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Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Visit to see what we do.

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    One Man's Road to Patagonia

    Legend78 Most of our employees have interesting stories to tell, but few have spent 15 months in an East German jail after abandoning a plan to somersault the Berlin Wall from a trampoline before trying to escape the country on foot.

    Holger Bismann, managing director of Patagonia Europe, was generous enough to share some of his experiences of what it was like to live under totalitarian rule in East Germany, keep alive a relationship with his future wife while in jail, then cross the border into freedom after the Wall came down.

    1) What is your most vivid memory of living in East Germany before the Wall came down? The thing that reminds you of that time the most?

    My most vivid memories were of saying "good bye" to the good things about the life I had there for 27 years, right before my friend Klaus and I escaped. We couldn't actually say good bye to anyone because it was too dangerous to tell anybody about our plans. We couldn't even say anything to our closest friends or parents, simply to protect them and ourselves from danger.

     . . . hit the jump to continue reading "One Man's Road to Patagonia"

    [A photo from earlier, and easier, times - before the personal ordeal that would eventually lead to freedom from East Germany. Photo: Holger Bisman collection]

    Continue reading "One Man's Road to Patagonia" »

    Backyard Adventures: Pioneer Trifecta (aka. Fatherhood Shakedown)

    Jj_Hyndman A little over a year ago, we invited readers to submit stories of their own Backyard Adventures and announced a deadline of January 9th, 2009. Here we are in 2010, and still (happily) receiving submissions. Today's post is from previous Backyard Adventure contributor Steve Graepel, author of an earlier piece about traversing central Idaho's Sawtooth Range. Steve's been working hard on his plan to thread a 900+ mile route through Idaho's wilderness by foot, raft and mountain bike. This installment of Steve's Backyard Adventures could be considered a recon-mission for his big trip, but with a new baby on the way, Steve had something different in mind . . .


    After ten years of marriage, life finds a comfortable rhythm; it’s a well-tuned circuit of work, exercise and leisure.

    And then along comes your first child...

    "It will change your life...your life will never be the same...parenthood gives back so much more than you put into it...". Growing wary of the overabundance of encouragement, or perhaps out of sheer panic, I jumped at the chance to get lost during the baby shower. There aren’t many problems you can't solve after an 8.5 hour push.

    I wanted to knock out a trip I'd heard rumors of. Nestled in Sun Valley's backyard, three hours from Boise, the "Pios" court those with a zest for adventure. . . .

    [Above: The view of Hyndman Peak from Cobb's south face. Photo: James Just]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Pioneer Trifecta (aka. Fatherhood Shakedown)" »

    Wrong Turn

    PCT_badge The photographs that appear in our catalogs have long been a source of inspiration. Very rarely, however, they can give the wrong impression. The Patagonia Heart of Winter 2010 catalog contained a photograph (p. 38) of illegal mountain bike use on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

    The Pacific Crest Trail is open to foot and horse travel and closed to all motorized and mechanized (bike) use for its entire length. Patagonia regrets this oversight and strongly supports the environmental stewardship for which the rule exists, and the "Rules of the Trail" developed by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails.

    Many of us in the company enjoy mountain biking. We understand the contentiousness surrounding access issues, but we also respect the rules of Wilderness and the rights of hikers on the PCT. Please ride on open trails only, respect trail and road closures, and ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail.

    There's plenty of space out there for all of us. Enjoy.

    Dirtbag Diaries: The Shorts - Forty Miles A Poem

    The_Shorts_NBB Before you start that next batch of cookies, throw on today's Short and listen joyfully while visions of riding dance in your head. Happy holidays from Fitz Cahall and The Dirtbag Diaries.

    Whether you swing a hammer or hammer on the keyboard, we all find ways to stay sane during the workweek. Maybe it’s a particularly good post-work bouldering session or an hour of yoga, which has been the case for me lately. When Scott Harvey’s poem “40 Miles of Inspiration” showed up in my Inbox, it was a like a breath of fresh air. It’s hard not to smile at this refreshing cure for the mid-week blues. Farm dogs. Wayward bats. Coyotes. All in a day’s commute.

