Continuing our #designedtomove series, this week we spoke with Randall Fransen, a self-described "yahoo" who spoke to us about his thoughts on mobile photography, instagram, and his life-long passion for cycling.
Where is home?
That’s actually a complicated question. My heart has been owned by the Rockies for so long but now that I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for 2.5 years, it’s torn. Portland gave me a great big bear hug when I got here in fall 2012 and it hasn’t let go since.
Describe what you do for a living.
The simplest word is Advertising and that makes me cringe even as I say it. More specifically, I’m Executive Producer at a creative agency named Swift in Portland and we produce content for our clients in both interactive and social as well as manage strategy for their brands. It’s infinitely better than traditional Advertising; there’s literally something new every day. The industry (and Swift) has a great culture and augmented with Portland’s tendencies, it seems to fit my requirements of 4-legged co-workers and lunch rides pretty well. The best part is, we’re only blocks from the west hills where there’s some incredibly stellar riding. I’m not actually talking about my job anymore, am I?
Title of a song that describes your personality?
I’m going to break the rule here and give you the song lyric that best describes me: “Don’t turn away, get in front of it.” - Zach De La Rocha.
What motivates you as a producer/photographer?
I’ve really ridden myself of true “photographic ambitions” and stuck with mobile photography because it aligns with creating good content as well as sharing within small online communities that I dig (Instagram and the cycling sub-set). I’m also a bit of an Instagram Purist. My hope is that I’m creating content that someone can either enjoy or leaves an impression. Being thoughtful in what I share is important. There’s so much data being puked out on a second by second basis, that it’s easy to zoom in with your camera phone without getting up because you think what you’re seeing is worth sharing. I grew up with a Vivitar point/shoot camera and remember how valuable each frame was. Now we get back from the coffee shop with 37 photos of the same thing and aren’t even good at editing it down to one single decent photo. Everything is just so fucking precious...
What does being active mean to you?
To be brutally honest, I see “active” as the step above “sedentary”; like the “Couch to 5k,” wearing a pedometer, or drinking Michelob Ultra. There’s always a bit of “Can I do this?” in anything I tackle. The next question is, “How fast/well/clean can I do this?” It starts to snowball and before I know it, I fall in to a focus or passion for a few years and I’m totally immersed. Music, Body Building, Skiing, Climbing … Cycling. Ultimately, I’m looking for that perfect moment where all the training and practice pay off and the execution is perfect.
What’s life like as a cyclist?
If you’re committed to a goal, it’s pretty all encompassing. In Colorado I was working and living the ski industry for a bit and it’s been a complete shift since I moved here. I went from at least 35 days on the mountain and about 1000 miles a year to zero days on the mountain and at least 6000 miles last year. Once you go deep in to anything, your focus shifts to being more narrow; I would never have considered sitting in a cafe wearing pink spandex, shaved legs crossed, sipping an Americano with cycling gloves on was acceptable but here I am. If you really think about it, when a group of cyclists walk in to a cafe, they look like a bunch of assholes.
Favorite memory with your cycling team @teamlosthighway?
We had our training camp in White Salmon, WA last year. On the last day, we pulled a tough 80 miles, linking together some of the best gravel riding I’ve ever experienced. We were all riding strong and because of the previous years of camaraderie, suffering, and support, it was just one of the greatest feelings to be sharing that with those guys. We had perfect temps and sunshine that quickly turned to heavy rain, hail, and thunderstorms only to roll back to our place in the sun again. It was just one of those days where everything comes together. There was a Kermisse/CX event just about all of us participated in. After running through the ringer in our respective categories, we all shotgunned a few beers right before the team relay. Between finishing one race, the 30 degree weather and the incorrect hydration, we just made our lives that much harder but the smiles it produced were priceless.
Current top 3 trails that you like to explore?
Getting out to Central/Eastern Oregon for the gravel back roads. Pretty much anywhere @velodirt has gone. Riding around SF and Oakland was amazing the few times I’ve been able to do it. Sandy Ridge Complex on Mt. Hood (My only exposure to real MTBing).
What attracted you to 8120?
A start-up with a vision. I can relate to that and I always want to see what’s what when someone’s trying to make something.
Is there an 8120 article of clothing that you can’t live without?
The Bulky Neck emulates some of my favorite pieces I already own and it’s incredibly versatile. I actually dress it up for work more than anything else.
Favorite place for you and your dog Booster to travel?
I’ve never seen that dog light up like he does on the Oregon Coast. The first time he saw the ocean was when we drove from Colorado to Oregon for the move. We camped on the beach right off HWY 101 in Fort Bragg and woke up at sunrise to walk along the coast line. It took him a bit to understand the water wasn’t actually chasing him but after a while it was party time. He’s very much a sprinter (like his dad) and he just cuts up a storm and races across the sand.
Besides re-creating “Smooth Criminal” music video playing the part of Michael Jackson, what’s at the top of your bucket list?
Touring Europe by bike and caravan, and having a go at the Ronde van Vlaanderen course.
Tell us about your relationship with @mettlecycling.
This is basically my second effort in trying to create something oriented with fashion or soft goods in general. My first was premium leather bags but this aligns much more with my passion. I’ve been building and testing prototypes for about 18 months while working as a one-man-army sourcing materials and production. I want to make something real; something that doesn’t get scrolled past your mobile screen for a few seconds… something that accomplishes it’s purpose incredibly well. Hopefully, better than anything else out there right now.
The name came from a common phrase in sport/cycling. When someone says, “He’s on his Mettle…”’; Kinda like, “He’s riding on the rivet". In that moment when all the odds are stacked against you and you push to try your very hardest. That’s #OnMyMettle.
What can we expect in 2015?
Mettle will be launching in May with a very small production run. I hope to get the products out there in to the hands of cyclists and just roll from there. There’s some other riders here in PDX that have projects we’re collaborating on: Big rides, adventures and loose affiliations with “teams.” Everyone out here has a side project so it’s not surprising to see the volume of work and content coming out of the great PNW.
To stay up to date with Fransen's adventures be sure to follow him on Instagram @fransencomesalive.