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The Weekly What's Up: Garrett Chow Interview

2013 Tour of California - Livermore TT 

2013 Tour of California - Livermore TT 

Like you promised yourself last year, this year is going to be great. You are going to lose weight, take weight, ride more, ride less, yoga more, yoga less, be on time, and stop being so French. This list is not exhaustive. But, let’s be honest for a minute, your personal well being, nobody really cares about it… or maybe I’m wrong, maybe I do*.

I mean, I care about mine, and about the well being of The Athletic Community. So, I’m going to ask few questions to our Dear Friend Garrett Chow. Why? We are all actors of this community, obviously. And like in Hollywood, some get nominated at the Golden Globes. I don’t take risk to tell you that if the sport industry gave awards to people who push everyone forward, then there might be an award for Garrett.


FACT: Garrett is giving a new dimension to what could be considered the mass cyclist — mixing design and cycling tech. He is not the only one, but he is right there, shooting right at the middle of a target which he shaped himself. If Specialized had done something super badass for cycling production, I would say, Garrett brought it to the next level, ART.

I’m like you, I’m sometime confused, it is hard when you look at the pieces of the puzzle to understand who does what. Last time I formally questioned Garrett about his work, he was still a creative director for the Performance Road line at Specialized. Then, he quit, and we went and rode Mt. Diablo, then we went and supported a Swiss racer during the Tour of California, and then the Diablo caught on fire.

I won’t say any of those facts are not linked*.

I know for sure he is now pushing the MASH SF project full time. http://mashsf.com


- Best team of the RED HOOK CRIT 2013

- An important number of collaborations with Cinelli

- Walton BRUSH went to the national cyclocross race in Boulder, and I won’t take risk to say that his bike and his kit were more grammed than any other pro out there. Wait, that kind of is a pro. 


So, Garrett, what’s up? 

Not much, and everything. All at once. I'm losing weight, by gaining it… I'm working: at not working... I'm aspiring to hit every item on your 2014 to-do list with the exception of being less French. 2014 will see me making strides to bolster my inner-Francophile. I've been wanting to learn French, in fact. I spend a few weeks there each Summer, so it's something I would really, really like to do: speak French. 

As you mention, I'd resigned from my post at Specialized last April. Since then, I've moved from Santa Cruz back to my spiritual home, Berkeley. It's the place I've always felt closest to, and, (for better or worse) identify with the most. I grew up here, and I've known it's the place I'd 'end up'. So I made a round-about, full-circle, and it feels very good to be home. I 'formalized' this notion recently, too. 2014 sees me as a first time home-owner, in Berkeley. I look very forward to re-engaging and re-connecting with my inner-hippie.

2014 US Cyclocross National Championship - Boulder, CO

2014 US Cyclocross National Championship - Boulder, CO

How cool was to have Walton at the cyclocross national? 

That is absolutely amazing! I posted a photo of Walton and his cross rig on my Instagram feed recently. In its caption, I mention how I came to know Walt: In 2009 he was introduced to us (MASH) by a mutual friend. We'd conspired to ride the Tour of California parcours on track bikes and it was suggested that Walton would be a good person to include on that ride. His baptism-by-fire over those 750 miles meant that the friendship was set in stone. That's one of those instances in life that goes one of two ways: you come out on the other side being the greatest of friends, or you don't speak to one-another ever again! Luckily, the fates chose the former over the latter. Walton was 19 years old at the time, and had cut school to join us on the Tour of California. His truest colors, both as a friend and as a rider shone through, and we've been lucky to continue building on those adventures together… It's just amazing to see him following that upward trajectory set in motion around 2009. 

At which level and how deep were you involve on the frames collaboration with Cinelli? 

Mike Martin and I work together with Cinelli on all Cinelli/MASH product developments. We sit with Cinelli to discuss and plan the projects for the up-coming model-year, and oversee all aspects of production, from samples to final production. I'm responsible for the color and graphics work on those projects. After drawing up design-intent documents, I create the production art-work needed for their production over-seas; and insure the process and end-results stay true to the original vision and concept. Thus far, MASH and Cinelli have made 4 frame-sets and numerous components and soft-goods together. 2015 will see a continuation of that partnership, with some really cool, new things that both camps are excited about!

Are you going to the Tour de France again this year? 

Mais oui. I'll make it to France every July until I can't make it to France every July. Those 21 days do more to fuel my fire for the remaining 339 days in the year than almost anything. I gain tremendous inspiration from being there, and seeing and feeling the sights and sounds. And, it goes without saying that the riding always ranks as some of the best of the year! 

