Dirt Rag Magazine

Turning the tables: Missy Giove interviews Anna Schwinn

"Missy said she wanted a picture of me with one of the MANY Schwinn cruisers that were parked everywhere. I struck a Missy pose for the photo without thinking about it on account of being such a fangirl. She said ‘Oh, I see what you’re doing there.’ I was actually so insanely embarrassed for being called on it that I aggressively feigned ignorance."

Anna Schwinn, author of the exclusive Missy Giove interview in Issue #171 is a bit of a bike industry legend herself. She grew up with two parents heavily involved in the industry and as a result she had a social connection to Giove via her parents having been friends with John Parker (original Yeti Cycles founder) and Jeff Ringle (Ringle components). In the mid-nineties her parents were starting up Waterford Precision Cycles and both Parker and Ringle were primary sponsors of Giove as she began her career.

There were family vacations where the Schwinn’s went and hung out with them, according to Anna. Parker’s daughter used to hang out with Giove. From talking to John, they bunked together when Missy came to Durango in 1990 for the World Championships and his daughter was never the same after that experience.

Anna’s parents were fans too. “My dad remembers seeing Giove barrel down a course ‘balls out’ on a bare front rim after a flat— he still gushes about how fucking amazing it was,” she said. “Mom tells me that she had to defend her support of my fan-girl-ism to people in the industry. Mom had matching Gonzo gloves actually, and made sure to scoop up the Missy gear for me when she would be out west for tradeshows.

“I had a ‘What would Missy do?’ moment when I entered the bike industry, actually. I knew I would stick out like crazy as a loud, tall, chick engineer with a recognizable last name. I figured the best way to play it was to be very solid on what I was about, not to apologize for it, and to rock what I did as hard as I possibly could. That frame of mind has been invaluable to me.”

During the course of Anna Schwinn’s visit to Missy’s home the two discovered that through their early connections that they knew a lot of the same people growing up so throughout the weekend Missy kept turning the conversation to try and interview Anna right back. “But that’s what she does,” Anna said. “She is always trying to drag everyone else into the picture.”

Giove: How interesting is it for you being someone creating something that so many people have fun on?

Schwinn: Oh, It’s the coolest thing in the world.

G: Or making their living on, you know like messengers, people who use your tools to actually be able to eat.

S: It’s super cool. Bikes make people happy, they serve all sorts of awesome purposes, like as a mode for working, creating endorphins, or transportation. I’m bad at being interviewed also…

G: Exactly!

S: I completely lucked out. In product design, generally, there are a lot of products that you try to inject with emotion. You’re trying to get people to have an emotional connection with, like, a blender. It’s part of selling it. But at the end of the day it’s a blender, or a toaster. It’s kind of a shallow aspect of product development.

G: Well I don’t look at it like that…

S: Well it’s not like that with bikes.

G: That’s what I’m saying. It’s not like a piece of toast; you’re creating a whole kind of life.

S: You’ll read stuff about people getting on your product and having it help them recuperate from war or as a meditative device or that people go on tours with it or where it becomes like an appendage instead of just some product. To be able to affect people, to have people ride your stuff every day. It’s so cool. They love it every day and you make their lives better. That’s probably why I’m doing bikes and not anything else, because bikes should be something that does that. They get people excited about living, about the environment, about their communities, because you experience your world in a completely different way when you do it on a bike.

G: I agree. It’s true.

S: It completely recontextualizes your whole life and your relationship to your community and your friends. It’s pretty much the coolest and I’m super lucky and fortunate that I get to do it.

G: That’s awesome. The other thing is that I know you are an avid—that you totally take the bus everywhere.

S. Well, in the winter…I am worried about hitting my head again, soon.

G: Yeah, I mean, that’s great. I’m talking about, yeah, in the wintertime. That’s like a whole other thing.

S: Well, I don’t have a car. Someone crashed into my car, totaled it a few years ago. But you don’t really need a car. It takes a little bit of extra work, depending on where you are, but if you live somewhere with awesome public transportation—but yeah, I mean, I like the bus. You interact with so many people that you would never interact with otherwise.

