an assortment of 2-wheeled inspiration – mostly bicycles

In Le Tour de France, cyclists receive points for reaching a mountaintop first. The leader of the classification is named the “King of the Mountains”, and wears the  “maillot à pois rouges”, the polka dot jersey – a white jersey with red dots.

Polka dots are both serious and playful when identified with cycling. Denver’s Marczyk Fine Foods’ proximity to the mountains and their clean “M” logo inspired me to design a “polka dot” jersey for their 2014 jersey design. Image above is my inspiration board and the finished jersey is pictured below. Available at Marczyk Fine Foods.

For more 2-wheeled inspiration click here.

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When I first saw the logo for Denver’s Marczyk Fine Wines - a black and white 1950′s photo of a woman guzzling wine from the bottle, I thought, “Wow! That image would be great on a cycling jersey!” I imagined the woman picnicking by the side of the road with her baguette and cheese, cheering “allez! allez!” to Tour de France riders as they whizzed by.

One thing led to another and I ended up designing two limited edition cycling jerseys for Marczyk’s; the “Drinking Lady” being the first off the sewing line, just in time for the USA Pro Challenge where racers will ride laps around Marczyk’s this Sunday, August 25.

It turns out that the woman in the picture is the mother of the wine shop’s owner, Barbara, who describes the origin of the photo, “When we were little, I was not yet a year old, my father decided it would be cool/fun/crazy to live in Italy. So he and mama packed up three little kids and took an ocean liner, the Christopher Columbus, to Italy and found a place to live in Rome. From there they would travel out to the countryside and bring a picnic.”

“So when we were opening the wine shop, we had already made many of their pictures of life in Italy part of our brand. Our logo designer asked to see the book of photos again, and there it was, the perfect image! I think my mother would be pleased to be part of our world.”

OK, so Barbara’s mother was whooping it up at the Giro instead!

The jersey shown here is a woman’s fit. The men’s version has the same graphics and colors. White side panels read “The Best Wines You’ve Never Heard Of” and the back has the same photo image as the front. To enquire about the jerseys or to place an order email barbara@marczyk.com.

“LIKE” Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook here.

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I’ve always liked to mine vintage garments and interpret the designs into something fresh. This is especially true of athletic and sporting apparel. So when long-time cyclist Bill Humphreys published “The Jersey Project” I nabbed a copy for my design library.

The Jersey Project is a visual tour of bike racing in the U.S. and Europe over the past few decades through hundreds of images of club and team cycling jerseys.  Each page is filled with jerseys and bits of racing history. From page one I was hooked as I was swept back into the era when I first discovered bikes and the world of bike racing. I would never have dreamed then that the wool jerseys worn by the U.S. riders I rode hip-to-hip with on training rides would end up in a historical compilation!

I’ve been working on my own jersey design project for a client this summer and this wonderfully rich book has been a source of endless inspiration. (I’ll show my work when I get some decent photos!)

For a sneak peak of my most recent jersey design for Marczyk Wine & Spirits check out Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook here.


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Dutch apparel designer Maartje Hoogland has come up with a cycling themed collection she calls “Valsplat”. (I can’t figure out how it translates into English so if anyone does, would you share it here?)

Hoogland’s collection was inspired by the colors of the rainbow jersey, features found on cycling jerseys and the “whole circus” surrounding bike racing.

Her knit dresses are really great, but I feel her cut and sew pieces need a bit more polish and attention to fit. Overall I love the way she’s translated the World Championship rainbow stripes into non-cycling fashion. For more about Maartje Hoogland click here.

More cycling inspired fashion here and here.

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It’s hard to throw away a race number. That high-contrast piece of Tyvek symbolizes a lot of work, preparation and the commitment you’ve made to your sport. Maybe you had a good result; maybe your goal was just to finish. Maybe things didn’t work out. But you made it to the starting line and pinned on a number and that means a lot. It means that you participated, be it a century, a bicycle or ski race, a 10K or something else.

It occurred to the clever folks at Elevengear that it would be very cool to be able to re-use these symbols of significant effort for a new and noble purpose. After several iterations they’ve come up with the “Race Number Cap”.

It takes five numbers to make a cap – five less numbers that will end up in the landfill. Send them your numbers and they’ll stitch up a memento that will look better on your head than tacked to the wall above your workbench. For more information about ordering click here.

Don’t forget, Friday is National Bike to Work Day. See you on the road!

