The Cleanest Line

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

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    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.]

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    Be a Super Commuter, Bike to Work This Week

    [Solvang Stage, Amgen Tour of California 2009. Photo: © Steve Wages]

    Backyard Adventures: Squirting Blood

    #1 I lay in bed the other night, a lot tired and a little bloodied, but smiling, thinking about the horned toad Alex and I had managed to catch earlier in the day. I’ve only seen a couple of these prehistoric-looking reptiles in the mountains of Southern California, because they’re kind of scarce and accomplished masters of camouflage. To find one was a simple treat that had made the day’s backyard adventure all the more memorable.

    I like to get out on my mountain bike as much as time permits. Like most riders, I generally spend a few hours on the weekend riding a local trail I know well, sessioning the more challenging parts, enjoying the workout and the company of other middle age kids.

    #2 A couple of years ago, one of my more adventurous mountain-biking cohorts, James Ross, died suddenly during a ride at the age of 54. He and I had trespassed together in the name of mountain bike adventures over the years, and I resolved to honor his rogueish exploring spirit by pedaling trails in my area I’d never been on before. Living in Ojai, which borders the nearly 2 million-acre Los Padres National Forest, there’s lots of opportunity to do that.

    [Horned toad and rogueish friend, Patagonia editor Jim Little has discriminating taste in play-time companions. All photos: Jim Little]

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    Ride for the Wild

    Photo 19 Today's post is from Ryan Applegate, assistant manager of our Dillon, Montana, store. Last summer Ryan took two months off work to pedal his bike 2,300 miles from Yukon’s Watson Lake to Yellowstone National Park. But Ryan’s trip was more than a summer bike tour. Working with the Freedom to Roam Coalition, he and six others rode on behalf of wildlife, which is losing more and more habitat to development and finding itself increasingly challenged by climate change. Funded with an environmental internship grant from Patagonia, Ryan received both salary and benefits during his hiatus.

    I became familiar with the concept of a Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) wildlife corridor while studying conservation biology in the ‘90s, and my attention was refocused with the recent launch of Patagonia's new long-term environmental initiative, Freedom to Roam. Freedom to Roam emanates from the understanding that climate change is significantly altering the earth, and that the key to maintaining healthy, wild populations of creatures of all sizes, depends on their freedom to move, when necessary, to new habitat. It realizes that the best hope these animals and plants have for survival lies in people working, lobbying, donating, volunteering, buying, knowing and/or doing whatever it takes to ensure we protect and manage physical connections among larger protected areas. It is also about raising public awareness to this need, and that is where my Ride for the Wild came in.

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    The Year of Big Ideas 2009: Mr. Smart Goes Big

    The_year_of_big_ideas_2009Once again, The Dirtbag Diaries kicks off the new year with a podcast full of inspiration for a fun and rewarding 2009. Show host Fitz Cahall sets the stage:

    Rangi Smart was riding a small spur of his favorite single-track trail when he stumbled upon a perfectly designed mountain bike jump. A platform of two by fours and plywood launched a rider outward and 20-feet down the steep hillside. It was the kind of thing Rangi had only seen pro riders stomp on mountain bike videos.

    The 33-year-old math teacher thought to himself, “What kind of nut-job rides off something like that?”

    Then Rangi imagined that he was that nut-job

    We can bide our time, wait patiently for our chance to shine, but more often than not, the moment chooses us. It’s our job to answer. Here’s to another year of big ideas, another year of slaying giants, bearing down, not giving up, chasing daylight, paddling in and fostering change.  We bring you the hopes, dreams and goals of professional athletes, regular joes, parents, soldiers and students.  Here’s to the dirtbags. Here’s to Mr. Smart.

    Audio_graphic_20px Listen to The Year of Big Ideas 2009 (mp3 - 19:45 - right-click to download)

    Fitz is always looking for great stories to feature on the podcast. If you're a climber, skier, surfer, activist or anybody who can't get enough of being outside, consider sharing your story at

    The Hammer Monkeys

    BikeSouthAm In early January, former Patagonia performance baselayer developer, Elissa O’Brien, and Chris, her significant other, boarded a plane for Montevideo, Uruguay. Their plan? Eight months on bikes through South America.

    Elissa and Chris are sharing their trip via a great Web site full of fun narrative, photos and video. So if bicycle touring and/or South America hold any appeal, or you just need a moment’s respite from that mind-numbing spreadsheet, live vicariously with the Hammer Monkeys at 

    Hit the jump for a few photos and an excerpt from their recent adventures.

    [All photos: the hammermonkeys]

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    Backyard Adventures: The Power of Imagination

    Rocks1_2 Editor's note: Our Backyard Adventures series kicks off today and first up is Dave Anderson from Wyoming who proves that a vivid imagination can be your best partner on an outing close to home.