G: Exactly.

S: It’s like back when I used to sell plasma for school supplies.

G: Because of your bike. You don’t want to stay on two wheels in an icy winter.

S: Yeah, I’m not going to bike if I’m not comfortable. It was terrifying after my head injury to not be able to do arithmetic or read a map. My brain is what allows me to do what I like to do and it wasn’t working. The idea that I could lose all that; there was nothing more terrifying. I was like, "I’m not going to be able to go back to work, I can’t earn a living. I have product out there that people like but I want to do more."

G: That’s not a fun part about it, but I don’t want to, and this is something but I don’t want to dwell on it, but it’s been a big part of my history, injuries. You know what, there are lots of people who don’t have a hundredth of the physical, of what my body has been through, but they slip going across the road and they suffer the same thing. You can’t live your life avoiding that kind of thing.

S: Yeah. Nothing pisses off a neurologist more than telling them straight up when they say, "Stop drinking beer" that, "No, that’s probably not going to happen." Or, "Stop riding your bike," it’s like, "No, that’s not going to happen either." I’m not going to tell them that I’m not living how I actually live.

G: And what you’re doing is perfect because it’s good to be able to recognize that, okay, I still want to be able to do this because I’m going to do it. But not doing it, like now, I downhill and I downhill like a maniac still but when my wrist is broken I’m not going to downhill. I’m putting myself at more risk as I said before, I would probably go downhill with a broken wrist, but this way I’m still able to downhill but I’m not compensating so I don’t have a crash that’s more likely to happen because I have this injury. I just try to zero out that risk factor. Just like you’re not going to bike right now because you could wreck your head.

S: And I get a lot of shit for it.

G: You’re just being realistic.

S: I get a lot of shit for it, for not riding, amongst some people. I’m like, "I’m going to take a couple months off" and they’re awful about it. I think it takes a lot of self-security to say, "I could go do this but I’m uncomfortable with it and screw you if you think I’m a wuss about it. Wait until you hit your head and start slurring." When I started slurring speech, shit, that was bad.

G: I want to talk about how incredible it is that you’re a designer in a field that is really, really dominated by boys who may think they know better. Your shit that you make is so dope. It’s totally got your, it’s your signature stuff, it’s just great. Riding is art, and what you do is create some pretty incredible art.

S: Bike art.

G: That’s pretty awesome. How do you like the fact that you’re in…

S: Pretty shit?

G: Yeah, as much, it’s functional and it’s really pretty.

S: If pretty gets people stoked on something and emotionally attached to it, if it is something better, if pretty is, like, nectar, to get people on, like, doing something that makes their lives better, then, well, you want to get people on bikes in any way you can.

G: I love all the art aspect in any industry but I love the art aspect in, you know, your designs, I just think it’s so cool. 

S: Man, that’s so cool. Like with All-City, I love All-City when you pay attention to beautiful details all over the bike then you draw attention to those details. Details ask questions, like, "Why is this the way it is?" I also don’t like symmetry in what I design. I like asymmetry because if you make something asymmetrical, people have to figure out why it was done that way. It gives people something to obsess about later. It makes people want to understand more about their bikes.

Also, if they grab it in a certain way or work on it in a certain way and it becomes a pleasurable experience because, for example, the top tube cable routing is on the inside of the frame so when you shoulder it to go up to your apartment because that’s how you live, that’s what you interact with everything every day… and it makes you more excited about that bike…

G: I understand completely… you don’t want your dreadlocks stuck in there for sure.

S: It’s cool. Anytime you can get people excited about bikes, it almost feels like it’s manipulative but I feel like it is manipulation for a good cause.

G: Yeah, definitely. Like with a lot of the downhill stuff I do, I push or carry my bike, so it’s push or carry…

S: And there are a lot of things you could catch a dreadlock in.

G: Yes.

