestly! It’s been almost fourteen years now and for a number of those years I was touring in arenas doing 40 cities a year. It becomes a bit of a blur at some point. My personal favorites would be Barcelona and Tokyo, they were the first cities on tour that I really fell in love with and thought ‘I could live here’. Tokyo is like nowhere else and that’s really what I like about it. My first hours in the city I felt like I was on the Moon. It’s just a world away from where I am from and everything I knew. It’s an extraordinary place. The places that stay with me are usually places that surprised me or feel far from home, either geographically or culturally. Tel Aviv or Hong Kong would be good examples.

Q:  How do you keep the show all together, organized, mistake free?

It just comes down to the hard work of practice and repetition. Performing 360+ shows per year allows you to get very good at what you do and we all take a lot of personal pride in the show.

Q:  Why should people come out to see KURIOS?

The creators of this show set out to confound the expectations of the audience and I think they achieved that. The show is a very human show, it has a familiarity that draws you in but then presents you with an unexpected turn. Making the ordinary extraordinary. With that we have an ability to induce awe and surprise in our audience, to transport them to another place for a couple of hours. That’s an increasingly valuable asset these days.

Also, if you like bicycles, we have several on stage. You’ll see bicycles doing things I’m sure you never imagined before.

Q:  Where are you off to next?

New York City! Most of my time touring has been outside of the United States so it’s been great to take a show through the major U.S. cities for the first time. I’m very much looking forward to fall weather and Brompton rides in the city.

BicycleSPACE is hosting the Brompton Urban Challenge on September 10th, which is a like a mini-circus which touches each city in which Brompton bicycles are popular, but the performers are participants who go around the city having fun, looking for clues and exploring the city.  Local bike advocates WABA will get funding, the participants will be treated to a great time, and each winning team member will win two tickets to see KURIOS, our local Cirque du Soleil show.

Thank you Alan, we're proud to be able to call you a Friend of the Shop.

Erik Kugler.

 

Photos: Alan Parry and Martin Girard / shootstudio.ca Costumes: Philippe Guillotel© 2014 Cirque du Soleil.

C&O Family Bike Tour

Inaugural C&O Family Bike Tour, 2016

By Laurie Ashley | Guest Authors: Chad Dear, Pete Epanchin, and Becky Epanchin-Neill

On the hot Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend, we loaded up and headed out to Point of Rocks, Maryland, our designated start point at mile 48.5 of the C&O Canal. Our crew of four adults, two kids, and two toddlers had two road bikes, one hybrid bike, two kids bikes, one cargo bike, and two trailers. We were hard to miss. Our loose plan was to bike the canal path back towards DC for three days going as far as the 4 and 5 year old group members were interested in pedaling. 

The C&O Canal path was the perfect place for this inaugural full-family bike tour. The biker/hiker campsites every 4-5 miles, easy grade, and no cars made it possible (and safe) for still somewhat wobbly new bikers and trailers loaded with napping babes to cruise along. The river, natural wonders, and biking community along the path were big bonuses. 

At the Point of Rocks parking lot, we stuffed the contents of the three-page packing list into the nooks and crannies of panniers and trailers, fed everyone lunch, and started off at the crack of 1pm. Within ten minutes we had our first of a few wrecks when the 5 year old (Colby) stopped abruptly to look at something, causing the 4 year old (Zoe) to crash right into him. Back on the path, we kept the kids going with skittle and peanut M&M treats at every milepost—this had the added convenience of doubling as a bribe. The first day we made it 5 miles to the Indian Flats campsite and we deemed it a great success, well deserving of celebratory toasts with the finest boxed wine a bicycle can carry. 

In camp, the kids got a second wind and played with the neighbor campers until the light started to fade and the tents cooled down a bit. Becky curled up with Colby and Zoe for story time and the others washed dishes with water pumped from the well. 

The next morning we explored the Monocacy Aqueduct on our way out of camp. Along the eight miles to the Turtle Run campsite, we spotted turtles, a snake with a bulging belly (frog breakfast? egg breakfast?), herons, barred owls, and more. We stopped for lunch under the enormous maple tree at Woods Lock (Lock 26) where there was lots of exploring to be had. At White’s Ferry the kids were happy to eat ice cream and watch the ferry shuttle the long line of cars back and forth across the Potomac, from Maryland to Virginia. Counterbalancing the four well-behaved kids, we had a near-miss on an adult tantrum or two when it was learned that in spite of the little store’s prominent outdoor sign, they in fact did not sell cold beer (not even warm beer). There was consolation in knowing that some of the boxed wine remained for an epicurean pairing with our camp stove pesto pasta dinner. That evening after dinner we shared s’mores over the fire with the other bike campers while the occasional passing rain cooled us off. 

On our final day, the kids rallied for another 8 miles. The forecasts had warned us to expect continuous rain. Our gear may have had us physically prepared to face the elements, but our visions of young, cold, and complaining cyclists had us doubting all of our best efforts. Amazingly, though, the actual weather was dry and gorgeously below the previous two days of high temperatures and humidity. Spirits were high and there was plenty of singing while pedaling along. We stopped at Edward’s Ferry to play in the river and finished at the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area. 