    Gone are the mornings spent lounging on the tailgate of my rusted-out truck, eating last night's leftover pasta with my only concerns for the day being what routes to climb. These days, I greet the morning sun from inside my bank-financed house, shuffling around in fluffy slippers while the ingredients of a smoothie churn predictably around in the blender.

    As I stretch my stiff fingers, I feel a dull ache which now has more to do with long sessions with the keyboard instead of battles with hard finger cracks. Chained to my desk by deadlines and obligations, I sometimes gaze out the window feeling trapped by my new lifestyle.

    As a youngster, I was trapped by birth in the white-bread world of suburbia, where families, normal behavior and the environment were all stamped out in neat, half acre cloned lots. The key to my sanity, to combat that sterilized culture, was my hyperactive imagination. Most days I was out in the “backyard” setting the new home run record (playing t-ball), mapping the vast catacombs near the road (crawling through cement culverts), exploring the uncharted secrets of the Amazon (mucking around in the small creek) or unearthing buried treasures in the deserts of Egypt (digging in the sandbox).

    [While Sinks Canyon is deserving of its reputation for variety, it's most well-known for it's plentiful selection of steep limestone lines. Here, the cliffs just above the canyon road dwarf a climber, barely visible at center. Photo & caption: localcrew collection]

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    Product Testing - Bike Touring PA style

    Bike_trip_004 We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our athletes and ambassadors are responsible for putting the latest designs and fabrics through the paces before we'll add a new product to our lineup. But just because something reaches our shelves doesn't mean testing is over. Once a new item shows up in our catalogs, our Customer Service staff gets busy ground-truthing the latest offerings. They know the questions our customers will be asking, and turn that attention to our gear.

    Product Report  -  Spraymaster Jacket, Wool 2, Lightweight Endurance Ankle Socks, and MLC Wheelie
    Activity -  Bike Touring, Bound for Cheesesteaks in Happy Valley
    Tested by -  Chia (yes, like the pet) S., Patagonia Customer Service

    It all started with a bluebird morning on Wednesday the 3rd. I had an early flight to catch and still had a few last-minute things to stuff into my luggage. But the first order of business was to flip open the laptop and double-check the weather. I was especially interested in the weather back east, as there was some hurricane activity brewing and I wanted to know if I was gonna be stuck testing gear in an airport somewhere between Reno and Philadelphia. Hurricane Hanna(H) was creeping along the Atlantic but she seemed far enough off the coast that I was confident I would not have any weather delays.   

    Spraymaster The plan was to get to Pennsylvania and meet up with my good friend Gym (yes, I spelled it right), drive to Gettysburg for a 3-day bike tour back to his house in Happy Valley, eat the best cheesesteak on the planet, and then catch an afternoon flight back to the BLC, all while trying to avoid hurricanes Hanna and Ike. 

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    Chicago’s Bike to Work Week

    Cimg1617_2 As a company, Patagonia celebrated Bike to Work Week in May, during which we highlighted our efforts in our stores, at our Reno Distribution facility and on campus in Ventura. Patagonia Chicago additionally participated in the City of Chicago’s annual Bike to Work Week, which took place June 8-15. Sure, this news is a little late but in reality every week is Bike to Work Week. Here’s a report from Brooks Scott, Chicago Store Manager on their efforts:

    We’ve traditionally used the company’s bike to work week as a warm-up to a more concentrated effort here for the city’s week. We’ve found that it’s a more compelling story to share with our friends and customers when we mirror the city’s efforts. This year was no different.

    [Bike parking for employees and customers inside Patagonia Chicago. Photo: Brooks Scott]

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    A Glimpse into Handmade Bikes with Fast Boy Cycles

    Bike_to_work_storefront We were walking  around SoHo in New York during Bike to Work week and happened to pass by the Patagonia store. In the window, was the most beautiful bike I've ever seen.  We went in, and it turns out the bike was handmade by Ezra Caldwell, a local guy, who happens to be Hillary Nanney's boyfriend. Hillary works in the store.

    I picked up one of Ezra’s cards and later, I asked him to tell me a little about himself.  He said he got started in the hand-made bike business after a nearly 10 year career teaching dance:

    " I realized that I really didn't like dance very much.  Maybe that's a little coy.  I was pretty sure that I wanted to stop teaching several years before I managed to pull the trigger.  I'd been assembling bikes for friends and students for several years with a growing level of seriousness.  At some point I started making wooden fenders and selling them on the Internet.  I finally decided that I wanted to be doing the WHOLE thing.

    "I went down to Austin, Texas to take some brazing lessons with friend and builder, Whit Moyer.  Spent about ten days with him and then came back to the city and spent every penny I had on getting set up.  The rest is history, though very recent history, I guess."

    Continue reading "A Glimpse into Handmade Bikes with Fast Boy Cycles" »

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