Schwinn, a self-proclaimed professional bike nerd, is currently lead engineer for Civia Cycles, Whisky Parts, Foundry Cycles and All-City Cycles. “Carbon and steel are my jam design materials,” she proclaims. “I love bikes and I love that I get to work to get other people to love bikes. I love that I get to work on the variety of products that I do. I work my butt off, but it’s awesome. I have my bike shop and Park Tool stand in my living room. Bikes rule everything around me. It’s a good life.”

Get a copy

Head on over to our online store to pick up a copy of Issue #171 for yourself!

Click here to see more online extras from the story.


Photo Gallery: Exclusive Missy Giove interview outtakes

Photos by A. E. Landes, Matt Kasprzyk and Maurice Tierney.

 

Then and now. On the left she is showing off Gonzo, the pirahna she wore around her neck during races.

Though she’s lived high atop the World Cup circuit, Missy is now her own mechanic.

But her old Foes DH1 Mono still works and she can certainly still shred.

Life is a lot more mellow now in her home of Virginia Beach. Missy says she has given away all her bikes to people who had ridden them and fallen in love with them.

She has a few relics from the past, but not many. She says she would love to compete again.

Only the trophy case would indicate the tidy apartment Missy shares with her wife Kristen is the home of a former World Champion.

 

Always an animal lover, she currently tears it up with her dog Dash.

 

Along with Gonzo the fish, Missy used to race with the ashes of her beloved dog Ruffian tucked into her bra.

“It’s all good, and I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to have had all the experiences I have had in my life,” she said.

Get a copy

Head on over to our online store to pick up a copy of Issue #171 for yourself!

Click here to see more online extras from the story.


Catching Up With Bjørn Enga

By Karl Rosengarth

If a rider hucks the gnar and nobody is there to film it, did it really happen? Thanks to folks like Bjørn Enga, that question is pretty much a moot point.

After striking a deal in 1996 with Surfer Publications to produce a show called "Bike TV" for the Outdoor Life Network, Enga formed Radical Films with business partner Christian Begin, and sallied forth in a purple bus to make history.

The business deal permitted Enga to keep the footage and use it for whatever purposes he desired. In April of 1998 Enga released "Kranked—Live to Ride", which exposed the biking community to freeriding—the likes of which, most folks had never seen before. It’s fair to say that the Kranked film series ushered in a new era in bicycle-related filmmaking.

I recently caught up with Enga via email and learned more about the man behind the lens, and what he’s been up to lately.

Name: Bjørn Enga

Occupation: Filmmaker / Kranked brand

Hometown: Granthams Landing, British Columbia

Current location: Kranked Studios, Sunshine Coast, British Columbia

Number of years mountain biking: Since 1982. Super into it since 1986 when I graduated from high school.

First mountain bike: My sisters Japanese made Asahi.

Current main bike: Kranked Viper electric-assist DH freeride rig!

Riding style: Electrified.

Favorite trail: Pressure Drop loop from my front doorstep and back, 14.5 km singletrack climb/descend in 1 hour flat.

How did you get into mountain biking?

Grew up on Fromme Road in Lynn Valley on the North Shore of Vancouver. The forest was my back yard. A huge playground to explore, and the mountain bike was the vehicle!

How did you get started in the bike industry?

Ski bum turned publishing entrepreneur (SkiFreak Radical / Bikefreak Radical / Freak Radical) to Bike TV freeride TV shows, to making the "Kranked—Live to Ride" freeride movie, and then seven other freeride movies.

What was the inspiration and motivation for your first Kranked film: "Kranked—Live to Ride"?

The inspiration and motivation in late 1996 and early 1997 to make "Kranked—Live to Ride" was essentially to show the world what "freeriding" really was. Both Christian Begin, the Director, and myself came from the ski/mountain culture of BC. We grew up with and were involved in ski and snowboard films. We were also avid mountain bikers and wanted to bring the excitement of riding to the big screen. We felt that we had something to give and were excited to give it a shot!

What role do you feel that your films played in the growth of freeriding and the gravity side of mountain biking in general?

