Thursday, August 09, 2007

53 x 11

A few months ago I came across a brand of coffee called 53 x 11.

My first reaction was, “What a cool name.” It’s a very “inside” name that only a cyclist would get, and maybe even only a road bike rider would get.

For the benefit of my non-biking readers, 53 x 11 refers to the highest gear on a road bike, this being the number of teeth on the chainwheel and the rear sprocket.

The name impressed me enough that I placed a link to their website on my favorite site list on this page. About two or three weeks ago I got and email from Evan Lawrence thanking me for the link and asking me if I would like a sample of their coffee.

Evan is one of the guys behind 53 x 11 coffee; the other is Owen Gue. These are two young and very enthusiastic bike racers, originally from Montana. Evan and Owen started training and racing together about six years or so.

Living in Montana had its advantages and disadvantages; there is some great riding but not very many races. So in order to race they found themselves road tripping together across the USA.

Being poor bike racers they often slept in their car and used whatever equipment they could find. Evan recalled using garbage bags as rain jackets because neither of them could afford at good jacket.

They were hooked from the start. Evan told me “There's just something about pushing yourself to the limit and then finding out that there are no limits. I guess that's what I love about the sport.”

Living in Montana also made it hard to train in the winter. Evan lived and worked at a ski resort, and after the crowds left he would ride his trainer in the lodge for hours every night. “I suffered on the trainer watching TV and vowed I'd never spend another winter like this.”

He didn't either. The next couple winters he lived and trained in Maui; Owen made it over the 2nd time. It was far from glamorous; they lived in a shack with dirt floors and a tin roof that leaked.

They both worked for a bike tour company riding tours 3-4 hrs a day and also worked at a little cafe in town. Evan recalled, “We would basically ride our bikes for half the day and then work an eight hour shift in the cafe. I was a prep cook and Owen washed dishes.”

Since those early days they both made their way through the ranks in the U.S racing scene and have been racing on some good teams over the past few years. Owen now races for Hagens Berman, a team out of Seattle, WA. He has had some very good results over the past couple of years. Evan is racing for a team out of Northern California called RHVille.

They now spend their winters operating a training camp in Tucson AZ called The Cycling House and run the 53 x 11 Coffee Company.

Evan told me, “We care about the environment and the people around us. It shows up in our two companies. The coffee we provide is Organic and Fair Trade. It’s better for the environment and for you. We have also started a volunteer 53 x 11 clean up crew. It’s a new concept, but we are hoping to get teams and clubs involved to do volunteer clean up along their favorite rides.”

I am pretty impressed with these two young guys. They have found a way to pursue their passion of racing bikes. At the same time they provide a winter training house to help other riders, and help the environment.

They also manage to have some fun along the way, and for the rest of us they provide some good coffee. After sampling it I can assure you, it is really good coffee.


Henry said...

Nice writeup Dave... But I just love the mug in the picture, nice ;)

Yokota Fritz said...

"The Big Ring" -- ha, love it!