Alchemy Bicycles by: Matthew Simpson
“..capable of turning base materials into gold or silver”….
I don’t follow fads. More than a handful of times, in varying settings I’ve had a friend, colleague or family member refer to me as an ‘early adopter’. What the hell does that mean, early adopter? I grew up in a British influenced home outside of Toronto, Canada, born in Africa. My family roots have painters, musicians, and men’s fashion boutique owners. I love all things shiny. Fashion for me as a youth was being caught up in the skate craze, euro mod scene, and indie music influence of the 80’s & 90’s. I recall my father’s attempt of aligning me with the skate & surf scene when the wrist ‘the band’ hit the shores of Canada. Bright neon influence sucked me in. I gravitated with my urban yout’s to the skate & punk/mod scene. Who didn’t hang at the local skate shop waiting for the new P&P release? Musical adoption of game changers like Bowie, Michael J, had their place, but for me, I was gob smacked by the EU British mod music scene. Funny that today I am meeting that time of my life full on in my face.
Pete Smith (a.k.a Mr.Mad Alchey) & I connected last year on the Tim Johnson Ride on Washington. It was there we engaged in a subtle respect for one another. He knew of me, I of him, both cut from the same cloth of life. Sharing our respect for humble beginnings, commitment to our families & Mother Earth we found common ground. Post ride we stayed in touch, and hatched a scheme to attend Interbike-11 together for varying reasons. Summer-11 we cleared countless hours & road miles together in New England taking life, product, branding, marketing & operations. It was as clear as the shores of Long Island great things were being born. On our travels to Interbike we hooked up with like-minded Mr.Portland himself JD. Over coffee, Cross-Vegas, smoke filled casino air we hatched the next plan.
The local coffee shop in our local haunt served as a base for PS & I. Note pads, scrappy pens, winter toques, family get-together’s and the base brick & mortar was forming. Not just “another race team”. Brainwaves cooking like an old GE microwave on sunset blvd we were fresh. Fresh as fresh is fresh. We wanted to be part of something bigger than us, than any member, rider, or sponsor. Collective, Cooperative, freelance, all words we started using. The idea of life and paying it forward was common threads in our lives. Treading lightly, influencing positive behaviors in our children, lives & friends, the support network at home, all characteristics of what was morphing in front of our café filled, stubble ridged jaws.
Craftsmanship is the signature of the Mad Alchemy brand. Pete & Jan taking their personal recipe of fresh, wholesome ingredients and blending by hand in their kitchen, on their family dining tables, to bring their craft to our legs. This fall I brought Pete some of the original jars of Mad Alchemy I had at home. I was one of the first 25-50 buyers of Mad Alchemy’s birth. I recall talking to a friend about Mad Alchemy at its inception and was told I was an early adopter and the product made no sense? NO SENSE??
Taking the journey of ride preparation to apply by hand (my hands) that someone’s hands (his/her hands) have created, allowing me the time to pontificate the ride, the route, the road conditions, the weather, wind, sleet, snow, rain or sun; man that is as epic as it gets. My head filled with the memories of prior hours & miles solo, or with friends riding what poets craved to write about. That’s what craftsmanship brings.
Custom built bikes for the cooperative riders. Each rider connecting with a frame builder to build a custom bike for the rider for the conditions the rider plans to ride in 2012. Working with the builder to spec, fit, design, & finish a bike that will be ridden on specific roads, & conditions that was the plan. All over countless coffees and cheese plates. Passion for cross in Belgium, real football in Europe, customary traditions in Asia almost equates to my & Pete’s passion for hand built bikes. Some of the recent ‘welding/building hand’ images floating around the Internet have attempted to tell the story. The hours of care these hands use to build their craft into a velocity ridden tool is real. I have spent time in custom houses, I have seen their customer lists, their design tools, their scratch pads, smelt the oils of their machines. Art meets precision design.