I think it is fair to say that we were the first film to really capture and spread the awesome, exciting riding, building and scene as it was just beginning. Our goal was to spread the awareness of what was happening in BC and inspire and stoke other people to follow our lead. I would also like to think that we raised the bar a bit with our filmmaking too!

What are you up to these days?

I am growing ‘Kranked" as a brand right now so that I can create my own film budgets! I am really into kids bikes and have a campaign under way, "Every Kid Deserves a Wicked Bike". This is a marketing initiative I am trying to launch that basically encourages adults to get their kids great bikes! I have been putting together cool bikes with this in mind starting with some 20-inch hardtails! I am also really into high performance electric assist mountain bikes and am putting together amazingly fun bikes. We are launching Kranked RiDES eco tours on these this summer in Whistler to spread the awareness and spread the fun!

What’s your favorite thing about working in the bike industry?

Getting brand new bikes that every year that get radder and radder! Meeting people from all over the world that share the passion and love to ride. Being able to call wicked adventures work! Hahaaa!

Tell me something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn.

I grew up listening to ABBA

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just a shout out to Dirt Rag! Great publication, great vibe and a great stoke!

The video clip below is from Kranked Kracked (Juniper Ridge, Kamloops, July 15, 1997). Old school is in session, with Wade Simmons and Aaron Knowles showing the class how it was done, back in the day.

Kranked Kracked – Juniper Ridge- Kamloops, July 15, 1997 from KRANKED on Vimeo.


Blast from the Past: Every advertisement tells a story

By Karl Rosengarth

In my previous post, I shared some cool reader art from the Dirt Rag Time Machine. It turns out that Uncle Karl was holding out on you. I also have a sweet stash of vintage advertisements.

As I’ve said before, time travel is notoriously rough on paper, so forgive the less-than-pristine quality of some of the following images.

If you think composite handlebars are a recent development, think again. Polycycle offered these little gems, way back in 1990. That’s little, in the literal sense. Their 560mm bar width is laughable by today’s standards. Sadly, it took a while for everybody to figure out that wider was better, with respect to bars.

 

And how about chain guides? Sure, they’ve seen recent gains in popularity, especially with the gravity gang. But chain guides have been around for quite a while, and they started out as a plain old XC product. The Bullseye Chain Tamer was about as simple as it gets.

 

The Kore Chain Reactor came a bit later and was more eye-catching. It featured the “CNC-machined and anodized” motif of the period.

Speaking of CNC machining, I can’t think of a more elegant example than the Paul Powerglide rear derailleur. Made in America. It was in production, really! "Unless you’re fully-loaded" indeed—these things are fetching crazy prices on eBay these days.

Speaking of made in America, Durango-built Yeti hardtails were objects of considerable lust and desire back in the day (present company included). Yeti has come a long way, with a present-day lineup that includes all sorts of whiz-bang suspension bikes (still lust-worthy).

 

Santa Cruz Bikes is another company that has come a long way. This vintage Heckler ad ran in the Classifieds section, way in the back of the Dirt Rag. That’s a far cry from the stunning two-page-spreads that SCB runs nowadays. Movin’ on up! Speaking of, keep an eye out for Dirt Rag Issue #169, where Santa Cruz will unveil a whole-new bike. 

And finally… you know it’s a “vintage” advertisement when it’s pitching a “trials” bike. Are there still trials competitions anymore? The other tip-off is the oh-so-young-looking money shot of Jason “Monkey Boy” McLean on the rear wheel.

 

Until next time, don’t forget the old-school trials mantra: Fear is death. Hesitate and die.


Blast from the past: Dirt Rag Reader Art

By Karl Rosengarth

Over the years, “reader contributions” have had a major influence on Dirt Rag‘s unique flavor. I thought it would be fun to fire up the Dirt Rag Time Machine and make a trip back to the days when black-and-white reader art graced the pages of The Rag. Jump in and fasten your seat belts. If you have a spare flux capacitor, it wouldn’t hurt to pack it.