For more 2-wheeled inspiration click here.

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The intersection of art and fashion with sport is always fascinating to me. The collision of state of the art cycling shoes wrapped with vintage images exploring the sport’s rich history is a great example. Clearly cycling is a passion for U.K. based artist James Straffon who has exactingly decoupaged cycling shoes with historic racing memorabilia. Most recently Straffon collaborated with cycling brand Rapha to create a shoe to commemorate the introduction of their new yak leather shoe, the Grand Tour.

When speaking about creating the shoe Straffon claims, “Working on the Rapha Grand Tour shoe was a daunting task. The decoupage needed to sit well with the company ethos. It also had to exist as an embellishment to the already apparent ‘beauty’ of the raw object, and not speak a different aesthetic language. In addition, much trepidation arose when my usual working method introduced resin-coated sanding papers to fine Yak leather. Not a moment for the faint-hearted. Grand Tour was a journey in itself.”

Straffon chose his images carefully. One flank features the line-up of the very first ‘Grand Départ’ in 1903, outside the Café Reveil-Matin, Montgeron, France. Eventual inaugural Tour de France winner Maurice Garin can be seen poised at the far right. The fated 1967 Tour is also honoured, with reference to Stage 13, Marseille to Carpentras, where Tom Simpson died the slopes of the Ventoux. Barry Hoban’s consequent Stage 14 victory is also represented. Merckx, Rivière, and Géminiani are also featured in the subtle interlocking of images.

Straffon has also collaged shoes donated by cycling stars David Millar and Bradley Wiggins. The shoes will be part of a solo exhibit of Straffon’s cycling based works LE TOUR – from maillot jaune to lanterne rouge opening June 30th at Snap Galleries in London.

David Millar’s re-envisioned shoe

Bradley Wiggin’s wonderfully modified shoe

Via: Road.cc

For more cycling inspiration click here.

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Thanks for your notes asking where I’ve been lately as my blog posts have been pretty sparce. All is OK, I’ve just been very busy with multiple studio projects, and my day-to-day life. I have more ideas for my blog than I have time to follow up with. I’ve been  jotting them down in a little notebook that I keep on my desk so I won’t  forget them.

The unusually early arrival of spring has me disoriented. I’ve been straddling two seasons – skiing and cycling. On one hand I’ve been hanging onto the snow, and with the other thinking how nice it is to ride in shorts!

Snow will win out as I’m off to the Alps for a ski tour in a couple of weeks. Getting gear together for trips and getting work squared away before departing is always madness. I suspect that I won’t be very regular about posting for the next few weeks! And hopefully you’re off someplace nice for a spring break too!

Above Luxembourger and astounding climber, Charly Gaul climbs a snowbank lined and muddy road at the 1957 Giro d’Italia. He was called “The Angel of the Mountains”.

From: Cycling’s Golden Age; Heros of the Post War Era 1946-1967


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This intricately detailed badge adorns the head tube of a snow bike from Black Sheep Bikes. I’ve never seen snowflakes grace a bicycle before – except the kind  that melt – and am dazzled by the design and workmanship of this badge. It’s like a little piece of jewelry for the bike.

Spotted at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show by BikeRadar.com.

For more 2-wheeled inspiration click here.

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When one imagines carved saddles, images of scroll and acanthus leaf patterns and shiny hardware atop Palominos come to mind. Craftswoman Kara Ginther has envisioned an entirely different kind of saddle. She expresses her design through intricately hand carved Brooks leather bicycle saddles. What a brilliant idea!

According to Ginther’s website her techniques for carving leather seats are quite straight forward. She only uses world renowned Brooks saddles. First she traces her design by hand and then embosses it with an awl into the surface of the saddle. She then carves away super thin slices of the outer layer to achieve a light and dark contrast. Some of her designs are hand colored. The carving doesn’t hamper the integrity of the saddle – it only enhances it.

She welcomes custom designs and her prices depend on the size,  complexity and content of the design.  Text, for example, is much more difficult that an organic pattern and is more expensive. Custom saddles range in price from $99 to $400 – that’s after you provide the saddle. When you’re splurging on a handmade custom titanium and carbon bike, what’s another couple hundred bucks for a really special saddle? Tally-ho!


If you’re not into cycling, she also custom carves Dansko clogs! Visit her etsy store here.

