Welcome back to our blog format, "Greppers of Gaia." I repeat the following from the previous posts about this format for those who joined us today for the first time. We are talking here with people we came across during our journey of building GREPP Cycling Stuff. Some are known, and some were unknown to us before conducting the interview.
This time our interviewee is from the other side of the North Atlantic ocean
We are delighted to welcome Todd Nisbet from NYC.
Enjoy reading and learn who he is and what he has to share with you.
All photos in this article have been taken by @concretetrails
Todd, also known on Instagram as concretetrails, has engaged with us by tagging and sharing images from his rides with us right from the early get-go Crust was selling our taper in the US. Now he is a Grepper of Gaia, and we are super happy we asked him to participate. Why?
Continue reading, and you are going to find out.
J: Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
T: I'd describe myself as one of the best Bikepackers from NYC. Best in terms of fun and creativity.
J: What would you say was the most creative you can think of from the past trips?
T: Most creative, recent trip actually. In Stillwater, Oklahoma for Mid-South Gravel. I registered for the 12mile “Inspiration Ride”, but showed up to the starting line that cold morning and decided last minute to ride the 100 mile course. I was on a brand new build and didn’t have any time to document the bike with any photos. I had an idea to photograph the bike in my hotel room after the race. But, in pieces. Like taken apart, to put into the bike bag and fly home. It needed a shower and scrub after that 100 mile gravel ride.
J: Race or partypace?
T: Partypace, but I'm not a huge fan of that term. For me, riding slow and steady is more meditative. I have a chance to spend hours alone with myself, pushing the limits of what I can do. On a touring and/or bikepacking ride, I do not listen to music ever. I study my surroundings and the way my mind and body react to them.
J: How did you end up riding bikes the way you do it today?
T: In 2015, my goal was to develop a healthier lifestyle while living in New York City. I quit smoking cigarettes and started commuting 7 miles (~11 km) each way to my office each day. I started on a vintage Peugeot bike I bought from a friend. Once I developed the stamina to ride longer distances, I immediately wanted to go camping and spend some time in the woods away from the busy city environment. I had no idea there was an extension of cycling that existed like this. Actual Bike Camping.
J: What motivates you to ride a bike?
T: Self expression. I feel the most free on a bicycle. Free to be myself.
J: What do you think about why the bike makes us feel most free?
T: First reason, for me at least, is that you don’t need a driver's license of any kind. In NYC you can get a ticket from the police, but that would be running a red light most likely. With camping gear packed on a bike I feel I can do anything I like. Sleep under the stars, make coffee in the morning and there’s no line at the coffee shop. There’s absolutely nothing but self control, self awareness, and self growth. At least the way I ride, which is usually solo. If I wanted someone to tell me what to do or to ride faster, I’d sign up for a Spin class. I’m very self motivated as it is. I’m hard on myself sometimes as it is. So on a bicycle, I do what I want, how I want, when I want. Nature is the most powerful. That should be the only limitations on human beings, Nature, Mother Earth, something greater than ourselves.
J: Describe what a bike means to you/ stands for in your very own words.
T: As close to freedom and self-powered adventure as one can get in today's modern world.
J: How does your optimal bike look like?
T: My optimal bike is a gravel bike, fast on asphalt and concrete but fully loaded for adventure and outdoor living.
J: What's your current bike setup?
- Crust Bombora frame and fork, all steel.
- Crust Nullarbar bars, the widest, wrapped in Grepp tape of course!
- Crust 650 disc wheelset with dynamo hub, all chrome.
- White Industries Bottom Bracket and Crankset all chrome. 38 tooth White chainring, 11-46 on the rear, Microshift levers.
- Crust seatpost, headset.
- Brooks C17 natural rubber
- Simworks Homage 55's, gumwall for a classic vibe.
- Redshift stem, helps for good gravel vibrations.
J: What would you want to change about the cycling scene?
T: First, I'd love for bikepacking to be more accessible to people. There should be more gear manufacturers lending demo products to shops for use to customers. It's good to try a bag system first before making the investment. Plus it shouldn't cost a large amount of money to enjoy the outdoors via bicycle travel. Secondly, the cookie cutter vibe of Lycra cycling has just never been appealing to me personally.
I took my time for reviewing the answers from Todd and in the meanwhile he got back and stated he had been bit harsh on the Lycra. Instead of erasing it I proposed to go bit deeper here as it appears to be a genuine topic where we see everybody has their share of say without offending anybody.
J: What bothers you about the tight outfits, and have you had any personal experience where you got asked why or why not you aren't wearing cycling bibs?
T: Nothing bothers me about it really. I just push going against the grain, against the normal. Whatever you are comfortable biking in, wear it and love it. Love the way you feel and the way you ride because it’s your own.
Hmm, But even what would be considered the “official wardrobe” for a sport needs some variations. There’s really no dress code for cycling. When you see everyone at a gravel race or a group ride, wearing the same type of outfits, it’s intimidating. Personally, I’ve never even rode clipped in. Let’s just say you're a new cyclist that wants to ride, but you normally wear sneakers on a platform pedal when you ride gravel. I’m hoping that person sees me and feels welcome. The sport overall should be accessible and inclusive with all styles of riding wear accepted. It’s for anyone who wants it. A diverse group is a strong group. Unity among people who look different is strong. Everyone is unique, as if we are all a work of art. We are alive to stand out and shine, not just blend in. I'm very self expressive in my style of riding and style of wardrobe. (Woah, that was a lot to say)
J: What made you choose GREPP Handlebar tapes?
T: The Crust bikes website introduced me to the brand and the North American market. I had never heard of the tape before Crust offered it. They only carry unique and worthy components for any form of cycling. I look to them for innovative cycling. Innovative and creative. Always fun. Grepp fits well there.
J: Tell us a story
T: When discussing handlebar tape, this moment in Brooklyn NY comes to mind. In early 2020, I had been out of state for 3 months. Basically in March I went on a business trip to Texas just before Covid hit NYC. I ended up staying there for 3 months missing the city terribly, but processing what had happened to our world so suddenly. Upon my return to NYC, I had ordered a set of Surly Truckstop bars when they first came out. 718 Cyclery had special ordered them for me and I rode my bike from my apartment in Harlem to Brooklyn to pick them up. Walking my bike into the shop I spoke with the owner for a minute. They asked if I would be installing them myself and I replied, "Yes, I actually put on my current set of bars and tape too." I distinctly remember the owner said, "Those look pretty good, but the tape is wrapped backwards on the one side there". They quickly followed up with, "But that doesn't matter, as long as you're having fun on your bike, you're doing it right." I thought to myself, that was one cool thing to say. I'm no bike mechanic, but from my work in the fashion business, I'd compare wrapping handlebar tape to lacing shoes and sneakers. Everyone has their own method. It's all personal preference. From how you ride your bars, to saddle position and tire size, it's an ensemble. It reminds me of doing wardrobe in the fashion business for so many years.
J: That's a great one and so true. Pretty cool to have a bike shop this open and respectful close to you. Maybe they are interested in becoming a GREPP-friendly bike shop.
T: There’s many shops and a strong cycling community in NYC. You don’t need to saturate the brand in every shop, but you should definitely have product available to feel in person. It’s necessary in such a digital world.
J: Very true. One more reason to include in the local shop culture rather being only a distant online retailer.
Thanks Todd for taking the time for providing answers to our questions. We are looking forward seeing more of your adventures in the future.