Forgive the less-than-pristine quality of some of the following items. Time travel is notoriously rough on paper.

First up, some roller-cam brakes that the old-timers should appreciate:

Next up, a bit of vintage humor, courtesy of Beth Covington (who holds the distinction of creating Dirt Rag’s first color cover on Issue #28).

Whoa, I think I spotted this dude on my last swing by Betelgeuse:

Keep an eye out for this character at the Bar at the End of the World:

Frankly, I’m not quite sure about this freak…

Comics have always been a favorite form of self-expression for Dirt Rag contributors. In addition to contributing a number of Dirt Rag covers, Pittsburgh illustrator/artist John Hinderliter contributed a series of Dirt Pilot comics. John’s humor frequently hit a little too close to home for comfort.

“Lenny The Mountain Bike” made several appearances over the years. Rubber side down…

That about does it for this trip back in time. Got some art or illustrations you’d like to share? Send ‘em to riderseye@dirtragmag.com

Here’s wishing you a great 2013.


Blast from the past: the Stutterin’ Prick

Editor’s note: I dragged out this post from our old forums about our founder and publisher’s legendary singlespeed, the Stutterin’ Prick. Note, this was written a decade ago, in 2002. The bike remains virtually unchanged to this day.

By Maurice Tierney

The real story of my one speed, named after a Joe Peshi line in what movie?

Here’s the deal: The story from 24 hours of Canaan this year (2002) is the story of a ten-year-old bike that has not passed its prime: Stutterin’ Prick.

Stutterin’ Prick is a 1989 Team Stumpjumper, Specialized’s top of the line steel bike for that year. Just like Ned and Lisa rode. Came with Tange Prestige tubing, full XT group, Biopace rings. The works. And fortunately, most bike companies, like Specialized, had by 1989 given up on the under-the-chainstay U-brake.

My second mountain bike, it was. Served me well. But over the years, it fell by the wayside. For purposes of spiritual revival and megatrend research, I had some track dropouts installed by Ted Wojcik for a one-speed conversion. Ted was then asked to paint it whatever color he had laying around. Make it ugly, I said. Maroon it was. What a maroon.

The full XT group is long gone, replaced by a minimum of parts, namely Paul Hubs, brakes and levers, Salsa 1″ quill stem, WTB Ti bar in 24″ width, an old Ground Control Umma Gumma 2.5″ tire for the pneumatic suspension up front, a skinnier, knobby Geax tire in back for traction, WTB Powerbeam rims (Laced three cross by Scotty at Dirty Harry’s), stainless steel King cages, and Bullseye 190mm cranks. The Bullseyes are a key feature of this bike as the 190mm length allows me to put down a load of torque when I need to. I ordered the Bullseyes with a 34-tooth chainring, and put a 20 on the back. This choice may be slow for flat sections, but it’s great on hills.

Screw the trendiness. Ten years later, and this machine has raised my consciousness, my self-esteem, and the level of my riding skill. We just got back from 24 hours of Canaan, where Stutterin’ and me rode 2 laps with an open team from NYC that I found in the lodge looking for a rider. My 1:37 day lap was comparable to what I’m usually capable of on a geared bike, suspended or not. It’s amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it. Prick was able to ride probably 90 percent of the course, especially the long grind up the road. A couple of really steep uphills were conquered on foot. This offered relief for my back and legs. Downhills were handled amazingly well, the precision of the rigid fork offered total control. And the rigid-fork beating was not that bad.

I don’t know why, but this baby rides like a dream. Uphill or down. Could be that the geometry chosen in 1989 is still valid today. 71/71 angles, 16.9″ chainstays, 11.6″ bottom bracket, 23.75″ top tube and 1.65″ fork rake.

Maintenance? Well the low-end model Ritchey 1″ headset did come loose a little, but that was easily cured once I was able to find a pair of 32mm headset wrenches. That wasn’t easy. The only other requirement was chain lube.

 


Back to Top