A selection of pieces written for Tenspeed Hero, as a freelance writer and marketing aide.

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Product description: MEN'S TSH RESORT PATCHWORK JERSEY
Spring 2016

As American as jazz and barbecue: the patchwork quilt. A symbol of the human drive to create something beautiful even when practicality is the primary concern. The familiar patterns of the quilt speak to us of “common” ingenuity, of art from the people. The importance of precision, the use of geometry and relief, specific and pleasing color choice: this is design taught at grandmother’s knee instead of in a college class.

Who were the originators of this lasting artform? The mothers and daughters out west on the Oregon Trail who sewed by firelight to keep their family warm and their hearts uplifted from the bleakness of a simple life. Slaves on the plantation down south, struggling to give voice to their personalities and oral traditions in a world that denied them everything, even daylight hours to make necessities. The circle of neighbors in Appalachia to the east, passing intricate patterns from old to young, creating and giving quilts as markers of important life events. All sewing exquisite compositions by hand from old shirts and dresses and scarves so that nothing was wasted, and because they needed to be warm at night.

Quality of craftsmanship. Community. Geometry and line and color and connection. These are the visual language of quilting, and they are what speaks so strongly with this Tenspeed Hero jersey. When you don this jersey you will be standing in the tradition of folk art, of local design and inventive decoration. You will ride with the practicality of a great jersey and the beauty of a great artform on your back. Enjoy the touch of a lasting legacy, and the classic elegance of design. Enjoy our patchwork jersey.

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A Short History of Tenspeed Hero by Way of Photographic Equipment
Spring 2017

Cameras were a dynamic element of the creation of Tenspeed Hero, once upon a time. Our nascent form was a bunch of photogs in Chicago and abroad who loved to cycle. They started sharing their love for cycling through their other love, photos. Then they got into designing and making cool things to sell to like-minded enthusiasts, and BOOM: here we are today.

A Short History of Photography in the 20th Century by Way of Our Foto Cap

The Rolleiflex. A medium format (aka big negatives) twin lens reflex camera (aka one of those cool ones you look down into to take the picture) created by a German company way back in 1929. Enjoyed because of its compact size, usability, and quality and stability of image. The Rolleiflex produces a square photo that can be cropped if so desired. Think of the intensity of Diane Arbus, the stark honesty of Vivian Maier’s early photos. This camera is lovely, was lovely, is still produced new (if you have $5000 to spare) and will be treasured for how it sits elegantly on a shelf by antique hunters for a long time, whether they plan on using it for its life’s purpose or not.

The Hasselblad is the only camera model to currently be sitting on the moon, orbiting earth. Another medium format camera, it is of incomparable quality, used by professionals the world over ever since World War II when Swede Fritz Wiktor Hasselblad made his new type of camera based on a captured German aerial model. It was so good (and so versatile, with fully interchangeable parts) they made a digital adaptation eventually, and it’s still the pro standard. Think of Lee Friedlander’s later work, Richard Avedon’s fashion plates, or every photo from all of the moon landings. The Hasselblad is such a high quality of camera, only professionals usually get to use it. (Professional photographers, and professional astronauts.)

The classic 35mm camera (not necessarily a 35mm lens, though) has been used by nearly everyone, including, I bet, you. Or at least your dad. Simple, versatile, small, easy to handle and understand, the film is quick to load and there are--even today--many places you can get it developed with no hassle. Used at the beginning of their careers by a lot of the well-known names in this essay like Arbus and Friedlander, and sometimes for a whole beautiful career like our boy Bill Cunningham (grandfather of the street fashion photographer), or the incomparable Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The SX70 Polaroid: the original Instagram. Imagine if the *only way* to get photos of your life was the following process: buy film, load film in camera, use all of the settings correctly so that the photo comes out well, hope that the shot you got is the shot you want (the longer you’ve been a photographer, the better chance of this), wait until you’ve filled an entire roll of film, send it off to be developed and printed OR develop it yourself in your darkroom using all the correct chemicals and then print them yourself in your own printing lab. This process was normal, routine even, at the time, but the difference in time and ease that the Polaroid camera and its immediate and self-developing print made on the existence of a photograph was dramatic; as dramatic as the iPhone camera would be five decades later. Artists like Andy Warhol and David Hockney employed the ease and instant nature of the SX70 to start a new kind of visual record and infuse fresh style into the discipline of photography. Even Ansel Adams, famous for his sweeping and formal black and white landscapes of the American West, got into the Polaroid game. Famous photographers from the 1930s and 1940s, like Adams and Walker Evans, took to this new technology in the 1970s because of its ease of use; being older and less physically adept, they used it as a way to make work in their latter years.

