Rider Profile

Bill Blandford from Elkridge, Maryland


by Dennis Bean-Larson

Bill posted to Facebook on Friday, Feb 4th that he's started his off road ride at 5:47 am in the snow.

Anyone who is out riding at that time of the morning is someone that we want to know about, especially when they are riding a fixed gear! So we called him up.

dennis: Bill, what in the world are you doing riding in the woods at 5am - in the winter?
bill: It's called the "Morning Ride" ( www.morningride.com ) here south of Baltimore and it's a large group of maybe 100 riders ... not everyone shows up, of course, but right now, in the winter we've got about 20 hard core guys that show up to ride. In the summer it's on the road, but in the fall, early spring and winter it's in the woods. Theres a dedicated CX group around here, so some guys will be on cross bikes.

dennis: How many are riding fixed in the woods?
bill: Right now, I'm one of 6 guys riding fixed in the woods, in the summer on the road, there's quite a few fixed bikes out for the early 2 hour ride.

dennis: Where exactly are you guys riding this time of the year?
bill: We're riding the Patasco Valley State Park - the Avalon area - lots of great trails - in good weather you could ride a good three hours and not double back - there's a lot of trail here- plenty of rocks and roots too.

You can find my blog HERE.

dennis: Bill, you said you were out riding this afternoon "with the family" so how old are you, and give us an idea what you do when you're not riding your bike.
bill: I'm 39 and I'm a software engineer at John Hopkins.

dennis: What's the bike you're riding and how long have you been riding fixed in the woods?
bill: I've been riding this Surly for three years, I rode fixed before that on a Bianchi Bass (ed: bikes that he broke btw), but the Surly seems to have held up well so far.

dennis: As I look at the photo, is that a 29" wheel up front - sure looks like it.
bill: Yeah, the 29 helps roll the bike over stuff. It just barely fits into the 26" fork and I'm running a disc so the bosses don't have to line up.

dennis: What kind of brakes?
bill: I like simple stuff, so I've got Avid mechanical brakes front and rear. In the rear if I'm riding fixed it's a 26" wheel , but if I run a freewheel then I use a 650b wheel in the rear. I usually ride a 32x18 with the fixed gear.

dennis: What other special stuff?
bill: Well a Bash Ring or Rock Ring, that's about necessary around here - lots of rocks and roots. And I've currently got an Rucktion Crankset with regular square tapers, I've busted up a couple of FSA cranks - riding fixed is hard on some parts.

dennis:How did you get started riding fixed - I asume you started on the road first?
bill: Yeah, I've had bikes for a long time, since I was in school. The first good bike I had was a Schwinn Sting Ray, but I really wanted a BMX bike so it wasn't long before I'd swapped out lots of parts on that so it was nearly a BMX.

I grew up near Philly, went to Penn State, lived in Chicago for awhile - commuted while I was there too. I discovered mountain bikes about 1992, my Chicago commuter was an mtb with slicks and stuff.

I moved to the Baltimore area around 2000 and a bit after that I was looking on-line for information abot what bikes parts worked with what - and I discovered Sheldon Brown's website. That's where I learned about fixed gear bikes. I built up a fixed gear based around a GT mtb and submitted it to the Fixed Gear Gallery a loong time ago - 2004 or 2005 - it's FGG #992.

dennis: #992, that WAS along time ago, what events have you done since then? Any special cycling projects?
bill: I've done a couple CX races on a fixed gear. The first one was pretty funny since I'd never even seen a CX race before, and there I was rolling out.

I've done the 100 mile road loop at the Seagull Century here in Maryland since 2005 and I always ride it fixed, and I do a couple fixed CX races every year. I'm not a big racer, but they are fun once in a while.

The special project I've been most involved with is a group called "Adventures For The Cure". It's a group of riders that organize events benefitting diabetes research and awareness. Theres a Facebook Fan Page here. Quite a few members of our "Morning Ride" are also active in AFC.

Hope you all found a little inspiration from Bill, riding in the woods on a fixed gear can be a barrel of fun.

You can find Bill Blandford on Facebook, and of course his bikes at Fixed Gear Gallery at:
#992 William Blandford's GT,
#2094 Buffal0b1ll's Soma ,
#4580 Bill's Schwinn,
#7326 Bill Blandford's Bianchi ,

Clearly Bill likes fixed gear bikes!

dennis February, 2011.