While we only went 21 miles over three days, we went 21 miles! As in, our four and five year olds pedaled their own selves over this epic distance! Both of our one-year-olds happily tolerated riding in the trailers for 21 miles! And conveniently, this epic distance was an easy ride for Pete and Chad to bike back up the path and retrieve the cars -- a bicycle shuttle for a bicycle trip. 

Biking and camping with kids has challenging moments, at one painful point, there may have been a group member who claimed she would not take her 1 year old camping again until the babe learned to fall asleep more easily. We sure weren’t the fastest bikers on the canal-- at this rate, it’s going to take us another 18 days or so to complete the full path, but who can argue with long summer days playing outside, biking with friends, and exploring the C&O Canal in Washington DC’s backyard.

Plum Crazy

Friend of the SPACE, Adam, got his girlfriend, Lauren, an old Peugot Mixte to commute on. Three years later both of them had fallen in love with the look of this classic bike, but were ready for something a little lighter and with the benefits of modern components (smoother shifting and wider range of gears). “The Mixte has beautiful classic lines that have this iconic look to them. There is something about the complex nature of the frame that really intrigues me, but it always looks really clean and elegant,” remarks Adam.  

With the Peugot as inspiration, Adam set out to build a custom bike for Lauren from the frame up. He picked a Soma Buena Vista Mixte as the foundation, a versatile frame made of Tange Prestige steel. Lauren was less then thrilled with the factory color, so they enlisted some help from a friend at work. 

“At work” as Adam says, “we have a full prototype shop that has everything (CNC machines, Paint booth, Glass bead etching and blasting for aluminum finishes, a super high end 3D printer that is accurate down to 4 microns, etc.) and Josh runs everything. He makes full prototypes of every product we build before production. The dude can make literally anything you could imagine. So we got him to try and paint the bike a very specific color, and he tried many times to custom mix the exact shade of purple, but we just ended up buying a color called Mopar Plum Crazy, which was used on Challengers in the 70’s.” 

From there it was matter of handpicking just the right amount of chromed out components to complete the build. Adam selected “VO drillium cranks matched the MKS Lambda pedals… tiagra 10spd as they still use chrome components and we didn't want to drop the dollars for campy. We paired Paul Thumbies with Dura Ace down tube shifters. Then we rounded out the build with VO grand cru brake levers, Headset, and BB.” 

Ever the pragmatic DIY cyclist, Adam selected easy serviceable parts, as well as solid set of Jerry built wheels: “H+sun TB14 rims that are super light and strong, they're double wall through eyelet rims that have a really clean badge where the valve stem goes through. And then some standard tiagra hubs and 32 spoke 3 cross unbutted spokes. They're bomb proof for DC streets and the C&O.”

Lauren, picked out the perfect crane bell, complete with purple brushstrokes and a floral pattern to match the Brooks B18 Saddle. The two of them couldn’t be happier with the build, “a solid commuter/light tourer with style!” 

Made by Hand: Green Hat's John Uselton shows off his gin delivery vehicle

 New Columbia Distillers founders John Uselton (left) and Michael Lowe (right) in their Ivy City Distillery

New Columbia Distillers founders John Uselton (left) and Michael Lowe (right) in their Ivy City Distillery

As the son of an airplane mechanic, John Uselton has always been interested in working with his hands. Shop class was his favorite subject in school. His first car was a VW bug that came with the engine in four cardboard boxes.

After doing everything from working on Navy submarines to wearing every hat in the restaurant business, John opened New Columbia Distillers with Michael Lowe in 2012. 

 These German made tanks are constructed of copper and stainless steel. 

These German made tanks are constructed of copper and stainless steel. 

 Grains are sourced from local Virginia farms. 

Grains are sourced from local Virginia farms. 

 Kevin samples their winter gin: Green Hat Ginavit

Kevin samples their winter gin: Green Hat Ginavit

Their signature product, Green Hat Gin, is named after George Cassiday, the green hat clad bootlegger that supplied booze to the House and Senate during prohibition. Today, John lives just across the street from the Cassiday’s residence in Capitol Hill, where he (Cassiday, that is) ran his bootlegging operation. In a nod to history, the first case of Green Hat Gin was given to Cassiday descendants who live in Virginia. 

 During the third distillation, the gin is around 130 proof. It then rests for two weeks, where the flavors of the aromatic herbs and seeds mix together. 

During the third distillation, the gin is around 130 proof. It then rests for two weeks, where the flavors of the aromatic herbs and seeds mix together. 

John rode mountain bikes while living in Texas, but when he moved to Boston he didn’t find much time to ride and made the most of public transit to get around. Upon moving to Clarendon, he became frustrated with his long commute to Adams Morgan and inconsistent train schedules. While walking back from the July 4th fireworks with his wife, he spotted an old Raleigh in a dumpster. He brought it home and fixed it up himself and knew right away this was his favorite way of getting around town. 

