Freighty Cat is the inevitable collaboration of two cyclists who somehow spent years riding in the same circles without crossing paths. That is, until the first May Day after the height of Occupy, when these two met in the most appropriate of ways – riding bicycles. After a marching band and puppet parade, a labor-themed cabaret, her disappearance to Europe, and a tawdry bicycle film festival, they finally realized that they wanted the same things out of life – chiefly to get out of NYC and start anew somewhere with a burgeoning cargo bike culture. With this goal, they looked West…
– KYLE –
In 2006, Kyle began working for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an organization that champions the rights of pedestrians, public transit users, and cyclists. While still at Tri-State, he moved to Newark, NJ’s largest city – yet a city that had a grand total of four blocks of bike lane. He stayed there for two years and helped found the Brick City Bike Collective, a bicycle advocacy group. In 2010, Kyle headed West to apprentice at the Center for Appropriate Transport in Eugene, Oregon, where he learned, among other useful skills, how to build long john bicycles and sew rain capes. After riding his new bike (the Schooner) cross-country, he wound up back in Brooklyn, honing his bike mechanic skills at The Dog Day Cyclery in Red Hook – the bike shop that stayed open by candlelight for weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Originally from Northern New Jersey, Kyle comes from a varied background. Before returning to the East Coast, he lived in cities including Colorado Springs, Crested Butte, Santa Fe. He worked many traditional mountain West jobs: ski instructor, wine salesman, server, bookstore clerk, and bartender – most of them at the same time. Kyle has also been a middle school teacher, camp counselor, chess teacher, and lobbyist. He enjoys trying on hats.
Kyle’s dirty secret – at Tri-State, he worked as general counsel.
– LESLIE –
After much time spent riding strange bicycle contraptions through the alleys of Chicago, in 2005 Leslie got her first cycling job at Roger Rickshaw, where she continued to work whenever in Chicago until 2010. Meanwhile, she managed/rode at other pedicab companies in Chicago, Portland, and Seattle. She also spent one windy NYC winter riding for Manhattan Rickshaw. During these years, Leslie also busked with the Puppet Bike, a puppet show on a cargo tricycle that roams the streets of Chicago. So, for about five years, most of her income came from riding cargo tricycles! She spent one of those winters as bike delivery for coffee shops, but inevitably went back to her cargo roots. In 2008 she was second place female cargo bike champion at the Cycle Messenger World Championships – the main victory being that she did it on an authentic Indian pedicab which her local friends had fixed up and lent her. The North American Cycle Courier Championships were held later that year in Chicago, but there was no cargo race. As the only cargo bike in attendance, she declared herself the winner after schlepping boxes of beer all weekend. While visiting London, she was interviewed about cargo biking on The Bike Show – which was recorded during her first bicycle ride on the “wrong” side of the road. In her spare time, Leslie was also the sales rep and a bag reviewer for 1lesscar.com for a number of years. While she spent many years musing on one day owning a cargo bike company, she’s pleasantly surprised that it will be manufacturing rather than dispatching.
Working in the pedicab industry was a good fit for Leslie’s penchant for traveling. Born and raised in Chicago proper, she moved back briefly before going fully transient in 2007. She began to focus less on biking and more on music, touring as a saxophonist in a number of cabaret/circus-style bands and frequenting the Honk fest brass band circuit. Despite spending a sizable amount of time in NYC, Leslie never moved there; meanwhile her belongings have spent more time in Chicago over the past five years than she has. After nearly a decade of extensive traveling, you could drop her in almost any major city in the Western world and she would be right at home, already knowing the route to the bike co-op, DIY venue, artsy cafe, and infoshop.
Leslie’s dirty secret – those last two years of touring? She was in a cabaret punk band with a cult following.
Read about our progress on our blog!
* PHOTO CREDIT*
Leslie & Kyle pic: Abbas Wiswall
Kyle pic: Folk Engineered
Leslie pic: Hardcourt Bike Polo.
(These pics are several years old, but who’s counting?)