Words by Mike Loots. View a gallery of his bike HERE
The myth cycles of Eastern Asia are abounding in bamboo-spirit stories. Haunted groves and enchanted stalks bring luck, libido and a balance of grace and power to those who know well the nuances of this giant evergreen grass.
The Alubooyah is no less legendary than the plant from which it is derived–this is a bike that sends out spirit by the bucketful.
My nose was, for a long time, thoroughly upturned toward the fat bike and it’s associated culture. I read those “fatties” as excessive in all the ways that I love bicycles for not being. I like to ride bikes, and ride with folks, who are practical, efficient and un-pretentious. I am a commuter foremost. My bike is my way to work, my grocery getter. It is my main means of transportation from here to Timbuktu.
I need a ride that will ride—day in and day out—not some self-aggrandizing novelty that quadruples commute minutes and incites accusations of delusional masculinity.
What I discovered upon hopping on an Alubooyah is that which fat-bike riders have known for as many years as I have been poo-pooing–these bikes are damn fun to ride.
Atop a stock Alubooyah I either snapped powerfully around and over obstacles, or I flowed like water through the cornucopia of corners and playscapes of Iowa City’s “Jingle Cross”.
Ben and Adam, the Boo fellows who would build the Alubooyah I bought after my initial chagrin, smiled knowingly from their crowded tent, sucking down home-made chili and handing out Boo socks.
“Shucks,” I thought, as I sailed into the air off a pile of sod and snow, “ I am going to have to be a fat-biker.”
Since “Tatanka,” my Alubooyah, and I started riding together, my commute has changed absolutely. I am finding new routes through my environment constantly! Wood lots and pothole-choked alleyways become invitations rather than obstacles.
I have always enjoyed my morning commute, but never before this bike have I felt so thoroughly fulfilled on my way to work.
My commute is my recess, my exercise, my celebration of all things wild and free, before buttoning down for the day at the desk.
I celebrate the spirit of Alubooyah. I love that I know the fellows who built this bike. I love that they’ve seen the plantation whereupon their superior bamboo was grown. I traded them my money for their time and product, fully aware of the meaning behind our exchange. We affirmed in one another a mutual love of craft, community, performance and aesthetic.
Owning a bamboo bike is a process separate from merely consuming a product. It is an affirmation of a system that marries a fine machine with a genuinely fun riding culture, and build crew. It is an acknowledgement of commitment to fine artisanal economies.
Tatanka will roam with me for many years to come, Insha’Allah. I would encourage you to encounter spirit in the bamboo of these legendary bikes. Push yourself, and these frames to the limits of the everyday. Grow attached, as any rooted being might, to your own bamboocycle. Feel the snap, power and give afforded to those who choose to ride a bamboo bike into whatever adventure may come.
I will never look at my steel horse the same way again. The unique fibers of the Alubooyah frame may prove to tell the same story for you!
All the luck,