Friday, August 04, 2017

Doubling Down for the Marine League Charities

I woke up grateful. 1 week ago, I set a goal to eclipse my previous fundraising efforts for the Marine League Charities. I believe in their mission deeply, so I wanted to do something big this year.

My sponsors raised $1885 as of this morning. Just $115 away from doubling my goal. I am feeling humbled and inspired by the generosity that poured out of Friends and Family.

The 65 miles of dirt and mud will seem easy at this point. If you wanted to donate and haven't yet, the link still available all weekend.
Peace, Love and Dirt,

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Ride TIME!

This is day one of my seven day push to saturate news feeds and social networks to get the word out about the efforts to spread hope in Northern Arizona.

I wanted to let you know that it is that time of year again for my annual Northern Arizona Toys for Tots Charity Mountain Bike Ride.  I will be riding on historic stagecoach trails across the forest and high desert off for 65 miles from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon on Saturday, August 5th, on my cross bike to raise charitable contributions that bring hope to children and wounded soldiers in Arizona.

Last year, the majority of the yearly funding in a single weekend event for Marine League Charities (benefiting children of Northern Arizona and members of the U.S. Armed Forces). This 20th year of the event we want to break our funding records.  All donations are tax deductible and go straight to the charities, as event operating expenses are covered by corporate sponsors.

The Marine League Charities, (MLC) Flagstaff, Arizona is an IRS 501.c.3 tax exempt organization, EID 86-0944607.  In accordance with the mission statement, the Marine League Charities (MLC) supports and funds the following three local charities:  Flagstaff Community Toys for Tots Organization, Flagstaff Arts and Sports Together (FAAST), and the Wounded Marine Program.  The purpose of the MLC is to support charities including those organized to assist children of Northern Arizona and those charities benefiting members of the U. S. Armed Forces.

The primary item delivered by these organizations to those in need is HOPE.  These charities provide services and activities for the children of Ash Fork, Flagstaff, Tusayan, Valle, Williams, and communities of the Havasupai, Hopi, and Navajo Indian Reservations. Activities include a sports festival, Shoot-Out-in-the-Pines and
multiple Christmas parties during the holiday season where entertainment, refreshments and toys are provided. The organizations reach out to let those in need to let them know the community cares.

All the fun and pain happens on August 5th, 2017 and I hope you can help with my donation drive.  Cash or checks in any amount are accepted. Electronic contributions are through Paypal.  Checks should be made Payable to: Marine League Charities.
Donations can be made anytime, I am working to raise $1000 by Thursday August 3th.

Open up your hearts and give a donation in any amount to help benefit the Marine League Charities.  There is no minimum or maximum donation, my goal is to get even more supporters than 2015 and raise in excess of $1000.   A simple tax-deductible donation coupon is below for you to use when April 15th comes around.
More information on the event can be found at .

Thanks for helping me share my message of HOPE, by linking and sharing on your social feeds  Let's work together and deliver hope to kids and soldiers across the state.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Finding a Perfect Moment on a Bicycle

Yesterday was the final day for the 2015 Tour de France, the remaining riders crossed the finish line  in Paris and enjoyed well deserved champagne and respect from cyclists and cycling fans throughout the world.  I too finished my tour de france yesterday, no not the professional race but a satisfying day on my bike that left me with a wide smile.

I have been enjoying those satisfying days on the bike for more than 40 years, and riding in July always allows my mind to wander to the greatest race as I glide across the road with only my spinning gears and wind in my face.  It has been that way since I had my 5th birthday party and removing my training wheels was the present that I remember vividly.  Freedom and flow wrapped in a fantastic machine, just waiting to be unleashed. Many birthdays passed and bikes came and went, but it wasn't until I was about 13, that a real change happened.

My classmate, Carrie Andrew and her mom Sharon who had cousins/ suffering through Cystic Fibrosis, held a charity cycling event, The CF Bike-A-Thon.  It was held on the Parker High School dirt cinder track and we would raise $$ for CF research and treatment on a per lap basis.  This was my first tour de france, I had read magazines and newspapers and books.  This time would be riding, not reading.  I had pretty good bike building skills by then, and assembled garage sale purchases and thrown away road frame into a pretty ratty, but quite functional bike.  I canvased my neighborhood for sponsors, if you weren't home when I went by the first time, I would be back knocking and looking for pledges, until I had asked everyone I ran into for help.

Then came ride day. I was determined and excited and ready to turn in my pledge form and ride.  I was thrilled at the quick start and the laps quickly added up on the 1/4 mile track. 10, 20, 40, 60.  I had "it".  My tour de france moment, racing around lap after lap with the wind in my face. The kids on BMX bikes slowly tired, took breaks, and fell into the infield.  I couldn't get enough, everything seemed right in the world. After an hour the track was emptying out and the riders laying in the grass increased. I was determined.  They kept track of my lap count and I was nearing 100.  It seemed like perfection, a full satisfying effort and the longest ride I had ever completed, 100 laps - 25 miles.  I hadn't completed the most laps, there was an adult cyclist with a real touring bike that did more, but it didn't dampen what I felt.

There was the fullness of effort, and satisfaction of lending a hand to those in need.  I was hooked.  I paraded around my pledge sheet to my sponsors with pride, they were often quite shocked about the the tenacity of a 13 year old, but the lap tally sheet was the proof and they gladly paid.  That was a PERFECT MOMENT, and likely why I remember it clearly even after other memories have faded. A special thanks to Carrie, Charity and Sharon who organized my first tour de france on that dusty dirt track.