    Download "Forty Miles A Poem"
    (mp3 - right-click to download - music credits)

    In between full-length episodes of The Dirtbag Diaries, listeners like you have the chance to narrate your own story on the show -- these are the Shorts. To submit your story for consideration, visit The Dirtbag Diaries and look for the Story Suggestions? link in the sidebar. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with Fitz via Facebook and Twitter.


    Fun Divided By Three

    Chalkboard_logo The Dirtbag Diaries is on the air. Host Fitz Cahall introduces today's podcast:

    As outdoor types, we love rating systems. We'll rate anything. Rapids. Climbs. Ski runs. Now, we've gone and tried to rate the unrateable -- fun. Fun divided by three -- it's this concept that has been floating around campfires for years.  It dictates that there are three types of fun. There is type one fun and type two fun, but today, we are going to explore type three fun. This is the epic. The suffer fest. This is collarbone breaking,  giardia-getting, soaked-to-the-bone, carnage. If it sounds horrible, that's because it probably is. What does type three fun entail? Why do some people seem particularly drawn to these types of adventures and what could possibly motivate us to embrace type three fun? Today, we bring you answers.

    Download "Fun Divided By Three"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    Visit for links and more information on the music in today's podcast. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with Fitz on Facebook and Twitter.

    Backyard Adventures: The Sawtooth Traverse

    Morning after Central Idaho's Sawtooth Mountain Range offer a stellar backyard for Steve Graepel's adventures. A Boise resident, he wedges his endurance training around family and a full-time job. His Backyard Adventure gives us a glimpse at a beautiful section of country to be included in one of his bigger projects: connecting 1,200 miles across Idaho’s backcountry by foot, raft and mountain bike. We can't wait to read that Backyard Adventure. Until then, here's Steve in the Sawtooths.

    “Steve, I’ve got an idea ...”

    This is how it always starts. One of us drops the bait. Only this time it wasn’t me.

    Alice lake2 Scott and I have both been caught up with middle management - middle life. He runs a lab in the Bay area, and I've been tasked with leading a creative department at my place of work. Our schedules have been forged out of early mornings and late nights. Workouts squeezed between bottles and diapers.  We've both grown soft under our heavy shells of work, kids and family, barnacled with noon-meetings and mortgages...second mortgages. Our early trips together, traveling to climb in far-flung ranges have become cob-webbed memories and we now feel fortunate when we can carve out a weekend together every other year or so. As incentive to extract us from the grind of our day jobs, Scott makes the pitch.

    “Let’s do the two days.”

    Like carp to corn, I’m hooked.

    [Top, Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains in early morning light, as seen from the author's bike after running over 40 miles of trail to traverse the length of the range. Above, the route as it runs past an un-named lake below Alice Lake. Photo: Steve Graepel.]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: The Sawtooth Traverse" »

    The Voodoo Bike

    By Craig Holloway

    P1020464 Sometime in the late '80s, my bike mechanic friend John finally agreed to sell me his 1972 British-made Raleigh bicycle. I handed him $150 dollars in cash and a cold, six-pack of beer. He cracked open two brews, handed one back to me, and we both took long swigs, saluting the voodoo bike. I asked John where the bike’s name came from and he had no idea. He did request that I bring the voodoo in for maintenance every now and then. We shook hands, and then I wheeled the faded red single-speed out the bike shop’s door toward Chicago’s lakefront.

    Editor's note: Today's story comes from yoga instructor, daily bike commuter and Patagonia editor, Craig Holloway.

    The voodoo is one of the last production bicycles made by Raleigh before it was sold to an Asian manufacturer. The bicycle’s most elegant feature is the headlamp post, with its engraved phoenix situated in front of the handlebars. Children notice the phoenix right away and like to rub its metal beak. The voodoo also features old-fashioned, cable-rod lever brakes, brazed-on pump pegs, and a nifty foldout basket attached to the rear fender. The frame’s geometry makes for an aristocratic upright ride, and eccentric viewing for drivers and passers-by.