For more 2-wheeled inspiration click here 


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Don’t you love this card designed by my creative cycling friend, Ann? Have a wonderful weekend everyone. My studio is closed today. I’m taking a few ski runs, decorating my tree and starting my wrapping!

© Ann Howard 2011

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I’ve come across the story of yet another inspiring and pioneering female motorcyclist – Anke-Eve Goldmann, a six foot tall German motorcycle racer. Slim and striking, she felt comfortable with both cameras and eyes focused on her as she proved her mettle on two wheels.

It appears that from the 1950’s onward she competed in Endurance and Speed competitions, but was barred from competing at higher level Club or GP racing because she was a woman.

I find it especially interesting that Goldmann designed her own motorcycle racing leathers. Apparently she worked with German leather riding gear manufacturer Harro in designing her custom riding gear. I’m presuming there wasn’t much in the way of motorcycling gear available for women in the 50’s so she helped create her own.

The custom summer one-piece riding suit she designed had a distinctive diagonal zipper starting at the neck and angling across her upper torso. A look that is certainly current today in women’s fashion. Harro went on to manufacture her designs for public consumption.

In winter her jacket featured a wide multi-buckled belt, too large to be merely a kidney belt. Perhaps it helped keep her warm in cold temperatures. Her winter riding suit was significantly bulkier and larger than her svelte summer cat-suit, and clearly accommodated woolen under layers.

After her closest friend died in a riding accident, Anke-Eve Goldmann seems to have given up motorcycles altogether, and began to travel with a backpack to remote Asian locations. Traveling alone, she trekked through Burma, the Sunda Islands, Vietnam, and Cambodia, not many years after the conflicts there had ended. More of her story at The Vintagent.










More Photos

You might also like to read about globe-circling motorcyclist Elspeth Beard


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This “mini Masi” photo caught my eye on Fixed Gear Girl Taiwan, not only because of the edelweiss apron the guy is wearing but because I once owned a Masi Gran Criterium made by the Italian frame building maestro, Faliero Masi. I loved that bike and logged well over 20,000 miles on it. I retired it after I crashed it in a criterium in Washington D.C. It belongs to a woodworker now and is sometimes covered with sawdust.

I don’t know the origins of this picture, whether it is an actual miniature frame with components, perhaps being held by the maestro himself, or just a very clever Photoshop job. I’m not actually even sure it is a Masi since I can’t quite read the lettering on the down tube, My quick google search to learn more left me empty handed. If anyone can shed any light on this photo, please let me know!

Mini Masi

You might also like Vintage Cycling Toys

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Sometimes the best ideas are so simple that I wonder to myself, “why didn’t I think of that?”. (Bottled ice tea comes to mind). These buttons, from Buzzworks, which celebrate bike racing and its’ heritage are awesome! So simple, yet communicate so much about le cyclisme! The 24mm buttons come in 3-packs.




(Greg and Joop are also available)

For more Two-wheeled inspiration click here.

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Most of the projects I work on take about 18 months to come to market and for me to be able to show them in my portfolio. By the time the products are for sale in stores I have often “forgotten” about them!

This was not the case with the women’s cycling kits I designed for a fundraiser for Stowe Unfunded Sports. Project coordinator Pascale Savard and I started working on the jersey and short concepts in late May and they were delivered at the beginning of August. That’s super fast in my world!

The design direction demanded that the kit be feminine, sporty and somewhat retro – but NOT “girly”. Pascale is in love with Pantone 293, so that is the blue color we chose for the main body. I used a lot of white, making the kit both visible and feminine. 70’s cycling jerseys inspired the striping and makes for a clean look. The big Stowe logo adds an identifiable and retro touch. My biggest challenge was balancing the placement and colors of the sponsor’s logos on the jersey side panels, sleeves and back pockets.

Proceeds from the sales will go to help fund cross-country running, Nordic skiing, golf and the alpine ski teams in the Stowe schools. Kits are available while they last at H.E. Shaw’s General Store in Stowe, Vermont.

Stowe Kit


To become an interactive part of Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook click here.

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Note the spare tire laced around the cyclist’s upper torso and the double waterbottle holster on the handlebars in this official 1965 poster for La Vuelta a España stage race. The bulls add a nice Spanish touch. German cyclist Rolf Wolfshohl won the race that year.

The 66th edition of the race begins today in Benidorm, Spain.

Vuelta 1965

For more two wheeled inspiration click here.

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