Now at 45 years old, I am still find joy in cycling and have done a large variety of events over the years.  But very few bring me back to that warm and dusty day on the track, except one.  That is the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Fat Tire Ride.  It is largely an old stagecoach route of about 65 miles on dirt paths and dirt roads.  It isn't the most difficult ride I have done, but it isn't a walk in the park either, it takes most of the day and finishes close to Tusayan in tall pines where cold beer flows freely.  This ride yields PERFECT MOMENTS every time I do it.  It is the people who ride, the people who volunteer, the sponsors that foot the expenses, and benefiting organization that is the thoughtful steward of the funds raised. The fatigue fades as the body recovers, but the goodness stays and lingers and is shared to many who need it.

You can read about the ride history here.  But it was started by accident by well meaning cyclists, who became event organizers by default when they saw all the good they could do with the help of the local organization, Marine League Charities.

This year the event has grown to 200 cyclists with a goal to raise $60,000.  Marine League Charities fund many northern Arizona efforts to support Veteran Families with injured Veterans, Toys for Tots for kids in Havasupai.  They are the compassionate Americans that reach out and deliver Hope to those in their community and I am proud to support them.  I know this is a long post, but I wanted to include why this matters to me, and include a request to Share and Support my efforts.

I am riding on August 1st, and trying to collect any cash/check donations by Friday.  You can also contribute online here, and add a message "I'm supporting Eric Brandt".  Even sharing my story on social media platforms is a helpful as more virtual "door knocking" the better.  We live in a very compassionate and giving country, I embrace all the kindness that Americans show to each other in many forms of charitable acts. Thanks for your support in prayers, spreading the word, and your giving.


Thursday, October 03, 2013


This is my attempt to reach out further to cyclists that I sell to.  This is a random code I created that you can Google and get my email address quickly and easily.  I am happy to talk on the phone with potential buyers, just send me your number.  Normally, I respond so quickly I catch people off guard.
Eric Brandt

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Belt Drive MTBs are they ready for PRIME TIME?

Recently I purchased a new mountain bike for 2 reasons.  One, the frame design was old school and evoked a feeling of nostalgia, that I don't often feel. Two, the frame had split stays which would allow the bike to be easily converted to Belt Drive.

The bike is a 2011 Trek- Gary Fisher Sawyer and had some of the worst paint I have seen on a MTB.  The paint was a non-descript sad grey and although the bike had seen no dirt, just shop wear, and hanging the bike on bike racks had taken a toll.

Step one was to add a real durable finish and 1 Off Powdercoating came to the rescue.  Dale did his typical excellent job, even though with all the curved tubes and strange shapes.  I selected Grabber Orange, which is closer to Yellow than Orange.  The color reminded me of my first bike which also had curved top tubes and it also reminded me of a original 1970s Honda ATV that used the same color.

Unfortunately, selection of the belt drive components wasn't as smooth.  As an experience mechanic I expected very few issues. 1 belt and 2 sprockets.  DONE!

Well there are several iterations of Gates Carbon Drive components available.  They are not compatible with each other. The naming conventions does allow for clear distinctions when parts shopping, so I don't think DIY applications were a high priority for Gates.

In my quest for components the first thing I noticed is how pricey they are.  Plan on spending at least double, what you would for a chain drive equivalent.  The online calculators are very useful once you have the chainstay length of the frame you will be using.

One thing that is important but hard to uncover is that most of the current applications are really for a specific marketing segment.  Based on the Carbon Drive home page that segment is urban hipsters who wear white and are deathly afraid of chain oil.  I am not sure what they use for lubricating their hubs, bottom brackets, and headsets, but I am guessing it is a synthetic version of their own smugness.  So if you ride in the city, work in a loft and have a monochromatic lifestyle a belt drive bike is for you!

You will discover in reading the Tech bulletin that if you are riding a Mountain bike or Fixed Gear you will need nearly double the belt tension for proper performance. Okay, no problem, probably a bit more resistance too, but wearing white pants is probably worth it.  Wait.  Doubling the tension is when you are going from city cruiser with internal hub to the Mountain or Fixed Gear application and are a Lightweight Speedster.  If you can figure out what a lightweight speedster is, then good for you.  I think that means God gave you thighs that don't generate enough watts to impress anyone... ever.  So for normal riders that HAMMER, SPRINT, CLIMB, GENERATE 1000 WATTS, and KICK ASS and ride MTB or FIXED GEARS triple the belt tension.  nearly TRIPLE, really. From 35kg to 85kg.

Now your frame flex is coming into play and Gates has a program for OEMs to analyze their rear ends.  I am not making that up.  It also matters how much belt wrap you have.  My selected gear was 39x22 yielding a ratio 1.75, which I though would be perfect for my 29ER SS.  I was warned that more belt wrap is required for this application. That means jumping up to 46x26 and a 118 tooth belt instead of 113. Don't worry though because there is an app for that.

Sounds to me like I am back to chain drive for the epic ride this weekend, because I have a lot of belt drive components to sell and then re-buy.  So it will be a while before you see me trying to BELT ONE OUT, but I think I might have also avoided an on-trail disaster, on a ride that means so much to me.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hal, this one is for you!

My 2013 Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon Fat Tire Bike ride will be dedicated to the memory of Hal Jensen. Hal was the retired Marine that always was selflessly looking out for others.

Hal passed last year on October 6th but his passion, enthusiasm and never give up attitude will be carried by those of us who met him. Undoubtedly, his impact has been and will continue to be felt by those he has helped. Hal you were a great example of a life well lived. Oorah!

A special thanks goes out to all my supporters, $452 we raised on first day, with current total at $552. Keeping the wheels turning!
My ride from 2010.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ezra is an amazing person and a kick ass bike builder

I just watched this video today, but his photos and his bikes left me in awe.
True Beauty.