    [The voodoo rests against a tree at the Patagonia campus. Ventura, California. All photos: Craig Holloway]

    Continue reading "The Voodoo Bike" »

    Bike To Work Week Wrap Up

    Floriston Last week's Bike-to-Work celebrations kept our dedicated team of coordinators hopping - volunteers made sure events were supplied and staffed, area business folks presented informational clinics on everything from bike tuning to trip planning and route-finding, and supporting businesses offered prizes designed to spread the word and keep the stoke alive. Employees rallied, too, with daily cycling participation hovering near the 20% mark.

    In Ventura, motivated commuters staged a Critical Mass-style commute from Carpinteria to the home base in Ventura - many riders joining the pack logged well over 20 miles one way to take part in a fun, no-drop community ride culminating in a victorious arrival and delicious Riders Only breakfast. A rugged duo from our Reno Distribution Center helped set the standard for their crew with a foggy and frosty 30-mile ride through the mountains from Truckee, California, earning them a showcase spot on the local news.

    Great weather, good vibes, and motivated people helped make this one of the best Bike to Work Weeks yet, but the new Goose Tracking System made a special contribution. Hit the jump to check out the results:

    [Patagonia Dealer Services rep, Mark Blume is enjoying a definite transportation alternative - his 30 mile ride with fellow Pat. employee Rob Flesher followed a winding course over the river, through the woods, and along a smattering of climbers' trails - all within sight of the busy interstate that stretches clear from California to Pennsylvania.]

    Continue reading "Bike To Work Week Wrap Up" »

    Bike to Work Week - Young Lust and New Love

    Today's post comes to us from Patagonia E-mail Maestro, Steve Wages. Steve's the kind of cyclist who celebrates Bike to Work Week every week of the year, finding a way to stay true to the saddle despite obligations as a professional, a husband, and a dad. His story gives us a little peek into the passion that keeps him pedaling.

    _MG_7871_crop Since I can remember, my brother and I saw our bikes as key to our personal freedom. We could go where we wanted when we wanted, and the faster the better. I still recall - ummm - "borrowing" my friend's 10-speed Huffy while she was on vacation. I was about 9 and trying to set new land-speed records: that bike with its drop bars and skinny had to be an order of magnitude faster then my single-speed red Schwinn. My lust prevailed and I rolled it out of their garage....

    As the younger brother, Dave's relation to bicycles was initially about keeping up with us older kids. Pretty soon, he surpassed us all and discovered the world of competitive cycling. His life became centered around riding and he'd draw intricate sketches of bikes for high-school art class. He worked his way up through the ranks of repair-monkey at the local bike shops, until he got a call from a friend at Serotta in '94. Although he started out in the shipping department, his love of cycles was apparent and soon they let him loose brazing. His first attempts were crude, but with guidance from the frame builders, he picked up the craft of steel bikes and began to see what separated a good frame from an exceptional one.

    [Steve's hand-built Ellis Cycles road bike. Begging to be stolen. Photo: Steve Wages]

    Continue reading "Bike to Work Week - Young Lust and New Love" »

    The GOOSE is Loose!

    Commute_calendar_2 Used to be, I’d change into my biking garb in an exceptionally small closet. I'd shoe-horn into a closet that offered just enough room to change between the clanky boiler, a pile of broken bricks, and an impressive mouse-turd collection. It wasn’t that my last job—at a local rag-tag paper—was un-supportive of biking to work. They just hadn’t ever hired anyone willing to do such a thing. 

    I hold no ill feelings toward my old employer, or even to the folks who threw weird looks at the guy who chose daily to get naked in the company of incontinent mice. But I have to say, compared to that place Patagonia’s support of bike commuting is nothing short of righteous. You’re listening to one satisfied employee on this front. I mean, there’s bike parking, showers, OTHER bike riders. Over the years, more incentives have been added – prize giveaways to the most dedicated commuters, kind-spirited contests between Patagonia stores to see whose employees could pedal the most miles, and incentive programs to keep people riding year-‘round.

    And this year, things just got better. Thanks to a new partnership with Seattle-based Goose Networks, we’ve just been blessed with a killer new tool to keep track of the miles and rack up the smiles.

    [Image: An example of how employees can track their daily commutes on the Goose. Simply drag the appropriate icon from the bottom of the screen to the date (either AM or PM), then choose the distance of your trip and how many people (if any) you rode in with.]

    Continue reading "The GOOSE is Loose!" »

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