A Short Connection Between Cameras and our Foto Cap

Many cyclists love the gears and fittings and workings of their machine in as rich a way as they love the thrill of the ride or the peacefulness of a trip across town. Photographers use and love their machines to make art, make memories, make a moment’s emotion fast in time. The joy of shooting with film is in tangibility, in the imperfections and authenticity of the physical process that often result in artistry. The joy of cycling is in the visceral connection to environment and self and muscles and air and ability. It is the tangible propelling of oneself via machine.

Therefore: to shutters and brakes, lenses and rims, to all the moments geeking out over gear and getting lost in the moment, we have made a cap. To cameras, and film, and taking pictures while we ride, and taking pictures of our rides. Foto cap!

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Product description: TSH Emblem cap
Spring 2013

I don’t know if you’ve ever read the seminal children’s classic, “Caps for Sale,” by Siberian-born Esphyr Slobodkina (if you haven’t, I suggest buying it immediately; the illustrations alone are worth the price and trouble). In it, a man goes on a journey intending to pursue the ever-present toil that we call earning a living; along the way he learns something about anger, and something about assumptions. In it, many caps are worn by the man and by monkeys.

Like this man, we have many caps for sale; unfortunately, unlike said peddler, we can’t make the journey to your door on foot. So we will instead rely on the internet to let our cry of “Caps! Caps for sale!” ring around the globe, and to your virtual ears.

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What I Learned as a Tenspeed Hero Intern
Summer 2011

1. Heroes can talk for nearly as long about cycling gear as they can about cycling poster design of the 1930s and ‘40s.

2. When Mark Cavendish* (or Phillipe Gilbert, or Alberto Contador) attacks another cyclist, there are no punches thrown.

3. There is a BIG difference between Shimano brakes, and SRAM brakes. I have no idea what that difference is, but it is big.

4. Cycling girlfriends love Andy; their boyfriends love Thor.

5. Having a half hour discussion about leg shaving techniques with a guy actually does happen sometimes; and it’s adorable.

6. Road cleats clomping around wooden floors are surprisingly hilarious.

7. Linus bikes are beautiful, and I want one.

8. Anyone would look good in world champion colors!

9. Cycling gods are all about social networking; most of them are active and enjoyable on the twitter.

10. Luxembourg is totally still a country.

11. Peugeots aren’t just cute European cars, they’re also cute European bikes.

12. If you send Luke Hero and Jon Hero to France to cover the Tour, you will get a lot of pictures of cute dogs. And hedgehogs.

13. A bike doesn’t need wheels to still be a bike (or at least to be worth buying on eBay).

14. There’s nothing like mozzarella and vinaigrette for a delicious (and healthy) lunch.

15. There are bikes, and then there are real bikes. (I’m just guessing here, but I have a feeling my beloved childhood purple-and-rainbow banana-seat bike does not fall into the latter category.)

16. Andy and Frank (or as we like to think of them, the Fab Two) are at their best on twitter when their English is at its shakiest.

17. I’ve missed my true calling, and will soon be signing up for the class “Kisses and Stuffed Lions: How to Reach Your Potential as a Tour-Stage-Win Girl.”

18. Heroes wear wool, funny pants, and Oxford collars.

*WHAT DID I LEARN AS A TSH INTERN? EVERY SINGLE NAME IN THIS LIST.