Tolstoy Rode a Bike

Tolstoy Rode a Bike

With a seat raised to his hip

The author of “War and Peace” took his first bicycling lesson at age 67, only a month after the death of his 7-year-old son, Vanichka. He was still grieving, and the Moscow Society of Velocipede-Lovers provided him a free bike and instruction along the garden paths on his estate. He became a devotee, taking rides after his morning chores. “Count Leo Tolstoy … now rides the wheel,” declared Scientific American in 1896, “much to the astonishment of the peasants on his estate.” A close friend noted: “Tolstoy has learned to ride a bicycle. Is this not inconsistent with Christian ideals?”

And that look he’s getting in the photo? His biographer wrote

What could Sonya be thinking on March 28, 1895, as she watched her husband pedaling awkwardly along the snow-edged garden paths? She was probably shocked to see him enjoying a new sport so soon after their bereavement. Was it callousness, selfishness, or the reaction of a prodigiously vital organism against the creeping fear of doom? She envied and hated him for being so strong. That evening, Tolstoy’s entry in his dairy consisted of the three ritual initials–“ifl” (if I live)–and nothing else.

Tolstoy was given a bike by the Moscow Society of Velocipede-Lovers? Sounds like something Putin may ban as the athletes start competing in Sochi. When they’re not on the slopes, they’ve ridden to and been spotted on bikes around the resort. And those three ritual initials? ifl? The spousal conflict the bike can cause is a perfect segue to the theme of Issue 09

a Valentines Day edition with articles about lust, love, and heartbreak on the bike.

We’re editing our magazine now and it drops next week. The current issue about a new year and new rides is available now for $1.99 a month.

Bike Hugger at SXSW Create

This year’s SXSW will see the launch of a new interactive venue called SXSW Create aimed at hackers, DIYers and creatives. Bike Hugger will be a large part of this new venue, which is open to the public and will run from Friday March 7th through Sunday March 9th, culminating in a Bike Hugger Mobile Social.

The lineup of participants is pretty staggering—everything from laser engraving systems to 3D printers will be on display and Bike Hugger will be teaming up with Nokia for a special look at the stunning Lumia smartphone, which we’ve been using for a lot of coverage recently.

On Saturday, Byron will lead a set of talks about wearables, bike tech, and mobile photography. Joining him in the Create Lounge on stage are Myriam Joire and Dan Rubin.

On Sunday we’ll head out for a special edition of the Mobile Social thanks to our partners at Nokia and Tern with special guests Rapha and Jeremy Dunn. If you’re in Austin for South By, you’re not going to want to miss this ride. We’ll have a fleet of bikes too.

For more information on our mobile socials see and for more information on the incredible lineup of events, talks and booths see the SXSW Create page. Details are developing and we’ll update them.

Fizik Cyrano R1 stem

Fizik Cyrano R1 stem

As a saddle manufacturer, Fizik belongs to the new guard of companies that have challenged Selle Italia and Selle San Marco in the premium saddle demographic since the 1990s. While some companies such as Specialized and Bontrager (a Trek house brand) have marketed saddles as a way of making sure to get the biggest piece of the pie when it comes to complete bike sales, Fizik as brand began as a saddle maker first and foremost. With the backing of parent company Selle Royal, the Fizik brought a fresh approach to saddles in both shape and materials. Their designs have been hugely influential to the market, and several of their designs, such as the Arione, have become icons already. Fizik also became well known for their handlebar wrap, allowing both professional teams and aesthetically-minded riders to colour-coordinate their saddles and bars.

Fizik Cyrano R1 stem

A few years ago Fizik launched a shoe line, which honestly is a really tough market to enter. There is no shortage of shoemakers pushing the envelop of style and technology. As an industry observer, I am curious to see how that move pans out for Fizik in the long run. On the other hand, Fizik’s line of elegantly engineered “Cyrano” seatposts surely deserve more appreciation, though the low market profile can partially be attributed to the current fashion of proprietary seatposts on high-end carbon frames. Yet most recently Fizik debuted a line of handlebars that incorporate the same fit/positioning concepts as their saddles in a full line of dropbars for the road. In a manner similar to their spectrum of 3 saddles to fit different styles of riders, the handlebars are available in three basic bends, each with several levels of construction (eg carbon, aluminium). For a first look at the bars, go here for my earlier writeup.

If a company is going to make handlebars and seatposts, clearly they should be making stems as well. Thus, the Cyrano stem.

Seahawks Super Bowl


As I said to Zeldman while in NYC, Seattle is such a passive/aggressive city, a blue collar port/tech town, without a unifying vision, it’s good for us to unite about something and go Seahawks! Since the dotcoms, been to some crazy parties and the 12thFanAirlift was one for the ages. The Royalton bar erupted with cheers with each score, and then a We Are the Champions singalong after the win. Before the game, spotted more bikes too, like this Shinola and an obligatory CitiBike photo.


Once back in Seattle, I’ll have more stories to share, before the next adventure.

Go Hawks! Shake a Cowbell


Bike NYC

Last year we covered CX Worlds in Louisville here on our blog, a feature for Wired, and I raced with the Masters. This year we flew the 12th Fan Airlift to watch the Seahawks in the SuperBowl. While our heart is with the racing, we’re being in the moment with all the other Seattle fans and having a great time with our hosts, including Brad the CEO.

Brad CEOl

CEO Brad Wears Glass

Haven’t been to NYC in a few years. The first cyclists I spot are riding into the sunset, winged like Icarus, in front of the GE Building and hey the Empire State is blue and green.



So GO Hawks! And shake a cowbell for Nys and his competitors.

Empire State

Empire State is Blue and Green

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