 

 A.N.T Boston Roadster featuring handmade frame and racks. John often delivers small orders to bars and restaurant by bike.  

A.N.T Boston Roadster featuring handmade frame and racks. John often delivers small orders to bars and restaurant by bike.  

 A.N.T headbadge. Made of copper and steel, just like the distillery.

A.N.T headbadge. Made of copper and steel, just like the distillery.

Today, John rides every day to work in Ivy City on his A.N.T. Boston Roadster, a steel city bike handmade in Massachusetts. His is set up with a internal 7-speed alfine hub and dynamo lights that allow him to safely arrive at work in wee hours of the morning. John was attracted to the craftsmanship of this iconic framemaker. Much like the bike industry, the micro-distillery business is a labor of love, fueled by a passionate people that take pride in making things themselves. 

Interested in cycling and spirits? Check out our Brewing History Tour with local historian Garret Peck. 

Have you ever tried Green Hat Gin? What did you think?

 

 

Artcrank Artist Profile: JD Deardourff


Artcrank artist JD Deardourff works out of Open Studio off Okie St. in the Trinidad neighborhood. JD says he enjoys riding because it's often the most practical way to get around the city. "[I use my bike for]  errands, getting from point a to point b, going to work, going to Nats games."

Screenprinting is a passion of JD, he's currently exhibiting a solo show at the McLean Project for the Arts, featuring some of his recent screenprinted work. 

"I first became interested in screen printing because it allowed me to imitate the way comic books used to be printed, and then I just sort of became addicted to it. It's a good way to explore color relationships, opacity and transparency, and I like having a matrix that you can either make multiples or variables from. I like it because it's a technical and visceral process. "

Inspired by the classic BMX film, Rad, JD chose to embrace bright 80's style colors for his prints. 


When asked how this city influences his work, JD answered: "I don't know if there's a direct influence on my work, maybe something subconscious, but I do take pride in being a DC artist and growing up here, and I think there's a rich tradition and a good, underrated, growing local scene."

The BMX racer was inspired by an old cartoon-style Mongoose ad. Throw in some intergalactic mountain ranges and you get one very rad print. 

Join us at Artcrank from 4-10pm on Saturday November 8th, to see work from JD and many other talented local artists. 

Connect with JD: deardourff.com @jddeardourff 

Screenprinting classes via: openstudiodc.com 

See JD's solo show at the McLean Project for the Arts now through December 20th 

And join him for his opening on December 11th from 6-8 NoMa lobby project, at 1200 First Street NE

Artcrank Artist Profile: Travis Poffenberger

Artcrank artist Travis Poffenberger lives and works at his home garden studio in Alexandria, VA .Travis believes in reusing whenever possible, both his work and his garden are often composed of found objects. A old swing set lives on as trellis and planters include a kitchen sink. 

"Lately my garden has taken over my work. I made very little art work until the plants were established, the garden was set up, and food was no longer a priority. I started making pieces from dried bits of plants I had grown or collected, it felt natural."

Travis creates stamps and test prints in his lush garden studio. Travis credits his resourcefulness and waste-nothing values to his Grandparents, originally German immigrants, who "learned to make do with what they had around them." 

 

Travis carves a stamp from foamboard that was originally used to package a live Betta Fish that was shipped to him years ago.

"I learned how to make stamps for the Artcrank piece. I wanted to learn something new, and explore the medium, as one does when you first learn to ride a bike. There’s nothing like that feeling when the training wheels first come off; it's amazing. Although I feel the sense of freedom gained through learning to ride is more profound than learning a new art production method, the core is the same. I've been making stamps like crazy for the past few months, like just learning to ride a 2 wheeler, it's all I want to do."

Travis and his trusty hardtail. "I primarily use my bike for leisurely transportation or short errands, more as a tool for mental clarity than utility."

Connect with Travis:

poffen.be/rger

intaes.info

hipster.im

peopleholdingturtles.com

jodihighroller.com

Artcrank Artist Profile: Workhorse

Abe Garcia and TJ Cichecki run Workhorse, a design studio based in Capitol Hill. After moving from Illinois to DC in 2012 TJ quickly ditched his single-speed set-up for some gears to make the climb up to his home in Columbia Heights. 

TJ prepares a screen for printing. Abe credits their studio as a source of inspiration, "it’s great to share space with other artists and craftspeople and see the cool things other people are creating." 

Sketches for TJ's "Political Machine," a print inspired by Rube Goldberg style illustrations. 

While TJ and Abe predominately work designing websites and apps, they welcome projects like Artcrank as an opportunity to try new things and produce physical work.  

The screen printing table was built with the help of another studio-mate. They table allows them to experiment with personal projects and make prints for themselves and friends. 

Connect with TJ and Abe: wrkhrs.co  and @wrkhrsco on social everywhere