Since when MASH decided that have a cycling cap with KODAK or LEICA could be the new hot stuff to wear? 

MASH has always been a (moving and still) image content-provider. The first projects we made were 'home movies' and photos of our friends riding their bikes in San Francisco. The kits and bikes I've designed for MASH have purposely shared a visual-language based upon photo or video themes: Histogram, RGB, Parallax… So, Kodak and Leica figure into this as well. 

 I have seen a hat CILO AUFINA, can you tell us the story behind it? (This question is totally personal but I'm in charge here - also, my Dad used to race professional for CILO.)

Unfortunately, the cap you're referring to is one we can't take credit for. It's just one of the throwback designs we purchase from a distributor and make available for purchase at the shop, and online.

Rainier (Pannier) Schaefer & Garrett prepare for the approaching peloton.

Rainier (Pannier) Schaefer & Garrett prepare for the approaching peloton.

2013 Tour of California - BMC Rider (and friend of Garrett) Michael Schär

2013 Tour of California - BMC Rider (and friend of Garrett) Michael Schär

You have 10,000 people following you on your instagram, how do you feel about it? Because during the summer 2012 when I interviewed you for the first time it was barely 2000. What happened? Did you go on a TV show or something? 

Cause and effect--AFTER you interviewed me, the number jumped! Hahaha! But, the truth isn't far from that. I think that the posts I'd done for Rapha last Summer at Le Tour, some of which were then re-posted on the @Rapha Instagram had a huge hand in the audience increase. So too, with @Iamspecialized, or @MASHSF for that matter. I'm flattered there's so many people interested in my work (which is primarily what I choose to share), and stoked to know bikes and design are points of interest among so many the world over. It's been suggested that much of the content/writing I share fits better with a blog. However, Instagram appeals to me because of its transiency and immediacy. A blog feels to me like work--both in keeping one, and in reading one. I hope the larger archive of my travails is the work itself--bikes, kits, etc. I do not make it a practice to document every second of how I spend my day on Instagram. Rather a 'quality versus quantity' approach hopefully insures that the content maintains a consistently interesting and hopefully exciting level. This can mean letting things lie-low/not posting for days. In spite of what some would have you believe, there's simply not something screaming to be shared every moment of one's life.

 Do you think it’s funny to print the face of your teammate on a tshirt? 

A huge part of the appeal of having a project and a platform like MASH is to do things with, and for friends. I'd argue - that is MASH's raison d'être. Whether planning and then doing a ride together, or making a shirt with one of their faces on it; we'd honestly be doing the same stuff whether there is, or isn't an audience. 

 What other people are involved with you on the MASH adventure? 

My dear friend, Michael Martin is really the mastermind behind the project. I'm a lucky hitch-hiker who happened to attend art-school once. 

Do you have other side project not bike related? 

No. I choose to focus solely on, and take on bicycle-related work.  

Are you going to design a sock for The Athletic? What you would work on a design if it should have any cycling reference? What other sport make you on fire? 

Yes. Please. I'm going to do a sock design for The Athletic--you guys ride bikes, right?! There's many sports that light my fire: Road cycling. Cyclocross. Track cycling…  ;-) 

I do acknowledge that there's sports other than cycling. Jeremy and I have discussed that a few of them--and maybe some things not considered sports (at the moment), will find their way into my design for The Athletic. Stay tuned!

How do you feel about have to be one of the first people to order a PDX socks? Do you think you are going to to sell it on internet for a few million euros or did you already contact Sotheby's? 

I was planning to use their sale to put my future children through college, but am torn--I think I'd actually like to be buried in those, when the time comes. College is over-rated, anyway.  

What cool is going to happen in 2014? 

I'm very excited for the release of the new Parallax frame-set, which we unveiled at Redhook Barcelona. I'll adapt the matching skin-suit design to a kit, which will be offered for sale. I'm a fan of designing a cohesive whole--considering each piece, and how it flows and compliments the next. A new bike and kit is a great expression of this idea, so I'm always very pleased to see everything come together. It's a treat seeing people out on the road on/in stuff you've designed. I've got many other projects which unfortunately I can't talk about, but 2014 will be a good year. 

So there you have it folks. The word from our friend Garrett is that 2014 will be a good year. If all the course direction signs are pointed in the right direction - we will see some good things from our favorite artist/writer. And until the next Weekly What's Up - take it easy little tigers.  - JK 

The view from Mt. Diablo - 2013 Tour of California 

The view from Mt. Diablo - 2013 Tour of California 


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