Ellen Fletcher, Holocaust survivor

Ellen Fletcher

Many San Francisco Bay Area cyclists know about Ellen Fletcher’s long history of promoting cycling in and around Palo Alto. She served on the Palo Alto City Council in the late 70s and as Vice Mayor in 1980-81, where she worked to promote cycling through changes in city code, and was instrumental in lobbying Caltrain to pilot bikes on board in 1992. It’s through her efforts that Bryant Street became a Bicycle Boulevard in 1982. Ellen still actively promotes cycling in Palo Alto through her citizen activism, volunteering at Bike To Work Day by handing out schwag at Palo Alto City Hall, and organizing volunteers for Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition valet bike parking at Stanford games and other events along the Peninsula.

Ellen has told me a little about cycling to her work in World War II London. As a young teen, she biked to her factory job. Until recently, I had no idea that she was among 10,000 Jewish children who were evacuated out of Nazi Germany through Kindertransport. She’s among the very very few who reunited with her parents after the war, eight years after she left them in Germany.

Ms Fletcher was invited to speak at a Jewish school on Friday. At 82 years old, she still rides her Breezer Villager to get around, and she rode her bike to the school in spite of the cold rain yesterday.

You can read about part of her story in todays Mercury News: “A Holocaust kid shares story of escape with students.”

It takes more than sporadic showers to stop Ellen Fletcher from riding her bike around Palo Alto. So when a Jewish school in town asked her to speak about her escape from Nazi Germany as a kid, she showed up on a rainy Friday ready to go.

England offered safety, but the Jewish children still were classified as “enemy aliens” and not refugees. At school and play, English children teased Fletcher because she was German. “To them, I was a Nazi!” she said. “They called me Nazi!”

Props to Carlos.


Ellen Fletcher and her Breezer villager

Update: The original story at the San Jose Mercury News has expired. A copy is available here.

Joe Breeze interview

Joe Breeze has been designing bikes since the 70s and has been riding them even longer, and his crazy enthusiasm about what he does is still very evident. When you ask him about bikes and encouraging everyday bike use, his face brightens up as he talks about his favorite topic.

Continue reading Joe Breeze interview

2010 Breezer Thunder first impressions

In the early 90s, Joe Breeze introduced the aluminum Breezer Thunder. He stopped production of all mountain bikes after 1998 to focus on bicycle advocacy and, later, he relaunched Breezer Bikes as a commuter bike company.

Something old, something new.

For the 2010 model year, Breeze will re-introduce the retro but all modern Breezer Thunder mountain bike.

2010 Breezer Thunder

Like its forebear, this is an aluminum hardtail. The modern edition features triple butted 6066 aluminum with lots of hydroformed curvy goodness. The trademark Breezer blue and white paint is lustrous and beautiful. Hydraulic disc brakes stop the bike, and Ritchey seatpost, headset, handlebar and tires with Mavic wheels provide the control.

2010 Breezer Thunder Pro

The down and dirty on the available build options:

  • Thunder Elite ($3199): Shimano XT (including XT wheel set) with XTR rear derailleur, Fox F-Series Remote fork.
  • Thunder Pro ($2399): Shimano SLX with XT rear derailleur, Fox F-Series fork.
  • Thunder Comp ($1999): Shimano Deore with SLX rear derailleur, Fox F-Series fork.

When Breeze sold mountain bikes in the 90s, I was a committed road cyclist. These days I’m mostly a “utility” cyclist who still enjoys road riding, but I occasionally hit the trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains on an ancient alloy GT. A modern mountain bike with modern components is a real kick.

2010 Breezer Thunder Pro

My bathroom scale says the Thunder “Pro” sample I have weighs about 25 pounds, and oh boy is it fun to ride. The Thunder Pro leaps over fallen redwood limbs in a single bound! This bike thunders (sorry) down 30 degree stairstepped descents with aplomb. I’m still getting accustomed to the slightly twitchy handling (it’s not a road bike), so I appreciate the relatively light weight as I drag myself and the bike back up to the trail after I misjudge a turn and hurtle over the edge into the poison oak below.

The Breezer Thunder is a lovely and competent hardtail trail bike. Erik of Norcal Bikers and I will take the Thunder through its paces in the coming days and we’ll let you know how it works out. We’re tentatively talking about meeting up at Delaveaga Park in Santa Cruz this Saturday morning if you’d like to take a look at this bike. Follow me on Twitter for updates.

2010 Breezer Lightning

Coming in December — Breezer will re-introduce the Lightning, a steel hardtail mountain bike.

2010 Breezer Lightning steel mountain bike

Custom butted Reynolds 525 cromoly and integrated head tube, 23.3 lbs equipped with

  • Fox 32 F100-RL Remote Lockout 100mm Travel
  • Shimano XT FC-M770 44/32/22T Chainrings
  • Shimano XT, 28.6mm top swing dual pull front derailleur
  • Shimano XTR rear derailleur
  • Shimano XT Trigger 27-speed shifters
  • Shimano XT 11-32T 9-speed cassette
  • Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc brakes
  • Ritchey WCS Logic Zero Integrated headset
  • Mavic XC 717 wheels with Shimano XT CenterLock Disc 32H hubs
  • Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires

MSRP will be $3199. Available in 15”, 17″, 18.5″, 19.5″, 21″.

2010 Breezer Lightning